Stop controlling the news

Diverse news selections and opinions are rapidly becoming obsolete with an appalling massive media takeover.

In 1995, 20 corporations owned and controlled 50 percent of American radio and TV stations, newspapers, magazines, book publishers and major movie studios.

At this writing, six corporations control the majority of the media in our country. It’s a one-size-fits-all mentality. While we hunger for serious discussion and debate on public affairs, these six corporations now control the subjects we are fed.

Consider this. In 1945, 80 percent of our daily newspapers were independently owned. Today 80 percent of them are owned by corporate chains.

The Federal Communications Commission’s decision to allow a single company to own both a television station and the local newspaper must be overturned.

If you give a damn, I encourage you to contact your local congressional reps and urge them to co-sponsor [Sen. Byron Dorgan’s] resolution of disapproval, which now has 19 co-sponsors in the Senate and six co-sponsors in the House.

— Pam Reagan
Black Mountain

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47 thoughts on “Stop controlling the news

  1. Eli Cohen

    I also believe this to be a problem that needs addressing. Perhaps in 2009 when the Dems take over, we will get some action on this.
    Travelah, please add something to the discussion besides another of your “Plurium Interrogationum” (Many Questions,
    A demand for a simple answer to a complex question.)

  2. travelah

    Light, are you still living under that same old bridge?

    The point was quite simple. Nobody prevents Ms. Pam from entering the media game except herself.

  3. Eli Cohen

    That’s “light under a bushel basket” and you can bet I won’t hide mine! You have no point…your last question is absurd. Your sleazy, needling little gambits serve only to irritate. If you have an opinion, let’s hear it. Otherwise, please stop the games. How about explaining your position on the subject of media monopolies…

  4. Dionysis

    Sure, it makes perfectly good sense. Don’t like the fact that a small handful of oligarchs are consolidating their hold on the Fourth Estate, resulting in homogenized pseudo-news/entertainment bilge that is more propaganda than news? Well then, quit sniveling and shell out huge sums of money to create your own un-read altenative.

    What nonsense.

  5. travelah

    There is no media monopoly. Your ability to post in this media with your snide trolling comments is evidence of that.

    My opinion was already made clear. Ms. Pam is able to express her opinion as she sees fit. If she wishes to start a newspaper, nobody is goiong to stop her.

  6. Bill Johnson

    This whole brouhou has come up because liberals are upset Fox Cable News has become the primary outlet for news in this country. For years we had to put up with liberal slanted CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN. Now we have a news outlet that is fair and balanced. And the American people appreciate it so much they are watching Fox, instead of the liberal slanted “opinion maker” stations who have an axe to grind. The Travelah has a good point. let the free market run free and anybody can start their own network.

  7. She doesn’t need to start her own newspaper, she is able to get her letter published in a wonderful independant news source, the Mountain X.
    And though it is not financially viable to start your own, perhaps we only need more people like her to be involved with the “unread alternative” papers to begin to tip the scales back to our independant favor.

  8. travelah

    mike, the point is her view was heard and that demonstrates there is not a monopoly on the free expression of ideas and viewpoints.

  9. travelah,

    Right. She just needs a few hundred thousand in start-up capital.

    Until then, the majority of papers will be owned by Gannet, et al.

    America: The most freedom money can buy.

  10. Eli Cohen

    Mr. Bill Johnson, Your post would be more truthful if you substituted the words “smart people” for the word “liberal”.
    As for the popularity of FOX, Who was it that said: “You’ll never go wrong underestimating the intelligence of the American public”?

  11. Ken Hanke

    When you consider that Scripps controls all the news — print and TV — from Vero Beach, Florida to West Palm Beach, Florida I’m not sure what else you could call that except a monopoly. The idea that anyone is free to start his or her own paper or TV station is at best faux-ingenuous.

    The idea that Fox news is even news is laughable.

  12. travelah

    Ken, you are expressing your opinion here and we are reading it. Were your words censored? Were you prohibited from expressing your thoughts appropriately? Obviously you own a computer and given this blogger and internet based world we live in, what prevents you from being another drudge or even another ashevegas?

