The overdue, long promised entry. We noted Danny Schechter's "MediaChannel Appeal: Join Us In A "Show The War, Tell The Truth" Campaign" and there were, according to Shirley and Martha who tabulated, 857 responses. Of those (I did read them all, I did not count them) 154 can be considered to be people letting off steam about the state of the mainstream media. (All numbers are from Shirley and Martha -- soon to be opening their own accounting firm -- that was a joke.) Which left 703 e-mails.
Working from their number crunching, the chief point echoed most often in the e-mails was:
do a program.
That was the leading suggestion from members. Some (such as Brenda, there were others but I remember Brenda's e-mail on this) were aware that Danny Schechter had attempted to get PBS to carry a half-hour weekly program on human rights (PBS said the topic was too narrow or not of interest). But the e-mails that made no comment on that attempt at programming also overwhelming stressed (621) that Danny Schechter and Media Channel should develop a weekly program. Some e-mails noted FAIR's CounterSpin (the weekly radio program). 42 of those stated that whether the program could be broadcast over the airwaves or not, it could be broadcast via the Media Channel web site.
Lyle noted Danny's long history in broadcasting (which also includes radio -- something that didn't pop up in the e-mails so I'll toss that out in case anyone's not aware of it) and felt that he would probably be eager to produce again (he's won two Emmys). This was a thought echoed by Kara who did worry about the work involved but felt that by focusing on an audio program (more on that in a minute), they could pull from News Dissector, Rory O'Connor's columns and Media Channel commentary up at the website already and do an audio version of that. This idea was also popular with one of our couples where the wife has visual problems and the husband reads to her.
75 members, with Brandon being the most vocal on this, felt that the weekly program should come with video. Brandon cited the success he has at work with Democracy Now! People will walk by his cubicle while he's watching it online and they'll stop to watch as well. Brandon also listens to audio programs and doesn't see a similar response even when that program is Democracy Now! which he'll listen to when he can't get the video stream to work.
Brandon feels visuals are important and 74 others agree with him. Most, like Brandon, cited Danny's work on 20/20.
The reasons for a program, audio or video, were summed up by many (Eli and Liang wrote at length on this topic) and can be boiled down as a) Media Channel needs something additional to distinguish itself as a website because this is broadcast news people doing a website and a program would reinforce both their skills and serve as a calling card; b) the web has reached the "readers" and to take it to a new level, Media Channel should be reaching out to those who might not check out a text based site otherwise; c) much emphasis (and Eli noted "too much") is placed on broadcast.
On the last point (I believe the other two are self-explanatory), Eli and Liang noted that our culture is one that worships "the anchor" (and Liang cited the "intense coverage" of Peter Jennings' death as one example). People who are not already being reached by a variety of websites are "traditionalists" (Liang's term) who expect their news to be told to them. Eli notes the decline in circulation for daily newspapers. He also notes the decline for broadcast news, but he feels that more people watch their news than read their news.
All of the suggestions fit into the point Brady summed up as, "Schechter and MC [Media Channel] have a following already. What they're trying to do now is to increase that following and to reach people they don't normally reach. If you're attempting that, you need to offer something you haven't been offering previously."
Keesha's e-mail echoed that but added to it that Danny's WMD "shows he can make strong points by assembling threads into a larger fabric. Right now Medica Channel Org has numerous threads and what they need is large theme that draws from all of that to introduce it to an untapped audience."
Thank you to Shirley & Martha for tabulating the e-mails (they may do an extended piece on this topic for this coming Friday's gina & krista round-robin). Thanks to everyone who weighed in. That does include the ones who just wanted to let off steam about the mainstream media. 27 of you e-mailed a "what's the point" e-mail and I can understand being depressed with the current state of our news. I'm not going to offer a pep talk (and certainly not a lecture). Your e-mails were read (and I believe Jess replied to each of you). If this is a feeling that remains constant, we may do an entry on that before the end of the year. If I can't grab time for that, I may see if The Third Estate Sunday Review or Gina and Krista (for their round-robin) want to grab it. Your opinions aren't being ignored. All, including the 27 just noted, felt that the truth needs to be out there. The 27 were of the opinion that regardless of what is done outside of the mainstream media, the mm will not note it. But all agreed that we've suffered from enough spins and lies.
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[Note: This post corrected to get Rory O'Connor's name correct. I wrongly typed "Rory O'Connel." My apologies. Also please see Rebecca's "public access, web tv" and "Casual entry" from this site for more on the topic of a program with video as suggested above by Brandon. 11-9-05]