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Bad Days for Newsrooms—and Democracy

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Posted on Jul 21, 2008
AP photo / Mark Lennihan

Rupert Murdoch, news tycoon and the nation’s leading employer of shrill ideologues, soap-boxes before Wall Street Journal employees who know that, no matter what the plunger from down under has to say, the good times are gone.

By Chris Hedges

The decline of newspapers is not about the replacement of the antiquated technology of news print with the lightning speed of the Internet. It does not signal an inevitable and salutary change. It is not a form of progress. The decline of newspapers is about the rise of the corporate state, the loss of civic and public responsibility on the part of much of our entrepreneurial class and the intellectual poverty of our post-literate world, a world where information is conveyed primarily through rapidly moving images rather than print. 

All these forces have combined to strangle newspapers. And the blood on the floor, this year alone, is disheartening. Some 6,000 journalists nationwide have lost their jobs, news pages are being radically cut back and newspaper stocks have tumbled. Advertising revenues are dramatically falling off with many papers seeing double-digit drops. McClatchy Co., publisher of the Miami Herald, has seen its shares fall by 77 percent this year. Lee Enterprises Inc., which owns the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is down 84 percent. Gannett Co., which publishes USA Today, is trading at nearly a 17-year low. The San Francisco Chronicle is now losing $1 million a week. 

The Internet will not save newspapers. Although all major newspapers, and most smaller ones, have Web sites, and have had for a while, newspaper Web sites make up less than 10 percent of newspaper ad revenue. Analysts say that although Net advertising amounts to $21 billion a year, that amount is actually relatively small. So far, the really big advertisers have stayed away, either unsure of how to use the Internet or suspicious that it can’t match the viewer attention of older media.

Newspapers, when well run, are a public trust. They provide, at their best, the means for citizens to examine themselves, to ferret out lies and the abuse of power by elected officials and corrupt businesses, to give a voice to those who would, without the press, have no voice, and to follow, in ways a private citizen cannot, the daily workings of local, state and federal government. Newspapers hire people to write about city hall, the state capital, political campaigns, sports, music, art and theater. They keep citizens engaged with their cultural, civic and political life. When I began as a foreign correspondent 25 years ago, most major city papers had bureaus in Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Moscow. Reporters and photographers showed Americans how the world beyond our borders looked, thought and believed. Most of this is vanishing or has vanished. 

We live under the happy illusion that we can transfer news-gathering to the Internet. News-gathering will continue to exist, as it does on this Web site and sites such as ProPublica and Slate, but these traditions now have to contend with a new, widespread and ideologically driven partisanship that dominates the dissemination of views and information, from Fox News to blogger screeds. The majority of bloggers and Internet addicts, like the endless rows of talking heads on television, do not report. They are largely parasites who cling to traditional news outlets. They can produce stinging and insightful commentary, which has happily seen the monopoly on opinion pieces by large papers shattered, but they rarely pick up the phone, much less go out and find a story. Nearly all reporting—I would guess at least 80 percent—is done by newspapers and the wire services. Take that away and we have a huge black hole.

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Those who rely on the Internet gravitate to sites that reinforce their beliefs. The filtering of information through an ideological lens, which is destroying television journalism, defies the purpose of reporting. Journalism is about transmitting information that doesn’t care what you think. Reporting challenges, countermands or destabilizes established beliefs. Reporting, which is time-consuming and often expensive, begins from the premise that there are things we need to know and understand, even if these things make us uncomfortable. If we lose this ethic we are left with pandering, packaging and partisanship. We are left awash in a sea of competing propaganda. Bloggers, unlike most established reporters, rarely admit errors. They cannot get fired. Facts, for many bloggers, are interchangeable with opinions. Take a look at The Drudge Report. This may be the new face of what we call news. 

When the traditional news organizations go belly up we will lose a vast well of expertise and information. Our democracy will suffer a body blow. Not that many will notice. The average time a reader of The New York Times spends with the printed paper is about 45 minutes. The average time a viewer spends on The New York Times Web site is about seven minutes. There is a difference between browsing and reading. And the Web is built for browsing rather than for reading. When there is a long piece on the Internet, most of us have to print it out to get through it.   

The rise of our corporate state has done the most, however, to decimate traditional news-gathering. Time Warner, Disney, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., General Electric and Viacom control nearly everything we read, watch, hear and ultimately think. And news that does not make a profit, as well as divert viewers from civic participation and challenging the status quo, is not worth pursuing. This is why the networks have shut down their foreign bureaus. This is why cable newscasts, with their chatty anchors, all look and sound like the “Today” show. This is why the FCC, in an example of how far our standards have fallen, defines shows like Fox’s celebrity gossip program “TMZ” and the Christian Broadcast Network’s “700 Club” as “bona fide newscasts.” This is why television news personalities, people like Katie Couric, have become celebrities earning, in her case, $15 million a year. This is why newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune are being ruthlessly cannibalized by corporate trolls like Sam Zell, turned into empty husks that focus increasingly on boutique journalism. Corporations are not in the business of news. They hate news, real news. Real news is not convenient to their rape of the nation. Real news makes people ask questions. They prefer to close the prying eyes of reporters. They prefer to transform news into another form of mindless amusement and entertainment.   

A democracy survives when its citizens have access to trustworthy and impartial sources of information, when it can discern lies from truth. Take this away and a democracy dies. The fusion of news and entertainment, the rise of a class of celebrity journalists on television who define reporting by their access to the famous and the powerful, the retreat by many readers into the ideological ghettos of the Internet and the ruthless drive by corporations to destroy the traditional news business are leaving us deaf, dumb and blind.

We are cleverly entertained during our descent. We have our own version of ancient Rome’s bread and circuses with our ubiquitous and elaborate spectacles, sporting events, celebrity gossip and television reality shows. Societies in decline, as the Roman philosopher Cicero wrote, see their civic and political discourse contaminated by the excitement and emotional life of the arena. And the citizens in these degraded societies, he warned, always end up ruled by a despot, a Nero or a George W. Bush.


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Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, July 13, 2011 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

trade show displays on sale: Yep, dumb, dumb, dumb.

But check out this equivalent dumbness. Topix, the largest internet forums connected to Newspapers in the Country, owned by the Gannet, McClatchy Tribune corporation who protect them from all bad press, has a CEO who is openly disparaging and hostile, to newspapers and to journalists, Chris Tolles:

http://streetfightmag.com/2011/04/18/tech-qa-with-topix-ceo-chis-tolles/

“Journalism isn’t a profession.”

This ectoparasite, is sucking the life-blood - and advertising revenues - out of its host.

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By trade show displays on sale, July 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment

It seems like this post has become timely again.
While sometimes it’s the internet or other external reasons causing newspapers to close… other times it’s their own fault. Take the News of the World and their getting caught hacking into peoples’ voice mail.
Dumb, dumb, dumb.

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By Cost of TV Advertising, April 27, 2011 at 12:39 am Link to this comment

The internet is just another medium for the news, and we’re just flowing with changes of time.  Hw did that come as a surprise?

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By Trade Show Display, March 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

I have news. The internet is a newspaper. Trade Show Display

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By Carlo Seta, March 11, 2011 at 5:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have news for you. The internet is a newspaper! I don’t know why this is such a
mystery to people. Did cars replace trains? Did TV replace radio? WIll the internet
be replaced????

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By Trade Show Displays, December 29, 2010 at 4:01 am Link to this comment

Journalism in its original format has been in decline for the past ten years. These corporations must have seen the passing and yet they did not transfer their interest to the internet media. Jouranlist just ignore the signs and the clear evidence of change that was required in order for them to continue to make an impact within the modern era of communication.

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By windboy, December 11, 2009 at 2:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

it is so useful, thanks..

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By windboy, December 11, 2009 at 2:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

nice article…

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By Mbadger, August 19, 2009 at 6:37 am Link to this comment

excellent article, totally agree the internet for all its good is also a source of many problems. With the rise in bloggers and opinion sources more and more people are becoming polarised towards certain sites and their ideologies, there’s a distinct lack of reading between the lines. Applications like twitter and mobile broadband have given us greater real time access to events, but it has led to a surge in opinions, rather than facts, the days of the true journalist hunting and searching for the truth appear to be dissapearing into the ether, soon all that will be left is fox news…

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Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, August 25, 2008 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

Bad days for online “progressive” news sources as well, apparently…

I got censored last night for “bad language” for the following comment on Huffington Post (I had just signed up for an account and this was my first comment).

Could it be they were not too happy with the questioning of their frequent source(s), Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders?

my comment: re: this article - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/08/24/mixed-legacy-likely-as-ch_n_121011.html

“Mixed legacy likely as China’s Olympics conclude”??

The “mixed legacy” is all with the Media, their sources, and nowhere else.

Almost ALL American media has jumped on the “China-bashing” bandwagon, and has been sounding off about “human rights abuses in China”, picking up information sourced by - and here is the point, WHO?

Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders (who have been outed for years as nothing less than a U.S. State Department funded propaganda arm - see here http://www.counterpunch.org/barahona05172005.html and here I wrote a recap of their anti-Olympic’s campaign: http://pasadenanewprogressive.blogspot.com/2008/04/reporters-without-borders-anti-olympics.html).

For more information on Human Rights Watch, Read Paul Treanor’s excellent article here:
Who is behind Human Rights Watch?
http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/HRW.html

Robin Kelley, professor of history and American studies and ethnicity at USC, also noted that currently Human Rights Watch does not address any issues in the United States (unlike their past good work with prison abuse here).

I’m not saying this group is all bad, but their “work” in condemning the Olympics is nothing less than Highly suspicious, and needs to be looked into!

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By Virginia777, August 22, 2008 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment

Great posts and Great subject. Its about time this urgent issue is addressed!

That said, all I can say is that I believe it is time to start fighting. We cannot “let” our papers take the decent they have taken if not for the simple reason that so much injustice (and propaganda) in a Society becomes possible without a decent Press.

Let them have it! Rake corrupt Editor’s “over the coals”. Rake corrupt Newspapers “over the coals”.

Take this comment by Ed Harges: “And once we have learned that the New York Times and Washington Post habitually lie to us, why would we continue to treat them as must-read “newspapers of record”, either online or on paper?”

This is really important information needs to get out to the wide world! Right off the bat, I would look into WHO is calling the New York Times the “newspaper of record” (I know, a lot of people) and hit them up with facts to show that this is not true anymore.

Have the New York Times or the Washington Post seen any Serious opposition??

I think not.

I still believe that this problem can be turned around by mobilization.

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By Sabagio Mauraeno, July 31, 2008 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment

Getting the word out? Me? I do it all the time, all over the world in fact. It takes more than just a “village” to educate a child or in this case, more than just a blog to educate a profession. PBS did a documentary about local television news reporting a while back.  There seemed to be a consensus among station managers and old timey reporters that nation-wide the local news offered : 6O% of nightly news was crime and fires, followed by spot reporting on traffic accidents and fires (minus the blood curdling screams and view of mangled bodies before the body bag was zipped up, gossip and happy talk, weather and sports.  Why they were asked,was this happening to their vocation??  Because, they said it was cheap,easy and attracted the audiences that made it profitable to do so. Corporate station stockholders and owners love that business model. The managers went on to comment that their private polls of local viewers showed that adults wanted more variety, like city hall activity , infrastructure problems, education issues, neighborhood development and the arts besides the local promos of soon to be released Megabuck Movies or visiting Rap group. This polling group also said that it was very doubtful that what constituted the current news offerings was going to change as long as it sold the necessary advertising to stay on the air. So Hedges or Truthdig could find out names of these decision makers and let it be known,...what did King Arthur lament.., what us Simple Folk say,think.

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By Virginia777, July 31, 2008 at 11:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

oh man, now you are getting my “feathers” up!

HIM do it, how about YOU!

Look up who you don’t like in the media and know is promoting nothing but right-wing propaganda crap -

and see what you can do about alerting others about them. You need to do what the good alternative papers USED to do, and you can.

I am thinking you already are.

