Welcome Juan Gonzalez (DemocracyNow!) and Joseph Torres (FreePress.net), and Host Maria Armoudian (Host, Insighters KPFK, author, Kill The Messenger).

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media

Host, Maria Armoudian:

How is it that Americans—consumers of the most media in the world—remain so misinformed about so many fundamental issues? How much does this phenomenon relate to the content offered by the news media? How much of mass media’s content is related to the political structures such as ownership, the law, and the organizations’ own goals? News for All The People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media examines this issue within two contexts – history and race.

Mass media—both its operations and messages—in American history has been a battleground itself, fought between the politicians, the corporations, and the democracy entrepreneurs, the latter fighting for a more informative and fair mass media. And with that battleground as the basis of dialogue in the public sphere came many others, including the meanings attached to race and ethnicity. Rife with stereotypes about “us” (usually, those of Western European origin) and “them” (the other ethnic groups), racial stereotypes filled the early US media. Publications framing described Native Americans as “barbarous” and “sculking” to be countered by the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin who explained with great insight and detail the plight of the Native American. Similarly, newspapers like the Boston News-Letter regularly stereotyped people of African descent as murderous, rebellious and rapacious with a few editors willing to counter those depictions.

It’s a history that repeats itself—journalists media that perpetuate stereotypes and status quo thinking and journalists and media who challenge those thoughts for deeper understandings of each other within our changing sociopolitical contexts.

Authors Juan Gonzalez and Joseph Torres demonstrate this important role of US news media throughout American history. Their book, News for All the People, shows with great detail how in the struggles to live up to our credos (democracy or “justice for all”), US media have been at the center of public thought—informing and misinforming their audiences about what these things mean with respect to ourselves and our brothers and sisters. And just as important as the narratives and portrayals, the authors help us to see how the changing media structures, such as ownership and control, and advancing technologies affect our very capacity to fulfill these lofty goals such as justice, equality and democracy.

Today with the vast reach of the Internet and layers of media, these battle lines are again drawn—and those lines are influencing our thoughts, opinions, beliefs, emotions, and as an outgrowth of those, they are influencing our activities. How we move forward in our media landscape will help to shape the future of the US. And in an increasingly globalized world, our decisions today, will affect us beyond borders.

100 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Juan Gonzalez and Joseph Torres, News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media”

BevW November 5th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Joseph, Welcome to the Lake.

Juan, Maria, Welcome back.

Maria, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Hello Bev, Joseph and Juan! Welcome and thank you for being with us to discuss your book.

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:01 pm
In response to Maria Armoudian @ 2

Hi Bev and Maria, glad to be back.

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

hi everyone…hope everyone is well.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Hello there. Let’s start with a bit of American media history, How do you see the early US media shaping the thoughts and culture of the US? And do these historic media messages affect us still today?

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:03 pm
In response to Maria Armoudian @ 5

Joe, do you want to start, because the take-out food guy is at the door.

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

We discuss in the book that race has always been a central theme in news coverage from the first colonial newspaper to this day.

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Juan,

Love your segments on democracynow.

Has there been a time in U.S. history when the major media have not been a mouthpiece for the rich & powerful?

Hasn’t it always been the job of alternative media to get out the real story, which by its nature, does not reach very many people. Internet does not seem to have made much difference.

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:07 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 7

I’m back. Starting with the first colonial newspaper, Publick Occurences in 1690, the bulk of content in that three-page paper was intelligence to the settlers of the Massachusetts colony on the activities of the Native Americans — all of describing them as “Barbarous” and “sculking,” and such coverage was a staple of the colonial era press.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:08 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 9

Juan & Joe, you also note that some people countered these depictions. Who? How? and were they effective? When you look throughout American history, how would you say we have evolved? How far have we come?

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

The first colonial newspaper — Publick Occurrences — founded in 1690 was filled with news coverage about sculking Indians. The coverage focused on attacks by Indians on the White settlers. This theme of people of color being a threat to society still plays out to this day in news coverage. Just look how immigrants and Muslims are covered.

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 8

Yes, the early colonial papers, while they clearly contained much racist stereotyping of Indians and AFrican slaves, were crucial to winning the war of Independence against England. Thus, those early papers had a “rebel” or “dissident” character. After the War of Independence, though, most quickly became part of the new status quo, and defenders the country’s new elite.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:10 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 11

During the age of Jackson, you wrote about hw the nation’s most influential editors instigated racial violence—even the labor press—and legitimized white supremacist notions of manifest destiny. Can you give us some examples of then and how that may still breathe through today’s society?

