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  • Sylvia Moore 6:34 pm on November 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Citizens United, , , , journalism, , , , , , ,   

    Big Media-One, The People-Zero 

    Well, last Tuesday’s elections went almost as predicted by Big Media. I say “almost,” in that even though the Democrats got creamed in the House races, they managed to barely hold onto the Senate. All year, Big Media were pretty much salivating over seeing a repeat of 1994, wherein the Democrats lost both the House and the Senate to the Republicans, a blowout many attributed to so-called liberal “overreach” on the part of then-President Clinton’s administration.

    Aside from the Republicans, the corporate media were big winners in this year’s turbulent mid-terms. This election was the most expensive non-presidential election in history, with $4 billion spent by candidates. Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, independent groups were able to anonymously bankroll an onslaught of political advertising on behalf of mostly Republican candidates.

    And Big Media was there to cash in. Hundreds of millions of dollars from political spots went right into the coffers of television and radio stations and cable outlets across the country. It’s no wonder that political pundits paid little attention to the corrosive effect all this advertising – much of it deceptive – had on the outcomes of the electoral races. The media barons would no doubt be the biggest obstacles to an effort to require all political advertising be free.

    The corporate media is primarily interested in boosting ratings by pumping up the horse race between the Democrats and the Republicans. They are less interested in providing voters with accurate information about issues and candidates that the electorate needs to make sound decisions. Worse, we have radio and television outlets spewing propaganda 24-7, with no accountability demanded by advertisers or federal regulators. So what you end up with is a confused electorate, whose voting patterns give an unclear and distorted picture of what it is they exactly want from their representatives.

    The profit motive, the quest for ratings, and false equivalency are killing the credibility and independence of the Fourth Estate in this country. They’re also killing our democracy. The mainstream media are largely to blame for a public that is increasingly ignorant and ill-equipped to make rational decisions about public policy.

    The wall between news and entertainment must be restored. Journalists must stop giving fanatics, lunatics and shysters equal weight with academics, scientists and other experts in various fields. It’s time for all reporters, editors, producers and publishers to stop the “he said, she said” stories, and start informing their audiences as to who is telling the truth and who is lying. Exposing lies is not “biased,” because the truth cannot be biased. The news must become a public service again. The survival of our democracy depends on it.

     
    • kittyreporter 10:37 pm on November 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for your commentary on the media. I too am concerned about the misleading information spewing from organizations like Fox News that deliberately inflame people and provide little or no real truthful facts and news.

  • Sylvia Moore 12:24 pm on October 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , journalism, , , , , , ,   

    Is the Enthusiasm Gap Overblown? 

    I’ve always believed that the so-called “enthusiasm gap” among progressives was a media creation. It’s all part of the corporate media’s love affair with horserace political reporting.

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  • Sylvia Moore 11:28 am on October 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , journalism, , , , , , One Nation Working Together, ,   

    The Revolution Will (Barely) Be Publicized 

    Unless you’re a political junkie, chances are you didn’t know there was a very large civil rights rally going on at Los Angeles City College last Saturday. The event was was among several satellite demonstrations held across the country as part of the One Nation Working Together rally in Washington D.C. Organized by civil rights groups, unions, environmentalists and other liberal organizations, the rally was meant to mobilize Democrats for the Nov. 2 midterm elections, as well as provide a counter-movement to the conservative Tea Partiers. The event took place on the National Mall, where thousands of Tea Partiers – led by conservative TV commentator Glenn Beck – had gathered a month before.

    The pro-corporate, anti-tax Tea Party movement has gotten wall-to-wall press coverage, even though only about 30 percent of the population actually supports it. Saturday’s event did get some national coverage from the major television networks, but that paled in comparison to the kind of attention the Tea Partiers are getting on a routine basis. Locally, all I could find was this 37-second clip from ABC7 News. Kudos to ABC for showing up.

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    Los Angeles’ only major newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, published a small photo of the Washington rally on its front page below the fold, with the story buried inside. There was no mention of the local event. However, the paper went out of its way to cover a Tea Party rally in Beverly Hills last week, where only 200 attended. One of the paper’s columnists, Steve Lopez, even provided additional commentary. Why the Times ignored the much larger, LACC One Nation event is a mystery to me. Maybe the editors thought coverage of the Washington rally was enough. But it seems to me when there’s a local angle to a major national story, the public should be informed about it.

     
    • Mary Altmann 3:08 am on October 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      The Tea Party movement is a grassroots effort to restore accountability to our elected officials, and has roots in the 9/11 Truth movement. Sure it has tried to be hijacked by aweful conservative groups. Honesty, after reading the healthcare bill, and having my “liberal” elected officials pass it, I am so royally upset…. Democrats and Republicans are two heads with the same tail.

  • Sylvia Moore 3:23 pm on September 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , homeless, homelessness, journalism, Los Angeles, , middle class, , Skid Row, ,   

    BBC World News Documents the Homeless in Los Angeles 

    If only local TV news stations would do more stories like the one below. The broadcast, from BBC World News America, reports on how homeless shelters in Skid Row are now charging some residents a small fee to stay. The report focuses an issue that needs more attention: the formerly middle class. It’s frustrating that I have to watch a foreign news agency to get information about the desperation going on in my own back yard. Click on the image below to watch the story:

     
  • Sylvia Moore 12:38 pm on August 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , business, class, , , , journalism, 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:

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    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?