    As for Scripps Howard having that degree of monopolistic control, I do not believe you. How many television stations are in that area? How many newspapers? How many of them are owned by Scripps Howard? What are the newspapers and television stations owned or controlled by SW?

  13. travelah

    sammuelle, newspapers are a dead institution or at least heading that way. Do you think the Mountain X took several hundred thousand dollars to start up? I don’t know, I am asking.

  14. Ken Hanke

    “Ken, you are expressing your opinion here and we are reading it. Were your words censored? Were you prohibited from expressing your thoughts appropriately?”

    You’re confusing freedom of speech for an individual with diversity of voice in terms of the editorial content of a variety of news organs. The two are hardly comparable. If you honestly believe that me — or you for that matter — posting a response on what’s essentially a message board has that kind of clout or readership or viewership, I’d be massively surprised.

    “As for Scripps Howard having that degree of monopolistic control, I do not believe you.”

    Fine, you’re not required to. Scripps acquired the STUART NEWS early on in the 1960s. They then leap-frogged the Freedom Newspapers owned FORT PIERCE and PORT ST. LUCIE TRIBUE (essentially the same paper) and bought the privately-owned VERO BEACH PRESS JOURNAL. That gave them the book-ends that covered the area from Vero to Palm Beach — leaving to Cox-owned PALM BEACH POST the nearest paper to the south and the Gannett-owned paper (I forget the name) about 65 miles to the north of the area. At this point they already owned the NBC affiliate TV station in PALM BEACH, essentially the only area TV station. So when they acquired the other two papers in between, that gave them a pretty complete monopoly on the editorial slant for the whole area.

  15. travelah

    Ken, this is the age of the internet and cable TV. The Palm Beach, FL area has the following TV media resources available just from a cursory glance:
    ABC TV Palm Beach Gardens:WPBF (Ch. 25)
    CBS TV West Palm Beach:WPEC (Ch. 12)
    FOX TV West Palm Beach:WFLX (Ch. 29)
    Independent TV West Palm Beach:WFGC (Ch. 61)
    NBC TV West Palm Beach:WPTV (Ch. 5)
    PBS TV West Palm Beach:WXEL (Ch. 42)
    CW TV West Palm Beach:WTVX (Ch. 34)

    Of those stations the only one currently owned by Scripps is NBC affiliate WPTV ch 5. Cable TV services are available from Comcast. Sat. TV is available from DirectTV. Neither is owned by Scripps.

    Here are some links to regional media sources:
    Palm Beach: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/uniteflpb.htm
    West Palm Beach: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/uniteflwp.htm
    Vero Beach: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/uniteflvb.htm

    Perhaps you were not aware of all the media opportunities in the Palm beach area. There are a lot more than you realize, especially since so much has changed since the 1960s.

  16. Ken Hanke

    Believe it or not — despite my belief that newspapers are taken more seriously than blogs — I am aware that this is the age of the internet and cable TV. That’s not quite the point, since by that logic it really doesn’t matter who owns the local media outlets, since you don’t have to rely on them. Also, I referred — with the exception of the Scripps TV station — to the area north of the Palm Beach area, not the Palm Beach area. In fact, I said that the major paper there was owned by Cox. And that still leaves Scripps in control of all the newspapers of note in the area north of Palm Beach. (I like the inclusion of the Pennysaver on the list of papers.) Now, since I’ve actually worked for the papers in that area, I’ve seen first-hand some pretty interesting editorial choices.

  17. travelah

    Ken, those stations and media outlets serve the entire region of Palm Beach (north, south, west and beach side). They are also delivered by cable television services. You in fact referred to the whole area from Vero to Palm and the media resources I provided to you do the same. The truth is your claim was faulty and based in part on “old news”.

    Now, none of that has anything to do with the opening post. There is no media monoploy as I demonstrated and you are making a political argument unimpeeded in an outlet that has a considerable readership in this area (and not owned by any conglomerate). I think your point is entirely lost in this matter.