(there is more stuff you can do to)

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By Sabagio Mauraeno, July 31, 2008 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges value, contribution? He got this whole debate started. I’d like to see him follow up by sending along the comments expressed on this site to say the likes of ....Rupert, the Cox Family, Tom Brokaw,...George Will, Matt Laur, Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and the descendants of William Buckley

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By cann4ing, July 31, 2008 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

No, Jersey Girl, Hedges support for Nader does not prove he “gets it.”  It proves he is prepared to engage in an exercise in futility, just as you are.  There are many, many progressives who “get it,” but who, unlike you and Chris Hedges, do not lack the ability to count.  These progressives will vote for Obama because they know that the option is not Nader.  It is McCain.

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By jersey girl, July 31, 2008 at 4:37 am Link to this comment

correction….Hedges is VOTING for Nader.

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By jersey girl, July 31, 2008 at 4:35 am Link to this comment

Virginia:  Good points.  Chris Hedges isn’t brain dead like some on this thread.  He has a working brain and he uses it.  Btw, he stated during a Brian Lamb interview that he’s voted for Nader.  That proves he “gets it”.

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By cann4ing, July 30, 2008 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

A truly informative debate on this topic took place between Chris Hedges and Linda Jue.

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/7/29/newspapers_suffer_spate_of_layoffs_decline

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Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, July 30, 2008 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment

I don’t agree with Colin or Cyrena - Chris Hedges does not have a “depressing” view of the world, he doesn’t “hate the world”. What he hates, is Injustice - and this is a good thing to hate!

It is counter-productive to ask that someone re-phrase language when the content is this important, this vital.

This is where the internet has stymied the Left. It has produced lots of “reaction” but very little “action”.

This has allowed for these massive “wrongs” to occur with very little intervention.

The loss of substantial components of our media?? (like Truth).... Hedges is dead-on to attack this! and when he does, it is not right to call him “depressing”.

I think its way past time to stop the alarming direction our media has taken, and yes, it IS depressing (so lets get cracking to DO something about it).

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Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, July 29, 2008 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

Well, this is true:

“I think the underlying concern expressed here at this blog site is that we sense or know something is going on, but way deep down, fear that we’re not being told what it is.”

and this:

“Worse still, Mainstream Media has become the paid hack for Government PR Flacks.”

And I am really glad this blog site is worried about this, because it is horrible and nothing less (the loss of our Media?).

But thank you for bringing up Thomas Paine - because he is a very important historical figure to emulate right now. And this is where I believe there IS hope - we need to fight, apply effort and change the state our Media is in today. We need to take back our Media.

We just need to be like Thomas.

And the (eloquent, wise) Johns Adam’s selfish behavior says exactly what it means to live in Thomas Paine’s shoes:

“John Adams, first Paine’s friend, then enemy when he backed Jefferson” (can you imagine how hard that must have been to have John Adams as an Enemy?).

Tough, but possible.

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By Sabagio Mauraeno, July 28, 2008 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

777. The Rights of Man etc.The 1st Amendment has been under seige since Day I and before. Thomas Paine’s throw away fish wrapper, The Rights of Man upset a lot of folks in its day, first the British, and then Founding Fathers when he no longer supported their decisions. John Adams, first Paine’s friend, then enemy when he backed Jefferson summed up Paine:

” I know not whether any man in the world has had more influence on its inhabitants or affairs for the last thirty years than Tom Paine. There can be no severer satyr on the age. For such a mongrel between pig and puppy, begotten by a wild boar on a bitch wolf, never before in any age of the world was suffered by the poltroonery of mankind, to run through such a career of mischief. Call it then the Age of Paine.” Thirteen years later, Adams would comment in a letter to Jefferson that Common Sense was “a poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted crapulous mass.”

There are no Tom Paine wannabees out there now or on the horizon.  I’m assuming to be so doesn’t pay enough.

  Alternative Weeklies come and go almost with the change of seasons. I think the underlying concern expressed here at this blog site is that we sense or know something is going on ,but way deep down, fear that we’re not being told what it is.  Worse still, Mainstream Media has become the paid hack for Government PR Flacks.  Instead of Tom Paine, or even WoodStein , we have weekly/daily commentary by the Usual Suspects. Has anybody asked what are the alternative sources of income for Krauthammer, George Will, and the NYC Cadre of Journalists in Residence who show up regularly of Sunday Morning talk shows as token Liberals.  If we knew we would also know about “conflict of interest,” “journalistic integrity,” “managed news” and who else that we trust are on somebody’s double secret confidential correspondent payroll list.  Then again, if we did find out, that would be Really Scary Stuff!

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Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, July 28, 2008 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

The HUGE media loss I have noticed most painfully here in Southern California, is the loss of the Alternative Weeklies. The Southland has “lost” all of its alternative weeklies to corporate media (to varying degrees) and what has happened is that (concerning certain issues) the Truth has not one Print Media outlet in the ENTIRE Southland to find its way to!

This is Incredibly dangerous for a community, and I have witnessed this first-hand.

Our local alternative weekly, the Pasadena Weekly, openly sources (quotes, pays and honors) a right-wing extremist’s narcisstic blog, on which he savagely attacks our public school district.

This is the man who is the Pasadena Weekly’s source for articles on our Public (never Private) Schools:
http://www.peytonwolcott.com/MinutemenReneAmy.html

Of course the loss of the mainstream media is horrible too. In this instance, we NEED the Mainstream media to expose the Alternative media (whacky, right?).

Another important point is that, since when has print media not been popular? Everyone I know and see, has a paper in their hands at some point, every single day. Readership numbers are still enormous.

Perhaps it is true that our papers are losing money, but one thing they are not losing, is INFLUENCE.

and that is why they can be so dangerous.

- Virginia Hoge

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Sabagio's avatar

By Sabagio, July 28, 2008 at 5:38 am Link to this comment

The cost of doing business. That’s what newspapers have always been: a business. The Atlanta Journal Constitution, a merger of the city’s two dallies some years ago, recently raised the price of its weekday editions from $.50 to $.75. Their reason:increased cost of doing “business.” The AJC is owned by the Cox-Family Conglomerate, an old-line Atlanta family that’s gone global and a rival to Rupert,AOL-Time Warner and the BBC.  Having no knowledge of macro or micro economics or the cost of doing any kind of business these days, I am perplexed. I don’t understand why a local monopoly of print and electronic media cannot by itself, dictate what the cost of doing business should be. Who is the competition? Is it because print media is a loss leader among all the other subsidiaries of the conglomerate that shareholders are pushing to “get it out of our portfolio?” Does that mean that the AJC will eventually be “culled” from the herd, butchered for its best parts, the rest thrown into the compactor and thrown out with the trash? What would be left to Atlantans? How will we find out what’s going on in our community that we need to know?  TV? Radio? They’re owned by global conglomerates whose collective formula for news presentation is targeting lowest common denominator of viewer audience: If it bleeds it leads, followed by the Happy Weatherman, then the medical breakthrough of the day and if none are available fill in with “family grief, up close and personal, the biggest fire going especially if its residential, multiuse properties that show large numbers of now homeless families standing in the street, confused and numb from their losses and not knowing where they were going to house their children and pets. This is followed by sports news, a summary of the weather by the Happy,Well-endowed Weatherwoman, and perhaps an announcement of a potential catastrophe that is in the making, but we are going to have to tune in tomorrow at “News at 5 Pm” to discover what’s it going to be. (It’s now News at 11 Pm.) This formula is reminiscent of the TV serials, old and new,that close everyday with “tune in tomorrow to find out the fate of….Superman, Lois Lane, the survivors of Flight 816 from Sydney to Los Angeles,Brittney Spears, New Orleans, the disappearance of California, etc.

  Now THAT’s scary!

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By archeon of thrace, July 27, 2008 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment

Newspapers, Newsmagazines, Commercial TV news, Commercial radio news are all tied to an unseen master - profits, shareholders/owners, and the propaganda needs of multinational/transnational corporations.  Mostly we are unable to see how these “media” are connected to business and industry.  It maybe that a given network is owned by a holding company or conglomerate that also has oil production, arms making, transportation, and auto interests as part of it’s makeup.  That the profit needs of these “sister” enterprises would not creep into the editorial position of this network/chain/etc is an idea that is both blind and stupid.  Infact it is indeed likely that news stories pushing adjendas helpful to the larger corporate profits would be promoted and highlighted.  Without ever having to resort to outright lieing and fabrication these media could persuade the public to demand certain public policy movements that are benificial to profits and detremental to the health, wealth, and happiness of the masses.  IE - they could be(and probably are) propaganda instruments, of those forces that want to limit freedom, liberty, nad happiness.

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By Katherine, July 26, 2008 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges underestimates how educated people use the internet to gather news from various sources. Through the internet, one can not only be an editor, compiling the daily news from a variety of sources from around the world, as editors of nineteenth-century city dailies did, but one can also read various angles on the same story, thereby gaining a more balanced briefing. It is likely that the New York Times is getting only seven minutes of attention to its internet site is because it has and continues to discredit itself in its reporting and its glaring omissions, and because of hiring people like William Kristol, reason enough in itself to boycot that paper and any other that prints his columns.

What Chris Hedges fails to acknowledge, probably because he’s a journalist and not a historian, is that ours is not a “post-literate world.” The general US populace is more literate today than in the nineteenth century, and yet nineteenth-century newspapers were much more literate. Why? Because their publishers, editors, and journalists were better educated, and they didn’t try to appeal to the lowest common denominator, i.e. the barely literate. Today’s journalism schools in this country generally require very little English courses in their curricula, and editors of many papers instruct their journalists to write for an audience with a sixth-grade education, not because there are fewer literate people but because they’re targeting a broader audience and gearing the pages to mass-market consumerism.

While cities once had multiple dailies, today many sizable cities have only one dying one. The literate have abandoned them because between the rare investigative journalistic piece are a lot of newsprint with little worth more than five minutes worth of ink worth reading.

I have decided against renewing my subscription to my local daily, the Times-Picayune. I fume every time it has put a sports story on the front page (always above the fold). Sports fans get an entire section devoted to their obsession. I would have liked Newhouse (the Picayune’s publisher) to fit as much news—some world news would be nice—as possible. Newhouse is more interested in offering diversions from local, national, and world events.

Recently, in anticipation of John McCain’s visit to New Orleans, the editors of the Picayune announced that they were going to publish comments from the public on why the Republican Party should hold a presidential forum in New Orleans. This was after months of whining about being denied the Republican Party Convention or a presidential debate. Instead of engaging the public in posing questions to the presumptive Republican nominee about Iraq, about healthcare, about the meaning of fidelity, or about any of the other countless topics that should concern us, the Picayune tried to get the public to lobby for a forum, because it would be good for the business community.

It’s not that I wouldn’t like to see a revival of print journalism, but one of the reasons for its demise is because its publishers and editors have failed to appeal to literate, critical thinkers. The wounds of newspaper publishers and many journalists are self-inflicted. It’s a shame the good journalists have to suffer, but many of those have already lost their jobs because they tried to tell truths that corporate advertisers and newspaper executives have censored.

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By kathy sullivan, July 26, 2008 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The newspapers are getting what they deserve and the rest of the news media will soon follow and that includes the alternative press who have remained mum on certain stories in fear of losing their grants: They have all failed in their job of protecting and educating the American people who depend on the reporting of the truth. They have accepted the premise that there is no truth but only opinions. Case in point:  1) Their complicity in the stolen elections (twice—by ignoring the neocons’ manipulation of voter lists)and those diebold machines. 2) Their complicity in the 9/11 official story where 3,000 of our innocent citizens died, some of whom jumped out of the towers rather than burn to death and no questions asked. No questions about Building 7 which also collapsed on that day though no plane hit it. Truly amazing—no questions. 3) Their complicity in the build-up to the Iraq war and accommodation of the fear mongers with their bombastic mushroom cloud weapons of mass destruction bs. A war which has killed 4,000 of our sons and daughters and wounded thousands more and killed over 100,000 Iraqs. No questions, just red, white and blue war propaganda while American corporations go about war profiteering with immunity. 4) Their on-going complicity with corporations in the looting of America while people lose their homes through mortgage manipulation and their retirements through bank failures.  5) Their on-going complicity with corporations in the poisoning of our food, our pet’s foods, our children’s toys, etc. etc.  (Even South Koreans protest against importing our mad cow disease meat products).  But hardly a word here.  Where’s the outrage? Where’s the anger??  The only exception—the coverage of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.  Had the media not been there, it would have been worse.  I almost thought, for a moment that they had regained their souls, but nope, they go on supporting the death culture and now they are falling victim to it.  Violins anyone. . .?

