Monday, April 12, 2010

How News Reporting Really Works: Part 4

(This is the final article in a four-part series.) In part three of this series, I mentioned Hanlon's Razor, which runs something like, “Never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” In this article, I’ll address the problems that can't be adequately explained by stupidity. I'll confine myself to stating the facts and avoid any discussion of Conspiracy Theory.
Around 1980, about 50 corporations dominated the world's information media. Today, most of the world's information apart from the Internet is dominated by only six media giants. They are as follows, with the names of their CEO’s placed in parentheses: Time Warner (Jeffrey L. Bewkes ), Disney (Bob Iger ), Bertelsmann AG (Hartmut Ostrowski ), Viacom (Sumner Redstone ), News Corporation (Rupert Murdoch ), and NBC Universal (Jeff Zucker ).
There you have them: the Gang of Six. Apart from the Internet, they control around 90% of the world’s flow of information.
In a previous article, I used a triangular illustration to show the interlocking of Congress, the information media, and corporate owners and advertisers. Several decades ago, MAD magazine alluded to a similar phenomenon at the level of local newspapers. In journalism class in college, I was taught that newspapers and other news media are more answerable to their advertisers than to their subscribers. Reading “How Washington Really Works, Part 3," you can see how.
The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, is a practical example of this phenomenon. For most of the 43 years I lived in South Carolina (1949-1992), I was a reader of the State newspaper. After the erstwhile media giant Knight-Ridder bought the State in 1986, the change in editorial slant was so sudden and stark that it no longer seemed like a South Carolina newspaper. Since then, Knight-Ridder has been swallowed by the McClatchy Company, which also has Internet holdings.
To see how the Gang of Six wields power over which news is reported, what slant is used, and which news gets spiked, let’s take a brief look at how the Gang of Six treats the most important news event since the assassination of President Kennedy.
World history over the past nine years has been shaped by the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. That event was more pivotal than the assassination of President Kennedy was for the period from 1963 until 1973, and it rivals the significance of America’s entry into World War I in 1917. The official story of 911 has been the rationale for almost every major governmental policy change in America since 2001.
It's vital, then, for us to understand what happened on that day. That would necessarily involve asking questions. We know from experience, though, that the Gang of Six hasn’t taken the initiative to do so. It’s as if the official government story is the final word. (By contrast, the official cover-up of the Watergate burglary was investigated and reported almost daily for more than two years.)
I promised not to get into Conspiracy Theory, and I'm keeping my promise. I'm sticking to the facts. Here's an important fact: At least a half dozen members of the Congressional Committee into 911, as well as their senior counsel, told the news media that the truth was being covered up. Wouldn’t that be big news? Why haven't you heard it?
This explosive news and other news concerning 911 either haven’t been reported, or they were under reported. As an example of under reporting important news concerning 911, the following quote appeared in a CNN report: “"We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting [from the Pentagon]," [Commission member and Congressman Tim] Roemer told CNN. "We were not sure of the intent, whether it was to deceive the commission or merely part of the fumbling bureaucracy." Unlike the Washington Post covering a burglary, CNN didn't spend two years telling us about it, and the story was quickly forgotten.
What else is the Gang of Six not telling us?

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