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Media mergers stifling free expression of ideas

Posted By Joseph Farah On 05/06/1997 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

In case you needed confirmation, G. Bruce Knecht of the Wall StreetJournal provided it last week in a front-page account of how big corporate advertisers are calling the shots on what gets printed and what doesn’t in many of our major magazines. Exacerbating a problem that has been around since the beginning of time, however, is the trend toward media mergers, which “are changing the power dynamics,” writes Knecht. “The merger boom has consolidated advertising dollars in the hands of a shrinking number of marketers.” …

It’s too bad the eclectic New York Observer is not yet on line — lots of good material getting wasted on New Yorkers. Last week, writer Philip Weiss, a new skeptic on Clinton, concluded that all the documents being released and subpoenaed on Whitewater, campaign finance scandals, etc.won’t bring closure to these matters. “They will just stretch things out endlessly. This is the brilliant discovery of the Clinton defense team: the more information, the more revelations, the more fuzziness. The thing about information is it’s like any other addiction, alcohol or pornography; you always want more and better. All the special prosecutors are up to their eyeballs in information. They have too much information to make a judgment. They have to get more information. The smoking gun belongs to a simpler age, before journalists and lawyers were enslaved by the computer and the Xerox machine.” …

When you read news from Hong Kong these days, keep in mind that the local press, in a kind of dress rehearsal for totalitarianism, is already deeply involved in self-censorship. “I want Hong Kong and Chinese interests to reach a balance,” explained Kao Hsin-chiang, editorial director of Ming Pao, once a source of critical reporting on the Chinese government. …

Reporter Mike Antonucci, my colleague at the Western Journalism Center, the parent organization of WND, finds that the National Education Association is holding a “State Education Finance Workshop” at the Bahai Hotel in San Diego later this month. One of the topics to be addressed,he writes, is “the possibility of taxing commerce in cyberspace.” …

When the Environmental Grantmakers Assosciation met recently to discuss which save-the-planet organizations most deserved funding, the confab was closed to the public and press. What do they have to hide? One eyewitness reports in Organization Trends, a publication of the Capital Research Center, that the big fear is that government will scale back regulatory programs. Yet, the enemy, according to participants is not Newt Gingrich. In fact, he was described as “an ally,” as was Budget Chairman John Kasich. The best hope for new environmental initiatives, concluded most, is “the executive order approach.” So much for participatory democracy. ..

About that budget deal, by the way. It’s hard to see it as anything more or less than an unconditional Republican surrender. It includes more than $100 billion in discretionary spending than Clinton proposed last year. Phil Gramm calls it the worst budget he’s seen in his career. …

The Internal Revenue Service may be backing off its aggressive, politically motivated audit of the Western Journalism Center, publisher of WND. After a two-day examination by a newly assigned field agent last week, the center was basically given a verbal clean bill of health. The agent said he would recommend that no change in the tax-exempt status of the organization would be recommended. Meanwhile, Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation continues to investigate the IRS for its propensity toward auditing those critical of the Clinton administration….

A Harris poll released yesterday says Americans feel good about most things close to their own lives, but not about the morals, values and economy of the country as a whole. The pollster says the split probably reflects the difference between what Americans experience in their day-to-day lives, and the information they get in the news every day….

The London Times reported Sunday that North Korea’s famine is much worse than previously thought. Children are starving in the capital. Entire villages have been wiped out. And there are growing fears that Pyong-yang may get desperate and launch a military venture to distract attention from the famine. “If the situation remains unchecked,” says World Food Program director Catherine Bertini, “we could be looking at one of the biggest humanitarian disasters in our lifetime.” …

In the wake of owner Jack Kent Cooke’s death, the Los Angeles Daily News is on the block. Dean Singleton, of the Denver-based Media News Group,is reportedly close to making a deal for the 202,000-circlation paperwhich is based in the suburban San Gabriel Valley. … BTL


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