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  • Sylvia Moore 12:38 pm on August 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , business, class, corporate, , , , ktla, , , , , , SEIU, , , , workers   

    Janitors Protest: A Rally Against Economic Injustice or A Public Nuisance? 

    Last Thursday, hundreds of activists staged a protest in Century City outside of the JP Morgan Chase-owned Century Plaza building in support of 16 janitors who were laid off in a company cost-cutting move. The Service Employees International Union organized the demonstration, including a hunger strike – part of a series of actions that ended on Friday. Thirteen protesters were arrested after they sat down in the middle of a street intersection in an act of civil disobedience.

    These protests were just the latest expression of outrage among the working classes across the country, who have suffered massive job losses and wage stagnation, while failing bank behemoths who wrecked the economy got bailed out to the tune of billions of dollars. The day of the janitors action, I wondered how much local news coverage it would get – if any at all. The protest did get the media’s attention, probably more so because of what it did (caused traffic jams), rather than what it represented (economic inequality and distress).

    All five major local news stations – CBS2/KCAL9, NBC4, ABC7, FOX11 and KTLA – had stories about the protest. Most had videos on their web sites, along with a print version. NBC4 was the only site without video, but you can read its account here. What was fascinating was the different tone each newscast took, what they chose to focus on and whom they chose to interview.

    KTLA’s coverage was by far the absolute worst in terms of corporate bias and tone. The narrative was just downright snarky. The station, which is owned by the struggling Tribune Co. (parent of the Los Angeles Times), broadcast two reports – one during the actual protest, and a longer report later on. Most of the focus was on how motorists were inconvenienced, and less on the grievances of the protesters. It’s as if the producers were more concerned about wealthy entertainment and banking executives who work at Century Plaza being aggravated, rather than whether the janitors were getting a raw deal. Watch the broadcasts below:

    Vodpod videos no longer available.
    Vodpod videos no longer available.

    FOX 11 was more sympathetic to the janitors, choosing to focus on a woman who participated in the hunger strike. But inexplicably, the focus then turned to an interview with TV sports commentator and former basketball star, John Salley. Salley just happened to be in the area, but what does the point of view of an athletic personality add to the story?

    Vodpod videos no longer available.

    ABC7 and CBS2/KCAL9 did the best in terms of fairness and tone. Each station interviewed more of the protesters, in addition to obtaining statements in response from the janitorial firm. It was good to see that both broadcasts allowed the participants to clearly get their messages across, and that both noted the rally was peaceful. Interestingly, though, ABC7 chose to talk to the police, whereas CBS2/KCAL9 did not. CBS2 doesn’t allow for video embeds on blogs, so you can watch the video by clicking here. The ABC7 video is below:

    Vodpod videos no longer available.

    It was great to see a workers protest covered in the news and across multiple outlets. Labor news gets short shrift in the mainstream press nowadays. But I wonder: Would the media have showed up at all if no one was blocking the streets?


     
  • Sylvia Moore 6:30 pm on August 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , corporate, , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Activists Take Aim at Fox News 

    Calls to drive out Fox News grew louder this week. On Monday, media watchdog groups demanded that the White House Correspondents’ Association boot Fox from the front-row seat the conservative-leaning channel gained in the press briefing room after Helen Thomas’ resignation. A former WHCA president then called the decision to give Fox the seat “a travesty.”

    The demand for Fox’s ouster is in response to parent company News Corp.’s recent donation of $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. Despite this obvious conflict, it doesn’t look like the WHCA is about to budge. Which means my overall impression of the White House press corps as an entity that has sunk into irrelevancy still stands.

