dumbed-down, tarted-up, and not really free: the story of the press in america

Following are a few clips from an article on Dan Rather’s recent speech at Fordham University in New York:

…occasionally forcing back tears, he said that in the intervening years, politicians “of every persuasion” had gotten better at applying pressure on the conglomerates that own the broadcast networks. He called it a “new journalism order.”

He said this pressure — along with the “dumbed-down, tarted-up” coverage, the advent of 24-hour cable competition and the chase for ratings and demographics — has taken its toll on the news business. “All of this creates a bigger atmosphere of fear in newsrooms,” Rather said…

Nevin asked Rather if he felt the same type of repressive forces in the Nixon administration as in the current Bush administration.

“No, I do not,” Rather said. That’s not to say there weren’t forces trying to remove him from the White House beat while reporting on Watergate; but Rather said he felt supported by everyone above him, from Washington bureau chief Bill Small to then-news president Dick Salant and CBS chief William S. Paley.

“There was a connection between the leadership and the led . . . a sense of, ‘we’re in this together,”‘ Rather said. It’s not that the then-leadership of CBS wasn’t interested in shareholder value and profits, Rather said, but they also saw news as a public service.

Nothing new, I know, but I didn’t think it would hurt to repeat it.

And, here, while we’re on the subject, is a brief clip from an article that ran a few days ago in the LA Weekly:

If big media look like they’re propping up W’s presidency, they are. Because doing so is good for corporate coffers — in the form of government contracts, billion-dollar tax breaks, regulatory relaxations and security favors. At least that wily old codger Sumner Redstone, head of Viacom, parent company of CBS, has admitted what everyone already knows is true: that, while he personally may be a Democrat, “It happens that I vote for Viacom. Viacom is my life, and I do believe that a Republican administration is better for media companies than a Democratic one.”

And what conversation about media would be complete without at least a passing mention of that fact that almost all if it is controlled by six extremely large international corporations.

So, the question now is, will our journalists keep the tiny balls they seem to have sprouted in New Orleans? And just how far can they push things before their support dries up at the corporate level? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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3 Comments

  1. Tony Buttons
    Posted September 21, 2005 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    There’s no longer a need for a free press. It’s a relic of the past, like unions, public education, social security and Noah’s pet dinosaurs. Get with it.

  2. mark
    Posted September 22, 2005 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    What we really need is a class of aristocrats who can look out for our interests!

  3. Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    An interesting post.

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