U.S. Media Rigged
Journalists from major media outlets bemoan the fact that big corporations and advertisers dictate their stories.
Exclusive to American Free Press
By James P. Tucker Jr.
If you read The New York Times, Washington Post or other major newspapers, the “news” is dictated by major corporations and advertisers, according to leading mainstream journalists.
Henry Holcomb, reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer; John Nichols, national correspondent for The Nation and columnist for The Capitol Times of Madison, Wis. and others agreed that the nation’s major newspapers and newspaper groups are captives of big corporations and advertisers, as are the television networks.
Their comments came in a panel discussion sponsored by the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO’s Newspaper Guild (composed of newspaper writers and editors) in Washington on Oct. 23.
“Some advertisers kill some stories and promote others,” said Janine Jack son of Fairness and Accuracy in Re porting, a newspaper watchdog group. There is an “overwhelming influence of corporations and advertisers, she said.
In an internal poll, she said, 60 percent of journalists said advertisers “try to change stories.” She said Time magazine did a piece on the environment but, in deference to a mega advertiser, Ford Motor Co., wrote nothing about auto pollution.
Newspapers had a “clearer mission” when he started 40 years ago, said Holcomb, who is president of the News paper Guild of Greater Philadelphia. That mission was to “report the truth and raise hell.” But corporate pressures have blurred this vision, he said.
Newspapers are “less trusted—our industry is in crisis,” said Nichols, who has worked for newspapers in Miami, New York, Washington, Pittsburgh and Toledo, Ohio and is now associate editor of The Capitol Times.
“The trends are all bad—worse and worse,” Nichols said. “Newspapers are on the verge of doom. There are enormous pressures to replace civic values with commercial values.”
“Ninety-nine percent of the people don’t get their news from The New York Times” but from the local press and broadcasters, Nichols said, which also fails to inform them. A local weekly paper cut its news staff from four to one and ordered the remaining worker to stay away from state and national news and is now a display case for press releases, he said.
Local television “is a cesspool,” Nichols said. They are under pressure from big corporations to “entertain” rather than inform and people are “more ignorant” after viewing the “news” because of misinformation, he said.
For example, a broadcast about great accomplishments in the pharmaceutical industry is a “press release” from the industry, he said. Pharmaceutical companies prepare the footage and the station carries it as “news.”
Some stations have no coverage of local politics and people, and learn only from paid political ads, said Miss Jackson of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.
Newspapers are “manipulated” by the government, she said. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice calls to tell the media how to edit and what parts of a story to run, she said.
“There is a battle over control of the media coordinated by big corporations,” said Jeff Chester, head of the Center for Digital Democracy and co-founder of the Center for Media Education.
Both The New York Times and The Washington Post have lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to eliminate protections against media monopolies but neither reported this to their readers, Chester said. Both papers’ reports on the FCC blacked out their own lobbying role, he stressed.
These newspapers are urging the FCC to drop its ban of 27 years on a newspaper and television station in the same city or “market” being owned by one party.
Panelists cited a new report by the Economic Policy Institute stating that “giving any owner an exclusive monopoly over a locality’s top news sources might generate more company profits but it has a negative economic, social, cultural and political impact.”