On October 25, 1896 The New York Times slogan: “All the News That’s Fit to Print” made its first appearance on the editorial page. The long reigning well known slogan of the New York Times, is now a figment of our imagination. What do you think Arthur S. Ochs Sr. would feel about former Times columnist Bill Kristol as cheerleader for the illegal invasion of Iraq? Do you think Kristol would have even made it through the first interview from the Times personnel office? How do you think Woodward and Bernstein would have fared with today’s media? Do you think Watergate would have even made it to the six o’clock news? Even some of the most progressive people I know think they are getting all the news that is fit to hear from people like Anderson Cooper and his ilk. According to media reform more than 1 in 4 Internet users in the U.S. now log in with AOL Time-Warner, the world’s largest media corporation, for their news.
The slow but sure conversion of a free and open press to a totally controlled media was done with forethought and expertise. In 2004, the book, The New Media Monopoly, by Bagdikian shows that only 5 huge corporations — Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) — now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric’s NBC is a close sixth. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the National Association of Broadcasters has spent $16.9 million since 1996 on pressuring lawmakers to assure corporate control of the airwaves.
The damage done to any society when an honest press is not present can be devastating to a democracy. Since the founding of our nation we depended on investigative reporters to dig out the dirt of the wrong doers. The New York Times Company Policy on Ethics in Journalism forbids financial conflict of interest. If you were in charge of licensing companies to own a TV News station, what would you say to GE if you were aware that they manufactured weapons. Would you expect fair and balanced reporting of the Iraq Invasion. Do you think that maybe that is why NBC was one of Bush’s biggest cheerleaders on Iraq?
We can only depend on ourselves to force the Democratic Process. It is more than clear that if “We the people” don’t do it will not get done. If you read my last piece you heard me push the notion of attending town hall meetings. Simply put, we need to go face to face with our representatives and insist that they establish a new House Resolution, creating conflict of interest articles related to the ownership of the electronic news media or loose their jobs. Let’s get the real news people back into the business and end this sham.
Ed Dunphy is a small business owner and Political and Peace Activist in the Princeton area of New Jersey.