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 2:11 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 9

In Jamestown (channeling Zinn) the settlers ended up eating each other, including one murdering his wife so he could eat her; all bc they were smart enough to know how to prep for the winter, whereas Amerindians planted, stored, hunted, etc. Got thru the winter just fine.

Who were the savages?

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Ben Franklin stands out in his expose of a major massacre of Indians in the Pennsylvania colony. So does Tom Paine, who repeated railed against rebel leaders who espoused liberty but held Africans in slavery.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

You note that people of color published more than 100 newspapers in this country before the civil war. What were these publications and how were they different from the more establishment media and even the alternative media?

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

We found in writing the book that people of color have always fought for a just media system. Our nation’s first Spanish-language newspaper was founded in 1808, first African American newspaper in 1827 and first Native American paper in 1828. Ethnic newspapers played a critical role in challenging a white racial narrative in the country’s daily press. It is a role that media justice advocates still play to this day.

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 2:14 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 12

But the revolutionary war was just one group of RWMs fighting to take control from the RWMs on the other side of the pond. So what you are saying is that the papers of the time chose sides for one powerful class against another, and clearly it was in their interest to side with the powerful class that was in their same geography.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 17

How were they funded and able to sustain themselves?

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

About 30 of the publications were black newspapers, starting with Samuel Cornish and john Russwurm’s Freedom’s Journal in 1827 in New York, also Cornish’s Coloured American later, DAvid Ruggles’ Mirror of Liberty, and several papers by Frederick Douglass, the most famous being the North Star.

There were a few Native American newspapers, the Cherokee Phoenix in 1828 and the Cherokee Advocate begining in 1844.

But the largest group before the Civil War was Spanish-language newspapers — 25 of them in New Orleans alone, including a daily, La Patria, which started in 1846. The other Spanish-language papers were in South Texas, California, New Mexico, Florida, New York, and of course El Habanero in 1824, the paper of Cuban revolutionary priest Felix Varela.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:18 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 20

Also, what do you think the effect of their presence was? Were they able to alter the dominant metanarrative?

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 2:18 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 17

There’s a real racist thing going on in the far right today. I’m guessing the object is intimating blacks & Hispanics not to vote.

Are the black & Hispanic media playing a role in pushing back? Or more generally, what role are they playing?

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

You talk about technology playing an important role in innovations and changing and transforming older media structures and maybe the content itself. Can you walk us through these technological changes and how they impacted the politics of the US?

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 15

How difficult was it to find such information about Franklin, Paine? Most bios of founding fathers are hagiographies that never mention matters like that.

Or, more generally, tell us a little about your research. What & where were your most productive, in-depth sources?

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Their effect was to provide a consistent counter-narrative, generally one opposed to territorial expansion and empire-building, toward a more nuanced and comprehensive view of the contributions of non-white peoples’ to American prosperity, and toward opposing slavery, though it should be noted that both in the Cherokee press and in the Spanish-language press, there was an internal battle over slavery, with some Native and Hispanic editors supporting it and others strongly opposing it.

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

The biggest reason why these papers existed in the first place was due to postal policy. This is a major theme in our book. The government has always played a critical role in the development of our nation’s media system from the creation of our country’s first newspapers to the birth of the Internet.

The Postal Act of 1792 created the Post Office. And postal policies called for heavily subsidizing the delivery of newspapers. It created a decentralize media system. As a result, people of color were able to create and distribute their own papers.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:24 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 26

I think that leads also to the question about diversity, which is a major theme in your book. You believe that a diverse media is very important for the health of society. Can there also be downsides to message-diversity, particularly if that diversity is divisive and polarizing? If so, how can this polarization be prevented?

BevW November 5th, 2011 at 2:25 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 20

Juan, Joe,
Were these newspapers for each individual community (several blocks large?), small circulation, or were they city-wide? Local writers/reporters?

EdwardTeller November 5th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Juan and Joseph,

I can’t wait until I can find the time to read this book.

I’m fascinated by how our society, driven by the media, is always seeking another stereotype to label as “the other[s].” We’re not the only society to do that, but being as diverse as we are, it makes for interesting twists along the way. My two favorite books on aspects of this in America are The Dominion of War, by Fred Anderson and Andrew Clayton, and War Without Mercy, by John W. Dower. War Without Mercy looks at how American and Japanese media portrayed each other during WWII.

Juan – I don’t think we can thank you enough for your having provided, year after year, the best American coverage of union issues there is in our media. Granted, you haven’t had much competition, but you certainly deserve high honor for your work, sir.

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:27 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 24

It took considerable digging, since most of those early papers by journalists of color were not archived by libraries in the 19th and early 20th century. We spent a lot of time combing through various university archives to find a few existing copies and actually reading them.

On Franklin, there are actually some excellent scholarly papers that never get much general circulation, especially one by Pete Steffens in Journalism History, “Franklin’s Early Attack on Racism: An Essay Against a Massacre of Indians.”

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Juan, Joe, can you see my question about diversity above? I think it’s #27

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I think what I’m exploring here is . . . what kind of media would allow us to transcend race and ethnicity as divisions? Have we seen something like this in history?

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Sorry guys. I ‘ve been away for a moment, saying bye to wife and child as they head out to meet up with family members.

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to BevW @ 28

La Patria in New Orleans actually had a fairly good circulation — about 800 a day, which made it the 5th largest daily in that city during the 1840s. It also had correspondents throughout the Caribbean and Latin America and was strong anti-Mexican war and anti- U.S. territorial expansion. It was widely quoted in the Anglo papers across the country because it had the most comprehensive information on Latin America. It’s successor paper’s press was destroyed by a mob of whites in 1851, after the paper’s editors criticized a failed filibuster expedition to Cuba. The mob physically assaulted the editor and then sacked the Latin Quarter of New Orleans

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 30

Aha, just as I suspected.

Just another way that the guardians of the PTB protect them, by trying to do culturcide or otherwise marginalize segments of the population.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

You also point out the role of the government and the laws in shaping media structure and thus media content. What do you think have been the most influential laws in terms of affecting media?

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I don’t think there is a downside to message diversity. Yes, the clash of divergent views can sometimes get messy. That was true in the early 1800s during the Jacksonian period. It was true in the cacophony of voices that took to the airwaves during amateur radio days; it is true today in the Internet era. But if our news media is highly decentralized, such diversity of voices permits democratic discourse to flourish.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 37

I agree with diversity, Juan. I do worry, however, about polarization, how do we prevent that?

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 26

But what the govt gives, the govt can take away. Now seems to be going the other way. Trying to disappear the post office & I expect net neutrality to be dead within the next couple of years. (Prolly right after O’s reelection.)

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Having a diverse media system is critical to ensuring that people have the information they need to function in society. People of color are too often marginalized by the media and do not receive the basic information they need to make informed decisions. Meanwhile, the mainstream media have always covered people of color as problem people, as the other. Having a diverse media system with diverse viewpoints not only benefits people of color, it benefits our overall society.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Joe, Juan, what about the role of gov & laws?

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

It is a major theme in our book. More in a second.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Also, with regards to technology & innovation. It seems that each time these new technologies and innovations came about, they challenged the media establishment and the narratives emerging from them but only for a short time while the establishment then reasserted itself. Is the Internet the parallel today? Where do you see it going?

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

It seems to me the great polarization in media discourse in our times came with the rise of right-wing talk radio, which became by extension, the angry chatter we now here on cable TV. How did that arise? In the 1980s, the FCC did away with the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to air opposing viewpoints on controversial subjects. Once the Fairness Doctrine was done away with, lo and behold, all the major radio chains opted for various forms of right-wing hate radio. Diversity that seeks to allow the clash of different viewpoints with an eye toward getting closer to a complex reality, is a far cry from polarized bombast we hear these days. And I should note – this being my personal opinion – that the same kind of ‘screeching” approach is now being increasingly mirrored on the “liberal-left” on MSNBC. NBC, the corporation, now has the best of both worlds. It makes money with its right-wing business channel, CNBC, and with its liberal channel, MSNBC. It gives to both parties, so to speak.

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Throughout history, technological changes have always fundamentally changed our nation’s media system. New industries are created like the telegraph, radio, TV, cable TV or the Internet as a result. But when this happens, our government is faced with a critical decision, does it pass new policies that allow the greatest number of voices to participate in the new media system or does it turn over control to a few corporate gatekeepers. Our government has always been pressured by powerful interests to turn over control to a few corporate gatekeepers. This is what the fight is about in regards to the future of the Internet – Network Neutrality.