  18. nuvue

    I was shocked at the slant in the news of supposed “liberal ABC and CNN”. Right as the Iraq debacle was starting my wife and I took a trip to London. Before leaving we saw on these news outlets the tape of Bin Laden that supposedly linked him to Hussien….They showed a statement applauding Hussien from BL. Anyway, we get to London and see BBC. The statement that was widely circulated and believed was a small blip of a bigger statement from Bin Laden that basically said, while he liked Hussien standing up to America he hated and did not support his Baathist agenda. He had no contact with Hussien and did not like or agree with him. These media outlets helped the current admin perpetuate lies and deceit that has led this country down its current path of self destruction.
    Remember: fully 20 % of the 911 bombers were NOT from Saudi Arabia, and NONE were associated with Iraq

  19. Ken Hanke

    “You in fact referred to the whole area from Vero to Palm”

    Yes, to Palm Beach, not through it. And “delivered by cable television” presupposes something like universal access to cable television.

    “There is no media monoploy as I demonstrated and you are making a political argument unimpeeded in an outlet that has a considerable readership in this area (and not owned by any conglomerate). I think your point is entirely lost in this matter.”

    The fact that I’m making my argument — more of an observation really — “unimpeeded in an outlet that has a considerable readership in this area (and not owned by any conglomerate)” has zero relevance in commenting on a situation 700 miles away. The fact remains that every local paper of note in the stretch running through Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin county is controlled by the same company.

  20. travelah

    Ken, please, now you are redefining the area you are talking about. The media sources provided cover the entire region and most of them are not owned by Scripps as you claimed. .. so much for your monopoly. Seven broadcast TV stations in the area covering the entire area and you claimed just one. Face it … you didn’t have the facts.

  21. Ken Hanke

    No, I’m not redefining the area. The area hasn’t changed — north of Vero to Palm Beach. That is the area comprised by the three counties I named. Many of the stations you cite are not available as far north of the Fort Pierce/Vero area unless you have cable. One of them, channel 34, is barely a station since it lost its CBS affiliate status (prior to that it was considered the area station on the so-called Treasure Coast), and when last I knew was mostly syndicated reruns and public domain movies. And regardless of that, do they cover local news? When their largest viewer share is the Palm Beach area, what do you think?

    And while the PALM BEACH POST (which may be offering piggy-back delivery of the bulldog of the MIAMI HERALD) is available, it is not the local paper and as such is far from the most widely read or available. I’m not even sure they keep a news bureau in that part of the state anymore. I know the HERALD pulled out their Treasure Coast bureau around 1990. So in terms of local news, it is inescapably Scripps’ ballgame.

    Now, does anybody really like the concept of a single corporation dictating editorial policy in terms of local news? Say there were no viable alternative papers here. That would pretty much leave Gannett to decide what is or isn’t reported on in local politics and how it’s reported. Well, with the Treasure Coast, that’s pretty much the situation.

  22. Eli Cohen

    “T” , contrary to what you’re saying, in the media business (and other areas as I’m sure you’ve been often reminded) it’s size that matters. Yes, I could possibly start a show on public access tv, but it would hardly compete with cnn, fox, or even wfmy tv. Bottom line: free market is not the solution to everything, sometimes we have to break up monopolies. Remember the telephone company before the breakup? You had one company to choose from, you had to use their equipment, etc.

  23. travelah

    Ken, the seven broadcast stations cover the region and since when is cable TV considered a luxury not enjoyed by the masses?

    Big E, you are right. My wife reminds my of my big feet frequently every time my shoes are in her way. I remember the ATT breakup well. Perhaps you might examine the structure of the “baby bells” today and look at what ATT has become. This doesn’t address the issue though. The OP is complaining about a lack of media access or too much control in one set of hands. The transplant from Florida (surprise)didn’t have a clue how diverse the media options are back on his own stomping grounds. Here we are openly discussing the issue with no one impeding the discussion. Doesn’t look like a problem for me. Look at the proliferation of talk radio since de-regulation. Now, of course the market supports a conservative voice and the leftist liberals can’t command an audience but thats a whole other discussion …

  24. Ken Hanke

    ” The transplant from Florida (surprise)didn’t have a clue how diverse the media options are back on his own stomping grounds.”