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By colin2626262, July 25, 2008 at 11:00 pm Link to this comment

Thanks, Cyrena. 

I think I know what you mean by “a variation of human nature.”  However, I don’t agree that tyranny from outside ourselves makes us have a dark, depressing view of life.  We create the darkness through our own inner reactions to outwardly difficult situations, such as our society and its perceived injustices.

You say “this is a bad time for us.”  But when has it ever not been a bad time for anyone on earth at one time or another?  To say “this is a bad time for us” and then blame that on outward circumstances is a false way of looking at the world, I believe.  That’s my main disagreement with Chris Hedges.  He writes as though there’d be peace on earth if only the corporations and the U.S. government would stop terrorizing everyone.  What he fails to document in his writings is that there can be peace and love in our hearts despite all the evil inflicted on us from the outside world.

Then again, he doesn’t write about how he feels; he writes what he thinks, and the kind of outlook I’m interested in is one in which feelings play a major role.  This is the realm of religion, true religion, not Christianity or any other religion, but the religion of love.

And we know that love is the meaning of life and the only thing that will save us from destruction.

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By cyrena, July 24, 2008 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment

By colin2626262, July 23 at 3:45 pm

Thank you Colin, for this very insightful essay. It is very much appreciated.

The condition that you’ve described with Hedges (his dark view of the world) is shared by many. I understand it as a variation of human nature, specifically in a society that is (whether we realize it or not) subjected to the terror of tyranny, and the Banality of Evil. We have our individual DNA’s of the psyche, and a collective psyche DNA as well. The chemistry of the mix produces varying results.

So, this is a very bad time for us, even though many of us aren’t sure exactly how or where to pinpoint the cause. Individual and group REACTIONS are equally varied.

So, yes…we need to understand, and it requires the continued serious thinking that you’ve shared with us. Hopefully Chris will read it as well.

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By cann4ing, July 24, 2008 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

jenne, try The Nation magazine.

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By jenne aakster, July 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As an Dutchman, living in France, wath is the American journal, still worth reading, wath I mean an real 100% American journal, free and not Jewes, the Herald Tribune, is as it is made and printed in Israel, and I find that not objectieve for my feeling, as you have some suggestions, thank you. Yours.

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By colin2626262, July 23, 2008 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

I never miss a column by Chris Hedges.  He writes with authority, and his message is important, whatever he’s adressing.  Still, I usually have something I disagree with in his writings, or maybe just some questions or comments I’d like him to answer.  For example, when I got done reading this column about newspapers and corporate control, I thought, “It’s what’s in the news that’s the problem, not the way the news is delivered.” 

Hedges has a very dark view of the world; I won’t say pessimistic.  He usually writes about how U.S. society has gone to hell or is going to hell and has brought or is bringing the rest of the world along with it.  The point of getting the news is to know what’s going on in the world.  Maybe there’s also a desire among some of the population to try to change the world for the better.

In a previous column, Hedges wrote about literature.  He said that was what kept him sane when he was covering the brutal wars in Latin America.  He also said he doesn’t own a television, as if that’s a great virtue.  Hedges went to seminary and is an ordained minister.  He doesn’t preach from a pulpit.  He preaches from his columns and books.  What is he preaching?  He says he’s a Christian, but he doesn’t really preach love.  He preaches a kind of hatred, actually, which is why I disagree with him, although only as a brother would disagree with his brother.

Hedges hates the world, or the way the world is, it seems.  He doesn’t come right out and say it, but you can understand that’s how he feels, based on his writings.  It’s true that Christ said to hate the world, but that meant hate the evil.  As Christians, but more importantly, as human beings, we can hate the evil, but we can’t hate people, even if they’re evil.  We can’t hate George W. Bush, for example.  In fact, we should love him, as a brother—maybe as a brother who has become our enemy, but nevertheless as a brother. 

Also, we can hate the world of coporations, but we can’t hate those who run the corporations, the people.  We can’t hate anyone period.  I think Hedges needs to address this in the future.

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By misadventure, July 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges is right . . . and wrong, a little.
Wrong about what the internet provides the public. For people like me, who previously have been ignored by the mainstream media, as if we have not evolved to the point of taking part in the public dialogue of the day, it is an avenue for expressing some of our reality. But, there are others, unlike me, with extreme ideas about race and other distinctions, who can now be heard and seen on television cable shows. Although I am not a fan of the very young and seemingly uninformed commentators on television, what I have seen, upon passing, is a curiosity to me.  Some of the adlibbing and guest comments are downright idiocy. I am fascinated, and repulsed at the same time.  But finally, I am hearing what was not said outloud before. I don’t like it, but it is educating me on what is needed in our society, and that is where Hedges has it right.

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By samosamo, July 23, 2008 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

I think this may interest some of you. It comes from msnbc and mentions laura’s ‘new’ house in Houston.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25815469/

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By samosamo, July 23, 2008 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment

By cyrena, July 22 at 11:37 pm #

I am interested, so if you would please.

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By Sabagio, July 23, 2008 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

Cyrena:  I wish I could make that stuff up. Then Today would have to hire me as “creative consultant.”

As for Miley Cyrus, check out the cover of Vanity Fair. She’s a 15 year old nymphet icon of 12 year olds promoted by the Disney Family Channel who was talked into posing semi nude by that mag’s editors and Annie Leibowitz when her guardians left the room.  I guess it was an act of desparation to sell the mag’s rag for that month’s edition. As Edward G. Robinson told Humphrey Bogart before Bogart shot him full of holes in the film, Key Largo: “More, that’s what I want, more. There’s never enough!” Or something like that.

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By cyrena, July 23, 2008 at 5:56 am Link to this comment

By Sabagio, July 22 at 11:47 pm

Thanks for the entertainment…I think. The list for the “News and Features” on today’s episode of TODAY, had me wavering between a moment of despair, and a fit of laughter. I chose the laughter.

This is relevant BECAUSE..I’ve NEVER been able to watch (easily or voluntarily) things like the TODAY show, or even The View, and so of course that has always included Oprah as well. (obviously there are others). That’s not to say that I’ve NEVER seen any of these programs, because of course since jillions of other folks DO watch this stuff, and so I’ve been stuck in the same room on occasion. It’s been over a decade though.

That’s why I was able to chuckle (sorta) as I read through here…

•  ~Christian the lion becomes YouTube hit

WHO, exactly is Christian the lion, and why would ANYBODY care?

•  ~`Simple summer fish: Wild striped bass
.Concert Series

How about this? It sounds like a recipe, (which isn’t all that ‘simple’ if it’s *wild* and *striped*) but then I notice the Concert Series there with it. So, is that separate, or is the wild striped bass part of the concert series?

•  ~Miley Cyrus ... not just for kids anymore

Probably a stupid question but..WHO is Miley Cyrus?

•  ~Stay sane this summer with Momtourage

Sabagio, are you making this stuff up? Momtourage??? How could anything with a name like that keep anybody sane? Hell, you’d have to already be INsane to even know what it means! What’s a Momtourage. Is that a person’s name, or some sort of activity for Mom’s?

•  Kate Moss’ domestic dispute ~ Madeleine McCann case officially closed ~ Gail Saltz on food and your mood.

Well, I don’t know Kate Moss, and probably wouldn’t care about her domestic dispute if I did. I don’t know Madeleine McCann either, but I’ll presume that this poor woman either disappeared or was found a victim of some fatal incident, and that she’s obviously white, or there wouldn’t be anything in the media about it.

As for Gail ‘Saltz’ on food and my mood…I can only suggest that people who don’t have enough money to buy food these days are probably NOT in a particularly good mood. Starving people generally are NOT, (for the obvious scientific reasons) which is why this program wouldn’t go over well at all, in several thousand locations, scattered across the globe. And that’s ANOTHER primary reason why I don’t watch things like this, and especially Oprah.

•  The fine print: 10 secrets your bank keeps ~ Watching companies rise in 54 hours.

Humm, I can think of a lot more than 10, and they aren’t secrets. It’s called rip-off, theft, extortion, corruption, exploitation, etc, etc. Watching companies rise in 54 hours could be a crack house or whatever the building on the corner of John and Doe is this week: beauty shop, karate parlor, sushi joint, tractor repair, chiropractor, feed supply, pawnshop, or bank-in-a-trailer. They fall even faster than they rise.

•  ~Reflecting on ruin and rebirth of New Orleans

There is nothing to ‘reflect’ on any REBIRTH of New Orleans! The place was ruined, (intentionally allowed to be) and its spirit is gone, and it ain’t coming back. Rebirth my ass. This continued perpetration of some phony myth that doesn’t exist certainly can’t provide any cover for the misery of the people still there or otherwise displaced with nowhere to call home.

And now we’re back to this..

•  Quiz: Think you know Miley? ~ Images: Miley Cyrus look-alike

Who the hell is MILEY?

Nevermind, I don’t wanna know. Don’t wanna know if I have enough to retire either. I already know I don’t..not that it matters, since I am involuntarily ‘retired’ anyway.

I can’t go on.

Still Sabigio, thanks for the laughs while they lasted. And..you’re right. Time to bury the horse. It’s been dead for ages, and the smell of dead horses is not pleasant.

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By heavyrunner, July 23, 2008 at 5:18 am Link to this comment

“And the Web is built for browsing rather than for reading. When there is a long piece on the Internet, most of us have to print it out to get through it. “

I couldn’t disagree more.  I have some vision problems with contrast, and I find it much easier to read from my computer screen than a paper book.  Also, I prefer to click a mouse than to try and orient big sheets of paper.

Save a tree Chris.  Get comfortable reading from your computer screen. 

And I think you are wrong about “most” people printing out long articles to read them.  That sounds crazy to me.

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By Sabagio, July 23, 2008 at 1:37 am Link to this comment

I just sent an email to the NBC news center suggestion site. I made a suggestion about what to do to improve their product.This is their answer.

=======================================
Thank you for contacting TODAY.
       
    We receive hundreds of email messages a day, and while we read them
    all, we might not be able to reply to each one directly.  We do want
    you to know that we appreciate the mail you have sent and the
    comments you are making about our show.  We created this automated
    response to answer many of the frequently-asked-questions as quickly
    as possible.  We will try to answer all other questions directly when
    we can.    _____________________________________________________________________
   
    Here are some items for which you may want information:
                           
     
    WEB SITE:  A lot of information about our show can now be accessed
    through our Web site. Point your browser to:
      <http://www.today.msnbc.com>.
    You’ll find recent story information, guest listings, bios, multimedia
      features and much more.
   
    ADDRESS: You can send any requests or comments to our correspondents at:
      30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
   
    STORY IDEAS: Please send story ideas to the address above or email them to
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) <mailto:today@nbcuni.com>.
   
    If your story idea is accepted we will notify you. We do not have a
    general fax number.
   
                                       
    TRANSCRIPTS:  Contact Burrelle’s Transcript Service by calling: (800)
    777-TEXT. Burrelle’s is not affiliated with NBC NEWS,
    but their Web address is:  <http://www.burrelles.com>
                             
    VIDEOTAPES: TODAY videotapes are available for purchase through NBC
      News archives (212) 664-6213.
      Mail written requests to NBC News Archives, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Rm 327W,
      New York, NY 10112. There is a minimum charge of $150.00 for up to five
      minutes of tape. Please include the date, subject and any other information
      that might help with your request. Once your letter is received, you will be
      sent an agreement form. Once the form is signed and returned to NBC with
      payment, your request will be filled.
         
