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Monday, April 04, 2005

Why media ownership matters

Amy Goodman runs Democracy Now, a US-based "national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 300 stations", designed to bring listeners the news and views shunned by the mainstream media.

She's written an article for the Seattle Times with her brother David on media consolidation and the need to maintain a range of voices in print, TV, radio and online. With media moguls increasingly shouting for deregulation of media laws in Australia, America, Britain, a host of European nations and parts of Asia, just what is the real agenda of these supposed media freedom fighters who claim to want diversity?

Goodman highlights:

"At the time of the first Persian Gulf War, CBS was owned by Westinghouse and NBC by General Electric. Two of the major nuclear weapons manufacturers owned two of the major networks. Westinghouse and GE made most of the parts for many of the weapons in the Persian Gulf War. It was no surprise, then, that much of the coverage on those networks looked like a military hardware show";

"We don't see the real images of war. We don't need government censors, because we have corporations sanitizing the news. A study released last month by American University's School of Communications revealed that media outlets acknowledged they self-censored their reporting on the Iraq invasion out of concerns about public reaction to graphic images and content";

"The lack of diversity in ownership helps explain the lack of diversity in the news. When George W. Bush first came to power, the media watchers Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) looked at who appeared on the evening news on ABC, CBS and NBC. Ninety-two percent of all U.S. sources interviewed were white, 85 percent were male, and where party affiliation was identifiable, 75 percent were Republican";

"In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, there was even less diversity of opinion on the airwaves. During the critical two weeks before and after Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations where he made his case for war, FAIR found that just three out of 393 sources — fewer than 1 percent — were affiliated with anti-war activism".

Never believe a media mogul. Anyone who says that we've never had such "diversity" of views in our media are technically correct, but the mainstream remains as tightly controlled as ever. As Goodman says, "our media have become an echo chamber for those in power." We can make a difference.


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