    The local conservative (and, by the way, I was born in NC) keeps not addressing the basic issue of a sole voice in local news in the area I’m talking about, but I really didn’t expect he would.

    “Here we are openly discussing the issue with no one impeding the discussion”

    Which once again has no relevance to the issue at hand.

  25. travelah

    Ken, here was your first comment in this thread:

    “When you consider that Scripps controls all the news—print and TV—from Vero Beach, Florida to West Palm Beach, Florida I’m not sure what else you could call that except a monopoly.”

    Now, given the media outlets I pointed out to you provide coverage in that area (from Vero Beach to Palm Beach) and most people have cable TV, it is clear that Scripps does not control all the newsprint and TV. It’s pretty clear you are blowing smoke at this point. Now if you can show that there is a blackout of media outside of Palm Beach proper except for teh one TV station Scripps actually owns, you might have a case, but you do not.
    The relevance of this discussion deals with the notion there is a monopoly or oligopoly controlling the media. Clearly there is not. Have the last liberal misrepresentation on the matter.

  26. Ken Hanke

    While I realize that arguing with a conservative is slightly less productive than talking to a tree, I’ll only point out that without cable, you don’t have access to most of the stations you’re citing. Do most people have cable? Probably, but that’s not the same level of easy access afforded by a broadcast station or a newspaper. But even conceding the prospect of all this televised information, we still come back to the lack of a local news outlet that serves the counties in question that is not controlled by one single corporation. That translates into zero diversity in point of view on local matters, since most such matters — unless they’re extremely newsworthy on a broader scale — are not the focus of a paper or a TV station for which that area is strictly a secondary market. This, by the way, includes covering a number of political areas that aren’t relevant to voters outside the Treasure Coast area. So what you are left with is one editorial policy for the entire area. So until you can prove that those outlying stations and the PALM BEACH POST invest time and money in throughly covering these matters, then, yeah, I’d say there’s a problem.

  27. bluegrassbrad

    travelah said:

    “CW TV West Palm Beach:WTVX (Ch. 34)
    ABC TV Palm Beach Gardens:WPBF (Ch. 25)
    CBS TV West Palm Beach:WPEC (Ch. 12)
    FOX TV West Palm Beach:WFLX (Ch. 29)
    Independent TV West Palm Beach:WFGC (Ch. 61)
    NBC TV West Palm Beach:WPTV (Ch. 5)
    PBS TV West Palm Beach:WXEL (Ch. 42)

    Of those stations the only one currently owned by Scripps is NBC affiliate WPTV ch 5. Cable TV services are available from Comcast. Sat. TV is available from DirectTV. Neither is owned by Scripps.

    Here are some links to regional media sources:
    Palm Beach: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/uniteflpb.htm
    West Palm Beach: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/uniteflwp.htm
    Vero Beach: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/uniteflvb.htm

    Allow me…
    While these arent all owned by Scripps, the ownership of these stations pretty much backs up the original letter. Almost all of the stations listed above, and in the links so kindly provided by you, are owned, edited, and controlled by one of the major news chains in the US.

    WPBF = Hearst
    WPEC = Freedom *this one is actually somewhat independant.
    WFLX = Raycom (which is a media giant, but not as bad as most as it is employee owned. But nonetheless a media giant owning 42 stations in 18 states)
    WFGC =station owned by the one of the largest conglomerates specializing in religious programming, CTN
    WPTV = Scripps
    WXEL = NPR (the only real way to get good news).
    WTUX = a CW station, no news.

    Now onto some of the links that came from your links provided.

    Palm Beach sources:
    Palm Beach Times = Times media group. A regional company, so not falling into the media giant category.
    Palm Beach Illustrated – This isnt a news source, this is a magazine similar to WNC magazine.
    Palm Beach Daily News – The leading newspaper for the area. Owned by media giant Cox.