     
    WILLARD SCOTT BIRTHDAY AND ANNIVERSARY ANNOUNCEMENTS: If someone you
    love is celebrating his or her l00th birthday or a 75th anniversary
      and over, Willard will try his best to announce it on TODAY.
   
    Please send us the following information in writing 3-4 weeks in
    advance. 
       
    We need their full name and address, their birthday, age, and
    something personal about them.  Please be sure to include your
    daytime telephone number so that we can confirm the date it will air.
    Willard receives hundreds of requests and it is only possible for him
    to announce twelve each week, but he sends congratulatory notes to
    all those he isn’t able to announce.
   
    Last, but not least, please include a photograph. It can be color or
    black and white of any size, but unfortunately it will NOT be returned
    to you, so make a copy.
       
    Send all of the above to: Willard Scott, TODAY RM 390S, NBC News,
    30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112  
   
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    studio each morning at Rockefeller Plaza and 49th Street. Remember
    our show is live from 7 to 10am each weekday morning.
       
    Thanks,
           
    The staff of TODAY
      For more information, visit our Web site at: <http://www.today.msnbc.com>
uct.

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By Sabagio, July 23, 2008 at 12:47 am Link to this comment

There IS such a thing as “beating a dead horse to death.”  On viewing the Today Show news lineup for Wednesday, this Morn, the Truth is out. The Horse is Dead. Let’s bury it and move on.


TODAY SHOW JULY 23,2008
News and features

Migrant worker becomes brain surgeon
Shirley MacLaine reflects on her life
Christian the lion becomes YouTube hit
Simple summer fish: Wild striped bass
.Concert Series
Miley Cyrus ... not just for kids anymoreToday on
Stay sane this summer with Momtourage
  Kate Moss’ domestic dispute
Madeleine McCann case officially closed
Gail Saltz on food and your mood
Discuss this morning’s show! Stories from Weekend TODAY
How to treat the 5 most common headaches
The fine print: 10 secrets your bank keeps
Watching companies rise in 54 hours
Slideshow: Weekend TODAY goes West
Reflecting on ruin and rebirth of New Orleans


Quiz: Think you know Miley?
Images: Miley Cyrus look-alikes


6 trips that’ll thrill your family, even your teen
Teen time: 7 tips for making their summer fun
What’s your perfect summer afternoon?
Miss Universe on modeling, plastic surgery
Got enough to retire? Find out!
Unplug! Wireless power is coming soon
Are you a Miley look-alike? Show us
Foodie alert! NC farm plants rare truffles
  Vote: Which was Will Ferrell’s best character?
Tell TODAY about your ‘Big Idea’
Earth to Fido: The best eco-care for your pet
Try leafy greens and other ‘mood food’
Robert Downey Jr. postpones ‘candid’ memoir
Savor Sicilian skewered chicken
Rocket racing gets boost from fashion
The best free and cheap tech
Mario Batali’s sea scallops alla caprese
allDAY gets a virtual personal assistant
  Images: Grocery store couture
New spy thriller: ‘Moscow Rules’

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By cyrena, July 23, 2008 at 12:37 am Link to this comment

Re:By samosamo, July 22 at 8:40 pm #

Samo..

Thanks ever so much for this link to the al-Marri case. It’s another one of those very ‘timely’ events, since this case came up (along with dozens of others) in an event that I’ve just returned from..part of a lecture series that included the documentary film, “Taxi to the Dark Side” which is an absolute ‘must see’ for all US citizens. Alex Gibney (the creator of the film) was interviewed just a short while back here on truthdig, so it would be worth checking that out, if you haven’t already.

The film itself is so excellently done, because it puts the whole series of the crimes and the way that the laws have been manipulated to provide legal cover for the criminals, (focusing primarily on the torture, and rendition, but incorporates the spying and all of the rest.) in context with everything else. I can say with 100% confidence and recommendation, that this film (more than any other that I’ve seen in the past 5 years) puts it all together in a way that allows for the lay person to comprehend.

That’s saying a lot, because what has been done to systematically destroy the rule of law over the past 7 years is so complicated, (and so much has been done in secret) that it’s a full time effort for even those scholars and other experts who have invested extraordinary amounts of time in studying it.

This decision on al-Marri is the latest, and I’d not had time to read the entire thing. But, I was able to download the decision from the info clearing house link that you provided.

Now the Hamdan case is finally in motion as well, and that’s something that our eyes are glued to, since this is actually the first (after 7 years) of the so called High Value Targets captured in Afghanistan/Pakistan just after 9/11, in one of these questionable tribunals for Gitmo detainees. Hamdan is the driver for bin Laden, (just for anyone who hasn’t been following that) and of course the US is claiming that he was an active participant within the al-Qaeda organization, as well as the attacks of 9/11, despite his claim that he was hired for $200.00 a month, to drive OBL around.

The case that you’ve linked to, (a US citizen tagged as an unlawful enemy combatant) is not so different from the case of Jose Padilla, who was also a US citizen. He’s since been tortured out of his mind, just as KSM and others have been.

Well, I could go on, but I won’t. I only wish I’d had more notice to share the information on today’s event, for anyone near enough to attend. I couldn’t begin to reproduce the entire lecture from our expert here, (Dr. Lisa Hajjar) but I’ve asked her to send me the excellent powerpoint presentation that accompanied her talk, and it provides enough of a guide that I could at least answer questions from that.

So, if you’re interested, I’ll find a way to make it available on my own site, and can then post a link to that here. And, for anyone who can manage the cost of the documentary film, (I know times are really hard) it’s definitely worth the price.

Just as an aside, the film includes the work of two superb professional investigative journalists. Yes…they are indeed SUPERB, in every sense of the meaning of investigative journalists. Carlotta Gull and Tim Golden. Both are in the documentary, and I’m sure their work can also be accessed on line. I should add, (no doubt to the dismay of many of the ‘lumpers’ here…lump everyone in a category by association) that they were both NYT reporters at the time of their work.

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By archeon of thrace, July 22, 2008 at 10:45 pm Link to this comment

We have seen the terrorist, and he is us.

We did not defeat fascism and nazism, we became fascists and nazis.

The greatest lie we gave the world is the claim we are a democracy.

There is no oil shortage.

The FBI and the CIA and the NSA may well have known the 911 attacks were being planned.

We have no free press.  The press is chained to profits.

Anderson Cooper, Mike Wallace, Leslie Stahl, and the rest are NOT journalists nor are they reporters.  They are paid hacks, who only parrot the propaganda of thier puppet masters.

George Bush is not 6 feet tall.

Bush senior is a criminal.

Dick Cheney is a dick.

Bill Moyers is one of a few real journalists and reporter left in the traditional medias.

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By doglover, July 22, 2008 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the rape and pillage by corporations trudges on:
interview:
“I asked her [Fiorina] about McCain’s opposition to so-called network neutrality, proposed government rules that would prohibit Internet service providers from charging websites for faster delivery of their content. McCain is on the side of the cable and phone companies, which argue that the rules would squelch investment in new broadband networks. Obama has been a big supporter of net neutrality, a huge issue among online activists that adds to his Internet buzz factor, leading some (OK, it was us) to ask if Obama is a Mac and McCain a PC.

Fiorina said McCain understands the importance of the Internet and sees government-mandated net neutrality as a hindrance.”

http://tinyurl.com/6rw8g9

There’s no question that it is to our economy’s benefit to have more Internet access, more broadband capability, to have this country more wired, so to speak, as we move forward…. I think John McCain understands the way to get that done effectively is by principally allowing business to get it done as opposed to a big government-mandated program. And business won’t get it done unless they see sufficient return on their investment.”

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By samosamo, July 22, 2008 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

I can’t find a better place to bring this to more people’s attention so here it is, I would hope it shows up here as Truthdig but who knows:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20336.htm

This is a link to an article on ICHs site. It is really bothersome considering the legislation that has been passed lately, almost as if there is a race to get these laws passed and judicial pronouncements done before the end of the year. Something is up and it doesn’t sound good at all. Not 1 single supposed terrorist is worth this kind of attack on our Bill of Rights.

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By webbedouin, July 22, 2008 at 9:23 pm Link to this comment

Yeah ocjim (orange county?)  We can do no wrong.  We’re number one!  We’re the greatest country on the Earth.  My president can beat your dictator.  Fair & balanced.  Blah, blah, blah…  Sooner or later people actually start to believe that propaganda stuff. 

How did W put it? “See in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

How did his Granddad’s Nazi brethren put it?  “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” - Joseph Goebbels, Hiter’s Nazi Propaganda Minister.

And the a#1 big lie that most people believe fervently is - The dollar is actually worth something. 

There are some profound beliefs about America that are about to change on a mass scale.  Good Luck out there, because it won’t be too long before nobody is gonna give a gnat’s ass about the survival of newspapers…

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By ocjim, July 22, 2008 at 8:54 pm Link to this comment

My guess is that Americans can’t conceive of any scenario that involves our decline. We are the mavericks, the “Rockys” of history. Sometimes we are down but never out. This might even warrant the fantasy of a McSame on our political front.

We actually believe the propaganda we are fed by agenda-bound politicians, pontificating CEOs, and the well-paid lobbyists/courtiers/pimps representing these vested interests.

The Fourth Estate—for all practical purposes—is gone. Perhaps the term no longer has a meaning in today’s corporate America. It is a term which has always referred to the press, both in its explicit capacity of advocacy for the people and in its implicit ability to frame political issues.

Clearly its advocacy is for corporations, and its frame or intent is one of plutocratic rule, disburser of agenda-based information, and supplier of entertainment.

We don’t want to believe we are in decline. We think that some new technology will rescue us, that affluence will continue, that we will continue to be the best without sacrifice, without working for it.

George W. Bush has been the epitome of entitlement of not being accountable, of succeeding without any talents, or with little knowledge.

That has been his real appeal. We dream of his affluence, his lack of concern for others, his entitlement, his lack of accountability, his frat-boy personna.

He is the perfect example of a no-account having it all.

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By archeon of thrace, July 22, 2008 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

So there are no calls from both the left and the right to limit access on the internet to content?

There are calls each day from a variety of people and organizations to hold ISPs and Web hosting providers accountable for traffic running through their networks, and for content on websites they host.  This is a form of access limitation - when we threaten service providers with legal sanctions for actions thier customers undertake independant from the service provider - we are asking private organizations to censor content on behalf of the state through what is essentially an non-judicial process.

I go so far to suggest that ISPs and Web Hosters should have to accept all those who wish to use thier service (subject of course to network management concerns).  They should only be able to close down websites, and deny access to users who have been found guilty in court of engaging in illegal activity online.  We should not be asking service providers to be police.

The service providers should infact be forbidden from looking at the content of the traffic or websites.  The courts should be deciding what is legal and what is illegal content, not private individuals or corporations who are threatened with legal sanctions if one of thier users might be doing something illegal.

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By bipolar2, July 22, 2008 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Republic died almost 60 years ago.

I applaud Little Bush our postmodern Caligula. The Bushite regime’s catalysis of imperial rot is not necessarily a bad thing.

Those wretched ephemeral babblers lusting after the purple in ‘08 notwithstanding, a slide into the abyss can only be slowed not reversed.

The ancient Romans knew all about us. “Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make demented.”

bipolar2

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By BruSays, July 22, 2008 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

Well said Webbedouin!
(And to think we’ve never invaded a country with a McDonalds. Let’s hope we keep “Big Mac Attacks” about burgers and not battalions.)

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By cann4ing, July 22, 2008 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment

There is no such thing as a “liberal media.”  Never has been.  There is the commercial media made up, with rare exceptions, of stenographers who “think” when they parrot official sources that what they are doing is journalism.  And there is the alternative, non-commercial media, such as can be found at Democracy Now! which are not afraid to speak truth to power.

As Bill Moyers astutely noted, the quickest way to be denounced by the American right as possessing a “liberal bias” is to reveal the truth about what those in power are actually doing to the rest of us.

