"There is no such thing in America as an independent press.. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares write his honest opinions, and if you did you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid... for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper ... others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things... any of you who would be so foolish as to write his honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job... We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks; they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, possibilities, and lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."
One way to free the press from today 's mega-corporate leviathans and their profit-seeking owners is to free editors from the constraints of their at-will employments.
We cannot pretend to have a free, honest, and representative press when editors of our mega-media organizations are hired and fired by a handful of media owners. As a consequence of this state of affairs, we, the people, and our elected representatives have absolutely no say in the critical matter of major media editor hirings and firings. For this reason, content is corrupt.
Clearly, this is not 1776 when one, and many others, could set up a press rather inexpensively and deliver their papers and opinions to the entire village. Further, the internet is no substitute today for the major papers and television channels in this regard. The existence of the internet is not then an excuse for leaving the corruption of the Fourth Estate as it is, and for alllowing control of the media by only one "factor " to the economic equation i.e, capital and excluding the vast, wage-laboring, majority.
In fact, the vast majority of wage-earning people have no voice, and no effective media affairs participation. Thus we have Nightly Capital reports in every venue and not one Nightly Labor report. As a consequence the entire socio-economic process is corrupt, undemocratic, costly and dangerous. We, the paying subscribers and product-consuming listeners, do not elect our editors, as suggested by Edward Bellamy over a century ago.
What we need today is to separate ownership from editorship ...within the major media organizations. We need an Editor Freedom act, legislation which places the hiring and firing of editors of the major media outlets into a more representative body of people from various walks of life - who then vet the hirings and firings and serve to protect editors in their job of seeing that the opinions of the vast majority are not overwhelmed by a small cadre of handpicked sycophants afraid for their jobs.
A thorough discussion of this matter, and the Editor Freedom Act I propose, can be found in the chapter on Media in my book Cap-Com, The Economics Of Balance and can be viewed in detail at www.editorfreedom.com.
In general, wherever a parity of public and private media is missing, so then is editorial diversity and a critical balance of opinion. Where a mostly private, corporate, media environment exists, and editor hirings and firings are the exclusive province of a handful of owners, the potential for pure plutocracy and worse is complete. Indeed, no effective democracy can exist where information and media are monopolized by either "factor" to the socio-economic equation - i.e. capital or labor.
Yet exactly this ruinous condition of "factor" imbalance, and one-factor's monopoly of media now serves to distort our media, economy, environment and democracy.
In contrast to the media estate at the founding of the Republic, for-profit media now spans the globe and the ever-increasing concentration of ownership allows a handful of owners, and their hand-picked editors, to shape debate, spin or disappear dissent, and control the very currency of democracy.
In this setting, a "five-hundred channel " environment and unread internet sites mean nothing if all major radio and television media channels are controlled by the same factor - .i., capital - and set to its profit-seeking purposes and "talking points. "
In short, capital alone now controls our economy, media, central bank, campaign finance system and, in effect, our democracy. In practice, the vast majority 's concerns and interests are systematically denied, denigrated, and disappeared. In effect, only capital 's ideas, values, and distorted "free market " and "free trade" concerns reach the public. Thusly, a corrupt, vicious, top-down, and undemocratic "Globalization " proceeds ... against the wishes of the vast majority.
While, in theory, politicians may threaten media owners with license review or anti-trust action, it is media owners who possess the greater weapon today i.e., one useful against incumbent politicians fearful of bad press, lack of access, and endorsement of opponents. Exactly this sorry, quid-pro-quo, relationship leads to media corruption and grid-lock benefiting a ruling, corporate, class.
"I 'm the chief executive. I set policy and I 'm not going to surround myself with people who disagree with me."
Otis Chandler, LA Times
Without real editorial freedom we cannot then displace oligarchy, oligopoly, and restore effective democracy.
Today's concentration of media ownership and editorial power brings into sharp focus not only the immense responsibility, but also the freedom and estate of editors - in particular those with audiences in the millions, or even billions. Yet it is major-media owners, and their hand-picked editors, who decide what the vast majority see, hear, and read. Media owners and their editors have become the unelected, and unregulated, keepers of the public trust and molders of the public mind.
This corrupt and unbalanced condition is comparable to privatizing the federal mint and eliminating all regulation on those who print and distribute our money (see www.PublicCentralBank.com.)
With media then, our information currency in being minted in any amount, and ideological denomination, that these corporate owners and their hand-picked editors determine. We are cheated, corralled and controlled with counterfeit information ... an immense crime.
In the current regime the wage-earning majority has no say in major-media editor hirings and firings and so we, the people, possess no effective means to implement a freer press and a better balance in editorships. As commercialization and cleansing of the internet continues the people have little or no control over the content of their very informational life-blood ... within such major media organizations.