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    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:

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    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: , , , , , , journalism, , , , , , , ,   

    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 5:01 pm on August 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , American Taliban, , islamic radicalism, journalism, , , , netroots, , radical, religion, , ,   

    Markos Moulitsas Speaking in LA September 22nd 

    From The L.A. Progressive:

    Markos Moulitsas Speaking in LA September 22nd

    Daily Kos Founder Discussing New Book, “American Taliban”

    Markos Moulitsas, a driving force in new media and founder of The Daily Kos, will speak and sign his ground-breaking book at a free reading to support the LA Media Reform Group’s annual media summit to be held February 26, 2011.

    The Daily Kos is among the largest and most influential progressive online political communities. Known for his biting wit, unwavering gaze, and willingness to take on all sides of the political spectrum, Moulitsas is a regular on cable news shows such as Meet the Press, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and Real Time with Bill Maher and is a columnist for The Hill. He was recently banned from MSNBC for a Twitter fight with right-wing host Joe Scarborugh.

    In his just released American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right, Markos Moulitas—known to millions as simply “Kos”—Moulistas argues that America’s radical right shares the same traits as our main international enemy—Islamic radicalism. Both extremist groups favor theocracy, curtail civil rights, repress women and revile homosexuality, subvert science and education, and revere force over diplomacy.

    “In this day and age of gut-reacting, gutter-fighting world of hyperbole and rhetoric, it is time for critical thinkers to unite and support others who commit so much time to reporting facts.” –Tapia Martinez – LA Media Reform Group; Co-Founder.

    “It isn’t possible to understand American politics now without understanding the worldview and arguments of Markos Moulitsas. If you still believe the Beltway caricature of the squishy, compromising, conciliatory American left, American Taliban should disabuse you of that notion.” — Rachel Maddow

    Kos’s earlier publications include the critically acclaimed Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics (2006) and Taking on the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era (2008).

    Details:

    Wednesday, September 22, 7 p.m.
    Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Westminster Chapel
    3300 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

    *Admission is free with RSVP in advance to lamrg@commoncause.org
    *Attendees are encouraged to purchase the author’s book at the event

    The LA Media Reform group is sponsoring this event in collaboration with the LA Progressive and Alliance Hollywood.
    ________________

    The Los Angeles Media Reform Group focuses on holding news outlets accountable to the public interest and encouraging citizens to create their own media, and to be critical consumers of the mass media. Its next annual summit will be Saturday, February 26th, 2011, at Occidental College.

    The LA Progressive is a two-year-old electronic magazine that comments daily on issues of political, social, and cultural consequence to progressives in Los Angeles and everywhere.

    Alliance Hollywood is a social advocacy group that utilizes the voice, media and financial power of the entertainment industry to fight corporate interest groups on Capitol Hill.

    Questions? Contact us at lamrg@commoncause.org

     
  • Sylvia Moore 6:00 pm on August 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACORN, , AP, Associated Press, Bloomberg, , corporate media, correspondent, CREDO, Credo Action, , , Helen Thomas, journalism, , , , MoveOn, , , , , Shirley Sherrod, , Van Jones, , White House Correspondents Association, White House press corps   

    The White House Press Corps Board Just Doesn’t Get It 

    When word leaked out that FOX News was competing for the coveted front-row center seat in the White House briefing room formerly occupied by the legendary Helen Thomas, liberal activists created an uproar. MoveOn.org and CREDO Action launched a petition drive to stop the White House Correspondents Association board from giving the seat to FOX, and instead award it to NPR, who was also vying for the seat along with Bloomberg News.

    The petition drive was successful – sort of. Although the board eventually awarded the center seat on Sunday to the Associated Press, FOX still got promoted from its second-row place up to the AP’s former front row seat. NPR got moved up to FOX’s old seat. (Thomas abruptly retired after 50 years as a White House correspondent when footage of some rather unfortunate comments she made about Israel surfaced on the Web.)

    MoveOn and CREDO hailed the decision by the association’s board to deny FOX the center seat, but the fact that this nakedly right-wing propaganda outfit masquerading as a news channel now gets to sit in the front row is still an embarrassment. FOX shouldn’t be in the room, let alone have the same honor bestowed on it as truly legitimate news organizations. Their presence makes a mockery of the White House press corps.

    But then again, I’ve thought for a long time now that the White House press corps had turned from an institution of respectable and hard-nosed reporters digging for truth (like in Helen Thomas’ heyday) to a club of overpaid prima-donnas obsessed with catching the president in an embarrassing soundbite when they’re not at the next minute getting cozy with Beltway officials to preserve their precious “access.” Thomas was the last – and perhaps, the greatest – of her kind of Washington correspondent, a holdover from the days when the news media did speak truth to power, and when reporters didn’t bend over backwards to appease corporate overlords concerned with quarterly profits rather than informing the public.

