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Media Meltdown in a Time of Crisis, Part 2

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Posted on Aug 13, 2009

Editor’s note: A few months ago, Truthdig hosted a panel called “Media Meltdown in a Time of Crisis,” with Amy Goodman, Chris Hedges and Robert Scheer. The panelists discussed the present and future of media with the global economic crisis, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the health care debate raging on. Here is the second installment of that event, with more to come in the next few days.

Click here for part 1.
Click here for part 3.

Videography by Mansoor Sabbagh and Jeanne Kyle, Editing by Chloe Zuanich

Print perfect: Scheer argues that the good old days of journalism weren’t so great, and depended on rich families and indifferent corporations.

“Make Me Do It”: Goodman shares FDR’s advice for disrupting the status quo. Chris Hedges joins the conversation.


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By Grappa, August 16, 2009 at 8:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s a class thing, those who own the cash run the class. It will take a lot more then words to alter the class!

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By phreedom, August 16, 2009 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

Part 1

Thanks again Amy, Bob & Chris,

Please excuse me, if I do not cite the actors whose dialogue produced, “make me do it”.  I have heard this before and though I understand the reason for using the story, I think it should be less relied on
to suggest, these guys in positions of political power, cannot themselves take action, if the underlying sentiment is truly “actionable” within their conscious and heart. This kind of hand off, sounds empowering, but it really is a statement of high minded patronizing, of a very unique order.

I remember when I was a 1st Vice President of a billion dollar financial service company, a title and position I was given based “only” on the fact that I made more money than most of my colleagues, well, I remember a state of mind, that came along with this powerful & prestigious title and income. You see, no matter how superficially based that power or prestige was, it did not reduce my susceptibility to making false challenges and otherwise horning effective means to motivate “underlings”, as if I were some kind of “father worker”, and those that were forced to listen, well, “children workers”.

“As if” my intentions had grown more sincere & wise with my income and/or position. In a weird way, if thought I was learning that, if one started off being half a good person, before good fortune came along, well, the forces and mechanism that began shaping my growing need to remain “apart”, in terms of widening my “lead”(from the rest, the maddening & lazy crowds), well, these superficial forces & mechanisms began to convince me that my behavior & attitude was becoming equally more altruistic. I came to believe that my advice, in a real sense, would benefit those “below me”.

My crafting of lofty assertions and challenges seemed, in retrospect, a normal byproduct of power & money, though these aspects of prestige were superficially acquired, and until I left that business paradigm I thought most anyone could fulfill my challenges and advice. 

You see, I think today’s “political paradigm”, and even in the day of the “make me do it” statement, is not unlike any other “corporate paradigm” that relies on shareholder power to change the nature of their corporation. When I heard or read that President Obama used this “make me do it” story/statement, I became a bit troubled.

(part 2 on the way)

Rhuen Phreed
11 Marlborough Street
Boston, MA

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By phreedom, August 16, 2009 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

Part 2

I agree with Robert that large newspapers are done for, but I think we need to be cautious, since what is being compared here is a few large media outlets to “one” gateway, one internet, and the demise of the large newspaper outlets, might be signaling a more dangerous situation where that the demise of that one gateway to news and information could happen much faster & far more unexpectedly. A circumstance that would closed/give control, to a joint, corporately influenced regulatory agency and the same few & large newspaper corporations. In this manner, I agree with Amy that smaller, less traditionally, newspaper companies will spring up, but I would propose less speculation, simply hopeful attitude about this possibility, and a more deliberately concerted effort to ensure this is what happens. 

Think of small, widespread networks of paper pushing newspapers as “derivatives” of sorts, if one must, but this effort would hedge internet journalistic efforts, as well as maintain a fall back position, with some ready physical infrastructure, to get the word out, materially, if say some insane political bargain is cut, to give us the public option in health care reform, but unknowingly sacrifice the public option for the internet. 

Finally, I agree with Chris, as far as this awful tradition of marginalizing, some of our most courageous and smart political people, to objects of ridicule & humiliation, ironically because they are speaking truth to power. But that may be a byproduct of the last 20 years of a certain kind of sitcom programing, what seems to sell as well as violence and hate, is people constantly ridiculing and humiliating each other. Is anyone monitoring this phenomenon? I think that some part of the new journalism, you three represent,  might set a new standard, even just to define various levels or shades of it, (write the darn things out)you know, so an accurate description & report of a political hypocrite, criminal, or orchestrator of genocide, etc… does not get watered down and mixed in with baseless name calling and/or politically/personally motivated, character assassinations.

