You can see what corporate ownership (even the kind dominated by single families -- think Walmart and the Waltons, not just the Sulzbergers and the New York times) does to journalists: it causes them to hold their fire. News outlets are really too important to democracy and the public interest to let them nestle in the bosom of the rich.
Think of all the times The Times has been wrong, pressing you toward the establishment consensus on stories where you knew that was not the right place to be, journalistically.
The Times has exaggerated the importance of things like the Iowa caucuses and primaries in terms of giving the public false confidence they actually have a say in what is an increasingly tenuous democracy. It played a central role in the rush to war with Iraq, and a lack of investigative rigor on the real reasons for intervening in Libya. It has been so terrified of being labeled as "conspiracy theorists" that it has ignored important legitimate reporting on 9/11 and the inconsistent government explanations of the raid that "got" Bin Laden.
It has shown cluelessness on Occupy Wall Street. Its columnists defended a friend instead of investigating him for fraud. It has been excessively soft toward "acceptable" candidates like Mitt Romney and rough on those who would ruffle feathers.
The Times investigates the establishment, up to a point. But in the end, it upholds the establishment. It is a wholly owned subsidiary.
Think of the hoary old discredited memes, like the Warren Report, that the spirit of the place keeps aflame for some reason. Think of its preference for bland middle-of-the-road candidates who can do nothing to stop this country's slide to the bottom. And for "order," when what we may need, in a country increasingly experiencing corporate-driven chaos, is a little more healthy disorder.
Corporate-owned media has been "in charge" of providing the dominant national narrative, helping us understand where we are and why, and what we can do about it. And how good a job, would you say, it has done, overall? Are things much better after this long reign?
Most of you are fine people -- some are my friends -- and many of you do great work, or at least the best you are able under certain constraints. But in the end you are on the plantation. You may petition your owner, as you have, but he's got the upper hand. He certainly isn't going to give up a lot so that you may keep your pension.
I understand you want to keep your jobs and your benefits. But does it really feel that good being on the corporate plantation?
Come join us. Ask the deep questions, write whatever you learn. No holds barred. Work in an outfit that takes itself a little less seriously -- but takes the truth very seriously indeed.
Help us collect the people and the resources, and build a more perfect journalism.
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