Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Editorials / Opinion


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Daily Democracy

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.

E-mail| RSS feeds Subscribe | Blog Home

March 6, 2008 3:30 PM

The Anniston Star and media consolidation

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Anniston Star, one of America's great family owned newspapers, is running a series about the impact of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The series, which can be found here and was penned by the newspaper's editor at large John Fleming, shows readers the negative results the legislation has had on northeast Alabama.

Fleming's use of local examples is powerful and should grab the attention of readers. And not just in Alabama. His findings of absentee ownership and degraded local news has become the norm across the nation since 1996.

Take for example this passage:

On a recent evening, as foul weather moved into the Anniston area and the sirens begin to sound, some residents reached for their radios and tuned to WDNG-AM/1450. Instead of weather information, what they got was the middle of what one listener later described as a "Levin rant" about the conservative shortcomings of John McCain and Huckabee.


No doubt it was interesting subject matter. But with a tornado possibly imminent, Anniston listeners probably would have preferred to hear a weather update.

The storm blew over, causing only heartburn. But the incident again raises the question:

If local media no longer is local, how does it fulfill one of its most essential roles: informing the community in times of peril?

This scenario is a reality for any community that could be hit by a natural disaster and has a couple of conglomerates owning all or nearly all its radio stations.

Fleming's reporting also demonstrates the good of local ownership. Doubtful the Anniston Star would tackle this subject if it was owned by a distant conglomerate with little interest in northeast Alabama except as a profit center.

The last two grafs of the series final installment is as good a summation as I have read about the importance of a dispersed, independent press.

Without revenue, the print side is indeed in trouble. But the larger issue here is not so much who covers the news, but how it is covered and to what extent and to what level of fairness or balance, if you will.


To reach deeper even, you touch what is the very best in media, to endeavor not only to inform but to encourage participatory democracy. Or put quite another way, to build within our society, local and nationally, a better citizenry.


Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

Comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Recent entries

Jul 14, 08 - 01:45 PM
FISA edit

Jul 14, 08 - 10:13 AM
Foxpaper

Jul 9, 08 - 01:41 PM
Senate passes FISA act

Jun 26, 08 - 02:24 PM
Broadband's reach, or lack there of

Jun 26, 08 - 12:52 PM
Say no to immunity

Advertising

Marketplace

Land Rover LR4 lets you go off-road in stylenew
For 2014, Land Rover's venerable LR4 gets a slightly more fuel-efficient engine, cosmetic tweaks and a new four-wheel-drive system. What hasn't change...
Post a comment

Advertising

Advertising

Categories
Calendar

February

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Browse the archives

July 2008

June 2008

May 2008

April 2008

March 2008

February 2008

Blogroll