The stranglehold that a dozen giant corporations now exert on media in the US will tighten even more in the wake of a federal court ruling. The ill effects of corporate media control such as mind numbing content, self-censorship to serve advertisers, neglect of minority opinions and dissent, sensationalized if-it-bleeds-it-leads news, plagiarism of PR as 'news,' are all set to worsen. Schiesel and Carter write in the New York Times, "Investment bankers, start your engines.
For $15,000, Canada's "Business Television" program will produce a puff piece about a company's "philosophy and future vision," "innovative aspects" and "specific products or services, as well as successes and challenges." It will broadcast the show as news, without any information in the credits to inform viewers that money has changed hands.
"Proving that irony is alive and well post-Sept. 11," observe Steve Rendall and Peter Hart, "a book deriding the national press corps for its flagrant liberal bias has been the subject of enormous attention in the same mainstream media that, the book argues, suppress conservative views." In their critical review of Bernard Goldberg's book, Bias, they note that "right-wing media watchdogs ...
"By pandering to anti-Arab hysteria," writes Eric Boehlert, "NBC, Fox News, Media General and Clear Channel radio disgraced themselves -- and ruined an innocent professor's life." University of South Florida computer science professor Sami Al-Arian received death threats and lost his job after conservative Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly revived discredited, years-old allegations from self-styled terrorism expert Steve Emerson th
"Some of the nation's largest corporate advertisers, seeking greater control over television, are proposing to create their own shows to air on the major broadcast networks," the Los Angeles Times writes. With network advertising revenues down, some TV executives are open to corporate sponsored shows. Both Ford Motor Company and Coca-Cola are developing TV shows to promote their products. Ford's "No Boundaries" premieres on the WB network in March. Coca-Cola's "Stepping Stones" is set for NBC's summer season.
Mark Crispin Miller examines the growing power of the world's 10 largest media multinationals: AOL Time Warner, Disney, General Electric, News Corporation, Viacom, Vivendi, Sony, Bertelsmann, AT&T and Liberty Media. "The media cartel that keeps us fully entertained and permanently half-informed is always growing here and shriveling there, with certain of its members bulking up while others slowly fall apart or get digested whole," he observes.
A roiling debate over the United States' ties with Saudi Arabia took an ugly turn when the Saudi defense minister, Prince Sultan ibn Abdul Aziz, publicly accused the "Zionist and Jewish lobby" of orchestrating a "media blitz" against the desert kingdom.
The Media Channel, a nonprofit, public-interest Website dedicated to media issues, features ongoing and up-dated coverage of the global "War on Terrorism" and how it continues to threaten both journalism and journalists. The web digest looks at how media worldwide are coping with danger, trauma, censorship and bias.
"The American economy has officially entered what promises to be the worst recession since the early 1980s and, conceivably, the worst since World War II," writes economist Robert J. Samuelson. "But you'd hardly know from the media, which have treated the economic story as a sideshow. ... Editors have subconsciously delegated their jobs to Wall Street," which refuses to stop hyping over-valued stocks. "Editors would no doubt resent being cast as Wall Street's lackeys. But that is the effect."
The terror attacks have made what was already a severe advertising downturn even worse for cash-strapped publications. Advertisers are taking advantage of the downturn by nibbling away at editorial independence, asking for more marketing freebies, better placement and bigger discounts. Wall Street Journal reporter Matthew Rose describes how the Ford Motor Company pressured Rolling Stone publisher Rob Gregory to offer free publicity for a music tour promoting the Ford Focus.