Social Responsibility and Media Reform

As the cliché goes, "perception is reality". And whether or not you subscribe to this jaded outlook, it is reasonable to assume that our perceptions and perspectives as Americans are significantly influenced by our conscious and unconscious consumption of messages produced by mainstream media.

These messages are in myriad forms, given the ever-expanding landscape of what now constitutes the media landscape, e.g. TV, radio, film, print, web, etc.

And in a massive marketplace where the vast majority of what we consume is owned by one of eight media conglomerates, we must ask ourselves what does social responsiblity in media look like? Is it merely catchy PSAs and animated interstitials co-branded with a pink ribbon or [red] merchandise? Or must it go deeper than this? And if so, just how deep are we as a nation committed to delving at the expense of the choke-hold corporate media has on our TVs, radios, print publications, computers and glut of shiny, digital spam gadgets (to which I am tragically addicted)?

Is it merely broader, more democratic and diverse ownership of media that America deserves? Certainly no small feat to achieve at present. Is it what type and range of "content" media outlets produce in terms of the accuracy and representativeness of the information and imagery of the subject matter conveyed? Is it a matter of systemic inclusiveness on all levels in the media field? Or could it be a mix of all of these issues?

And when we talk about "ownership", what does that really mean? And what should that mean?

Should corporations' news-gathering organizations that have free licenses to use publicly-"owned" airwaves even be allowed to be for-profit entities? A controversial inquiry perhaps. But what's far more troubling than that is the fact that ABC News' selection and reporting of news and "infotainment" is undeniably influenced by a talking rodent. And maybe, just maybe, the fact that General Electric (which owns NBC) being one of the world's largest defense contractors may have some bearing on what it would like its news division to not cover. "Crazy talk", I know. But I just thought I'd throw it out there.

Now, before folks rush to call my innocent inquiry socialistic or the like, bear in mind that I alluded earlier to the ultra-concentration of media ownership in this country. So, if you're still not sold on "media reform", how about just considering the worthiness of fighting for media justice and democratization in what many perceive to be the cradle of democracy and the home of baseball, apple pie and . . . Chevrolet? (Wow, how did that slip in there?!)

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