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 2:50 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 44

Different opinion on msnbc. Not leftie at all, but a few token Obots. Since O is far to the right of Reagan, …

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 44

Thank you, Juan. I think that’s right. But the US, as you and Joe note in your book, was pretty polarized even with its founding, with Jefferson & Hamilton and their opposing papers. Were they more civilized or are we returning to something of our past?

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Three of the fundamental themes of our book are:

1) Our media system did not just happen because of some invisible “free market.” It was a direct result of key policy decisions our national leaders made at key points in the nation’s history.

2) Those decisions usually occurred when some new advance in mass communications technology disrupted the existing order information dissemination, requiring the government to step in and promulgate new “rules” for the operation of our media system.

3) Whenever those government policies promoted a more centralized system of news delivery, democracy was set back. Whenever those policies promoted a more decentralized and autonomous system of news delivery, democracy made progress — and people of color had greater opportunities to speak and be heard in the media system.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Also, can you address the questions of technology & innovation as challenge to status quo and whether these thigns are temporary? Questin #43, I think

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

In some ways, we are returning to those past battles, except that the level of the discourse has been degraded.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

We have a wave of growing Spanish language media today. Its birthplace, you point out, was in New Orleans. Can you trace the roots and development of Spanish language media? And also, is it in now being taken over by centralization? what is the cost of this?

papau November 5th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

“Rife with stereotypes about “us” (usually, those of Western European origin) and “them” (the other ethnic groups), racial stereotypes filled the early US media.”

My own observation, based on limited personal data and a bit of old newsprint from the Chicago area, was that the “us” in the above quote was not “Western European origin” but rather Brit/Scot/Welsh and Northern Europe, with other areas of “Western European” fighting to get in the club. Indeed the book “how the Irish became white” describes the effort of one group. Indeed one of the keys to acceptance of a new “Western – OR Eastern – European” group was that there had to be the groups acceptance of the bias/hatred toward blacks that the “in group” already had. The classic -”if I gave jobs to blacks how could uneducated “fit in groups name” kids get jobs was heard until the 40′s when the unions did a massive re-education attempt on the workforce. I recall little that the government or media prior to the 30′s did to fight the bias.

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 50

Catching snippets here & there, the level of discourse in U.S. seems to have been degraded more often than not. On the PBS series on prohibition, I caught a bit that had some pretty vile campaigning against Al Smith, rivals teh most egregious racism of today.

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Yes, Spanish language media are also victims of concentrated media ownership. The Telemundo network has been owned for nearly a decade by NBC-Universal (now Comcast); The Univision network is largely controlled by U.S. hedge funds, with a minority share owned by Mexico’s Televisa media empire. Televisa also supplies the bulk of the programming for Univision. It is important to make a distinction between U.S.-Latinos (some 50 million in number), and the participation of foreign elites from Mexico in U.S. television. Likewise the main chain of Spanish-language newspapers today, ImpreMedia, which now controls both La Opinion in Los Angeles and El Diario-La Prensa in New York, the two chief Spanish language dailies in the country, is also controlled by U.S. hedge funds, and until recently its ceo was a Canadian, John Patton. The only true locally-controlled Latino press today are the hundreds of weekly newspapers that exist in communities throughout the country.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Another constant seems to be the exploitation of culture. Can you talk a bit about early radio in the early 20th century and the exploitation of African culture and music and its impact? Are we seeing that again today?

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

The fight over the future of the Internet is a fight over whether we believe in empowering people to use technology to speak freely. Amateurs have often played a critical role in the development of new media systems that were founded as a result of changes in technology. When new media systems are created, they are often decentralized which allows the voices of many to be heard.

This was the case with radio as well the Internet since corporations often do not understand, at first, the commercial potential of each new media system. But once they do, they pressure the government to pass rules that places them in control of each new system, acting as gatekeepers who decide whose voices have a right to be heard.

We argue in the book that for people of color and other marginalize communities, it is critical that we fight for a decentralize system free of corporate gatekeepers. A decentralize system allows our communities to tell our own stories. This is why it is critical for people of color and other voices that are being marginalized by the media to fight to protect an open Internet. We must fight for Network Neutrality. We must protect Internet Freedom.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 56

can you relate that to the past innovations & technologies that have challenged the status quo, then were usurped?

