Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Two views from the left on media reform

Two views, both from the left, regarding media reform are below. Maybe you'll find something you agree with, maybe you won't. But there is a wide spectrum of opinions on the left and these two are not presented as ____ v. ____ but as "here are two views." There are members who are adament that they will not support NPR or PBS in the current struggle (the excerpts go beyond that). Members are entitled to their own opinions. But a number of you have e-mailed to share your feelings and ask, "Am I wrong?" If that's what you feel, you need to go with that.

In the two excerpts below, e-mailers who've stated that PBS and NPR are on their own will find some of the reasons or thoughts they've noted. (The first excerpt is not offering that PBS or NPR need to be left to their own devices in the current battle. However, Danny Schechter is reffing some of the problems e-mailers have noted. The second entry, please read in full if the excerpt interests you, argues there are some issues being overlooked.)

Members should make up their own minds. Yes, I'm doing my part and, yes, I'm telling myself it's for the last time. That was my decision. Everyone should make up their own mind.

From, Lori e-mails to note Danny Schechter's "Why We Need a Media and Democracy Act:"

The National Conference for Media Reform held last week in St. Louis was a smashing success in generating the momentum that the organizers from Free Press hoped for. Bill Moyers's powerful sermon of a speech during the closing session on Sunday morning was aired on C-SPAN and hurtled through cyberspace faster than that proverbial speeding bullet.The threat to PBS was put on the agenda – as it should be – with a powerful challenge to Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson.
Tomlinson's big-foot strategy at PBS and NPR is being exposed for what is – a right-wing coup that will, if it is successful, drive what remains of more diverse or outspoken programming off the public airwaves.That came through very clearly.
What has yet to penetrate the progressive community is a deeper understanding of the structural problem here, and the institutional stagnation that PBS has suffered from for years.
Unmentioned at the conference was the fact that it was Bill Clinton – not Attila the Hun or Bill O'Reilly – who appointed Tomlinson and, for that matter, Michael Powell. As a TV producer with years of experience producing programming for the PBS that we are now trying to save, I can tell you how flawed the system has been, how timid, and how difficult to work with. But I won't. Suffice it to say, anything less than reinventing PBS and imbuing it with a new more courageous spirit and mission will not have the desired effect.

From CounterPunch, Molly notes Stephen Dunifer's "The Folly of Media Reform:"

If your intent is to move a population from a relatively pacifist or isolationist position to one that is supportive of a global war, then it would make perfect sense to place the broadcast spectrum in trusted hands ­ RCA, Western Electric, etc. Certainly not labor unions whose definition of a bayonet is "a sharp instrument with a worker at each end".
Further, you sweeten the pot with the prospect of war profits ­ according to some statistics, corporate America made $1,000,000 of profit for every US service person killed during World War II. Finally, you take the propaganda machine that has been running since 1916 or so and supercharge it once the war has begun. At the end of WW II this machine was not switched off, instead it was turned full bore on the American public.
Many major media figures, both frontline journalists and corporate bosses, had prominent positions in this war propaganda apparatus. For example, William Paley, CEO of CBS, served as deputy chief of the psychological warfare branch of General Dwight Eisenhower's staff. When that is not sufficient you buy journalists by the dozen as the CIA did in the 1950's. Now most of them are such skanky whores they do not have an asking price.
Given the integral and vital role of media in creating and maintaining a hyper-saturated propaganda environment domestically and an ongoing campaign of media imperialism abroad one would have to be delusional to think that any degree of reform is going to fundamentally alter this reality, or be allowed to have any meaningful effect by the ruling elite. As long as reform is maintained as the only "viable and realistic" option available and its advocates can roam about their comfortably appointed play pens, underwritten by liberal foundations, then those who run and service this mechanistic Moloch to which all must be sacrificed in the name of profit and greed can rest undisturbed.
Further, most advocates of reform fail to recognize that every citizen of the United States is the target of an ongoing psychological warfare campaign. It is terra-forming of the human internal landscape. An old movement slogan had it right, "It is hard to fight an enemy who has an outpost in your head". When someone is carpet bombing your mind every second, minute and hour of the day, blowing the hell of out of your sense of self-esteem, self-identity and self-worth, would any intelligent, free thinking person believe that media reform aspirin is the solution and cure? No way!

Please be aware that there is a wide range of opinion on the current issue. Members should make up their own mind. For those wanting to make their voices heard regarding Ken Tomlinson's attack on PBS and NPR (from yesterday) read the next item:

And let's note that Media Matters has a new campaign "Hands off Public Broadcasting." As noted in members' posted comments as well as in the interview with Ruth, the community is pretty much divided on the issue of PBS and NPR. If you're in favor of action, please visit Media Matters' campaign. The page gives a history of recent events for anyone who's not clear on Ken Tomlinson, et al.

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