Tuesday, May 13, 2003

The FCC is currently reviewing it's policies of limiting ownership of media outlets. With the GOP in charge they plan to -big surprise- DEREGULATE the communication industry, allowing media conglomerates to own (almost) as many media outlets as they want in the big markets, with some minimal limits on ownership on smaller markets.

A question for those here in America whose synapses have not been rendered completely useless by your television -

If the American Media is really so overwhelmingly "liberal", then why the hell aren't conservatives going apeshit about the fact that, with the potential removal of regulation by the FCC limiting ownership, all those so called liberal media conglomerates will merge into one big liberal media mouthpiece?

Could it be, just maybe, that the conservative ideologues that have cried "the liberal media" every time they hear something reported that they don't like, are in fact licking their lips at the prospect of the media merging even further because they know that the media ain't really all that liberal? The deregulation (that word just keeps coming back now, doesn't it) of the communications industry will effectively shut out the diversity (try not to laugh when you read that one) of voices out there. Spare me the spiel about GOP BS about deregulation and free markets being the answer to every question. Even GOP stalwart and deregulation proponent Dick Armey lost his cool when the media borg in his home town ganged up and subsequently torpedoed his son's bid for the US House Seat that Armey was retiring from.

The only media outlets that I've heard that have questioned the logic of this move, much less covered the damn story, are those so called independent sources like NPR, and the barely heard, often shut out, low on the radar true liberal media sources like Free Speech Radio News, Pacifica and their ilk.

It's not that I'm surprised that the big media companies haven't covered this story. I expect them to be this negligent on something like this. They have no interest in bringing it up on the Nightly News - The GEs, The Rupert Murdochs, Disneys of the world, and all their fellow corporate beneficiaries, all have so much to gain from the FCC ruling that to give this story any negative publicity, or even any publicity at all, would be a no-no. Better to have it slip under the radar. It's just that if the media were in fact really as liberal as the conservative ideologues would have you believe they'd all be having a collective conniption fit, veins bulging from their throat and fists slamming on tables in unison on every Sunday Morning Talk Show Roundtable discussion, every single one screaming bloody murder about the dominance of the liberals on the airwaves.

The truth is they're probably thrilled at the prospect of fewer and fewer media sources because they know what will happen - the Nightly News will concentrate on fluff and stupid pityful stories, letting the big fishes go. They'd rather have that than see those pesky muckraking lib'rul journalists poking their heads under a rock and discovering that in fact really bad shit going down.

It's cheaper to cover stories like how the Government is wasting your tax dollars by spending $33,567.32 on a study to measure the efficiencies of dishwashers rather than it is to research that the Osprey airplane wasted countless billions (over 10 Billions by the way, but whose counting?) while officers inside the Pentagon have been falsefying records to keep this doomed aircraft project afloat. That's right America, throw a hissy fit and express outrage about that Tax and Spend Liberal Congress spending less than $33,000 on a Government study, never mind the 10 Billion the Pentagon blew while trying to protect you, even if it didn't protect the pilots that flew the damn aircraft! Don't you feel safer already?

We can all look forward to in-depth coverage stories about spam and get helpful hints on how to block it, instead of scratch below the surface reporting on how the National Missile Defense Shield doesn't really work, but the President is completely willing to hand over $240 Billion to the people who will sell it to us. You don't think someone like GE, the parent company of NBC and a corporation with huge investments in defense contracting, would shy away from a story like this? It might be at cross-purposes with their business interests, but that wouldn't influence their journalistic ethics now, would it? And hell, I think their audience would rather watch an interview with some celebrity or hear about some domestic murder/suicide/adultery story anyway.

The only real issue the media has a tendency to be liberal about is civil rights, be it racism, sexism or Gay rights. Other than that they pretty much are in line with what corporate America wants or whatever gets ratings (i.e. sex, or something equally as titillating). I've heard a ton on the news about spam, cell phones, and all kinds of stupid meaningless shit on the news. Yet I have no idea what just happened this past weekend in Springfield in the Illinois State Congress, the bill that was recently rammed thru the House and Senate and the Governor signed within hours of passage - it was supposed to be a bill that changed the way our phone service regulation works. All I know is I think the company from Texas, SBC, won in this legislative fight. Like Texas hasn't had enough of it's way with Miss Liberty and Uncle Sam for the past 2+ years. The local news media hardly touched this complicated story, maybe because those competing TV ads SBC, AT&T and Sprint were all running on a regular basis (and paying for just in case you forgot) were so much more informative than anything the local news could have provided. All this has been happening while I've been taking notice at just how bad our local media is now. Just how much worse can it get?

Being that I live in Chicago the local news can't stop itself in the beating of this dead horse story that is that hazing incident at Glenbrook High in Northbrook Illinois. Even if you live somewhere other than Chicago, you may have heard a little about this story since it made national news (CNN, CBS, FOX etc.) but then faded away. Locally however, this story refuses to die.

I watch the local news on a regular basis (I'm beginning to wonder why) and since this whole thing came to light it has been the lead story of every local television news broadcast, almost without failure. It's also talking head's wet dream, to get to beat this story in to the ground, considering it's about Rich High School Girls rolling around in the mud and throwing feces in the face of Juniors, but I think even the O'Reilly's and Hannity's of the world have grown weary of this stupid debacle. Of course I can't be sure since I don't have cable. This whole debacle would have barely make a wave, were it not for the videotape.

