Media reform

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More than half of all national journalists (51%) and almost as many local journalists (46%) believe that their profession is off the mark and headed down the wrong path, according to a comprehensive study, The State of the News Media 2004, by The Pew Research Center, The Project for Excellence in Journalism and The Committee of Concerned Journalists. [1]

The media has several important responsibilities within a democratic society.

  • to accurately  and completely inform and educate the public
  • to independently   investigate claims made by biased sources, most notably the government
  • others

Throughout the year 2003, there has been sufficient demonstration that the media is in desparate need of reform. The Bush administration has been promoting reform in the wrong direction, toward fewer, more consolidated ownerships. For examples of ownership reform issues in the media, see media reform/ownership.

When it is discovered that the public is misinformed, or underinformed, the media is in need of reform. See media reform/accuracy and media reform/completeness for examples of need to reform in these areas.

When the media becomes, and lets federal agencies become, lapdogs rather than watchdogs, then the media is in need of reform. See media reform/independence for examples of need to reform in this area.

When the media delivers successfully in their responsibilities, and in self-reform, they should be congratulated. See media reform/successes for examples of media of which we can be proud.

"The half-dozen media conglomerates on which the majority of Americans depend for their news, views and entertainment, behave more like a cartel than independent competitors, says media critic Ben Bagdikian." [2]

"Corporate-dominated media -- which have amassed power and wealth through the use of public property, the airwaves -- are an anti-democratic force. They turn the election process into sport and horse race, while censoring or downplaying important issues that might offend the economic and political powers that be. Put into the hands of a few conglomerates, U.S. news media have increasingly become WMDs -- Weapons of Mass Distraction and Weapons of Mass Deception." [3]

"All of these companies have interconnected corporate boards with a relatively small number of officers. And they have well entrenched business relationships with the government. As a result of this intricate web of quid pro quo, the mainstream media is to America what Pravda used to be for the now defunct Soviet Union: disseminators of an array of government-friendly, self-censored, whitewashed propaganda." [4]

"Despite abundant evidence of the administration's brazen misuse of intelligence in this matter, the press repeatedly let officials get away with it. As journalists rush to chronicle the administration's failings on Iraq, they should pay some attention to their own." Michael Massing, The New York Review

"As secrecy grows, and media conglomerates put more and more power in fewer and fewer hands, we have witnessed the rise of a new phenomenon--a quasi-official partisan press ideologically linked to an authoritarian administration that is in turn the ally and agent of powerful financial and economic interests that consider transparencies a threat to their hegemony over public opinion." -- Bill Moyers, at a Newspaper Guild/Communication Workers of America dinner on 19 May 2004.

Directorship Nests

"A research team at Sonoma State University has recently finished conducting a network analysis of the boards of directors of the ten big media organizations in the US. The team determined that only 118 people comprise the membership on the boards of director of the ten big media giants. This is a small enough group to fit in a moderate size university classroom. These 118 individuals in turn sit on the corporate boards of 288 national and international corporations. In fact, eight out of ten big media giants share common memberships on boards of directors with each other. NBC and the Washington Post both have board members who sit on Coca Cola and J. P. Morgan, while the Tribune Company, The New York Times and Gannett all have members who share a seat on Pepsi. It is kind of like one big happy family of interlocks and shared interests. The following are but a few of the corporate board interlocks for the big ten media giants in the US: [5]

SourceWatch Articles

External Resources


Articles & Commentary


  • Peter Johnson, "This just in: The future of news," USA TODAY, March 14, 2004: "context and thoughtfulness -- the kind of gatekeeping long considered the cornerstone of journalism, both in print and broadcast --is fading."
  • Howard Kurtz, (dead link), Washington Post, March 15, 2004: "Imagine a business that is steadily losing customers, shrinking its work force, cutting back on services and mistrusted by much of the public. That is a snapshot of the news business in 2004."