Pacifica Foundation's increasing censorship of its radio stations has led it to no good end. Distinctive for its vigorous advocacy of freedom and democracy at home and abroad, Pacifica began foundering when it brandished the implements of censorship.
The formula for American media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simple. Rarely do American journalists explore the ample reasons to believe that the United States is part of the oft-decried cycle of violence.
The costs of new high-tech products -- and related offerings such as online service, broadband connections, cable television and satellite TV -- all add up. Americans are indebted to new media technologies -- but also, increasingly, in debt.
Eager to oust Slobodan Milosevic from power, the U.S. government has funneled millions of dollars to media projects in Yugoslavia. What if other nations tried to help level the playing field for candidates here in the U.S.? Ralph Nader could use a ten million dollar cash infusion...
At the National Association of Broadcasters convention in late September, I look forward to being among those who will speak at nearby independent forums -- and will protest in the streets of San Francisco to confront the dire centralization of media ownership.
After many months of controversy over her anti-gay statements to millions of radio listeners, Dr. Laura ascended the airwaves to an even higher and mightier pulpit. Much to the chagrin of gay-rights supporters, her crusade has reached televisionland.
The lobbying goals of media corporations extend into areas that might surprise you. According to the Center for Public Integrity, "Federal Communications Commission employees were taken on 1,460 all-expenses-paid trips sponsored by media corporations and associations since 1995, costing a total of $1.5 million."
It's always dangerous when politicians claim to be doing God's will. So, as the novelty fades from Al Gore's selection of Joseph Lieberman, journalists should ask some probing questions about the ticket's conspicuous piety.
Once again, it's the season of the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Both events have been underwritten by generous corporate patrons; both cities are notorious for police misconduct. Hospitality and brutality -- the contrasts could hardly be more extreme.
Big-name journalists are fond of rosy windows on the world. Overall, the powerful politicians they cover have similar vantage points. And when large numbers of them get together, the upbeat -- and facile -- rhetoric is thick.
George Orwell has been dead for half a century, but Orwellian language lives on. Instead of scrutinizing the facile rhetoric of U.S. politics, reporters are inclined to solemnly relay it, while adding some of their own.
"In recent years, several dozen companies have bought major-league naming rights. Teams now play in Bank One Ballpark (Phoenix), Network Associates Coliseum (Oakland) and Continental Airlines Arena (New Jersey). But a public-interest group is urging sportswriters to resist a free-enterprise wave of the future."
"There's a slick new term surfing its way into the mass media. 'E-government.' Many citizens would be glad to see the Internet streamline their dealings with federal agencies. But we're now hearing claims that go way beyond matters of efficiency -- to conflate convenience and democracy."
"George W. Bush and Al Gore are among the most boring political leaders in the country. And that's saying something. But every four years, when summer begins, the national media curtain rises on an overheated stage of presidential politics. The political show must go on -- no matter how phony it may be."
The virtual Ten Commandments of Dot-Comity are now widespread: You shall not take the name of the Lord your Market in vain ... You shall not fail to make a killing ... Remember the stock exchange and keep it holy ...
After the Love Bug virus struck millions of computers, many news outlets attributed the magnitude of the damage to "software monoculture" -- too many people relying on the same exact programs. But what about media monoculture?
"And so, early in the year 2000, it came to pass that visions of a seamless media web enraptured the keepers of pecuniary faith as never before. A grand new structure, AOL Time Warner, emerged while a few men proclaimed themselves trustees of a holy endeavor. They told the people about a wondrous New Media world to come ... "
"Hi! My name is CBU-87/B, but my friends call me Cluster Bomb. I've been busy lately, slicing up human bodies in the Balkans. And I sure appreciate the careful treatment that I receive from the American news media..."
Solomon writes: "So, why don't we hear more about hunger in the United States? A key factor is the media industry's fixation on demographics. 'Because the mass media is aimed at the people with the highest disposable income, we see pictures of hunger overseas, but not our own,' Food First observes. 'Perhaps that's a reason why the growth of the Hunger Class has been ignored politically.'"
