SOLOMON: And Now ... We're In "Media Jeopardy!"
To celebrate the arrival of summer, here's an all-new episode of "Media Jeopardy!"You probably remember the rules: First, listen carefully to the answer. Then, try to come up with the correct question. The first category is "Broadcast News."* On ABC, CBS and NBC, the amount of TV network time devoted to this coverage has fallen to half of what it was during the late 1980s.What is international news?* A few months ago, in a nationwide survey of 100 local TV newscasts in 55 cities, the Denver-based Rocky Mountain Media Watch found that this topic was the lead story more often than all other subjects combined -- and took up one-third of the air time for news.What is crime?Now we move on to "Public Broadcasting." * This public TV network, already airing several weekly shows hosted by conservatives such as William F. Buckley, John McLaughlin and Ben Wattenberg, is about to launch a new one-hour program called "National Desk," which will feature a rotation of conservative hosts Fred Barnes, Larry Elder and Morton Kondracke. What is PBS?* It's the notion that PBS is a bastion of liberalism, despite the fact that the network's weekly lineup doesn't include a single public-affairs program hosted by a political progressive.What is a media myth that will not die?Our next category is "New Frontiers of Media Money." * This daily satellite-TV feed has a captive audience of more than 8 million kids in classrooms. While it's touted as "a tool to educate and engage young adults in world happenings," the broadcast service sells commercials that go for nearly $200,000 per half-minute -- pitched to advertisers as a way of gaining access to "the hardest to reach teen viewers." What is Channel One?* During the 1995-96 election cycle, these corporate parents of major networks gave a total of $3.2 million in "soft money" to the national Democratic and Republican parties. Who are Disney (ABC), Time Warner (CNN), News Corp. (Fox), General Electric (NBC) and Westinghouse (CBS)? * In 1996, this owner of the Fox TV network also donated $1 million, from his own pocket, to the California Republican Party. Who is Rupert Murdoch?* Last winter, 18 months after the Walt Disney Co. bought the network where he's the main news anchor, this journalist cautiously told Parade magazine: "I feel, as any citizen, that more and more media in fewer hands, in the abstract, is reason to be concerned."Who is Peter Jennings?Now, it's on to "The End of Racism."* A recent study of nightly news programs on the big three TV networks found that barely 1 percent of the stories were about people with this ethnic background (though they account for close to 15 percent of the U.S. public), and four-fifths of those rare stories focused on negative topics like crime and illegal immigration.Who are Latinos?* While they're about 25 percent of the U.S. population, a 1997 survey by the American Society of Newspaper Editors found that they comprise only 11.35 percent of the journalists in the newsrooms of this country's daily papers. What are racial minorities?We're moving into Media Double Jeopardy with our next category, "Fear and Favor."* While this California newspaper was co-sponsoring a local amateur sporting event with Nike last spring, top editors at the paper killed a staff columnist's article because it criticized Nike for rampant commercialism and use of overseas sweatshops. What is the San Francisco Examiner?* This seasoned United Press International reporter, who has worked on the presidential beat since the days of John F. Kennedy, says: "As long as I've covered the White House, there's been managed news. Secrecy is endemic in government." Who is Helen Thomas?* Back in 1983, when this book by journalist Ben Bagdikian first appeared, some critics called it "alarmist." Now hot off the press in its fifth edition, the book documents that today just 10 corporations control most of this nation's newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, books and movies.What is "The Media Monopoly"?By now, we're in Serious Media Jeopardy. No question about that.