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By Car Dude, July 22, 2008 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What Mr. Hedges, Mr. Turner and others fail to realize is that newspapers have been missing the boat for twenty-plus years.  Newspapers had a virtual lock on advertising in most cities for non-message advertising, i.e. automotive, employment, real estate and general. And they raised their prices 10% per year without fail.

The doom of newspapers began with a little entrepreneurial dream in St. Petersburg, FL in the early 1970’s. Stuart Arnold started AutoTrader magazine, the predecessor to the meg-website AutoTrader.com in his garage. He started selling magazines with pictures of cars from individuals and dealers, then franchised it across the country. His company, and the franchisees, were bought and consolidated by a print media company, Trader Publishing. Under coordinated ownership, Trader had the nationwide distribution clout to challenge the newspapers for the first time.  Trader Publishing then went after the other traditional newspapers niches of jobs, real estate and general classified. And how did newspapers respond? They raised prices. And spawned even more competitors, including Monster.com, eBay, Craigslist and others.

Print media companies have tried to create their own sites, but have generally seen poor performance and revenues from them. One of the few exceptions is Cars.com, which has emerged as a valid competitor to Autotrader.com. Cars.com investors include The Washington Post Co., The Tribune and McClatchy Newspapers. They have only begun to see value in the enterprise when they let it run itself as a rational, profit-maximizing enterprise, as opposed to a newspaper site where you could search for cars.

I have seen this evolution from a user’s perspective, having purchased newspaper advertising for my business, at highway robbery, monopolistic rates, for many years. While all of the choices in the market are not yet sorted out, we will gravitate to a model that is more efficient.  In my industry, you cannot find anyone who will be increasing print media spend this year. All will be devoting more resources to electronic media, because it works, is far more cost efficient and generally defies 19th century Philadelphia retailer John Wannamaker’s old maxim about advertising, “They tell me half my advertising dollars are wasted. They just can’t tell me which half.” In other words, I can, with much greater accuracy through internet advertising, tell which of my advertising dollars are yielding results.

The new public trust invested will hopefully have more outlets than just Google and Microsoft, but we are already seeing blogs that are morphing into responsible media outlets. I will leave it to the marketplace to tell us where that success will build. As I like to read newspapers, I am not the resource on that one.

In essence, Mr. Hedges’ argument reminds me of a letter to the editor in The Washington Post in 1988. The writer was concerned about the huge expenditure of public funds on building the DC area’s Metro system and the low ridership. At the time, the system was about 70% complete. Today, Metro struggles with too much success. It needs more cars and more trains to handle the load. Why? Because the system is built out and land use concentrations, i.e. high-density development, have been finished near the Metro stops.

Media transformation is at a comparable point to the Metro system in 1989. The advertising dollars have shifted to the non-editorial side of media, but the market is not fully built out. I firmly believe that the public will see a need and will pay for a free press and the investigative reporting behind it. That is the beauty of our great country. Somewhere, even as Mr. Hedges laments the decline of the great newspapers, there is another Ted Turner, Horace Greely or Al Nueharth out there in a garage, burning with entrepreneurial zeal to meet that need. In the meantime, I will do my part and keep my subscriptions to The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and our local paper.

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By Car Dude, July 22, 2008 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges makes some very valid points here. And let me first say that I am conservative Republican, which does not mean that I have any connection to the Christian Right or other pretenders. I believe in the premises our country was founded on - strong individual rights and responsibilities and a limited role for government, a la Goldwater and Buckley, not Buchanan and O’Reilly.

The relevance of my beliefs are that I put them out front, while Mr. Hedges, who appears to be railing against a Fox-centric media, does not. I detest Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh for the same reasons Mr. Hedges does - their brand of news is not news. And, again like Mr. Hedges, I lament the decline of well-funded newspapers and their ability to conduct real investigative reporting. The hallmarks of the freedoms we enjoy as a nation begin with the balances to electable, but entrenchable power - the rule of law, a free press and an independent judiciary.

Where Mr. Hedges and I diverge is on the definition of progress. Mr. Hedges argument that we are not experiencing media progress is based, ironically, on a traditional conservative argument, i.e, change is bad.

What Mr. Hedges fails to mention are the structural impediments to growth that limit both entrepreneurship and market rationalization in the broader media environment, to include pint, electronic and broadcast media. I will let others speak to competitive issues in the non-print world, but the reasons for the coming demise of newspapers lies completely with the poor management of newspapers across the country and the inability of owners to address competitive pressures in any cohesive fashion, which I will discuss here.

With the exception of three or four national and superregional newspapers, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post among them, there are few national players on the print media scene. Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, wrote an excellent piece in 2004 for the Washington Monthly, at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2004/0407.turner.html, detailing the structural limitations placed on entrepreneurship in broadcast media. Mr. Turner’s expertise does not run to print media, but the arguments about structural impediments apply. Basically, media empires are limited to the extent they can control media access in given markets, but Mr. Turner feels that the FCC has tilted too much in favor of corporations and against entrepreneurs.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, July 22, 2008 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena and Felicity, Here, Here!

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By webbedouin, July 22, 2008 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment

Liberal control of the media?  There’s a joke. 

What Raygun did was end the fairness, allow corporate control of the media to grow and develope and take a meaningful role in your developement. He removed the idea that the airwaves should be used in the public interest, relaxed station renewal mandates based upon acting in the public interest, privatized the use airwaves, increased advertising time, as well as, advertising volume.  (Of course, Raygun just slept through these changes and a Bush family member was involved) 

In any event, he killed fairness, brought on the rise of right wing broadcasting and the demise of a media that was supposed to act in the public interest.  I suppose that operating in the public interest over airwaves supposedly owned by the public constitutes liberal control of the media.  Hell, PBS is pretty damned right winged these days.

What Raygun actually did was usher in the day where large corporations could use the airwaves toward their own interests.  And you can see the results quite clearly today.  All right winged, all the time with no checks & balances.  Omissions, lies & distortions rule broadcasting.

So you have companies that profiteer on war telling you how important it is to attack Iraq, attack Iran, attack Afghanistan, attack Pakistan.  All to bring democracy to these poor countries.  Unfortunately, when Bush says democracy and freedom, he is really saying that American corporations should be able to enjoy the democracy of a “free” market in countries that otherwise would reject corporate interference.  GE is making way more money of Iraq than they ever could off of NBC.

The US has never gone to war against a country that had a McDonalds… 

But the thing that really cracks me up is when some dim wit right winger calls The New York Times a “librel” newspaper.  It is obvious that 1> they’ve never read the Times and 2> are only parroting something they have been told by some right winged media pundit who would not even have been able to make that assertion without equal time counterbalance before Raygun.

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By samosamo, July 22, 2008 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

By cyrena, July 22 at 10:55 am #

Anything to do with the media and fuck face reagan needs to include the killing of the fairness doctrine. A few months ago, and I know I have commented this here, I wrote to one of my senators(a goddamn conservative) about breaking up the monopolies and restoring the fairness doctrine. His answer was to totally ignore the media monopoly question and for the fairness doctrine he ‘respectfully disagreed as it would interfere with the revenue of a company.
OK! Now tell me how the other side of issues will ever be discussed in public when the goddamn nazi conservatives controling the gateway of information are not going to let the fairness doctrine come back? They stole this from us and I can’t think of too many more issues that are as important and definitely none more important.
The people like Scott Ritter, Ambassador Joe Wilson, even Scott McCellen are some of the ‘shinning points of light’ that that criminal old man bush tried to splash in everbodies face for some ideological reason but I guess he never thought that would actually come back in his face to expose shit that he is up to his eyeballs in, I HOPE HE DIES SOON!
So these people that are coming out talking about the realities of what the ‘elites’ in this country are conspiring to do really need a venue to be seen and heard from and that was taken away by ‘brain dead reagan’, much to the delight of the msm, during his term and HE is the one responsible for the conservative thought being the only thing we see, unless one looks for it on PBS or the internet which may be going away in a couple of years. Read an article on InfoClearHouse where the Canadians are about to become the test group for the ISPs to institute their ability to control and charge everyone for access to the internet. It’s coming and everybody really needs to be ready to combat this or start combating this NOW because of the treasonous answer I got from my senator, ‘this is about revenue’, but it is also about getting rid of all the obnoxious people that continually hound these crooks about their criminal deeds.
Here is the link:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20330.htm

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By cyrena, July 22, 2008 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

Re:hyphenated-american

•  “Technical revolution as well as Reagan’s ending of the government censorship of TV and radio led to an explosion of new media - from talk radio to internet to cable news. Obviously, liberals started losing their monopoly control, the time of 3 major TV stations and a few liberal newspapers came to an end.”
• 
Quite a paradox here. Ending of the government censorship????

The time of 3 major TV stations and a few liberal newspapers coming to an end? Oh my. I’d say that regan’s ending of government censorship was actually the handing of the 4th estate over to the Corps. And, in an oligarchy or fascist state, the corps ARE the government. THAT”S government censorship hypen! These few major monopolies control what you read/see/hear, and more importantly, WHAT YOU DON’T.

As for the 3 major TV stations coming to an end..that’s a not so funny ‘ha ha’ as well. There is only ONE major TV station available in my area, UNLESS one pays for cable…$72.00 a month. That is for BASIC ‘cable’ which allows access to those former ‘3 major TV stations, and all the rest of the shit the Corps program for brainwashing and advertising purposes”. Without that $72.00 a month, I could access ONLY ABC, which I don’t watch either.

So, ya wanna tell us who is actually ‘controlling’/censoring the public broadcasting airwaves that the PUBLIC is supposed to control?

Well, Archeon already explained this extremely well, because the Internet is the best salvation from this, which is why there are so many underhanded attacks against it, currently underway…

•  “Contrary to what the former keepers of knowledge in government, corporation, and education institution would have us believe, this information free for all is forcing the masses to be proactive in deciding what is fact and what is fiction.  That the masses might actually “think” on what they read/hear/see is what really scares those now controlling access to liberty and individual prosperity…”

The government and the corporations are one and the same. The educational institutions certainly fall under the same umbrella as well, though that is one place that can often be manipulated from within the structure of itself, to INVERT that corporate/gov control.

The Internet is the only other way to defeat the fascist system of state controlled propaganda and at the same time force the masses to think for themselves.

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By felicity, July 22, 2008 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

Dr. Knowitall, ‘decline’ does seem to describe the present state-of-this-State.  The question may be will we follow the progression of boom-town-to-ghost-town or boom-town to something resembling a good part of the rest of the world.  It’s highly likely that we will end up as one of the above, hopefully the latter - at the rate we’re going I have my doubts.

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By cyrena, July 22, 2008 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

Re:Dr. Know it all…

•  “…maybe we liberal-minded folks just have to get a grip and go with the natural flow, which is decline… “

I’d say it’s a bullseye thought, and you could run for Congress on it too!

This is the same thing that TAO Walker frequently attempts to share with us, as theamericanpeople.

In other words,, going with the natural flow. I don’t know if I’d call it decline, but only in the sense that decline is relative. (like pretty much everything else). Obviously ‘decline’ is evident in all the things you’ve pointed out. But if ‘going with the natural flow’ is considered more in terms of adjustment from our current mindsets, then that would be a good thing, as opposed to a decline.

And yeah, it may be too late for some to do those adjustments. That depends on if and for how long they choose to survive.

Anyway, I’m definitely with you all the way on this:

•  “Best response is to teach our children to work harder and expect less. Anything better than that that comes their way will surprise and elate the hell out of them.”

Although here again, the ‘expectations’ are relative as well. What’s ‘better’ to one isn’t the same as ‘better’ to another. We just make it what it is. Like searching for clouds from which silver can be extracted from the lining. Hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it.

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By BruSays, July 22, 2008 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

Hyphenated American’s input had to be one of the most hysterical 3 paragraphs I’ve read in quite some time. And ending it all with the so tired, so over-worked and so absurd statement that liberals “hate democracy and freedom” was the kicker. Where do these guys come up with this stuff?

For the record, print media is suffering - liberal AND conservative alike. On television, O’Reilly’s ratings are down, Kieth Olbermann’s are up. Fox News’ market share dipped (if only slightly) and CNN and MSNBC increased.

