Monday, March 28, 2005

Media issues

Why is it that the Red Lake story faded so quickly? In part it may have been that tribal leaders closed off the reservation from the media vultures after what they deemed the appropriate time. Or maybe they knew right away the media wasn't giving the story enough attention to deem it helpful. The Terri Schiavo was a big story continuing to develop but is one white womans plight any more important then 7 young and not so young Native American lives? Maybe the just wanted to grieve privately.

Locally here, we are close enough that the Red Lake story remained front page news for several days. Even then, at my parents for Dad said "Enough already!" when he picked up his paper and it was in prominent spot. Is it because it's too tragic to deal with? Or worse, have we become numb to this kind of substantial and difficult violence?

It's not a pretty story at all. And actually, I'm surprised given the conditions on most of the Reservations that there hasn't been more violence. It has to be bubbling at the top for some time now. And I know what you are thinking...oh big deal, they have tons of money from the casino's and government what's the problem? Shame on you if you even think that money alone is enough to heal an entire race of people.

But that's another post. We're talking Media here. And the problem is an ever increasing consolodation of all Media in America. The line slowly keeps moving. Unbeknownst to average American perhaps. Frustrating only to those of us actually IN the media business? Here's some recent news/figures that should be a wake up call to everyone:

From recent story in Washington Post:

Prepackaged news stories, sometimes known as video news releases, have become an increasingly common public relations tool among government agencies and in industry. They are designed to resemble broadcast news stories, complete with narrators who can be easily mistaken for reporters and suggested introductory language for TV anchors to read. Some news organizations have run them without changes and without identifying them as government-produced.

Within the last year, the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, has rapped the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services for distributing prepackaged news stories that do not disclose within the story that the government is the source of the material.
"[T]elevision-viewing audiences did not know that stories they watched on television news programs about the government were, in fact, prepared by the government," Walker wrote. "We concluded that those prepackaged news stories violated the publicity or propaganda prohibition .

FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein discussed “fake news”
and payola during an interview with Fargo-based liberal talker
Ed Schultz last Monday. Schultz asked the commissioner
whether the FCC had been “lax on enforcing” anti-payola
regulations as they relate to commentators who are paid to
broadcast certain political messages, but who don’t acknowledge
such payments on the air (the classic definition of payola). Said
Adelstein: “We have, now, 40,000 complaints [concerning
undisclosed payments for news-like broadcasts]...I think it’s
incumbent on us now to investigate.” Looks like radio (and
television news) may have an additional battlefront – paid news
commentary – to join the scrutiny currently being given to
suspected payola regarding music airplay on the airwaves.

Increased Concentration of Media Ownership
The approximate number of companies that controlled more than half of all media:
1983 - 50
1986 - 29
1993 - 20
2002 - 9 *

* (Disney, AOL-Time Warner, News Corporation, Viacom (Infinity radio), Seagram (Universal), Sony, Liberty (AT&T), Bertelsmann, General Electric (NBC).(source: Ben Bagdikian and Eric Boehlert, Salon)

The 9 could easily become 5 in several proposed possible mergers. Doesn't that scare anyone enough to speak up?

There is a now a New FCC Chairman-----let's hope he does take this trend seriously. Fake news??? HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!???

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