Professor Jerold M. Starr looks at corporate control of the U.S. media and calls for a new independent public broadcasting system: "Today a mere six corporations control more than half of all communications enterprises: books, magazines, newspapers, music, motion pictures, radio and television. Some 77 percent of the nation's daily newspapers are part of chains. Two firms control more than half the market for 11,000 magazines. Four firms control our broadcast TV networks and almost all the cable networks.
In a TomPaine.com commentary, Institute for Public Accuracy's Sam Husseini warns of the chilling effect the Federal Communications Commission, the agency that controls broadcast licenses, could have on reporting U.S. military actions. Husseini recalls the Pentagon Papers, an internal report on Vietnam that few media outlets would touch for fear of drawing expensive and threatening FCC investigations.
The "war on terrorism" has made life easier for President Bush's image handlers, reports Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, who describes the way journalists have come to "rely on Bush's inner circle for behind-the-scenes color about the tense atmosphere" inside the White House.
TV journalists are reacting to a memo sent out to the staff of NY-area cable News 12 that bans displaying the flag while reporting. The memo, sent by News 12 news director Pat Dolan, has journalists "weighing whether wearing the flag during an intense period of patriotism and grief conflicts with their impulse to avoid any appearance of not being objective on a story," reports CNN.
The New York Times today reports that "in interviews with two dozen New Yorkers, most people said the desire for peace outweighed any impulse for vengeance, even among those directly affected" by the September 11 terrorist attack. Across the U.S. tens of thousands of Americans are already participating in peace rallies calling for military restraint and criticizing the U.S. media for poor reporting of U.S. military and foreign policies leading up to the terrorist attack. How will the news media cover and depict this unfolding peace movement and its views?
Common Dreams is one website providing an important alternative to mainstream TV coverage. TV commentators are increasingly fanning flames of war and rapid retaliation. "Americans are anxious to have some sort of retaliation take place," National Public Radio and FOX TV commentator Juan Williams stated today during FOX coverage featuring stirring music videos of Tuesday's attack set to patriotic songs.
CBS's new dramatic series about the Central Intelligence Agency, called "The Agency," brings into question the relationship between the network and the government agency. CBS has received input on scripts and support from the CIA for the program, which premieres this month. Jeff Cohen, founder of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting and Newsday columnists, compares the new series to the sixties TV-show "The FBI," produced by ABC with the blessing and cooperation of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI.
U.S. Newswire, a for-profit press release distribution service, faxed the PR Watch office advising us of "numerous newsmaking opportunities." "You should be working now to position your organization as a key news source for media working on these and other stories," said the news release. "One of the best ways to do this is via U.S. Newswire.
A recent survey of politicians found that they are as frustrated as the rest of us with the corruption of modern politics. The University of Maryland interviewed 7,500 winning and losing candidates for election and found that most candidates want the focus of campaigning more on the substance of policy ideas and were frustrated by the media's tendency to focus on personal foibles and insider clashes.
The Omnicom Group is negotiating a deal with Viacom Inc.'s UPN network to arrange product placements on UPN's TV programs in exchange for Omnicom buying $30 million in TV ads. According to industry executives, part of the deal calls for McDonald's to be scripted into ''The Hughleys,'' a sitcom about an African-American suburban family starring comic D.L. Hughley. Other clients whose products will be scripted into UPN shows include Cingular Wireless, Gillette, Sony's PlayStation, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance and Vivendi Universal's Universal Pictures.