And to link “freedom of the press” with ratings whores like Rush Limbaugh is pathetic. This man is not a journalist by any stretch of anyone’s imagination and has no place in a serious discussion of the future of journalism - other than as a bad example of where we’re heading. Let’s get serious.

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By archeon of thrace, July 22, 2008 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

Let me be clear, I may have failed to do so in my last post.  When I say “biased” opinions, I really mean “opinions”.  IE - views held by people, views formed by that persons social standing, education, experience, ethnic background, the views of his/her fiends/family, what they have heard/read/seen.  When these opinions are freely expressed, only then can real education, and learning take place.

The “opinions” expressed in and on editorial pages and “opinion” pieces in the corporate/government controled/regulated media do not express “opinion” they are and always will be “propaganda”.  In the end, they only re-inforce a agenda that aims to ensure the continued existance of the status quo of the power structure and the economic interests of trans-national corporatism.  This can of course only be achieved if the outlets for “opinion” are controled, both in content and number of outlets avaliable.  In a universe of virtual infinite outlets (as the wider internet is today) control is impossible.

When we hear calls for greater content controls on the internet we should be very wary.  The government and corporate interests would dearly love to see controls, and I believe that they are behind the various pushes by what on the surface appear to be private calls for them.

They even hate internet developments like Wiki-pedia.  Which like Linux, and other open-source is a threat to control.  Sure, there is much on Wiki that is not factual, that is fiction, or even outright untruthfull but that is not unique to it.  Anyone who is widely read, and well educated can read through Britanica and find an equal percentage of entries that are not correct.  In fact, errors in Wiki are much more likely to be corrected than errors in the billions of pages of scientific texts hidden away in University archives and research facilities.

Wiki, blogs, individual web site, unmoderated forums on the web/internet are an information free for all.  Contrary to what the former keepers of knowledge in government, corporation, and education institution would have us believe, this information free for all is forcing the masses to be proactive in deciding what is fact and what is fiction.  That the masses might actually “think” on what they read/hear/see is what really scares those now controlling access to liberty and individual prosperity.

Traditional news media are failing, because they have failed to deliver what they claim they are selling - objective, unbiased, reportage of the facts.

Furthermore, open-source as a concept is a treat to patent-rights and copy-rights.  When people working in small groups, or individually can creat better software than giant corporations whose only motive is profit, we must clearly begin to question the value of state granted monopolies.(which patents and copyrights are)  It could be argued that copyrights and patents are a hinderance to progress and developement because they limit the speed with which improvements to ideas and products can be made.  The DMCA is a real threat to the free exchange of ideas and the improvement of knowledge.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, July 22, 2008 at 9:09 am Link to this comment

Has it occured to anyone else that, with the declines in the economy, newspapers, democracy, integrity in government, the American auto industry, Wall Street, value of the dollar, Goldwater Conservatism, the condition of the Earth—gosh, just about everything—that maybe we liberal-minded folks just have to get a grip and go with the natural flow, which is decline. 

Best response is to teach our children to work harder and expect less. Anything better than that that comes their way will surprise and elate the hell out of them.  For us who teach them, it’s probably too late to change our mindset.

Just a thought;  I wouldn’t run for Congress on it.

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By Sabagio, July 22, 2008 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

Frank Rizzo. You’ve adopted an interesting nom de plume to discuss the current state of American Media and the veracity and courage of the free press. Frank Rizzo, when Police Commissioner of Philadelphia Pa had a friend of mine “kneecapped” for carrying a picket sign protesting the closing of an inner city boy’s club. My friend was then arrested for failing to obey a uniformed officer’s command to get up off of the sidewalk and “move along.” Rizzo thought he was protesting the War in Viet Nam.  When asked about the incident by my friend’s lawyer at his bail bond hearing, Rizzo said he was practicing approved crowd control methods needed to prevent potential riots and property damage. This incident didn’t make the Philadelphia Inquirer because Rizzo at the time was running for Mayor.  I guess the editors thought the paper would lose too much campaign advertising money if they did. Gee, this was in 1971. Doesn’t seem like much has changed since then, does it?

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By Sabagio, July 22, 2008 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

I’m reading a book about Disaster Capitalism. It’s about how among other things corporate America is exploiting people’s fears and trepidations about war and floods and hurricanes and tornados and illegal immigrants and…well, whatever attracts our attention that triggers insecurities. Electronic Media and Print Media have adopted this variation of free trade capitalism for their business plan models. If they still aren’t making money and are having to downsize and layoff journalists, the question is why do the Bean Counters and Bottom Liners that make the decisions for the Conglomerations still persist in using this approach?  I’d like to know what business school they got their MBA from. It would explain a lot.

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By thebeerdoctor, July 22, 2008 at 5:44 am Link to this comment

Thank you archeon of thrace for pointing out an aspect that so many have not realized. Many people are shocked, shocked, that anyone can not question not only authority, but the nature of reality itself. Only a few years ago, corporations who made billions from proprietary software, tried to convince everyone that they controlled the internet. But since that time, community based operating systems, open source applications and such, have clearly shown this is not the case. Although there are still millions of people who spend money needlessly on closed software, this does not represent what is actually happening. The Google search engine combined with the Firefox browser, is one of the great achievements in the entire history of human communicative education.

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By archeon of thrace, July 22, 2008 at 5:22 am Link to this comment

The internet, the web, and the blogosphere are now were the newspapers were at the beginning of the print revolution.  In those days of old, when you wanted your ideas to get out, to got a printing press and printed pamphlets, and newsletters, and handed them out at the street corners.  Revolutions, and evolutions of the political system were driven by this disemination of “biased” views.

It was with the advent of advertising as a revenue source that the true “bias” of the newspapers began to be hidden.  It was then that the idea of “neutral” and “objective” “reportage” was born.  It was an effort to hide the internal agenda’s so that advertisers could avoid having their products linked to a particular political/social/economic view/ethos/phylosophy.  It was then that they all became propagandists for business and the military industrial complex.

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By jersey girl, July 22, 2008 at 4:42 am Link to this comment

The newspapers have long lost their investigative quality. They are state controlled same as television. All we have left to seek the truth is the internet. Soon they will take that from us as well.

  We are going into total tyranny people.  Face it.  We need to do something, but what?  The election is just a show to keep us busy arguing amongst ourselves. Both candidates are tryiing to scare us with the “terrorists”. Both promising us less civil liberties and more war.  When a man tells you what he is, believe him. So what’s the difference?  They are owned by the same people. 

The only hope we have is that we all unite under that old 60’s banner “power to the people”.  There are more of us than them.  It’s time everyone join the resistance.

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By Kathleen M. Dickson, July 22, 2008 at 4:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, this is rue and a big problem.  What can we do about it?  Perhaps establish a network of mini camera-ready bloggers of all kinds who have a determination to upload all the files to a central progressive blog depot.

We should be trained, too, by the pros, on the finer points of journalism and do it as a volunteer army.

Like the WWII Resistance Army in Europe.

Kathleen M. Dickson
http://www.actionlyme.org

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By Hyphenated American, July 21, 2008 at 11:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This article is full of obvious stupid mistakes, but they are understandable. Technical revolution as well as Reagan’s ending of the government censorship of TV and radio led to an explosion of new media - from talk radio to internet to cable news. Obviously, liberals started losing their monopoly control, the time of 3 major TV stations and a few liberal newspapers came to an end. So, what do you expect - the liberals are now whining. Makes perfect sense. NYT, a major corporation is losing money, just as scores of other liberal-controlled corporations. American people decided that they don’t like them - and the liberals are furious. “How can you abandon us - we are so good and nice and smart? Come back here right now, you plebs. We will tell you what you need to know, we will control what you hear and read.” Well, it is quite possible the libs will use the government power to get back in the saddle, outlaw talk radio, give massive subsidies to liberal corporations like NYT and sue the bloggers. It’s possible only if liberals win the next elections. This is why NYT is so hysterical.
Anyway, some parts of the story were very funny. Take for example this - the author was whining that bad bloggers take over, while contributing nothing. In the next passage, same author claims that “Time Warner, Disney, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., General Electric and Viacom control nearly everything we read, watch, hear and ultimately think.” Que? Is he seriously claiming that bloggers are controlled by all those evil Murdoch-Time Warner GE’s?

Another funny claim was that we cannot fire a blogger, while we can fire the journalist. Well, I think my chances of firing any blogger are just as high as chances of firing Paul Krugman. Bam - both of you, Paul Krugman and Chris Hedges are fired, I am not reading you anymore. But in reality, poor Chris meant something else, really. He meant that liberals cannot fire bloggers - since bloggers are independent. Apparently, they also cannot fire Rush Limbaugh - even though they clearly demonstrated that they hate him. People’s journalism, you know. freedom of the press, freedom of speech.
BTW, Chris, lets be clear on something. Are you calling for the government subsidies to the failed corporation “New York Times”?  Will American people be allowed their freedom of the press, or it too must be sacrificed to save the liberal dynosaur media outlets? Don’t be shy, tell us the truth. And stop claiming your favourite media outlets are better than the ones I like. That’s your personal opinion, and your personal tastes you better keep to yourself. Yes, you like NYT, and I like WSJ and Limbaugh. I believe in your right to listen to Air America or read the NYT - but can you keep your hands off the media I like? Can you live without forcing other people to support what you like? Can you? Of course not. In a media democracy, liberals lose - that’s why they hate democracy and freedom.

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By cyrena, July 21, 2008 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment

And speaking of Bill Moyers…

Mother’s Milk of Politics Turns Sour

Friday 18 July 2008

by: Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

http://www.truthout.org/article/mothers-milk-politics-turns-sour

Same with Michael Winship

I’ve rarely found either one of them to be anything but up front and truthful, whether it’s something we wanna here or not.

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By cyrena, July 21, 2008 at 11:05 pm Link to this comment

By felicity, July 21 at 11:15 am

•  “…He didn’t necessarily advise that we dedicate our spare time to retrieving our lost ability to read cover-to-cover, but he did imply it…”

At the risk of yet another lynching, I’d agree that it’s an EXCELLENT implication. This reading cover-to-cover, that old-fashioned thing we used to do, really does have long lasting and cumulative benefits, such as the development of critical thinking skills and a ability to analyze things and connect dots, and recognize information that may be value in light of information contained elsewhere, etc. etc.

So much information is actually ‘hidden in plain sight’. We have at least one poster here (surely more, but he comes to mind) who is REALLY good at finding stuff like that. Robert. He comes up with some jewels that are just right there, looking one in the face, IF they actually read other stuff completely enough to be able to make the connections.

Speaking of which…it’s a sad, sad thing that the LA Times is also wiping out their Sunday Book Review section.

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By webbedouin, July 21, 2008 at 10:02 pm Link to this comment

Was just struck by the title of the piece, “Bad Days for Newsrooms—and Democracy”.  As near as i can figure we’ve had some very bad years in the newsroom.  As well as, several very bad years for democracy.  As newspaper staffs dwindle because you don’t need a newsroom full of journalists to reprint the talking points of the administration and corporate press releases.  Why bother with investigative reports?

However i fail to see how anyone can hold PBS News as a virtuous.  Certainly their news is characteristic of the omission sin.  And (Moyers excluded) what PBS News does report fits in exactly with the perspective of the Council on Foreign Relations.  Of which, McNeal & Lehr, coincidently enough, are members.

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By jersey girl, July 21, 2008 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment

frank rizzo: Glen Greenwald is the best internet writer we have to date smile

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By jersey girl, July 21, 2008 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment

beerdoctor:  Amen brother ! And may I say, woe unto you who doth not heed the voice of the wise cyrena for the all knowing queen of truthdig shall strike you with a lightning bolt of “truth” so powerful that you will be compelled to exalt . Hail Obama ! Thou art the second coming of christ ! As we cry out into the wilderness Yes you can! You are change!...forever and ever amen !!

