The Battle Over The Future of Journalism is Becoming More Intense.
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: I was among the many media wannabe reformers to attend the tenth anniversary party of Free Press, (Freepress.net) the mostly online organization and lobby that promotes itself as a movement to transform our media system, and save our democracy.
I certainly support their policy goals like net neutrality and curbs on media consolidation, and also admire their staying power, even if their style is very upwardly mobile, and rather un-left like, starting with this trendy soireee in an ultra modern upscale hotel lounge where drinks went for $15.00.
Free Press has been very effective in raising large sums of money using top-down means of organizing support. (To be honest, as the editor of Mediachannel.org, a site that is barely holding on, I am a bit jealous of their successful skills as fundraisers and organization builders.)
I would like to see them do more to encourage other progressive groups to get beyond partisan electoral politics and take on media issues
I had been troubled by a lack a follow-up at their earlier media reform conferences and their on-line petition orientation, but I have to admit, at the same time, few other groups have taken on these issues so persistently, and can claim 165,000 supporters.
What I have also admire is the support they have attracted from the likes of Bill Moyers who has spoken at, and even helped fund their events. Moyers is an eloquent and outspoken advocate for the importance of journalism as a guardian of democracy. (Disclosure, he praised my new book, Madiba A-Z on Nelson Mandela as part of his speech at the event and even wrote a blurb for it Thank you, Bill.)
I haven't seen any press reports about the Free Press celebration, other than the one I blogged. I also reported on their earnest and outspoken advocates I admire, folks like Media historian Robert McChesney, Nation editor John Nichols and CEO Craig Aaron.
Aaron's speech was very media critical.
This party didn't form a Party. In fact, it rapidly turned from a call to arms, to a call for alms, with fundraising envelopes everywhere, and wealthy donors announcing impressive donations.
Their message doesn't get much bounce in the media that has more bottom line concerns to worry about. Most of the mainstream or "lame stream' media are loathe to critique themselves or let others do it in their "space." Try to get the New York Times To print a letter criticizing the New York Times, and you will see what I mean.
No one at the Free Press event mentioned the recent flawed Benghazi story on 60 Minutes that the network was then defending until they suddenly caved on Friday, and announced they will apologize for it.
It was another "scoop" by chief correspondent Lara Logan who never saw a US military escalation she disapproved of. It was her story but rather than admit her own culpability, she issued and delivered statements about how "WE"--ie. the CBS News Division will correct it,
Even as Lara was deflecting criticism from herself, another prominent media maven, publisher Tina Brown, was in India denouncing journalism itself, after reportedly losing $60 million dollars running Newsweek and the Daily Beast.
Speaking at the THiNK conference, in of all places, a resort in Goa, the media executive who has generated more press for herself than any of her stories, has now decided, get this, journalism is over.