Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The state of the media ...

... Carlin Romano on Robert McChesney: Big Fish and Small Fry. (I saw this on Arts& Letters Daily, but Dave Lull also sent it along.)

Yale First Amendment scholar Thomas Emerson also argued, writes McChesney, that in the 1930s nothing in the Constitution “prevented the government from establishing a completely nonprofit radio and television system.”

And now we have PBS and NPR. So what? McChesney's whole point is that he wants to make sure that people read only what he thinks it is important for them to read. I'll read what I feel like, thank you. If corporate media fail to provide people what they want, people will vote with their pocketbooks - oh, but they've been doing that, haven't they?


  1. Anonymous1:25 AM

    Yes, the so-called free market is the solution to all our problems. Amazing that someone previously associated with journalism would think that market forces should dictate the journalism that this democracy needs to function. People can "vote with their pocketbooks" all they want; It seems pretty clear what kind of news media this (un-free) market will produce, and it fails to meet even journalists' own standards.

  2. And just what kind of journalism do you think you would get by having the government - any government - dictate what it should be, oh great and knowing unnamed one? The value of market forces is that they are forces - note the plural - different and often in conflict. Their greatest virtue is precisely their messiness. You don't seem to notice that, underpinning your viewpoint, is an absolute lack of faith in the common reader and his or her preferences and predilections. The fact is, what you want is to control the media, and therein lies your objection to market forces, because to some extent at least they prevent that.
    Stop into a market sometime. Notice the variety of things on sale. Notice how you exercise your free choice in what you buy. And try to remind yourself that that is exactly what you want to take away from the world of media.

  3. I particularly like what the free market has done for commercial radio and for the dog's breakfast we call our health-care system. Most piquant. As to the first, I listen to NPR; as to the second, I try not to get sick.

  4. I am afraid, Roger, that we may be confusing the market itself with the people who go there. I don't listen to NPR much - or any other talk radio because, well, I don't particularly like listening to people go on. I heard Rush Limbaugh once or twice many years ago while riding in a friend's car while on a visit to the Midwest. The only thing I took from that is an abiding sense that the liberal denunciations of him are rather over the top. He struck me as a mildly amusing, skillful broadcaster with an upfront point of view that you could easily avoid by switching to another station. Air America had a shot - and missed, apparently. Was that the market or poor performance? Whatever, it doesn't seem to have attracted much of an audience. I have never watched a nanosecond of American Idol (I have David Hiltbrand to do that for me), but who am I to complain about those who do? The market doesn't determine what people buy or turn on. It simply makes it its job to provide people with what they want. People who complain about the market are really complaining about the people who go there and what they choose to buy.

  5. With respect, I do not think I am confusing anything. Rush Limbaugh and all the rest of talk-radio talkers are entertainers, nothing more. I don't "go there" because I don't like their entertainment. NPR is not talk radio. We, my wife and I, do not go to the health-care market because she lacks insurance, not from lack of wanting, but because we are priced out of that market. But we are patient (if not patients), awaiting hourly the market's remedy for health-care insurance that conservatives and libertarians promise is the solution.