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November 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM
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. (more…)
November 2, 2013 at 6:08 AM
Join us for a Google Hangout at noon Monday on money, media and elections.
Our guests will be joining us from all over the country to talk about the influence of big money on political equality just in time for election day on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
John Nichols is co-author of “Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.” Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.
Robert W. McChesney is co-author of “Dollarocracy.” He is a professor of communication at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He has a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Washington and he received his bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College.
Craig Aaron, president and CEO of the nonprofit Free Press. He joined Free Press in 2004 and speaks across the country on media, Internet and journalism issues. Craig is a frequent guest on talk radio and is quoted often in the national press. His commentaries also appear regularly in the Guardian and the Huffington Post. Before joining Free Press, he was an investigative reporter for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch and the managing editor of In These Times magazine.
Thanh Tan, multimedia editorial writer, will moderate the Hangout. Tan is a former broadcast journalist for a local news station in Portland and the PBS station in Boise.
Lance Dickie, editorial writer, will also join the hangout. Dickie closely follows media consolidation and the Federal Communications Commission for the editorial board.
October 29, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Some things you have to see to believe, right?
Well, take a look at the interactive graphic below by Free Press, a media watchdog group that closely monitors the Federal Communications Commission. It shows how four media conglomerates have quickly amassed news stations nationwide. It is disturbing stuff.
The FCC clearly continues to ignore its own rules on promoting competition, localism and diversity within broadcast media. The result is less independent and minority ownership, fewer perspectives on the air — and a weakened democracy.
For a look at what’s happening on the ground, check out this Sunday guest column by San Francisco-based broadcaster Ravi Kapur.
The Seattle Times opinion page’s Tuesday editorial highlights how media consolidation is hitting close to home with the sale of KOMO 4 to Sinclair Broadcast Group and the pending sale of KING 5 to Gannett. The former deal should have been blocked; it’s not too late for the FCC to stop the latter.
July 2, 2013 at 6:00 AM
The Tribune Company must be doing okay after emerging from bankruptcy several months ago. The corporation’s leadership announced Monday they are purchasing 19 television stations from Local TV Holdings, LLC for $2.7 billion in cash. The sale is still subject to FCC approval.
I wonder whether Seattle viewers realize three of the five news stations in town are now in some stage of ownership change? Sinclair is buying Fisher Broadcasting (parent company of KOMO-TV). Gannett announced its intention to take over Belo (operator of KING 5). KCPQ-TV has been a Tribune property since 1998, but the local Fox affiliate may soon be part of a much larger conglomerate consisting of 42 television stations.
Our local channels — with the exception of Fisher and KCTS— have not been locally owned or independent for some time, but there’s still plenty to lament. I don’t mean to say the new owners have bad intentions or will drive down the quality of news. They may continue to produce great award-winning content. I really hope they do. But when large companies gobble up smaller entities, it generally leads to fewer diverse perspectives on the air and less opportunity for ownership by women and people of color. Take a look at the 2010 charts by the media watchdog group, Free Press. The situation has not improved.
Media consolidation makes financial sense. Some might argue it allows companies — especially those formerly invested in newspapers— a chance to diversify their investments and reap the rewards that come with television ownership, including ad sales. At the same time, I worry the profit motives driving these sales will trump what’s in the public interest, which is strong, fearless programming that reflects the values and make-up of our diverse communities.
Last week, I wrote about how lawmakers like U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell are asking the right questions about cross-ownership of newspapers and television stations in the same markets, but it doesn’t look like the FCC is going to do much to stop the trend. I’m not sure how many people really even care, which is too bad considering the airwaves used by television stations actually belong to the public. We allow these private entities to use those airwaves to broadcast popular shows and to turn a profit. In exchange they are supposed to provide a service to the public in the form of news and information to help us make informed decisions and maintain a strong democracy. We should ask ourselves whether they are holding up their end of the bargain, and whether the FCC is properly enforcing ownership rules. (more…)
June 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., continues to demonstrate strong leadership on the issue of curbing media consolidation.
As the Federal Communications Commission undergoes an important review of media ownership guidelines, Cantwell and her colleagues on the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee are getting to know Thomas Wheeler, President Barack Obama’s nominee to become the next chair of the FCC.
In his first initial meeting before the panel last week, Cantwell told Wheeler the newspaper industry’s efforts to purchase more broadcasting stations should be scrutinized, especially after Gannett’s announcement it plans to purchase broadcasting giant Belo’s 23 television stations — including KING 5 in Seattle. Five of those broadcasters are in other cities where Gannett already owns a newspaper. Current rules prohibit media companies from owning multiple properties in the same market.
“And while the purchase is subject to the approval of both the FCC and DOJ, I think Gannett is trying to basically use these ownership rules, use the whole shared service agreement, as a way to get around those rules. So I’m very concerned about that whole issue,” she said.
Wheeler responded, “Senator, I understand the seriousness of this issue. And I have long been an advocate of diversity of voices. On the specific issue that you just raised, I also note that the chairman has asked the [Government Accountability Office] to opine on this issue. And I think that’s appropriate and called for. And I look forward to their opining, their opinion. But I think you said the key thing: that when the commission looks at these issues – competition, localism and diversity – are the issues that should be the touchstones. Not business plans.”
Watch the full June 18 Q&A between the senator and Wheeler in the video below, courtesy of Cantwell’s YouTube channel: