(mediafordemocracy) View from Boston -- The networks lay an egg

Submitted by Editor on Thu, 29/07/2004 - 03:50

A quick note from the Fleet Center in Boston, where American politics is taking a back seat to mainstream media reality. The networks have decided that our democracy is bad for their business, which is why this week viewers were treated to worm munching (NBC's "Fear Factor"), puking (CBS's "Big Brother") and snack room hi-jinks (ABC's "Less than Perfect") instead of convention coverage. This is the sad reality of a big media that prefer laugh-track gastronomics to political discourse.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Timothy Karr
mfd@mediachannel.org
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Thursday, July 29, 2004

Meanwhile, newsmen Brokaw, Jennings and Rather publicly decry (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/26/politics/campaign/26anchors.html) their paltry coverage of party conventions while falling into lockstep with their executives' decisions to offer only three hours each for the Democratic and Republican Party gatherings. Such is the toothless state of broadcast journalism in America, which is why your efforts since we launched Media for Democracy in February are so important.

This month, our membership topped the 50,000 mark, and I want to take a moment to thank you and take stock of our movement six months in, and nearly three months shy of the national elections.

As the campaigns enter the home stretch, the American people need to hear directly from candidates vying for office. We need our media to offer diverse political perspectives and to broadcast more open debates where politicians cannot duck the issues that matter to Americans most.

Sadly, mainstream media aren't yet proving themselves up to the task. Media for Democracy's ongoing monitoring since January 1, 2004 shows less than five percent of network news campaign coverage is devoted to the four issues Americans say are most important in this election: the economy, the war against terrorism, health care and education.

The good news: Media for Democracy members have taken action on several issues that have yielded results:

1. After receiving more than 15,000 Media for Democracy letters urging them to increase their coverage of the problems with electronic voting machines, CNN, Fox, NBC, ABC and CBS broadcast six times as many stories about the issue. This despite news executives' nasty denials that our methods work;
http://www.mediafordemocracy.us/campaign/evote

2. Our campaign urging the FCC and congress to pressure broadcasters to provide more election coverage has gained the support of at least two FCC commissioners and several members of Congress. We're now challenging several local station managers to sign a pledge for more campaign coverage in the six weeks before November 2;
http://www.mediafordemocracy.us/campaign/claim http://www.mediafordemocracy.us/mfd/local

3. In June, we sent more than 23,000 letters to the Kerry and Bush campaigns asking them to make media consolidation an issue in 2004. In July, the Democratic Party recognized that big media is becoming a threat to democracy by calling for "measures to ensure diversity, competition and localism in media ownership." Not surprisingly, the industry-friendly Bush camp has said nothing on the issue.
http://www.mediafordemocracy.us/campaign/kerry

While we have other successes to report, the fight for better media is far from over. Take a moment if you can to enlist others in Media for Democracy as we continue to turn the tide against big media that fails to serve us all.
http://www.mediafordemocracy.us/mfd/join-forward.tcl?domain=mfd

In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy some of our ongoing reports (below) on the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Stay tuned and ready,

Timothy Karr Executive Director Media for Democracy

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NETWORKS SLEEP WHILE THE FLEET CENTER BURNS

By Rory O'Connor

Last night, while the networks slept, the cynics wept and the future revealed itself. The occasion was the extraordinary keynote speech by Barack Obama, a formerly obscure Illinois State Senator who is poised to become the most important Democrat in America.
http://www.mediachannel.org/views/dissector/affalert240.shtml

SIX JOURNALISTS FOR EVERY DELEGATE -- COVERING THE MEDIA CIRCUS

By Danny Schechter

The "News Dissector" leaps into the Fleet Center's media maw to separate news from shmooze.
http://www.newsdissector.org/weblog/

BIG THREE NETWORKS DIM LIGHTS ON KERRY

By Timothy Karr

Karr reveals the findings of a new study of network TV election coverage, which shows a dimming spotlight for Democratic candidate John Kerry. Meanwhile, the Bush campaign has made impressive strides in placing their own candidate before the cameras. Can Kerry recapture the attention of American viewers before voters go to the polls in November?
http://www.mediachannel.org/views/dissector/affalert235.shtml

BLOGGERS LINE UP AT MEDIA BUFFET

By Nathalie Rothschild

Three dozen or so have descended from above their garages to blog the DNC, sparking much interest but as yet little real news from the floor. Will bloggers beat the traditional journalists to the punch or will they fall into line at the buffet of tightly scripted sound bytes and political bromides?
http://www.mediachannel.org/views/dissector/affalert238.shtml

DAWN OF THE NOT DEAD YET -- DEMS KICK IT TO THE OLDIES

By Rory O'Connor

O'Connor sees dead people -- or at least the ghosts of Democratic Party past -- nearly everywhere he turns in Boston, as the Democrats trot out some old favorites (and try to bury others) before Kerry gets his close up.
http://www.mediachannel.org/views/dissector/affalert239.shtml

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