The last two decades of the epidemic of sitcoms promoting that good friends and any person in general should ridicule & humiliate each other 24/7 to prove their care and friendship for one another is pretty nutty. I’m a modern samurai, or sorts, got a few of those black belts things, well, it appears what is missing is a sense of honor in everyday American life.

The problem with basing a culture on giving and getting “respect”, when the weapons of choice are seething articulations of ridicule & gangbang episodes of humiliation, well, how can any valuable aspect of human character be recognized through such practices & settings.


Rhuen Phreed
11 Marlborough Street
Boston, MA

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By StuartH, August 15, 2009 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment

Functional issue:

If you put a comment on Part I, does it then get ignored as the column progresses?  Seems like a design issue for the webmaster. 

Since, I think the last page is the one to add comment to, I’ll paste mine in here, from the first page:

The question is about journalism.  This particular issue is something I have been around the block on for quite some time. I have worked as a journalist, have led protests against a local paper, have worked in political campaigning and community organizing, and have been an interested observer for about 3 decades now.

I submit the website reference below as an example of something.  I might have written an article for a newspaper or a magazine (in fact I have done so) about this work, but then it would have been quickly buried in the avalanche of irrelevance that we are all buried in every day.  How does one escape that?

The real problem newspapers (also any media) have been having for decades now, is that our society has gotten more complex and the business model for delivering news, especially locally, has gotten more and more McDonaldized.

I developed this website, for a photographer who has been doing work that would have been picked up by Life in its heyday, because of the need to seek a new departure for work that insightfully looks at reality.

The reason you don’t see a fully humanitarian embrace of reality in the media very much is the same reason you won’t see it consistently in art galleries.  The consumer culture has turned us all into audience members who criticize the entertainment value of what is presented, instead of seeking more meaning.

Thus, commercial interests haven’t just taken over TV content, they have been pretty successful at turning society into a shopping mall where politics isn’t seen as a particularly entertaining option.

I see the web as having some chance of being a place where the original concept of a marketplace of ideas that informs an enlightened public can happen.

But we are in early days.  We are in need of putting energy into innovating ways to use the opportunities we have to re-invent public discourse, and to ensure that the web isn’t suborned by the commercial interests the way other media enterprises have been.

This is the work of photographer Alan Pogue, of Austin, Tx:

I listen to Amy Goodman’s show quite often.  I am fortunate to live in a town where the NPR station happens to support Democracy Now.  Many other places do not.  This is another reason why the web is important.  At least local special interests cannot block content - for now.

When you look at a website you see the content.  You might not observe the link-backs, the links that are on other websites to this site.  This represents a constellation of groups and individuals across the world who are inter-linked and who share a way to keep track of what is going on in the world.  It is this aspect that makes a difference and creates an interesting prospect for innovative ways of working that can transcend our current limitations.

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By jack, August 15, 2009 at 1:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

right you are doublestandards/glasshouses and Amy loves Chip Berlet, whose mission is to denounce all conspiracy theorists - more accurately: his assignment - they share Ford Foundation funding, and its mission is pretty obvious: placate the plebs - keep the Left/Right battle raging - division, distraction, confusion

2 things to never forget:

1. “Deception is a state of mind and the mind of the state.” - James Jesus Angelton - Director of CIA Counter Intelligence (1954-74)

2. “The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.” - William Colby - Director of the CIA (1973-76)

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, August 14, 2009 at 8:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

TD does not allow criticism of Obama so it is a more than a little ironic to hear all this talk about the need for more voices to be heard.  Notice that the Harvard clothes nonsense is still front page even though no one is interested, but the Hedges column on Nader has been pushed off because of all the negative comments about Obama.
Also, when I first started watching democracynow, the secretary of defense was always referred to as “war secretary.”  Somewhere along the line they decided to become more respectful of the powers that be, ie., they wanted to be a little more main stream.  That change is minor but it is indicative of how alternative media is co-opted by the msm.  You see a lot of the same people from Washington on democracynow these days that you see on main stream networks and cable stations.

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