The Independent Newsweekly
|Today's Take: NCR's daily Web column|
|Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news. It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.|
|June 9, 2003||
Vol. 1, No. 45
Serving up more than Wonder Bread
Tom Fox NCR publisher
The voice of the National Catholic Reporter became even more vital last week. Yet you don't see me celebrating.
NCR provides news and analysis you simply cannot find elsewhere. We are an independent voice in American journalism, providing a platform for discussions that shape church, society and the global community.
It is too bad there aren't more voices like NCR. The problem is that voices in American journalism are not growing; they are being restricted. The reach of Big Business Media is expanding. Money rules. Dissenting values are being marginalized. Corporate America is shaping America.
Government was supposed to assure this would not happen. Now government is assuring it will increasingly happen. Government was supposed to regulate to avoid the monopoly of information and ideas. Now it works to harness information and ideas it does not especially like.
It turns out that our "bring us together" president, George Bush II, is the most divisive in recent history and the most radical in memory. He is doing in a government "of, by and for the people" and, instead, assuring us of a government "of, by and for" a small segment of the people, the wealthiest and most powerful in the land. His Big Bucks buddies.
Under the second Bush administration, government has stepped out of any regulatory capacity and is letting powerful corporate forces have full sway over the nation, its resources and people. The Bush administration has become the number one cheerleader for consolidated, corporate interests.
This is having a direct effect on U.S. journalism, as the June 2 ruling by the Federal Communication Commission to increase the reach of Big Media attests.
It should come as little surprise that savvy Iraq War watchers, in search of accurate and largely impartial coverage did not tune to ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN or FOX. They searched, instead, for sources outside the United States and, when they could, they went to the BBC or the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The American corporate-driven media, especially the broadcasters, failed to examine the presuppositions of war, as presented by our government. To do so would have meant delving deeper into some of the corporate and government interests supporting the war.
A democracy thrives on both an informed public and vigorous political debates. The curtains, I am afraid, are going down on both. The result, America's two-century plus experiment in democracy is in jeopardy.
Let me quote from a passage you probably did not read in your local newspaper. It comes from a statement issued after the FCC decision by one of its dissenting commissioners, Johathan S. Adelstein.
This is a sad day for me, and I think for the country. I'm afraid a dark storm cloud is now looming over the future of the American media. This is the most sweeping and destructive rollback of consumer protection rules in the history of American broadcasting.
As I said, NCR and other alternative news voices have our work cut out for us. We are determined that our readers will be served more than Wonder Bread. However, we are bucking powerful currents and for the moment, Big Media are having their way. It is sad to see our dream in democratic governance dying slowly.
Tom Fox is NCR publisher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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