    West Palm Beach Sources:
    WBZT = Clearchannel
    WFLX = Raycom
    WUNO Clearchannel
    WPBF = Hearst Argyle
    WPTV = Scripps
    WXEL = NPR & PBS (Thank god!)
    WPEC = The only real independent
    Palm Beach Post = Cox

    Vero Beach Sources:
    Vero Press Journal = Scripps
    Indian River Free Press = Absorbed by Scripps, now part of above.

    And of course the good ol’ Topix is linked. Topix majority owner is Gannet.

    So out of all the sources above, the ones that provide news are almost all controlled by a large media conglomerates. Thanks for proving the original posters point travelah!

    I’m sure you’ll come back with something snide & clever, but unlike you I have a real life, run my own business, and have lots of hobbies so I can’t hover over my computer to monitor EVERY SINGLE post and try to prove them wrong, or reply to every post. Have a nice day!

  28. Ken Hanke

    I’ve heard it makes the I WANNA look like a reactionary rag, that’s true.

  29. Ken Hanke

    “I’ve heard it makes the I WANNA look like a reactionary rag, that’s true.”

    The above referenced Sammule’s remark about the PENNY SAVER. I really must learn to quote and not assume that nothing will pop up between posts later.

  30. travelah

    bluegrassbrad, Ken’s claim was that Scripps had a monopolistic control of the news media in the area and that there was only one TV station from which to get news. Thank you for making it clear that there is no monopoly of media in the area he was referring to. Now somehow you have gone from trying to support a poorly researched claim of monopolistic control to assuming that several resources continue to be bad if the companies that own the resources are large. Let’s be clear here. Are you trying to support his claim of a monopoly or are you trying to say that big and successful is inherently bad?

    I am sorry that you had to stop running your business, forestall a couple of hobbies and practice your real life in order to ultimately make my point. Thats the liberal way I suppose. Now if you were a conservative, you would get your work out of the way, play and still have time for snide and clever remarks AND understand the difference between a monopoly and a market of several choices (even if the choices are owned by big and successful companies .. being a businessman, you should realize this)

  31. Eli Cohen

    Darnit “T”, I’m away from my computer a couple of days and you have completely muddied the waters. As you know, media institutions survive on advertising fees, which can lead to the media outlet being influenced by various corporate interests. Other times, the ownership interests may affect what is and is not covered. Stories can end up being biased or omitted so as not to offend advertisers or owners. The ability for citizens to make informed decisions is crucial for a free and functioning democracy but now becomes threatened by such concentration in ownership. “T”, there are some areas in which the free market works against the interests of the majority of people, this is one of them! The situation begs for regulation. These corporations by nature are amoral in that they exist only to extract profit. “It” (the corporation)does not care who or what suffers in order for it to profit. Using divisive partisan rhetoric (yay team GOP) is not productive. I would rather get to the truth of a matter, as opposed to just winning an argument for the team. No one is completely right about anything. (and that includes you)

  32. travelah

    Big E, are you trying to state that you favor quasi-government media or a mix of government and non-profit media? Given your communist background I would not be surprised (FYI, thats not a bias statement. I was as far to the left in the 1970’s as you can get short of stepping into dung clear to your ears and joining the Communist Worker’s Party or CPUSA. I probably still have some old copies of The Progressive Magazine around somewhere … in other words I know the mantra).
    Ownership and the diversity of opinion has actually expanded. The deregulation of radio opened up the world of political talk radio commentary. This newspaper itself is a reflection of just how open our media access is.

  33. travelah

    Big E … I forgot to add … the very basis of a free press is the right of a citizen to make a biased statement and argue with a political polemic. You are free to publish your own rag. Why would you desire to limit another’s right to do likewise?

  34. Eli Cohen

    I’m stating that the quest for profit sometimes influences the reporting of news. (corporations have no conscience) And BTW, I’ll defend even your freedom of speech…as it is the most important right we have.

  35. travelah

    Big E, the freedom of expression reflected in the press has ALWAYS been influenced in some manner by those who support the mouthpiece regardless of political persuasion. Who shall influence what and how “the news” is presented under your non-corporate ownd media scenario?

