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Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

November 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Media experts in Seattle to warn of big money’s influence on elections

Media experts John Nichols and Robert McChesney are truly worried about the strength of American democracy.

We should listen to what they have to say. Then we must do something about it.

Last Friday, Bill Moyers interviewed the pair about those issues for his show on PBS:

In Seattle this week to promote their new book, “Dollaracracy,” the pair argue that our elections are increasingly influenced by money from the country’s richest individuals and corporations. Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, and McChesney, a communications professor at the University of Chicago at Urbana-Champaign, also warn that broadcast media companies are now more focused on amassing stations and profits from political advertising than serving the public interest through robust local journalism. (Read my previous Opinion NW blog post with a visual of what media consolidation looks like.)

On Monday evening, the two spoke at Town Hall. They’ll continue their tour of Seattle Tuesday evening at the University of Washington at 7 p.m. in Kane Hall (Room 130). Here’s a link to more information about the UW event.

If you don’t get a chance to hear them in person in Seattle, watch our editorial page’s Nov. 4 Google+ Hangout On-Air with Nichols, McChesney, Seattle Times editorial writer Lance Dickie and Free Press President/CEO Craig Aaron. They offered their fascinating insights into the state of the media, big money’s influence on elections, growing concerns over privacy in the digital age, and how political campaigns have started to mine voter data.

What now? Here are a few ideas for you to act on (and culled from the discussion above).

  • Raise expectations with members of Congress so they ensure privacy is protected. Make sure they pressure the Federal Communications Commission to prevent further media consolidation.
  • Don’t stand down. Vote! That’s not all, though. Citizens should be vigilant of voter identification laws that may end up disenfranchising minority and elderly voters.
  • Focus on the media system. Get involved at freepress.net. Learn about the organization’s advocacy efforts. Know what to say to elected officials when important policy matters come up.

0 Comments | Topics: elections, fcc, john nichols

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