Archive | March, 2003

Covering the Media Covering the War

By the way, a good place to get compiled stories on the media’s war coverage is Romensko’s Media Page at Poynter Online. This is not a strictly critical assemblage — Romensko’s pretty broad and open in what he compiles together, and I’d say that his approach is pretty balanced. He is as likely to link the Post’s Howard Kurtz as he is FAIR.

Romensko’s been at this for a while, though his approach is typically pretty insiderish, focusing on the ins and outs of the media industry and its personalities. But right now his hard work is obvious and appreciated.

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CNN Anchor/Cheerleader Admits News Media Were “A Little Late” To Cover the Anti-War Mov’t

The Oregonian’s media columnist interviews CNN prime time anchor Aaron Brown, who apparently isn’t taking too well to the criticism leveled against him and his network, accusing them of being military cheerleaders. But he does admit that coverage of the anti-war movement was “late,” telling the Oregonian:

“Yeah, I think we were a little late to come to (the antiwar movement). There were some reasons why. It didn’t seem to have a center we could focus on. The Democrats in Congress rolled over on the issue. Then (the movement) seemed to coalesce, and once it did we started to cover it.”

Let me tell you, I’ve been watching CNN on and off since the bombs starting dropping, and I can take only so much of Brown. Whether he likes being called on it or not, the guy is a cheerleader for the military. He gets way too excited talking about military hardware and strategy with CNN’s lineup of ex-military guests, and he editorializes all over the damn place.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and lecture on the need for journalistic objectivity, just simple truthfulness. CNN and Aaron Brown himself need to admit that they’re engaged in advocacy journalism, plain and simple. During this war they’re simply a less shrill version of Fox News, but still actively supporting both the administration and its war on the Iraqi people. Aaron Brown deserves what he gets from critics.

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mediageek update, anti-war protest video & Alt. On-Line News Sources

I’ve not been blogging the last few days because I’ve been saturated with other indie media work. I just finished a video document of the big (by Champaign-Urbana standards) anti-war protest that took place last Thursday and basically took over the streets of the University of Illinois campus, which is central to the twin city area. Just for my pals, like you, I made available a RealVideo version of the video, which is playing locally on public access TV. Click here to watch the video, but note that because it’s a quicky encode and not well optimized for slow connections, it’s best watched on a broadband connection.

Over at the Urbana-Champaign IMC the website users have been compiling a nice list of alternative news sources on the web that’s pretty useful and comprehensive. That’s the power of cooperation.

Finally, there was no mediageek radio show posted this weekend because there was no show this Friday. I agreed to be pre-empted so that WEFT, my host station, could bring an extended version of Pacifica war coverage. The show will be back this week and my guest will be Clint Popetz, who is the U-C IMC’s radio news coordinator. We’ll talk about the IMC’s unique approach to radio news and how Indymedia can respond to war.

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Clear Channel Rallies for War — the Truth of Right-Wing Media

How do you get up to 20,000 people to turn out for a pro-war rally? Get highly rated radio stations to sponsor them! What I wonder is if they do T-shirt, CD and food giveaways too. Since that’s why most people show up to lame radio-sponsored events.

Yep, our behemoth media pals at Clear Channel are demonstrating the media’s liberal bias by sponsoring war rallies all over the place. Lest we forget, Clear Channel is the largest owner of radio stations in the country by far, along with producing the likes of the Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura and Matt Drudge radio programs.

I don’t think there is any clearer evidence that Clear Channel has a decidedly and devout conservative right-wing agenda which it pushes both in its on-air programming, and now with its off-air rallies.

Keep this in mind when thinking about why there is almost no liberal talk (commercial) radio out there. Media industry apologists and limp-wristed liberal apologists would have you believe that the reason why there isn’t liberal talk on the radio is because it’s not entertaining enough and doesn’t reach the common man well enough. My question is — how do they know this? Or rather, who’s actually tried it?

The “liberal radio isn’t entertaining” argument is just a smokescreen that hides any real common-sense analysis of the political economy of the radio industry. Clear Channel and other big-media barons would love for you to believe that fat ol’ Rush got so popular on the sheer force of his personality and skill. But what they leave out is that he had the force of economics on his side.

Rush’s popularity rose in the early 90s at the same time that the fortunes of many radio stations was declining, especially small AM stations. At about the same time Premiere radio networks saw an opportunity and started selling these stations talk programming like Rush and Dr. Laura that was cheaper than these stations even attempting to do their own programming. For its part, Premiere could offer cheap rates to stations because they could leverage the nationwide coverage with their advertisers.

To start with, stations didn’t sign on to carrying Rush because he was so popular and entertaining. No, simply his program was long, relatively consistent and cheap, cheap, cheap.

Then with the Telecomm Act of 1996, Clear Channel gobbled up over a thousand stations which it could saturate with its syndicated talkers, like Rush, making the programming even cheaper. Yeah, sure, I’d have mega ratings too if the largest radio station owner in the country pushed my program into just about every market in the country.

So why isn’t there a liberal equivalent to Rush Limbaugh? Well, for starters–and this is really important–it’s because Clear Channel doesn’t produce such a program. Make no doubt, if Clear Channel decides to push a program out over Premiere radio networks and onto its thousand+ stations, it will be a relative success, though sheer saturation.

Secondly, there isn’t a liberal alternative because of the dire lack of creativity in media programming and the push for competitors to copy successful formulas rather than try and provide an alternative. Hence the appearance of latecomers like Sean Hannity, who is distributed by ABC/Disney. Given that Hannity is already a known-name amongst the Limbaugh-audience, due to his being bankrolled on TV by FOX, he’s an easy low-risk choice. Plus, ABC also happens to own a bunch of AM stations to launch him on, even if it’s not nearly in the league of Clear Channel (but who is?).

As much as the mainstream media, their apologists, defenders and concubines wish to convince us otherwise, it’s all in the ownership. Clear Channel is now showing its true colors and using its bully pulpit to push its true plitical agenda. If you won’t see this, then you don’t want to.

And as Clear Channel scouts out its next series of acquisitions and expansion into other media, like TV, I can only assure you that it only gets worse from here.

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