Friday, October 4, 2013

Robert McChesney- Corporate Dominance of Media and the Internet (Q&A Session)

Robert McChesney (left)  answers questions as Jeff Cohen (right) moderates the Q&A session. 
Last night, the Park Center for Independent Media brought Robert McChesney to campus for a talk about "Corporate Dominance of Media and the Internet." Aligning quite well with our class discussions in Independent Media, the auditorium was full of Independent Media students, anxious to pick McChesney's brain.

I'll talk about one of the questions in particular, as it is something that I have recently been fascinated by.

Some context: when I knew I wanted to pursue journalism, I obviously started paying attention to the media more closely, following as many stories as I could. My family grew up watching our local FOX affiliate, but once I got to college, I learned that FOX was bad, or at least didn't align with my views. CNN was my favorite, but I think it might have just happened because it was always on in Park, the dining halls and anywhere else IC has a television. I wanted to do broadcast journalism, and I was so sure I wanted to have my own show on CNN, or do something with them.

After watching for so many years, and being exposed to so much more new media, I'm not so sure. Getting back to last night, I'm not sure of what the question was, but it was something on the lines of what McChesney thought about mainstream media like CNN, MSNBC and FOX.

"They don't do journalism; they're just talking heads," said McChesney, "you're just going to watch the person you agree with."

And then it hit me. For so long, CNN is 'who I agreed with,' but after observing them, they're just who I've had the most access to! Is there ever original reporting at places like CNN anymore?

McChesney said that corporations are getting out of journalism, and getting our of paying reporters to cover things. He talked about how conversely, there are about four PR people for every journalist, and about 80-90% of the media reported has been spun. There is no original journalism.

I don't want to be a talking head, and I don't want to report something (or not report something) because it makes my company money. Corporations shouldn't control journalism, but journalism also shouldn't control corporations.

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