RevBev November 5th, 2011 at 3:05 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 56

Do you have a prediction? ie With the pervasive spread of the net, is it likely we will see a successful battle against control?

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 3:07 pm

What? You didn’t listen to Amos ‘n Andy?

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 3:08 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 56

What fight over the internet. I think the fix is already in, don’t you?

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

On technology, it has clearly always been a revolutionary and destabilizing force on established media systems. However, once the government stepped in to establish new rules of the road (allowing the telegraph to be privately controlled in the 1860s; turning the major radio frequencies over to the NBC and CBS networks after the Federal Radio Act of 1927; turning the Internet, which was funded in its developmental phase by taxpayers through ARPA and the National Science Foundation, completely over to the private sector with minimal government regulation, the major media empires moved to assert gatekeeper functions and to monetize the new technology, with public interest requirements being sacrificed.

Phoenix Woman November 5th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 18

Hell, Magna Carta was intended just to benefit a narrow class of barons and free peasants, yet it became the “slippery slope” for a growing extension of freedoms over the ensuing centuries.

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 3:10 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 62

Until the ought-oughts.

Peterr November 5th, 2011 at 3:11 pm

What has been the reaction to your book from frontline reporters? Have you heard anything from members of the various professional associations of minority journalists?

Phoenix Woman November 5th, 2011 at 3:11 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 56

Exactly, which is one reason why it’s so disappointing to see that the big telcos have largely bought off the Congressional Black Caucus on the question of net neutrality.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

You tell the story of Jay Harris, an African American executive at the San Jose Mercury News. Can you reflect on his story and what it tells us about media and society?

Phoenix Woman November 5th, 2011 at 3:13 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 63

There’s always been backsliding, but then the occasional correction happens and a few nobles get beheaded (1648-1660, 1789-1793, 1848, etc.) and the surviving nobles realize that it might be better for all concerned if they make a few concessions.

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

The net has truly revolutionized how news and information spreads today. But so did cable television in its first few decades. And so did radio between about 1912 and the late 1920s. And so did the telegraph between 1844 and 1861, until Western Union finished buying up all the competing telegraph companies and established the first industrial monopoly in U.S. history and then went on to create an information cartel with the Associated Press. We quote in the book the glowing predictions from experts during each of those eras about how the new technology would augur in a new world of expanded human knowledge and greater democracy. Each time, though, the fmedia reformers failed to pay sufficient attention to federal media policy and build a movement to defend decentralized, autonomous media.

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 3:17 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 67

Couldn’t agree with you more. Unfortunately, we are now living in a period of major backsliding and beheadings (or their contemporary U.S. analogue, impeachment) are ‘off the table.’

I hope you are younger than I and live to see the accountability days. I don’t expect to see it in my remaining decade or two.

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 68

But so did cable television in its first few decades.

One of my faves was cnn waiting, cameras ready, at the border of Kuwait for U.S. troopz to arrive.

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

The fight is going on as we speak. Sometime next week, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) is bringing to the Senate floor a resolution to overturn the FCC’s Network Neutrality rules that the commission passed last December. While many, including the group I work for Free Press, were not happy with the rules the commission passed since it allows AT&T and Verizon to discriminate against wireless Internet users, it still sets a bad precedent for Congress to overturn policies that prevents the FCC from protecting consumers.

Meanwhile, Verizon is suing the FCC in court to overturn all open Internet – Network Neutrality – rules. The company believes there should be no rules to protect the public’s free speech rights online. So the fight continues which is why we need the public to contact their senators and urge them to reject Sen. Hutchinson’s resolution.

But again, this is something that Juan and I address in the book. We are living through one of those critical moments that simply does not come around too often, a moment when the government is deciding the fate of a new media system. Right now, the government is debating the future of the Internet, the greatest decentralized communications network ever created to date.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 68

Juan and Joe, what can the journalists themselves do? Why do we not see a national association or union that can together influence policies and mass media?

RevBev November 5th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 68

So well said, I guess. Let those who have ears to hear….huh. Thanks

BevW November 5th, 2011 at 3:21 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 65

I think your post shows the “capture” of the media today.

RevBev November 5th, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to BevW @ 74

Do you know how active/vocal FDL has been in the ‘net debate? Somewhat, as I recall. Or the Occupiers?

