Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Find This Book: The Future of Media -- Resistance and Reform in the 21st Century

...last week I went to the library and picked up this book I'd been meaning to get around to for a minute called Th
e Future of Media: Resistance and Reform in the 21st Century...when I found it I was like "oh, yeahhhh, that's right!!!"...It's edited by Robert W. McChesney (pictured above), Russell Newman and Ben Scott...I'm still reading it and I can't put it down but I'm going to put an excerpt of the foreward written by Bill Moyers himself (below), who along with McChesney and Richard Reeves, is a first rate news source... one day we're going to miss having dudes like these around...

"I must confess to a certain discomfort, shared with other journalists, with the term 'media.' Ted Gup, who teaches journalism at Case Western Reserve, articulated my concerns better than I could when in wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 2003)

'...that the very concept of media is insulting to some of us within the press who find ourselves lumped in with so many disparate elements, as if everyone with a pen, a microphone, a camera, or just a loud voice were all one and the same...David Broder is not Matt Drudge. "Meet the Press" is not "Tempation Island." And I am not Jerry Springer. I do not speak for him. He does not speak for me. Yet 'the media' speaks for us all'

That's how I felt when I saw Oliver North on Fox reporting from Iraq, pressing our embattled troops to respond to his repetitive and belittling question, 'Does Fox rock? Does Fox rock?' Oliver North and I may be part of the same 'media' but we are not part of the same message. Nonetheless, I accept that I work, and all of us live in 'medialand', and God knows we need some 'media reform.' I'm sure you know those two words are really an incomplete description of the job ahead. Taken alone, they suggest that you've assembled a convention of efficiency experts who are tightening the bolts and boosting the output of the machinery of public enlightenment, or else a conclave of high-minded do-gooders applauding each other's sermons. But we need to be-- and will be-- much more than that because what we're talking about is nothing less than rescuing a democracy that is so polarized it is in danger of being paralyzed and pulverized.

Alarming words, but the realities we face should trigger alarms. Free and responsible government by popular consent just can't exist without an informed public. That's a cliche, I know, but I agree with the presidential candidate who once said that truisms are true and cliches mean what they say (an observation that no doubt helped to lose him the election)..."

Later, Moyers goes a step further and touches on what I thought of a yesterday when the deal that will allow Rupert Murdoch to purchase the Wall Street Journal (a publication that I rarely read but does have a heap of skilled journos working there)...

"Yet today, despite plenty of lip service on every ritual occasion to freedom of the press, radio, and TV, three powerful forces are undermining that very freedom, damming the streams of significant public interest news that irrigate and nourish the flowering of self-determination...they are squeezing out the journalism that tries to get as close as possible to the verifiable truth; they are isolating serious coverage of public affairs into ever-dwindling 'news holes' far from prime time; and they are gobbling up small independent publications competing for the attention of the American people."

...If you read me, I know that you've heard me mention similar things in the past and the WSJ is not some mom and pop operation by any stretch but I think the recent turn of events bears some scrutiny on the public's far as the foreward goes, Moyers supports the content that's coming around the bend in finer detail and the stuff I've been reading has equally chilled me to the bone as it has filled me with as much intrigue about the machinations of the direction that our media has been heading in...after illustrating how what he mentions above can be done, check how the guy closes his entry a few pages later...

"...In that last goal, schools of journalism and professional news associations have their work cut out....We also need graduates who are perhaps a little more hard-boiled and street-smart than the present crop, though, that's hard to teach. Thanks to the high cost of education, we get very few recruits from the ranks of those who do the world's unglamorous and low-paid work. But as a onetime 'cub' in a very different kind of setting, I cherish H.L. Mencken's description of what being a young Baltimore reporter a hundred years ago meant to him. He wrote:

'I was at large in a wicked seaport of half a million people with a front seat at every public would be an exaggeration to say I was ignorant, for if I neglected the humanities I was meanwhile laying in the all worldly wisdom of a police lieutenant, a bartender, a shyster lawyer and a midwife'

We need some of that worldly wisdom in our newsrooms. Let's figure out how to attract youngsters who have acquired it.."

...and then the clincher that cooled the very blood in my veins and then made me want to get up, stand up and then fuck some shit up...on the intellectual front, that is...

"All this may be in the domain of fantasy. And then again, maybe not. What I know to be real is that we are in for the fight of our lives. I am not a romantic about democracy or journalism; the writer Andre Gide may have been right when he said that all things human, given time, go badly. But I know journalism and democracy are deeply linked in whatever chance we human beings have to redress our grievances, renew our politics and reclaim our revolutionary ideals...

...I am older than many of you and am not likely to be around for the duration. But I take heart from the presence of this movement [the awarding of the Library of Congress' Kluge Lifetime Achievement Award in the Humanities to people like Leszek Kolkowski, the first person to garner one in 2003]..., unseen of John Peter Zenger, Thomas Paine, the muckrakers, I.F.Stone, and all those heroes and heroines, celebrated or forgotten, who faced odds no less than ours and did not flinch. I take heart in efforts like this book and the networks of people it represents. It's your fight now. Look around. You're not alone." high, low and hard for works by the guys contributing to the chapters in this book which you can find online, here ...I highly suggest you give it a try...and while you're at it, scoop up a copy of Richard Reeves' What the People Know: Freedom and the Press (pictured right) sharpened my purview on the world around me when I first read it back when I stumbled across it in (surprise!) my public library's stacks...I couldn't put it down...

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Blogger Photo Blogger said...

Rock on Crash, I am definitely looking this one up!

6:19 PM, August 01, 2007  

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