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.
Many San Francisco listeners were outraged when media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications fired San Francisco radio personality David Cook (AKA "Davey D"). Cook was fired after leading a heated anti-war debate on his program. Was he the latest casualty of growing intolerance to independent views?
In a new deal, Amazon.com is running commercials near author appearances on NBC, CNBC and MSNBC. The spots lead viewers to Web addresses where they can purchase the books. NBC concedes that it will receive 10% of each book sale, calling that "synergy." Media critic Mike Drew calls it "cynical."
Newspapers in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and Boston, including chains owned by the publishers of The Wall Street Journal and the Boston Herald, are refusing to carry a paid advertisement criticizing retail giant Home Depot for selling lumber treated with dangerous amounts of arsenic, according to a news release from the Healthy Building Network and the Environmental Working Group.
Katie Couric of "Today," Diane Sawyer of "Good Morning America," and Bryant Gumbel of "The Early Show" are three of the nation's biggest media stars. But are they journalists or glorified hawkers? According to a report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which studied the three network morning shows for two weeks in June and two weeks in October, these programs spend an awful lot of time selling things to the public. ... Even given some slight moderation after the Sept. 11 attacks, the report suggested that the shows were becoming a "kind of sophisticated infomercial."
On November 7, former President Bill Clinton gave a speech at Georgetown University on foreign policy and globalization in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11. Within 24 hours, Clinton's words had been twisted into the nonsensical allegation that the former president had blamed slavery and America's treatment of Native Americans for the attacks.