Unfortunately the bloodsucking leeches here in Chi town, the ones that we call our local television news coverage, have not yet drained this lame limping dog of a news story of it's last drop of blood. See this guy to the left? After his daughter was suspended, he went to speak at some school meeting, complaining about the punishment levied against his daughter. Afterwards some mother, who was at the meeting as well, confronted this guy in the hallway, saying his daughter got what she deserved. Keep in mind this woman wasn't related to anyone involved, victim or perpetrator, she was just there to give her opinion. And of course, the TV cameras gladly gave her face time. Hi fives all around for her, from all her friends who can now celebrate her brief appearance on the evening news, immortalized forever on the TV telling that guy off. I'm so glad Chicago's fantastic television media was there to capture this incredibly important, poignant and earth shattering confrontation! The reason I know for a fact that all of the local TV networks here covered the conforntation was because I desperately tried to escape the story, but every time I changed the channel, there it was. News coverage is a joke.

Oh, but it gets better - Last night on one channel I came across (I think it was our local ABC affiliate), instead of starting the broadcast with yet another story about the hazing incident, they decided to cover the fact that the police and fire department had closed off an intersection on the West Side of the city because - get this - someone came across an abandoned drum of .... well they didn't know what was in it. All the local TV field reporters converged on the same point to report what was essentially nothing. I haven’t heard another thing about this stupid non-story since they made it the headline on the 10 O’Clock Nightly News. I guess they had to give viewers their daily dose of fear. I am beginning to think Michael Moore was right on in his editorial/movie in Bowling for Columbine.

And after all, I mean, it's not like real news isn't going on in the world, like say a post war occupation or a peace process underway in the Middle East, or a terrorist attack against American targets overseas in a country that our President claims to be our ally, but really hates us. It's not like we're cutting services for the poor or giving corporate welfare away, it's not like we're running our trade deficit straight to hell, or busting our budget but still trying to give rich people tax cuts or anything like that. No, the most important thing you need to know is some out going High School Senior Girls in suburban Chicago beat up the Juniors in a hazing incident, and you need to know every sexy, sweating, muddy gory detail.

I work in a relatively conservative office. I try to steer clear of discussing politics (and sex and religion, one of the best pieces of advice my stepmother ever gave me) but I recently bitched about how bad our TVis. These very same, relatively conservative people, pretty much agree with my criticism. I know there is the tendency of one political side to lump the oppostion into one big stupid crowd, but I'd like to think that if you spoke to the average hard working man on the street, someone who hasn't been instructed on what exactly what to believe (i.e. the GOP party line) most of these people would agree on how they can't stand how bad our television news media is. The people that direct this administration where to go are the that are remaining silent or actually pulling for this to happen - the ivory tower conservative ideologues, the ones that are totally out of touch with reality, like the ones that write for The National Review and The Weekly Standard. The average Joe, conservative, liberal, moderate or otherwise, has no idea that this is happening, but knows our news media sucks.

Hey, maybe we want to be lied to. Maybe no one cares, and no one will care until it gets horribly and terribly worse. I am thinking that it may take something that is severe and domestic, something as bad as another great depression for people to start caring enough to do something about it. Or maybe we're all just idiots, from TV execs to the journalists to the viewers, myself included.

Quite frankly the local affiliates should have done at least a little coverage about the SBC phone law, at least more than what they did,(which was essentially nothing) if for no other reason than for their own profit interests. Every day that bill wasn't passed would have meant more advertising dollars. Someone with half a brain over at one of the local networks should have put 2 and 2 together and figured out that if this was allowed to drag on ad nauseum it would mean additional revenue for the networks. But now it's over, and there will be no more excuses for SBC and AT&T to run any more ads, no time to debate the pros and cons of this legislation, and therefore no more advertising income. Maybe our media sucks because it's run by idiots. A media for idiots, by idiots, about idiots.

I linked some news stories I've read lately;

New FCC regulations to rock media world - Critics fear dominance by a few giants, TV station ownership cap under pressure. By Jim Kirk and Steve Johnson. Tribune staff reporters, published May 11, 2003.

Ease media limits, FCC urged Critics contend proposal would hurt competition. By Jim Kirk Tribune staff reporter, published May 13, 2003.

FCC Staff Said to Back Easing of Media Caps - A commission report recommends allowing a company to own up to three TV stations and one newspaper in major markets, sources say. By Edmund Sanders, Times Staff Writer, published May 10, 2003

I listed some of the FCC articles I've been reading at lunchtime at work lately. The Chi Trib wasted paper covering the hazing story, but to their credit, especially considering that their editorial page is so conservative, they did cover quite a bit about this whole FCC ruling. The Trib does own more than just a few papers; they own WGN in Chicago, a couple of WB affiliates in other major cities like NY and LA. They potential stand to gain from this ruling whether they buy or sell - although I didn't see anything on their own TV news broadcast.

Well I can say this - At least when it comes to the print media you can turn the page and read about more important stuff instead of being inundated by crappola like this;Glenbrook senior fights suspension in hazing. By Mickey Ciokajlo, Tribune staff reporter. Published May 13, 2003, 2:43 PM CDT

Sorry about the lag in blogging - read Salaam Pax cuz he's blogging again too! The world isn't going to hell in a handbasket - yet.


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