Saturday, July 12, 2008

Moyers: Media Is Responsible For Our Demise

Who better to critique the traditional media than one of it's preeminent icons, Bill Moyers? He penned an excellent article this week describing how our fourth estate is turning into a fifth column for those that wish to subvert democracy. While journalists can do good work from time to time, he lays the blame on the corporate media giants that willfully turn what is supposed to be an investigative arm of democracy into profitable ventures and nothing more. The article nails the problem of media in our society squarely on its head, especially by using examples like this.

From In These Times:

The new owner of the Tribune Company, real estate mogul Sam Zell, recently toured his new property Los Angeles Times, telling employees in the newsroom that the challenge is this: How do we get somebody 126 years old to get it up? “Well,” said Zell, “I’m your Viagra.”

He told his journalists that he didn’t have an editorial agenda or a perspective about newspapers’ roles as civic institutions. “I’m a businessman,” he said. “All what matters in the end is the bottom line.”

Zell then told Wall Street analysts that to save money he intends to eliminate 500 pages of news a week across all of the Tribune Company’s 12 papers. That can mean eliminating some 82 editorial pages every week just from the Los Angeles Times. What will he use to replace reporters and editors? He says to the Wall Street analysts, “I’ll use maps, graphics, lists, rankings and stats.” Sounds as if Zell has confused Viagra with Lunesta.

Moyers can tell the tragic story with wit and charm, though the problem is if enough people read this article to see the nightmare in the media that surrounds them. We are sinking fast thanks to these greedy multi-national corporations and the only way to stop them is if we scream loud enough and take back our fourth estate from their clutches.