Solomon writes: "The nation's biggest news weekly is celebrating itself. Time magazine has put out a '75th Anniversary Issue,' paying tribute to the vision of founder Henry Luce ... But Time's 75th anniversary issue is a telling instance of how lofty rhetoric can easily serve as a cover story. The hero of the retrospective, Henry Luce, gets plenty of adulation and some hazy references to flaws. But it's sanitized history, omitting less pleasant facts."
Solomon writes on the media's fascination with comparing Bill Clinton to John Kennedy: "Five years ago, everywhere you turned, journalists were comparing Bill Clinton to John Kennedy. In the summer of 1992 -- when the Democratic National Convention showcased footage of a teenage Bill shaking hands with President Kennedy -- many news outlets proclaimed that manifest destiny was in the political air ... It's a sad commentary that so many journalists mouthed such bunkum with straight faces -- and that Americans didn't quickly laugh this grandiloquence out of the court of public opinion."
Solomon writes, "Star-struck journalists and envious competitors don't shed much light on the downside of the Microsoft mind-set. The brave new world of Bill Gates -- transfixed with high- tech form over human content -- has little room for social vision. What we get are endless variations of the notion that ever-more-clever digital technology will make life wondrous for paying customers."
Devising programs to confront urban problems -- like high unemployment, inferior schools, inadequate housing -- seems to be the last thing on President Clinton's mind. On the day of the Million Man March, Clinton delivered an eloquent call for racial harmony, but he offered no agenda to rebuild our cities. Unfortunately, atonement and eloquence alone will not bridge the racial gap, nor the gap between inner cities and well-off suburbs. Public policy and resources are needed to address the underlying conditions that breed crime and broken homes. Enter CityVote.
Solomon exposes the Heritage Foundation and the big bucks from major right-wing corporations that fund it. He writes: "Heritage has succeeded with a savvy strategy: Raise a lot of money from rich people with a right-wing agenda. Hire writers, commentators and out-of-office politicians who share that agenda, and call them 'fellows,' 'policy analysts' and 'distinguished scholars.' And, always, back them up with a public-relations juggernaut that's second to none."
Solomon writes: "We may be glad to see glamorous stars with white mustaches asking the question: "Got milk?" But the ongoing media blitz for milk does not ask a more important question: 'Got clogged arteries?'"
Solomon writes: "By now, the lines between media, politics, entertainment and commercialism have just about disappeared. This month, Bob Dole spoke at the annual meeting of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. The former Republican presidential candidate reportedly got $40,000 for making the speech. That explains why he bothered. But why did the group invite him in the first place?"
Solomon writes: "For several weeks now, a variety of news outlets have commented on the startling importance of emotions. The death of Princess Diana set off an explosion that jolted many reporters into proclaiming that human feelings matter -- a lot ... Kept under wraps or unleashed, feelings have always made a big difference. The problem is that emotional reactions -- whether masked by cerebral essays or stoked by TV news -- don't guarantee us anything. Fervent pleas can make a case for compassion or cruelty. So can reasoned arguments."
Solomon writes, "Thundering into the second term of the Clinton presidency, the national media herd is making a lot of noise about political hypocrisy. It's too bad that so many of those complaints are...well...hypocritical."
In recent months, an enormous amount of news coverage has focused on the great national divide known as "race." Media words on the subject seem to come easily -- perhaps too easily. Writers produce a steady stream of recycled notions. TV anchors and politicians speak with scripted phrases that roll off tongues while scrolling down TelePrompTers. To many of us, the verbiage often sounds glib, overheated or pointless. Yet, backing away from communication about prejudice is no solution. If our society is going to promote a strong anti-racist ethic, then a wide range of people must take responsibility for speaking up and speaking out. On an extraordinary TV program set for nationwide broadcast, they do. The program -- a documentary titled Not In Our Town -- will air on more than 200 public television stations between mid- December and early January.