    On Wednesday, the civil rights group Color of Change.org launched a nationwide campaign to get local businesses, bars, restaurants, and other public establishments to dump Fox News. Called “Turn Off Fox,” the effort also includes a petition drive. Color of Change outlined some of Fox’s recent forays into yellow journalism in a DailyKos posting:

    Fox News hosts and guests regularly attempt to pit groups of people against one another — white against black, US-born against immigrant, gay against straight and men against women. Some of the network’s most divisive rhetoric is spouted when the topic of race. In July 2009, Fox host Glenn Beck called President Obama a “racist” who has “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture” — a statement with which Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch has since said he agrees. Frequent Fox guest Jesse Lee Peterson has said that most black people lack moral character, and cited “what they did to the dome” after Hurricane Katrina as evidence. Recently, Fox News contributor John Stossel called for the repeal of a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prevents business owners from discriminating based on race. And Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity were the first to air maliciously edited video of Shirley Sherrod’s speech to the Georgia NAACP — video that cost Sherrod her job with the USDA. The recent episode involving Sherrod has helped confirm what we have long known — that Fox is a propaganda machine with no regard for the truth.

    In an interview with Mother Jones, Color of Change founder James Rucker said that targeting Fox’s advertisers wasn’t completely effective, since the network’s ratings remained strong despite losing ad revenue (something I knew wouldn’t work anyway). So Rucker decided to change tactics and take the fight to the public.

    Rucker’s campaign is an admirable endeavor at grassroots agitation, but will this also be effective? Many small business owners lean Republican (although if these mom and pops actually knew how much Republican policies favored corporations over small business, they wouldn’t be). This campaign will need to get customers in the millions to put major pressure on business owners to change the channel or else they’ll take their business elsewhere.

    However, Fox News is really the least of our worries. It’s talk radio and local network news that the bulk of the population is tuning into. There’s a great deal of violent and hate-filled rhetoric on right-wing talk radio, and a lot of dis-information or a lack of information filling local news channels. I’d like to see Rucker and Color of Change next do a campaign to encourage people to contact their legislators to do something about media consolidation. Because when the rest of the airwaves have more opposing viewpoints, Fox’s influence will be greatly diminished.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 5:16 pm on August 24, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , corporate, , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Al Franken Calls Net Neutrality “Biggest Issue Since Freedom of Religion” 

    Video of Sen. Al Franken’s speech at last week’s Federal Communications Commission hearing on net neutrality:

     
  • Sylvia Moore 10:53 am on August 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , corporate, , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Will the Public Finally Get Energized About Net Neutrality? 

    Sometimes I wonder what it was going to take to get the public more galvanized on the issue of protecting Net Neutrality. As if the Supreme Court’s enthusiastic approval of oligarchy wasn’t enough, we’re facing another one of the biggest threats to free speech and democracy – corporate control of the Web.

    Basically, the telecommunications industry wants to erect tollbooths on the Internet. They want to make content creators pay top dollar for their web sites to download faster. They want to choose winners and losers, get rid of competition and make consumers cough up more money. Gutting net neutrality is great if you’re a certain cable company, like, say, Comcast, who wants to merge with a certain entertainment company, like, say, NBC Universal, and combined, you wish to crush any troublesome Internet entertainment startup. Gutting net neutrality would also be great news for the giant television news outlets and bad news for any of the myriad of web sites that criticize them.

    Unfortunately, net neutrality was never the sexiest political issue. So maybe the announcement last week that Google and Verizon were proposing to put up the tollbooths on the wireless Internet (your smartphone) would wake people up. Google was initially the premier corporate champion of net neutrality, so the company’s about-face shocked and angered many. Apparently, since Google is now getting into the cell phone business, suddenly net neutrality was no longer good for the bottom line.

    Google and Verizon swear they want to keep the wired Internet (your PC) free and open, but the proverbial camel’s nose is sniffing under that tent. Consumer and media reform groups and some lawmakers have been the most vocal advocates for net neutrality. But greater support for net neutrality has to come from average Joes and Janes who use the Web. Too many people I fear are still apathetic on this issue. If you don’t start bugging your representatives, you may one day find that your favorite web sites are taking five minutes or more to load. Or you may find you have to pay extra for content you once got for free.

    Comedian and now U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, has been at the forefront in fighting for net neutrality in Congress. Today, at 4PM PST (6PM Central), the Federal Communications Commission is holding a hearing in Minneapolis on the issue. The proceedings will be streamed live.