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

We chronicle in the book’s last chapter how many of the major national civil rights organizations have been coopted by the cable and telecom companies — and that includes the NAACP, the Urban League, the National Council of la Raza. But at the same time, there are dozens of grassroots local organizations that have developed in recent years that refuse to go along with the tide. During our recent book tour, Joe and I did joint events with several of those groups. In addition, alternative, community radio, low power fm, indy media centers, citizen blogs, etc.. all are part of a huge movement of local, decentralized, non-commercial media that are still having a big impact. One of the things we argue for is that the traditional alternative media (which also has been largely white) needs to recognize and build closer alliances with the press of people of color, to understand that the non-white press has been engaged for 200 years in its own war against empire, domination, and exploitation and that these two streams are both important segments of the press in America.

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Access, baby, access. If journos don’t play by the rules they get shut out.

I was a prof woman on Wall St. NOT one of the top women players, so I always thought that ‘our’ cause could be advanced by working together. But the top women players (think Hillary on Wall St) were much smarter than I. They knew that their personal cause would be advanced by playing the suck-up game. They were right and I was wrong.

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I hope Juan weighs in on Jay Harris since he worked with him in Philadelphia during the 1980s. But Jay did something that many editors simply do not have the courage to do; he resigned as the publisher of the San Jose Mercury News rather than continue to cut his newsroom staff which the paper’s parent company, Knight Ridder, was ordering him to do. But Jay’s resignation pointed to a larger problem that has been destroying quality newspaper reporting for years and that is that many of our nation’s largest newspaper chains are publicly traded companies who demand that that their papers maximize profits by drastically cutting their newsroom staff.

More in a second.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 76

What would be the most meaningful way for alternative media to engage with people of color? ANd how do we define “color”? I ask this as an Armenian, which was NOT considered “white” in Oklahoma, where I grew up, but I see other ethnic groups casting Armenians into the “white” category. . . Two questions.

BevW November 5th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

In response to #75 / RevBev
FDL has been active – just two posts from July 2011

A Primer, and Why We Need Net Neutrality

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 76

many of the major national civil rights organizations have been coopted by the cable and telecom companies

This is THE lesson the lefties need to learn. How so many of their causes have been infiltrated by the opposition.

How to counter?

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to RevBev @ 75

yes, very active, particuarly when Jason was on staff.

RevBev November 5th, 2011 at 3:32 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 82

Thanks to you and Bev….Im sure we can keep at it.

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Eighty percent of the journalists in mainstream media mean to do well. But they get beaten down by a system that doesn’t tolerate dissident views. Newspapers, radio and televisions have fired thousands of reporters in recent years in repeated downsizings. At my own newspaper, the Daily News, about a dozen reporters were called into management offices just yesterday and laid off. One of them had been at the paper for 43 years. Another for more than 30 years. Most of those journalists live in fear every day of being sent to the unemployment line.

The journalists who remain can still play an important role, but they need organization — and our unions and professional societies have not been up to the task. And they need to feel the strength of an organized public beating down the doors of these media companies demanding better coverage. That’s what happened in the 1970s, when major reforms in media coverage occurred.

And you need the dissident, rebel press always showing there is a better way to do journalism.

blackbeary November 5th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

It seems to me that in nature whenever there is a difference there is the likely potential for conflict. It will occur unless there is an effort to prevent it. Cultural world view drives behavior, either for conflict or harmony. Preventing discord and embracing diversity is an ongoing effort, not a one time solution.

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 84

Eighty percent of the journalists in mainstream media mean to do well.

I sincerely doubt that. Maybe 80% of the select group you professionalized with, but …

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Can you also address how so much of ethnic and racial culture has been exploited? Spanish language media is one area. Also, African American cultural exploitation with jazz, etc. and hip hop. How has that affected overall culture, media, society?

eCAHNomics November 5th, 2011 at 3:39 pm
In response to blackbeary @ 85

Channeling Zinn again.

Race relations in early U.S. history, despite HUGE efforts to divide & conquer by 1%ers, were pretty copacetic. They intermarried, partied together, all the usual human stuff. So much so that 1%ers had to pass draconian laws and punishment to prevent that from happening.

RevBev November 5th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to blackbeary @ 85

Im sorry I do not get your point. Are you saying discord is a bad thing?

