On a day when a hundred or more Occupy LA demonstrators showed up to Occupy Fox News at the Fox Corporations shareholders meeting in Century City and NPR either fired, did not fire, fired and rehired, or had utterly nothing to do with firing a freelance opera critic for participating in OccupyDC, the state of today’s media — the subject of last Saturday’s poll — is a prime topic for an LA Progressive Saturday Survey.
The 82 LA Progressive readers who responded were not in a mood to cut mainstream much of break for its slipping coverage in recent years. Just 15% thought that reading and viewing habits have changed so dramatically recently that mainstream media’s shrinking staffs can’t cover news as they once did. And just 18% thought that mainstream media is just following what its subscribers and viewers want — celebrity doings, car chases, weather and sports — rather than urban unrest.
Much more common (51%) was the thought that mainstream media is corporate owned, so they are wise to downplay or belittle anything that might upset the economic apple cart. And 35% thought today’s journalists much too closely identify with wealthy elites, which slants their coverage of things like Occupy Wall Street.
Some put much of the onus on accumulation of media ownership reflected in these responses:
“Journalism lost much of its edge when it became a profession, not a trade. And tightening budgets make it doubly hard on reporters who now must work online AND in print. But the accumulation of all media in just a few, huge corporate hands means journalism will never again protect democracy as it once did.”
“Corporate owners have downsized the news departments. Marketers tend to slant the results of surveys to align with the views of those who are paying them and thus consistently show a public which is fixated on sound bites and infotainment and avoid complex concepts. Reporters, sensitive to their jobs in this economy, tend to play it safe. With so much to report, important stories which require explanation tend to get buried because of time restraints.”
“They’ve been bullied into fanatically avoiding the appearance of ‘liberal bias’, with the result that they avoid naming Republicans as defeating Dem legislation to help the American people and the economy, they avoid teaching the public that Fox News is propaganda instead of news, and they are terrified of being bombed so they avoid informing the American public that the Right-wing are using the Republican Party to actuate a Christian Fundamentalist takeover of our nation, paid for by our ‘new American citizens': corporations greedy for more profits.”
Others want to focus on the reporters themselves, as with this comment:
“The dog will not bite the hand that feeds it, so news staff will not portray their owners in a bad light. People have other avenues for obtaining their news, so traditional news outlets are too slow to respond to up to the minute events. Traditional media is less able to do its journalistic task, and therefore has resorted to news-entertainment (celebrity trials, car chases, etc.). What are they teaching in schools of journalism?”
“The main stream media is corporate owned, but that is just part of the problem. Muckraking is dead. It died in 1980. Mainstream journalists are no longer feared but familiar. Reporters are stars and know that it makes no difference which side their bread is buttered, they eat both sides anyway. Like our congress, they are bought and paid for by the corporate elite. Mainstream media is mostly distraction, not news.”
But we also a thread that wants to examine the role of media consumers — us:
“Too few people get and read newspapers and weekly newsmagazines. News departments have been cut. Mainstream media is not funded to cover real news any longer. Too much “news” is what was once “filler”. Gone are the daily updates on California State assembly and state senate agendas. If Steve Jobs understood that the public didn’t know what it wanted so it was up to him to create it, well. . .”
You can review all comments here.
And here’s a link to this week’s survey on the death penalty.
Can Alternative Media Fill The Gap?
If there was widespread agreement that mainstream media is not doing the job it once did — not a surprising conclusion coming from readers of an online magazine — how did this audience think alternative media was doing?
Again perhaps not surprising given LA Progressive’s audience, the majority (51%) think the blogosphere provides vital coverage of events that aren’t sexy enough for the nightly news:
“There is hope that we will arrive at some point at a “new media” to replace the once fair mainstream media, but we’re a long way from being there yet, and there is no guarantee we’ll get there. A major danger is the eagerness of big Internet outfits and government to control access to web sites.”
“We will arrive at a new place where information gets to people who want it through a combination of professional media surrounded by growingly respectable “citizen journalists.” That paradigm may actually be better than what we’ve had in recent decades.”
Few (8%) shared the dour perspective heard in some quarters that the decline of traditional media will spell the end of our democracy, and not many more (16%) are worried that the blogosphere is awash in half-truths, opinions, and outright lies and will never rise to level of traditional media.
Some are fed up with anything mainstream:
“I am so sick and tired of hearing all the negativity, and about the personal lives of celebrities that I don’t even cater to any mainstream media outlets. I think we should squash all of that nonsense and start over from scratch.”
And others see nothing of value online:
“The blogsphere is a severe waste of time. At least when it comes to media matters. It goes against everything journalism and media should be.”
Perhaps the most chilling thought is that all the excitement generated online will one day be taken away:
“Once the corporate internet service providers gain the power to control what we can access or send, the progressive alternative media will be wiped out. It’s a temporary phenomenon. The web and email will disseminate only what the corporate interests allow.”
What Are People Reading?
Naturally, LA Progressive came out top among the media sources we listed with 63%, followed by Truthout (34%), Huffington Post (36%), Daily Kos (21%), and Crooks & Liars (16%). Among the many worthy sites we did not list, Alternet was frequently mentioned.
Of the online journalists we listed Rachel Maddos (59%) came out on top, followed by Jon Stewart (55%), Keith Olbermann (51%), Stephen Colbert (41%), and Amy Goodman (33%). Of course, we were taken to task for including Steward and Colbert as journalists, and for omitting Fareed Zackaria and Bill Maher especially.
How Will The Changing Media Landscape Affect Our Democracy and Culture?
“The Fox News Channel has already warped our democracy by pushing the Tea Party and lying and sneering about our President and anyone or thing that they view as a threat to our current plutocracy. The mainstream have picked up way too much on their style and content because they, too, are run by big corporations that are a source of so much inequality in America.
MSNBC, although also owned by one of the biggest, amazes me that they do a good job of researching and calling out the very guys who feed them. That’s why I love them. They are the only ones trying to really save democracy for the common good. It is sad that, although many read on-line opinions, too much of it is not factual or rational, and the people who swallow that are the very same ones listening to the lies of Fox News. They are gullible people who are being manipulated, and that is not good for democracy, but serves the plutocracy well and helps them retain all the money and power.”
Dick Price, Editor