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By thebeerdoctor, July 21, 2008 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment

You have to love it. A disgruntled former foreign correspondent for the NY Times cries out about the untruthful rantings of bloggers and the internet, while posting a blog on the internet.
As to the sermon girl (JBlack, Jersey Girl and many others know exactly who I am talking about), your magnificent logic goes something like… on the one hand, there are the Obama haters who don’t believe in hope, who are immature, emotionally unbalanced etc…. on the other hand there is the cool rational, analytic mind of cyrena, who treats with compassion (let’s call it tough love) all of those misguided souls who refuse to walk in the healing light of Obama, who can not be blamed, only followed. We who refuse to participate are simply just not worthy! Can I get a witness?

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By SamSnedegar, July 21, 2008 at 7:47 pm Link to this comment

“...They provide, at their best, the means for citizens to examine themselves, to ferret out lies and the abuse of power by elected officials and corrupt businesses, to give a voice to those who would, without the press, have no voice, and to follow, in ways a private citizen cannot, the daily workings of local, state and federal government…”

Bet you thought EVERYTHING with me is about oil. No, when the LA Times fired Bob Scheer, when the Toronto Sun closed the mouth of Eric Margolis, and when the Moscow Times fired Chris Floyd, even Gore Vidal stopped talking about oil and started worshiping Mammon. What do those four have in common? They were all dumped by their financial providers for TELLING THE TRUTH. I don’t know what ever happened to Noam Chomsky, but he hasn’t been heard from for years, and he too pulled no punches in pointing out that it is all about oil, nothing else.

It isn’t about democracy or Christianity or Islam or Israel or politics; it’s about oil. The “good” newspapers can get little purchase in their battle to try to tell us the truth because no one in the mainstream media can bring themselves to notice that the USA coveted Iraq’s oil, lied us into a war so we could murder thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, all to steal control of Iraq’s oil. Hmmm. Covet, lie, murder, steal. No wonder they don’t want to talk about it. I find it difficult to admit that my country has commited hundreds or thousands of war crimes myself, but no other answer can satisfy my need for the truth.

But after all is said and done, it is only MY truth, not necessarily yours. Yours is as good as mine, only please try to arrange yours to cover the elephant stuffed into your refrigerator and the 800 pound gorilla sitting on your porch swing.

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By archeon of thrace, July 21, 2008 at 7:40 pm Link to this comment

Yup, the only “real” journalism is found at PBS.  Yet even that is threatened.

The state fears a truly free press.
The church fears a truly free press.
Business fears a truly free press.

A wellinformed public is a danger to profit, power, and corruption.

The neo-cons, and everyone else on the right continues to demonstrate the power of stupidity and ignorance.  Evangelical Chistianity, the catholic church,  Orthodox Judaism, and Islam of any colour fear free speech and a free press more than they fear god, satan, and the end of days.

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By frank rizzo, July 21, 2008 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This article is a bunch of arrogant bull shit. The internet is full of writers that report—and do good reporting at that. They pick up the phone. They talk to people. Look at Glen Greenwald - his reporting on the FISA issue was lauded, publicly and loudly, by Chris Dodd, one of the few members of Congress against the bill.

Mr. Hedges acts as though the public is a blind dog being led to slaughter by big bad oligarchs. This couldn’t be further from the truth. See the numbers of Americans recently registered to vote (the primary way for Americans to make their voice known) this past primary season. 

Furthermore, newspapers have been tools of the rich and powerful since their inception. Sometimes they’re used well, while in other era’s, not so much. Mismanagement and a failure to respect the power of free media (specifically free classifieds on the internet) is what led to 6,000 paper scribes to lose their jobs - not the evil coporations that run the papers, corporations, by the way, that have been in control of the media since the 1920’s.

Television is full of top notch investigative reporters. Tavis Smiley in LA. Bill Moyers in Washington. Not to mention the Frontlines, Now’s, and countless brilliant documentaries that are available on the ever growing list of cable outlets.

9/11 and a fear mongering government have far more to do with the suppression of good reporting and pro-war propaganda spewing out of our major media outlets than the dumbed down, tuned out audience Mr. Hedges routinely speaks down to; on the internet no less.

Finally, for someone so regal and pure as Mr. Hedges, it’s interesting that he has published articles on Salon.com who’s major advertisers include the non-corporate, truth-loving British Petroleum and the ever-progressive Air Force. 

PS - Unlike President Bush, Niro was loathed by the aristocracy. And quit killing trees. Scroll the fuck down to read long articles on the internet. What a joke.

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By samosamo, July 21, 2008 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

I could almost really care if I thought that there were real investigative stories about real world issues like health care, employment, energy, transportation, our government, corruption and a host of other issues that affect one’s life and the ability to live in this world much less this country in the newspapers and some may still try to report such but it is weak and subservient to other powers.
So, it has become to be about nothing but the money or bottom line which is really where the slap in the face that keeping you and me informed is rescinded to more advertizing, more fluff, more empty nowhere information. The most you probably get is the editorial page with posts and letter to the editor that may make you think why would someone think like that.
The media is the major vector for information and when that horrible criminal rupert murdoch got in it and changed it to a profit driven and conservative ideological partisan slant then it probably will do great damage to the print side of the msm. It was staggering to see where so many of the other msms followed suit, shut down foreign offices, cut reporters and started using opinions for news. What can you do? I personally would like to see murdock hung for treason or something but if he was forced to sell off 95% of his msm holdings and forced to pay huge fines for subverting the democracy of our country, I would be happy.
But here again, this just about has to have been just one of those neocon tricks plotted and brought to fruition for the ‘elitist’ takeover that is in process because why would so many other media formats embrace the loss of the Fairness Doctrine, which is without a doubt the only way another view would get put into the public if the conservatives allowed it, and get turned into the huge conservative corporate entities where they exist now? Even with 5 or 6 months to a hopeful turnover of power means that much more time for some really ugly things to happen that would really make the news, in other countries.

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By jersey girl, July 21, 2008 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

cann4ing:  I agree Moyers and Goodman are excellent journalists, particulary Moyers but I’d have to say Sy Hersh would get my vote as the country’s “best” investigative journalist.

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By cann4ing, July 21, 2008 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment

Sure, JG—The nation’s finest journalists are Bill Moyers and Amy Goodman.

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By archeon of thrace, July 21, 2008 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment

Who cares, in a world where even “local” papers are merely part of some multinational “media” conglomerate that is trying to sell me everything from condoms to menstral pads, from beer to Cargil GMO food products, from donuts to toilet paper, what are the chances that any “information” product that relies on advertising revenue is going to bring me facts and not fiction?

It is all the same pre-chewed mush, without insight, without intellegence, without ethics.  Everything in “traditional” print news media, or tv news, and radio news is geared to sell, not truth, not facts, but rather the products of the advertisers.

Unbiased? Factual? Truthfull?  Not now, not in the past, and not tommorow.  Remember the Gulf of Tonkin? or the sinking of American war ships in San Jaun harbour?  Everything is manufactured, Everything is controled. Now that the bloggers on the internet are for now at least beyond the control of the corporate giants, and government regulators, scares the crap out of the bean counters and political reactionaries.

I for one would rather read honest biased opinion than the spineless muck dished out by the corporate media giants.

Fuck Rupert Murdock!

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By cyrena, July 21, 2008 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment

By thebeerdoctor, July 21 at 1:30 pm

•  “I guess it all depends on who you call a journalist. But a sermon on professional journalist ethics is absurd.”

Yep beerdoc,

I DOES all depend on who we call a journalist, and ethics for professional journalists or any other profession did in fact exist, and still do. Ed Bradley was an excellent journalist, and a professional. There ARE still some around, though sadly he has departed.

I guess it boils down to each of us needing a measure of personal ethics OURSELVES, to be able to tell the difference, beyond the surface. Those who can’t get beyond the superficial probably won’t ever figure it out.

Meantime, you’ll always be able to find corrupt fakers in any system. It doesn’t mean that’s ALL there is, unless of course that’s ALL one is looking for.

And no discussion on ethics in journalism or anything else is ‘absurd’ unless one has no tolerance for ethics, or respect for anything or any person, including oneself.

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By jersey girl, July 21, 2008 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

Two real journalists…Seymour Hersch & Greg Pallast..Dana Priest is pretty good as well.. Anyone care to add to the list?

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By thebeerdoctor, July 21, 2008 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment

For those who tout the ethics of a professional journalist, it should be remembered that Judith Miller of the New York Times was considered a professional journalist. But then the Cheney snake pit was discovered and she was fired, after the damage was done. Ethics of a professional journalist, like who? Christopher Hitchens? The contrarian who now takes the position that waterboarding is torture, after a fake demonstration, and after five years of advocating this senseless war.
I guess it all depends on who you call a journalist. But a sermon on professional journalist ethics is absurd.

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By BruSays, July 21, 2008 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment

People: The Corporate News Media is not in the business of news reporting. They’re in the business of selling toothpaste, pain relievers and cars.

In a nutshell, this is because way back in the early 1930s, two corporations (NBC and CBS), through quiet deception and political leverage, managed to come to dominate radio broadcasting. This domination was further secured in 1934 with the formation of the FCC, giving preferential license to a commercial broadcasting system. A decade later, broadcast television followed the same route.

With market share, buyer demographics and purchasing trends in the driver’s seat, news coverage quality and fairness took a back seat. Driven to maximize profit, corporate news media has quite predictably moved from journalism to entertainment. Today we have a country of passive couch potatoes far more knowledgeable of Lindsay Lohan’s life than the nationality of the 9/11 hijackers.

Moreover, passive couch potatoes prefer watching to reading. To a potato, television will trump a newspaper most every time.

Notably, Britain (BBC) and Canada (CBC) chose a different route, adding a tax on radio and television receiver sales to fund noncommercial broadcasting. Surprise, surprise – both nations’ news reporting is judged far superior to our own.

So, we reap what we sow: clueless couch potatoes with a clueless cowboy in the White House.

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By Sabagio, July 21, 2008 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

A possible solution for Saggy

A comeback for print media.  Possible, yes. Probably, No. There are some monopolies that don’t work. The steel industry started to fade when alternatives to sheet metal were developed. Now newspapers.  I would think that the turnaround for local newspapers would be the creation of a competitive rag. And promote conflict of ideas and different perceptions of the same story.  People like to see fights.  And instead of the bleed and lead and bleeding hearts stories, political corruption and white collar crime makes good fun reading .. indepth investigative journalism like Woodstein.  “How the Mighty How Fallen”  are stories that make us feel good: Nixon, Eron, A-Rod.  Ben Franklin invented false controversy and debate when he was 15 and working for his brother.  Franklin retired at forty, one of the richest men in the Colonies.  So it can be done. Maybe. Nah!  There ain’t no risk takers no more in journalism. Charles Foster Caine,  where are you when we need you?

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By Ruth MacDonald Wilson, July 21, 2008 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges,  Would it be any consolation for you to hear a deep sigh of relief emanating from the forests of the world?  Newspapers have been lying to us by omission for a very long time…perhaps the worst kind of lie…because what you can’t see you cannot judge or use in forming opinion.  One of my favorite bloggers is a full Professor of History at U. of Michigan and an author. When he reported something in recent days which he later found to be untrue he announced the correction (in bold type, I think). The Times has always buried corrections at the bottom of the end of the paper. You have been one of my few favorite Net writers, but I disagree with you about the internet, especially if your are blaming it in any way for the demise of print news.
I have never read The Drudge…and I never liked the NY Post, Mirror etc..prefering the NY Times and the WSJ, until I saw the slant of their Middle East reporting and their fealty to everything corporate. Ruth MacDonald Wilson

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By dick, July 21, 2008 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As Mills detailed in his book “The Power Elite”, the media moguls of the elite control the masses. Since the book was written 60 years ago, the media have gotten an even firmer control than then. We are lucky to have the internet for the few of the interested masses, and can only hope more will take advantage of it.

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By TomLs, July 21, 2008 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

This is really sad to hear the loss of 6,000 journalists’ jobs but is it coincidental with the decline of revenue in every publication company? I enjoyed reading President of 5WPR’s blog about how he feels Print media won’t die. Torossian says it will decline, but those who talk about the death of print media outlets are simply out of touch.
I agree with Chris that internet will not save newspapers, only challenge them. Public trust is very important and now more than ever we need to accept the shift in our medias from majority of print to online. But the tangible newspaper will never die.