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to blackbeary @ 85

I would certainly agree that cultural world view drives behavior. And that’s why our book argues that a key question of the future is the nature of media “ownership” in America. Ownership of radio and television stations, as well as daily newspapers, by African Americans and Latinos has been declining in recent years, even as the minority population has skyrocketed. Owners and managers establish the “culture” of a news organization. They reward and promote those who are closest to their own world view and who report the stories they consider important, But in the United States, where the non-Hispanic white population will cease to be a majority sometime between 2040 and 2045, we are headed toward a system were all the major media companies are owned and controlled by a white minority.

That’s why government media policy aimed at assuring a diversification of “media ownership” is so critical. Absent such a policy, we will soon be headed toward a defacto apartheid media system.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
In response to Juan Gonzalez @ 90

Juan, in Mexico, the leading newspaper that challenged the status quo PRI was a cooperative structure where journalists owned the paper with the other workers. Why don’t we see that model?

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 3:52 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 78

We discuss in our book the state of newspaper. Even though newspapers are seeing their profits decline as a result in fewer people buying the actual paper, it still does not completely explain why papers are in such turmoil.

What is often not discussed is the role of consolidation has played in the decline of the newspaper industry. Many of our nation’s largest newspaper chains are publicly traded companies. As Wall Street demanded higher profit margins, companies like Gannett decided to get bigger, gobbling up papers over the decades. But with the rise of the Internet, more people are choosing to go online to get their news rather than buying a paper. People are still reading newspapers, it is just choosing to read the paper online.

As profit margins declined through the years, Wall Street demanded cuts. Meanwhile, companies were/are having a hard time paying back the debt they owed because of the money they borrowed to buy more papers. So consolidation has turned out to be a bad business decision for companies like Tribune and McClatchy.

These companies like to blame the Internet for their failure. But how can you explain a company like McClatchy laying off 3,000 workers in 2008 when the profit margins for its newspaper holding was 21 percent – a margin most companies would die for.

BevW November 5th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon discussion,

Juan, Joe, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book, and the relationship of race and the media.

Maria, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Juan’s website (DemocracyNow!), Joe’s website (FreePress.net), and book – News For All The People

Maria’s website (armoudian.com) and book – Kill The Messenger

Sunday – William Arkin / Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State; Hosted by Shane Harris (author, The Watchers)

If you want to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

Thanks all, Have a great weekend.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to Joseph Torres @ 92

Yes, please talk about Jay Harris

Juan Gonzalez November 5th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

It’s been tried several times, but with little success. The best example was in Wilkes Barre, Pa. in the 1980s. After a big strike against a Gannett Paper there, the reporters created an alternative worker-owned paper that flourished for a couple of decades. But the paper foundered when it came to deciding what would happen to the shares of the original founding writers after they left the paper or died.

We tried to create an ESOP at the Daily News when the paper went bankrupt in 1992, following the death of its owner Robert Maxwell, but the bankruptcy trustees rejected our offer in favor of that by Mortimer Zuckerman, who became, and still is the owner of the News.

The greater opportunities today are in new media, some of which will eventually become powerhouses in their own right (witness what happened to Huffington Post). The question is, when these operations start, what will be their organizing principles, and how racially diverse will they be from the start. Sorry to say this, but the record of alternative press on racial integration in the ranks and at the top is only slightly better than corporate media, and sometimes lags behind that of corporate media.

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Juan, did you see the Jay Harris question?

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 4:00 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 86

I worked as the deputy director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists for years. I agree with Juan that most journalists want/try to do the right thing but are unable to because of the corporate influence on newsroom culture and coverage. But I do get annoyed when groups representing journalists do not get involved in critical media policy fights taking place today like the FCC’s ownership rules and Internet policy. Their corporate bosses are lobbying Congress and the FCC and are saying that media consolidation will benefit journalists and journalism. This is simply not true. But journalists have to stand up and fight for policies that will truly lead to greater competition and diversity of voices in the media

Maria Armoudian November 5th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Juan and Joseph, thank you so much for your terrific book and for this FDL salon!

blackbeary November 5th, 2011 at 4:02 pm
In response to RevBev @ 89

Absolutely, probably not, as in open debate. But in the oppression of others because they are different I think is not only unjust but counterproductive in a post-tribal globalized humanity.

Joseph Torres November 5th, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Thank you everyone. Please send me an email at jtorres@freepress.net if I didn’t answer your question. I would be happy to continue the dialogue. Go
Giants tomorrow against New England!

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