An epic new book examines the crucial role press and media have played over time in perpetuating racist views in American culture. "News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the U.S. Media," by Juan Gonzalez and Joe Torres, examines Americans' chronic discontent with the media. The book reveals how racial segregation in the media has historically distorted the news and gives numerous examples of how publishers and broadcasters have actually encouraged violence towards minorities and ethnic groups through their coverage.
The authors, both seasoned journalists and researchers, note that over the decades Americans have expressed constant frustration with inaccurate news coverage, and the discontent is greatest among people of color, who feel denigrated and deeply misrepresented by the American media system.
According to the authors, many people of color feel they have been unable to tell their own stories, and when they let others tell it, they get it wrong. Government has historically played critical roles in developing and operating the American media system through policies and taxpayer subsidies of new technologies that emerge periodically, like telegraph, wire services, radio, cable TV, satellites, broadcasting and, most recently, the Internet. Gonzalez and Torres report that throughout that history, each new technology precipitated a huge debate over the government's role in regulating access to that technology. Moreover, the authors note that throughout their research, same question kept coming up: Does our society fare better with a centralized, controlled media system, or a decentralized system of media? The authors found that democracy tends to flourish under a decentralized media system, where racial minorities and dissident voices can have their own press. When media is centralized, though, those groups get excluded from the media system, leading to chronic frustration among the populace. In 2011, the battle is over access to the Internet, where big media corporations are trying to institute a pay-for-play system, where they speed up access to certain preferred sites that pay more, and allow only slow access to other, less-preferred sites.
Juan Gonzalez is a co-host of Democracy Now!, and Joseph Torres is with the media reform group Free Press. The two are currently on a national tour promoting their book, with stops scheduled in California, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Washington, D.C. The authors recently gave an interview on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Read more about the book here.