    In the video below, Franken talks on local Minnesota television about the importance of net neutrality.

    Below are some good opinion pieces about net neutrality:

    Google-Verizon Deal: The End of The Internet as We Know It

    Our view on ‘net neutrality’: Don’t erect tollbooths on information superhighway


    To show your support for net neutrality, sign Sen. Franken’s petition and send your comments to the FCC by going to Save the Internet. And also, call, write and fax your congressperson and senators. If you don’t know your representatives, you can look them up by entering your zip code on Congress.org.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 12:07 pm on July 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: broadcast, , , , competition, , corporate, , , , , , ,   

    Common Cause Joins 20 Other Groups Opposing Comcast/NBCU Merger 

    Good governance group Common Cause is joining with 20 other organizations in opposing the proposed merger between cable conglomerate Comcast and NBC Universal. Calling themselves The Coalition for Competition in Media, the groups include organizations across the political spectrum, from the conservative-leaning Parents Television Council to the more liberal National Organization for Women to the non-partisan Common Cause. The coalition argues that the proposed merger threatens consumer choice and fair competition in the media market.

    In the meantime, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Federal Communications Commission held public hearings July 8 and July 13 in Chicago on the merger. Click on the links below for testimony:

    Field Hearing on “Comcast and NBC Universal: Who Benefits?”

    “FCC commissioner is skeptical over Comcast, NBC Universal merger at hearing”

    “Critics Dominate Latest Hearing on Comcast-NBC Merger”

    “Free Press to FCC: Say No! to Comcast/NBC Merger”

     
  • Sylvia Moore 6:47 am on December 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , corporate, iraq, , , , , ,   

    Anti-war Voices Scarce In the Media 

    Although polls vary widely, a large chunk of the public still wants the war in Afghanistan to end. Opposition has swung as high as 57 percent before President Obama outlined his plans to send 30,000 more troops to the region, to a low of 43 percent afterwards. But if you looked at some of our major newspapers, one gets the impression that there’s little dissent going on. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) studied 10 months of op-eds from The New York Times and The Washington Post, concluding that pro-war cheerleading far outnumbered anti-war dissent. Sounds to me like a re-run of the run up to Iraq. And military analysts are still appearing on major TV networks commenting about Afghanistan, even though these same analysts’ financial interests in various defense contracting firms hardly make them objective. At the same time, extensive coverage of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts has taken a back seat to the fight over healthcare reform in Washington. Meanwhile, anti-war protests regularly take place in Washington D.C. and around the country, but get little media coverage. Just doing a quick YouTube search yields tons of amateur videos shot by anti-war activists. The rally in the video below took place just outside the White House last weekend and featured several former presidential candidates, but I’ll bet unless you get your news from alternative media, you probably didn’t know it happened.

    Still, maybe it says something about the American people right now that many of them haven’t been swayed by the conventional Washington beltway slant fed to them via their TV screens and newspapers. For the mainstream media to ignore or downplay a large portion of dissenting views on the wars is in no way fair or objective, and does a disservice to the public interest.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 9:56 pm on November 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: amy goodman, corporate, democracy now, events, ,   

    Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, is on a national speaking tour to launch her new book, Breaking the Sound Barrier. 

     

     

     

    Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, is on a national speaking tour to launch her new book, Breaking the Sound Barrier..

    Goodman will be speaking tomorrow first at Skylight Books,  1818 N. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles, from noon to 1:30 pm, and then at All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave. in Pasadena, at 7:30 pm. Click on the link above for more information. Her book will be available for sale. Goodman has been a tireless champion of independent media for years, and a fierce critic of the corporatization of the news. What we have in this country is a “majority of the silenced,” Goodman says, whenever public opinion on war, the economy, healthcare goes against the establishment, but is largely ignored by mainstream news coverage. This event would be well worth attending.

    Democracy Now! can be heard on weekdays from 6–7 am and repeats from 9-10 am on KPFK 90.7 FM. You can also watch online at http://www.democracynow.org.

     

     
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