    What really got my blood boiling was a comment attributed to a press corps board member when the petition drive was launched. This member criticized the advocacy groups for “smearing” FOX’s reporters and producers, who she said are “some of the best and well-respected in the business.” But “smearing” is what this channel does to other people 24/7 – particularly to those who don’t follow the conservative political agenda. Shirley Sherrod. Van Jones. ACORN. Those are just the most recent casualties of FOX’s journalistic transgressions. And, why would such good reporters work at a place so obviously beneath their talents? Oh, I guess if you dangle enough money in someone’s face, principles can be easily compromised.

    The association’s board stated that it was giving FOX the front row seat as a recognition of the channel’s “length of service and commitment.” Commitment to what? Commitment to spreading lies about everything from why America is in such a financial mess to those phantom Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction?” Commitment to vile race-baiting, misinformation and crude political discourse? And why is it that one gaffe costs Helen Thomas her career, but when FOX constantly engages in irresponsible behavior it gets rewarded? Why does the White House Correspondents Association board now have such low standards?

    I’ve got my issues with NPR, which is more corporate these days because Congress won’t properly fund it. But NPR’s status as a long standing public broadcaster should’ve taken precedence over FOX. NPR should be sitting beside the AP in the front row. I cannot understand why so many in the American journalism establishment keep defending FOX. This is precisely the wrong image of American media culture we are sending to the rest of the world. FOX should be treated like the television version of a supermarket tabloid – ignored and marginalized. This suck up to a propaganda outfit just makes old media look more and more irrelevant. I’d like to have the White House press corps be filled entirely with independent and foreign journalists who know how to ask tough and intelligent questions rather than the gotcha drivel with which some of the American mainstream Washington correspondents waste the viewing audience’s time.

     
    • Crystal 9:17 pm on August 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Well said. I had the pleasure of meeting a friend of a friend last week who travels occasionally to Europe. She and I discussed the difference in quality of American “news” programs versus European. What passes for television news is an embarrassment to this country. The problem is that most Americans would never consider that ours is not the best and so they’ll never watch or read any foreign press to realize just how bizarre ours is – particularly Fox. The dumbing down in this country is frightening.

      • Sylvia Moore 6:02 pm on August 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks. I really wish we could get the 24 hour BBC News Channel here. CNN International is also supposed to be superior to CNN America.

  • Sylvia Moore 2:05 pm on July 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: journalism, , , , ,   

    How To Be a Mainstream Media Journalist and Not Get Canned 

    This little gem of an animated video I came across on The Kicker blog at the Columbia Journalism Review. It was made using a novel “text to movie” website called xtranormal. This video is hysterical and all too true, in light of what’s happened to several reporters recently when they ran afoul of the social media police. Be an MSM journalist – lose your soul?

     
  • Sylvia Moore 5:20 pm on July 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , consolidation, , , , , , journalism, , , merger, , , , ownership, ,   

    Big Media At It Again: Broadcasters Want FCC to Let Them Own Even More 

    As if the proposed Comcast/NBC Universal merger just wasn’t enough, the nation’s big broadcasters are strapping on the feed bag, ready to engorge themselves with more tasty snacks of the public’s television and radio airwaves. The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing its media ownership rules for the fourth time since 2000, and the National Association of Broadcasters is again asking the commission to ease up on the regulation.

    Specifically, the NAB wants the FCC to eliminate rules restricting cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations, relax radio station ownership rules as well as rules restricting ownership of television stations in certain markets. Media watchdog group, Free Press, immediately petitioned the FCC, criticizing the NAB’s request, and noting that the commission has gone too far already in allowing more media company consolidation. Free Press Policy Counsel Corie Wright:

    “The FCC’s media ownership rules are critical to ensuring that the public’s primary news and information sources do not become consolidated in the hands of a few companies. Moreover, the so-called efficiencies of consolidation have not materialized. Instead, the cost of consolidating has placed a number of companies that might otherwise be profitable in dire straits, resulting in disinvestment in newsgathering and job losses for journalists.

    “We urge the Commission to resist industry pressures to further weaken ownership limits. Companies that have made poor business decisions should not be rewarded with permission to engage in even more media consolidation that would further injure competition and diversity among local media outlets. It is not the Commission’s job to protect industry profit margins. Rather, its role is to promulgate and enforce regulations designed to promote competition, diversity and localism so that the public interest is served.”

    If the FCC lets broadcasters own just about every newspaper, television and radio station in one market, quality journalism will continue to suffer. We’ll have even fewer – if any – news stories about how the City Council is spending taxpayer money, and more gossip about Lindsay Lohan’s legal troubles. After all, to a media company looking after its bottom line, gossip sells – government doesn’t. And there will be fewer alternatives available for the kind of reliable information one needs to make good decisions in a democracy. The Internet has yet to become a sufficient destination for local news. Besides, most people still get their news from television. Instead of informing viewers, broadcasters are spoon-feeding them entertainment disguised as “news,” with the result being too many people who know next to nothing about how their government works. That’s what rampant consolidation has brought us.

    These broadcasters have stuffed themselves enough. Isn’t it time the FCC put them on a diet?

     
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