The American media system is spinning out of control in a hyper-commercialized frenzy. Fewer than ten transnational media conglomerates dominate much of our media; fewer than two dozen account for the overwhelming majority of our newspapers, magazines, films, television, radio, and books. With every aspect of our media culture now fair game for commercial exploitation, we can look forward to the full-scale commercialization of sports, arts, and education, the disappearance of notions of public service from public discourse, and the degeneration of journalism, political coverage, and children's programming under commercial pressure. This concentration of media power and attendant commercialization of public discourse are a disaster. An informed, participating citizenry depends on media that play a public service function. As James Madison once put it, "A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both." But these democratic functions lie beyond the reach of the current American media system. If we are serious about democracy, then, we need to work aggressively for reform. James Fallows supports the idea that the media has contributed a negative view of the events that surround us. He presents his forum in his book Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy.
In the United States, analysis of the implications of private ownership and advertising support for media content has been limited. For much of the second half of the twentieth century, Americans have heard that we have no reason to be concerned about corporate ownership of media or dependence on commercial advertis...
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...aking sure the candidates address those issues repeatedly and substantively. The idea is to turn election coverage from a daily tactical tip sheet into an ongoing job interview with the candidates. This would abate the amount negative media that the public absorbs. Consequently, creating a decision made by an informed public, which sequentially creates a better democracy existing within the United States.
Considering the depleted audience for "serious" news, media executives might do well to heed Breaking The News . If the audience is tired of the old drama, Fallows thinks it's time to rearrange the theatre of the news media. Attempt to turn up the house lights, bring the stage a little closer to the groundlings, stop shouting out the old lines and try listening for a change. Not only might the customers come back, but also the play may get a whole lot better.
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