News media or U.S. propaganda?
Life in America after the death of the "Freedom of Information Act"
by Robert W. Barker The Netherlands
A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both." -- James Madison
Propaganda: "An organized program of publicity, selected information, etc., used to propagate a doctrine or practice."
This definition of propaganda was extracted from The Oxford American Dictionary of Current English, and can be used as a true basis or even a barometer of our News media.
Which one best defines our source of information?
Do we have unbiased information, or are we subjected to propaganda manipulations, made to promote an idea we do not see?
Most Americans trust our media, after all they uncovered Watergate, they gave us the actual scoop on many occasions in the past. Once a free press was the bulwark of American independence, a tried and true source of information and guide to the world of politics and civic responsibility.
We are dependent on our media for accurate and complete information so vital to citizens of a Republic or Democracy. Voting and active participation in a free society generate a need to be informed. For without proper truthful accurate and up to date information, citizens in a Republic are far less effective as a dynamic force of freedom.
For many years we knew [or at least thought] we had a media with the populous in mind, a probing diligent search for truth displayed in our media from Print to broadcast outlets uncovering infractions by those in whom we voted in trust.
American Media was not a government mouthpiece in fear of telling the truth, like Pravda in the old Soviet Union , waiting for government approval of all information leaked to the public.
A few years back information was too important to turn over to a government conglomerate of corporate control.
There were stringent rules about dominating the source of information, so that our news could not be controlled by forces with hidden agendas!
Only so many media outlets could be under the auspicious of one company or group, this was an important deterrent against prejudicial or eschewed information.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT OF 1974 and TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1996 CHANGED EVERYTHING!
Freedom of information act signed in 1974 following the Watergate affair has been held up as one of the greatest democratic reform bills ever devised. This bill gave ordinary citizens the right to call government agencies on the carpet, by requesting and surveying public documents and records. This was a bill for our media and citizens to hold accountable any section of governmental policy to an honest assessment of the validity or truthfulness of information. Without that bill we are powerless to react to propaganda or lies we are fed, this bill allows Americans to know what their government says as well as does .
Death of the freedom of information act on October 12 2002 by then United Sates Attorney General John Ashcroft was so surreptitious and mum it received almost no coverage but cost America its one guarantee of free press. No press conference was held no press release put forward so that American citizens did not know one of their most precious liberties died on Oct 12 2002!
In 2004, In inquiring author Ben Bagdikian's revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only five huge corporations, Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) -- control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric's NBC is a close sixth.
An excuse to bring change!
In the days and months following 9\11 we watched as a flurry of security measures were initiated and the publics right to know was relegated to nil; with the excuse that security of the public is primary to good government.
President Bush further sank our access to information on Nov. 1 2002, with an executive order that permits him to seal all presidential records since 1980, leaving us further out in the information cold!
Voters without genuine choices and sans the information they need to choose wisely, produce something that is not a true democracy.
Every Election Day our voters are forced to vote for the narrowest political choices among all industrial democracies of the world.
Now along with limited choices we have limited information, a covert secret government and corporate control of our media. This is tantamount to information control or phoney Propaganda, not news that is dependable and unbiased. Media Lobbies in the DC snake pit are quick to promise a bent or eschewed party opinion as objective reporting. Subjective and manipulative they may be yet presented as the exact opposite, most people cannot tell the difference.
Anchormen and writers in print media owe their jobs to corporations that are in direct working relationships with the government. Lets say this conglomerate decides which story is emphasized or even left out, these employees will not risk losing their jobs to satisfy some sense of fair reporting. We will and often are cheated out of the objective reporting we need. A form of conglomerate censorship is the result, leaving us lost in disinformation and easily controlled.
Consider the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and its implications for our sacred information. The legislative act it replaced, called the Communications Act of 1934, regulated telephone, radio, and television. The 1996 Act provides the basis of our laws determining the action and direction of radio, television, telephone, even the Internet! Virtually all aspects of communication are affected as we shift over to digital technologies. The initial guiding premise is that the market should rule communication, with "government assistance."
The politics of the Act depends primarily on powerful corporate communication firms and lobbies fighting behind the scenes to get the most favorable wording. Nothing but corporate sector control of all communication was a given, when drafting this law. The sole contention was over which sectors and which firms would get the best deals.
The public unaware of these debates languish in the old paradigm with no sense of the loss. The legislative struggles and manipulations over the Telecommunications Act of 1996 were almost never discussed in the news media.
The results of the Telecommunications Act, with its relaxation of ownership restrictions ostensibly to promote competition across sectors, have loomed disastrous, for the American public. Instead of producing competition, the law gave way to the greatest period of corporate concentration in US media history.
Perhaps a public outcry from the Internet activist could set off a new perspective and awaken the slumbering public as to the nature of the Media Conglomerates we receive our info from. We need an expose of the two acts that closed down our freedom of the press, public awareness is the only thing that might change this trend towards corporate censorship. Wake America up or watch as we all become too numb and dumb to see the truth.
Mr Barker holds advance degrees in history and sociology is a world traveler for over thirty years, a professional photographer, writer, political activist and former entertainer, he resides in the Netherlands and California .