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By Alan Attlee, July 21, 2008 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, what we have now is a resdiue of
fried spam, all the noooz that’s fit to be hog-tied.
Soon we’ll have but one print-journalism-centric
major newspaper organization left, the NYT Times corp.
That’s not very healthy.  Europe’s press is also
under severe pressure, probably Japan’s also.
But note: the print press seems still to be faring
better in countries with a parliamentary political
system than here.  Because of too much subservience
to the allmighty myth of the market, we haven’t
had much diversity in out major newspapers for
decades.  Furthermore, in America a newspaper is
only worth what an advertiser will pay to be in it.
25 cents, even nothing at all is often more
than these now vapid rags are worth and that
is what they charge to buy their papers , next to
nothing.  Le Monde, the ,,SZ’’ etc. and The NY Times
are actual newspapers who try to put out
something of value, so they charge real money
for that real value.  Yes, post-literate man
in America doesn’t care to look at a real newspaper, let alone buy one.

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By felicity, July 21, 2008 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

Perhaps if the ‘reading’ public was to practice a little self-discipline newspapers could stay in business.  To explain:

There was a recent article (where, I can’t remember) in which the author, a professional writer and self-identified voracious reader - once - described how his use of the internet has affected his reading habits.

It’s all about the speed, almost instantaneous availability of information afforded by the Net vs. the much slower process required when reading the printed page - newspapers or books.

Citing his personal experience with both, he has found himself when using print skimming, cutting to the chase, flipping to the last paragraph and any other means of ‘getting through it as fast as possible.’  In other words, Net using has seriously affected his ABILITY to ‘get through’ newspapers or books.

He didn’t necessarily advise that we dedicate our spare time to retrieving our lost ability to read cover-to-cover, but he did imply it.

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By Elizabeth, July 21, 2008 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment

In junior high school, I had a teacher who brought a stack of copies of The New York Times to class every day. They were originally meant for a class project, but even after the project was finished, he would bring them in and encourage us students to read them. And I did, every day. Looking back, I see what he was trying to do: Getting us to look beyond the borders of our inward-looking, rather conservative community, out into the world at large. I can say that it worked for me, at least.

I doubt that any teachers would do that nowadays. They would probably just give their students the Times’ web address in hopes that they would read an article or two.

From my experience, it’s true that something is lost when one only reads the Web version of a newspaper. Sometimes I’ll read The New York Times online, and I’ll think that I’ve read it quite thoroughly, only to pick up a printed copy later and be surprised at how much I missed.

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By thebeerdoctor, July 21, 2008 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment

I really do not want to take a second look on this subject, but after reading it again, why the hell not? Chris Hedges states: “This is why television news personalities, people like Katie Couric, have become celebrities earning in her case, $15 million a year.” How about stating something that is unknown. Is this some kind of jealousy rant? JUDGE JUDY Sheindlin is paid $20 million a year.
“We have our own version of Rome’s bread and circuses…”
Hey Chris, tell me something I do not know. I have heard that bromide over forty years ago, when thoughtful people thought it was wrong to use taxpayer money to build stadiums for sports franchises.
“There is a difference between browsing and reading. When there is a long piece on the Internet, most of us have to print it out to get through it.” Which makes me wonder what kind of computer set up Mr. Hedges uses. If we printed everything, the price of ink would put on another kind of economic straight jacket. Perhaps he should move to Open Source operating systems, where you can customize the GUI so that extensive reading is not a problem.
And lastly: “Bloggers, unlike most established reporters, rarely admit errors. They can not get fired.” That about says it all when it comes to this idiotic screed. “most established reporters”? Who, like you? So we need a Perry White to fire these bloggers, who can’t be fired, so the established reporters can tell us what is important.
Despite his cache as foreign reporter, Chris Hedges is just a blogger too. His superior sense of being offended is laughable too.

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By cyrena, July 21, 2008 at 11:44 am Link to this comment

WOW! The old Chris, the professional journalist is back. I’m glad. This is excellent work, and he starts off at full speed from the gate.

•  “The decline of newspapers is about the rise of the corporate state, the loss of civic and public responsibility on the part of much of our entrepreneurial class and the intellectual poverty of our post-literate world, a world where information is conveyed primarily through rapidly moving images rather than print.”

Indeed, the intellectual poverty of our post-literate world. The acquisition of intelligence and knowledge has become just another convenience activity, treated as a disposable commodity. Buy it already prepared, use it a few times, (often incorrectly) and then throw it away. It’s enough to give a journalist or any other writer a serious case of depression.

•  “..Reporting, which is time-consuming and often expensive, begins from the premise that there are things we need to know and understand, even if these things make us uncomfortable. If we lose this ethic we are left with pandering, packaging and partisanship. We are left awash in a sea of competing propaganda. Bloggers, unlike most established reporters, rarely admit errors. They cannot get fired. Facts, for many bloggers, are interchangeable with opinions…”

More WOW! He is soooo right on the money here. Not only do Blogger, (minus the ethic of the professional journalist) not only fail to admit errors, (at least most of them) they DO present their skewed opinions as facts, almost always failing to differentiate between what the FACTS are, (as presented) and what their OPINIONS are, ABOUT those FACTS. And yes, it turns into a sea of competing propaganda.

The most unethical among them routinely spin interpretations of facts to the extent that they can create their own cause and effect where none exist, or worst yet, TELL some other person what and how they think.

•  “Corporations are not in the business of news. They hate news, real news. Real news is not convenient to their rape of the nation. Real news makes people ask questions. They prefer to close the prying eyes of reporters. They prefer to transform news into another form of mindless amusement and entertainment.”


•  “Societies in decline, as the Roman philosopher Cicero wrote, see their civic and political discourse contaminated by the excitement and emotional life of the arena. And the citizens in these degraded societies, he warned, always end up ruled by a despot, a Nero or a George W. Bush.”

Yep..that sums it up.  And while I’d agree with a few posters here, that this has taken place over a long period of time, (so this being old news might have a ring of validity) there was a time when newspapers did in fact serve these stated purposes. The intellectual poverty of the masses has developed with this decline.

No, the Internet was never intended to replace real news, but it HAS put more information at the disposal of the intellectually impoverished, IF they were equipped enough to know how to access these facts. Of course that carries with it the same dilemma as anything else..how do we know what we don’t know, enough to go looking for it?

The Internet has proved invaluable for me personally, and for many others that I know, who wouldn’t otherwise know a starting point for so much of the information that is available. It comes with the competing disadvantages that Chris mentions, because the intellectually impoverished cannot always critically analyze the propaganda. But since the newspapers are literally nothing MORE than propaganda now, the Internet increases ones chances of coming across something that is not.

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By Tahut, July 21, 2008 at 10:48 am Link to this comment

Chris,

I hear you loud and clear, but the newspapers have to see it from my standpoint. I’m overseas and the only news outlet I have available is thru the US military via the exchange as well as AFN, Pentagon Channel, and other assorted military news info services. The chances of getting the current NY Times or LA Times first thing in the morning, my time, ain’t gonna happen. I have no choice but to use the internet to keep myself up-to-date on current affairs.

The real question is how does one support the reporting features? I realize newspapers need customers to generate a cash flow and advertisers need people responding to their ads. It’s one of those issues that the internet has yet to resolve. And if I paid a dollar to every newspaper website I visit on a daily basis, I would be dirt poor.

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By Sabagio, July 21, 2008 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

“Where will all these laid off journalists and photo-journalists go?”

Who are these journalists and photo journalists? Diane Sawyer? George Stephanopoulos?  They were hacks for Nixon and Clinton? Mike Wallace was an early chain-smoking TV talk show inquisitor and nonpracticing lawyer. They became “journalists” because their employers said they were, not because they were trained or educated to be journalists before they entered the profession. Why then should we be surprised that slanted, bias and manufactured news is the daily pablum we are fed these days instead what we were promised: balance and objectivity. These days who can tell? Rush Lumbaugh sold cemetery lots. Sean Hanrity learned his shrillness and meanness as President of the Sigma Nu fraternity. Whether or not these are true statements, the fact remains, all of the above can use the 1st Amendment for protection and diversion by claiming to be “journalists.” And where do Whoopi, Regis, Kelly, Dave, Jay, Colin and et.al. fit in? They practice Political Commentary every night and morning.

So, the question is, if I start a “fish wrapper” newspaper , selling ads and gossip, would I too, be a journalist in good standing? Would I be protected by the 1st Amendment, and immune from libel and slander law suits?

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By thebeerdoctor, July 21, 2008 at 9:22 am Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges lamenting the fall of newspapers is understandable, since he worked in that industry. But newspapers as a source of truth? That is laughable. When the “war on terrorism” was declared by our cowboy President, my local paper printed a color print of the American flag, with instructions on how to hang it. The demise of newspapers happened a long time ago, so Hedges’ lament is, so to speak, yesterday’s news.
And why was the internet ever suppose to save newspapers? We still have plenty of smarmy little editorial fiefdoms out there, the so-called mainstream press, such as the New York Times, with its infamous Judy Miller - Dick Cheney connections.
The kind of fearless local press that he speaks of is a fantasy. Perhaps Chris Hedges should get himself a video copy of DEADLINE U.S.A… but oh, that’s right, Mr. Hedges does not own a television.

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By Ed Harges, July 21, 2008 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

cann4ing is right. It’s not that people think physical paper is old-fashioned and would rather look at screens.

It’s that people know that - because of radical consolidation of media ownership - the major newspapers in the US are owned by a small clique of people who are lying to us — and they are particularly untrustworthy when it comes to the Middle East and Israel. The only way to get around their disinformation, manipulation, misrepresentation, lies by omission, and censorship is to go online and read the international and alternative news sources. Who has time to do that AND read through all of our “major” domestic newspapers every day, just so we know what Arthur Sulzberger and Rupert Murdoch think we should think? And once we have learned that the New York Times and Washington Post habitually lie to us, why would we continue to treat them as must-read “newspapers of record”, either online or on paper?

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By cann4ing, July 21, 2008 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

The real problem goes beyond the demise of print media.  It entails near monopoly control of what most Americans see, hear and read by an ever shrinking number of corporate conglomerates.  Commercial values have overwhelmed democratic values.

While there is a substantial body of work demonstrating how the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine/Equal Time Rules during the Reagan administration, passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the loosening of FCC regulations governing interlocking ownerships of multiple media have led to consolidation of corporate power that has choked-off and poisoned the stream of information vital to democratic governance, the real problem lies in the fact that, like the New Deal itself, the Federal Communications Act of 1934 left in place the forces devoted to the economic exploitation of life, permitting them to define reality for most Americans.

We will never have a truly democratic society until the means of mass communication are placed in public hands, not only nationally but locally, with the direct election of both national and local boards charged with the responsibility of insuring maximum diversity in information dissemination.

James Madison once observed:  “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who wish to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power only knowledge can bring.”

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By JW, July 21, 2008 at 8:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think the prevailing opinion is that you are an old fuddy-duddy if you think the downfall of newspapers is something to be concerned about. As a result many people are hesitant to appear un-cool. I totally agree that the internet if a valuable forum for opinion but who will pay reporters who do “journalism that doesn’t care what you think”? That does indeed sum it up beautifully.
And then, in addition, publishing gurus say we’ll soon have no bookstores and books will simply be “souvenirs” of glamorous author/celeb appearances at $1,000 a plate dinner parties.
At our house whenever we reach the end of our belief in the wonders of American civilization we say: “nuke us now!” Then we laugh—sort of.

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By webbedouin, July 21, 2008 at 7:19 am Link to this comment

Oh yeah, let’s see, the MSM Newspapers have done nothing but tow the line with Bush Propaganda for the last 8 years. 
In effect, the newspapers have lied abut everything that has happened since the election of 2000. 

Why the hell would people continue to read that crap?

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