  36. Beatrice Potterdam

    Mr Shanafelt claims he does not monitor this end of the site. Yet he does leave messages here threatening people with censure. I am all for rules, but they should be consistent. He appears to play favorites who parrot his own political/cultural biases. Now Stevie, that is not being objective. Journalists need to be objective. Stevie, grow up!

  37. [b]Beatrice Potterdam:[/b] You are aware that I’m the A&E;Editor, not the News Editor, right? I cover the A&E;blogs and the forums. News, Food and Letters — that’s all Jon Elliston’s turf. He’s the one that makes the calls about who gets reprimanded and, if called for, banned, on those sections.

    That said, I’m not sure who I’m supposed to be biased against here. I did ban the IP address of an already banned user who was sock-puppeting under different names, but not because of anything political. (Although it was in a thread about politics.)

    I’ll gladly discuss my decisions on post edits, user reprimands and bans in the proper forum. My suggestion is to post questions and concerns here: http://www.mountainx.com/forums/viewthread/63/

  38. Eli Cohen

    Big E, the freedom of expression reflected in the press has ALWAYS been influenced in some manner by those who support the mouthpiece regardless of political persuasion. Who shall influence what and how “the news” is presented under your non-corporate owned media scenario?

    “T”, I just don’t want the corporations to turn into monopolies…

  39. Clocky

    Is anyone going to refute the writer who stated that 80 percent of our daily newspapers are owned by corporate chains?

    If the best answer you can muster to this is “So what! Media is more open than ever, because we can all start websites and post to blogs”, then save us both some time and go drink a big mug of shaddap.

  40. R Bernier

    Well, you only have to look at the liberal party here in Buncombe County…

    Read This>>>>

    francois manavit says:

    April 28th, 2008 at 12:32 pm
    I was part of a small group to organize the County Democrat forum in Fairview last week .
    I had a tough job to keep the forum definition viable : from Lat : foris : Out of doors .

    ” We don’t want citizen participation ..” i was told when i suggested a question oriented on the subject in order to promote transparency ..or adding an email to the add in our town paper so the citizen could send their question for us, in advance , to study and prepare before , or even proposing a bipartisan forum .

    I had to insist for the matter of Citizen participation to be taken into consideration but was turn down by email after a member of the group who was supposed to take our drafted questions and rewrite them wrote to me that my question was not ” well written ”enough to be considered . I feel like i have been censored ,my questions pushed aside and that The Mountain spring community , is not represented as we have serious concerns about our water , wells and springs due to the arrival of the giant CLIFF golf Course and its five tons of chemicals a year in our watershed .

    Fairview is under a spell or a paralysis as no one wants to speak-up or act in order to sleep better to comfort each other and make no waves . Self -censorship is a common . With years of neglect and inattention we are starting to hear such incredible statements like “..We don’t want citizen participation ” and this is for me the sign that our local democracy and our party is in danger .

    Reducing Intentionally the citizen participation and use censorship at such a basic level of participatory Democracy is scandalous and is a reflection of our flakiness , wasting the time of our constituents , reinforcing the apathy and opening the pandora box : Scrutiny and questioning of the real intentions at every level of the system .

    We should not be able to muzzled citizen participation or dictate the destiny of a community that easily ,we should be their representative , conduct business in their name with integrity and devotion .

    Regards
    Francois Manavit
    Vice-Chair DEM 39.2
    francois@redherringpuppets.com

  41. NC Granny

    In an interview the other night on Larry King, Roger Moore reminded us that it was BILL CLINTON that signed the initial deregulation legislation allowing consolidation of our media… that’s resulted in dumbing us down to empower corporate interests – the real “elitists”. Just one more MAJOR reason to vote for Barack Obama.

  42. entopticon

    I adore NC Granny. She has amazingly perceptive insights.

    One thing… You mean Michael Moore. Roger Moore is the guy who played James Bond in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. Easy mistake to make, especially since Michael Moore’s first film was called Roger and Me, which was an absolutely brilliant documentary on Flint MI.

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