United States International

Why Media Reform Should Be a Democratic Priority

Why Media Reform Should Be a Democratic Priority
by: Robert Hackett

On New Year’s Day, 2003, few crystal-ball gazers predicted that during that year an estimated three million Americans would contact politicians or sign petitions on — what? The Iraq war? Global warming?

Try again: media concentration. Fed up with drastic cutbacks to local programming following massive consolidation in the radio industry, as well as collusion between corporate media behemoths and the Bush Administration’s drive to war against Iraq, Americans across the political spectrum successfully intervened to prevent the pro-industry broadcasting regulator (the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC) from further liberalizing ownership rules. It was a stunning wake-up call for the secretive, elitist and arguably corrupt process of communications policy making in Washington, as grassroots organizations like Free Press mobilized popular protest.

There are strong signs of a parallel process in Canada (see Canadian Dimension, November/December, 2007). Media reform should be a top priority for progressive politics and democratic renewal in Canada. Why so?

Media are the institutional space that concentrates society’s symbolic power, a concentration that the Internet has only somewhat ameliorated. Yes, the Internet is an invaluable organizing tool for activism — but it’s also a foremost means of neoliberal globalization. Besides, as Steve Anderson discusses elsewhere in this issue, its most democratic aspects are under threat from the logic of enclosure, one backed by powerful corporate and commercial forces.

Read the entire article here: http://canadiandimension.com/articles/2008/01/11/1527/

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