Why the right-wing corporate media is good for you (and for America) ... again!


13 comments posted
I still want to know

what happened to Cyrus Kar? Or is that too old?

N. Mallory's picture
Posted by N. Mallory (not verified) on 16 September 2006 - 3:59pm
I remember that story

Another casualty of war?

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 16 September 2006 - 8:41pm
Censorship or Apathy?

"[L]ack of substantive coverage" is not the same as censorship. There are actually a lot of topics that nearly nobody is interested in reading about, much less writing about.

Lots of blogs are recirculating this "list of censored topics," but it's all just the same list. That doesn't count as writing about the topics. I'd say the bloggers find the topics just as boring as most people, so the list is all they care to deal with.

Schiller Thurkettle's picture
Posted by Schiller Thurkettle (not verified) on 17 September 2006 - 7:19am
I didn't make it up

The list is "all just the same list" because it's from the same source.

The question is why you believe that news should be only what people want to hear, rather than what is really happening (which presumably is what people should hear)?

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 17 September 2006 - 7:26am
Censorship or Apathy?


People in the business of selling newspapers, etc. can only sell what people want to buy. If newspapers were completely cost-free for everyone involved, people still wouldn't behave differently; they would simply not bother to read newspapers that didn't publish what they want to read.

There's no way to fix this without establishing a Ministry of Truth and enforcing a compulsory reading program.

Schiller Thurkettle's picture
Posted by Schiller Thurkettle (not verified) on 18 September 2006 - 7:12am
That's ridiculous

News is news. You can think news stories are just like movies or paperback novels, but it's a different business altogether, and while newspapers etc. may add some fluff stuff, they don't avoid stories for being too controversial or exposing too big of a story because they think people won't read it.

You have to wonder why would they ditch a story that would raise alarm bells in people? Those kinds of stories sell big time.

Funny you mention a "Ministry of Truth," because that's what we have now: enforcers who threaten publications with lawsuits and editors/reporters with career implications for reporting too much. Inconvenient truths for elected officials lead to inconvenient consequences for those who report them. For the rest, chalk it up in part to multinational corporate ownership of media, and the big business of buying influence and legislation lobbying Congress and the White House.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 18 September 2006 - 7:36am
Censorship or Apathy?

I've been in the print media industry for a decade now, as an editor. I've focused, the entire time, on presenting the news I felt readers would most be interested in reading. I've never been threatened by a lawsuit, probably because I insisted on rigorous fact checking and therefore didn't libel anyone.

Consistently, the biggest problem in the normal course of business is people who try to get spin, or even outright lies, published. These are usually people who consider the news "advertising by other means" and are actually just trying to sell a product or service by, for instance, creating a scare over a competitor's product or service.

I've pissed off more than a few industrial moguls in my time with my approach, and some of them have canceled their subscriptions, but my bread and butter is the majority of subscribers who apparently are, according to our renewal rate, getting what they want to read.

If there were some pervasive pattern of corporate influence, I would have noticed by now. The only pattern of influence I see is the interests of subscribers.

Schiller Thurkettle's picture
Posted by Schiller Thurkettle (not verified) on 19 September 2006 - 5:21am
Interests of subscribers, or advertisers?

Interests of subscribers, or Very Important Sources? (What would a DC media outlet do if they got shut out of all White House staff contact?)

Then there's the "objectivity" of journalism, which only rarely means fact-checking. All too often, it just means giving opposing lies equal time.

  1. "I have to wonder about these scientists always saying the world is round. I look out the window and can see the world is flat!"
  2. On the news: "Democrats denied White House assertions that the world is flat today...."
  3. A month later: "The White House proudly claimed victory in today's successful launch of the Creator satellite into an orbit, which scientists said would be possible only if the Earth were round."
  4. A year later: "Democrats went on the offensive today with a new campaign claiming that the Earth is not flat, but is indeed round. Whether they can sell this message to the American public remains to be seen."

Yes, that's what we get today from the news media. Fair and balanced, but not true.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 19 September 2006 - 7:54am
If I only wrote for sources,

If I only wrote for sources, there wouldn't be enough subscribers to cover my salary. And the revenue from advertising is secondary to subscribers. In other words, the more subscribers, the more money advertisers will pay per square inch. I've never had an advertiser threaten to pull advertising because of editorial content, but if they did, I'd just say, fine, I'll sell the ad space to someone else. And that's just common sense. You keep up your subscriber base first and foremost. You monetize eyeballs, and the more eyeballs, the more money.

Schiller Thurkettle's picture
Posted by Schiller Thurkettle (not verified) on 19 September 2006 - 8:31am
So what you're saying

...is that the people don't want the news. We don't want know what's really going on. Even from our so-called "hard news" sources?

That's a pretty sad and cynical take on the public, and the role of the news industry -- all the more so if true.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 19 September 2006 - 9:58am
Yes that is what I am saying

...sort of. People *want* the news to the extent that it makes them feel "plugged in" to the rest of what people feel "plugged into." Essentially, the news sells culture and fashion. They find it comforting to hear that they heard the same things other people heard. I always try to work in some "trivia," though, so that readers can say they got an extra informative tidbit from me, or better yet, a slap in the face for the proletarian pablum. But yeah, you do news for a while, you get way cynical peddling public truths.

Schiller Thurkettle's picture
Posted by Schiller Thurkettle (not verified) on 19 September 2006 - 7:04pm
So how much of that is real

...and how much of that is mis-reading the public?

It's not all that uncommon for businesses to underestimate or misread their market. We see how local news has been peddling fear for at least 25 years. Sure, it gets people's attention. But is that what they want? Or are these news shows making money off of shouting fire in a crowded theatre?

Will we see the same kind of behavior when news is more competitive? When people view television on demand, instead of just turning on the set and watching whatever is on? When your choices of newspapers are more than just what the major conglomerates are peddling in your area?

Are online news consumers as lazy about their consumption as your average couch potato or bleary-eyed sports pages reader?

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 19 September 2006 - 8:36pm
Mis-reading the Public

Misreading the public, i.e., one's subscriber base, is the deadliest mistake. Local and national news has been peddling fear for two reasons. The first reason is that journalists often don't recognize that the latest fear campaign is a covert marketing ploy and unwittingly consider it straight news. The second reason plays off the first; the public likes scary news. Just like people come to gawk at crime scenes and other tragedies. Skeptics and cynics like to get their news from a variety of sources, and justifiably refuse to rely on a single source. But most of them, if there's competition, simply shop for their favorite source and stick with it. Sort of like picking your favorite sports team.

Schiller Thurkettle's picture
Posted by Schiller Thurkettle (not verified) on 20 September 2006 - 6:43am