Seth Ackerman SAckerman at
Wed Aug 18 13:51:35 PDT 1999

> Doug Henwood wrote:
> > Yup. One of my beefs with the average media critic is that they
> > rarely talk about this sort of thing - they're so busy bellyaching
> > about concentration of ownership that they forget that they should be
> > nurturing critical media rather than expecting the New York Times to
> > call Chomsky for a quote on U.S. foreign policy. Maybe that's just
> > self-interest talking.

Carrol Cox wrote:

> Doug is almost too kind to the media critics he speaks of. Both the
> whining about how much worse things are *and* the implicit or
> explicit demand that the New York Times should attack imperialism
> are thinly disguised versions of the argument that the evils of
> capitalism are aberrations rather than fundamental. Has anyone on
> this list read Upton Sinclair's *The Brass Check*? I believe it was
> written around 1905. It's been over 50 years since I read it, but
> if I remember it at all correctly it would be possible to argue that
> even *Time* and *USA Today* give more honest news coverage
> than did the "independent" press of a hundred years ago.
> I'm bothered rather more by the *Nation*'s subservience to the
> Democratic party than I am by anything the *Times* or other
> corporate newspapers print or don't print.

I guess it would look odd if I didn't add something here.

The most important task of the media critic, in my opinion, is to teach people to look at the mainstream media more skeptically.

It does no good just to say "well, of course the New York Times is a capitalist tool." Most people don't know that. The media are very effective propagandists -- even against targets who think of themselves as "skeptical" or "cynical" about the media -- and they're everywhere. That's why it's still necessary to criticize the New York Times everyday.

I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that the mainstream media were never somehow better than they are now. In fact, they were much worse. On the other hand, it's indisputable that there's a lot less independent media out there than there was 100 years ago. (At least in terms of readership.) Appeal to Reason, the midwestern socialist paper, had an enormous circulation.

As for nurturing alternative media today, I think it's crucial. But how do you do that?


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