Who controls what we read, what we hear, and what kind of information we get?
Increasingly, the answer has been fewer and fewer multinational corporations like Ruport Murdoch’s News International or the Walt Disney Corporation who are merging at a record pace. But this new concentration of media ownership has not gone unchallenged.
Hundreds of media activists from all across the country gathered this weekend to look at ways of confronting the growing influence and power of the corporate media giants. The Media and Democracy Congress, which was held this year in New York City and sponsored by the Institute for Alternative Journalism, also examined the many initiatives nationwide that are seeking to build a truly democratic media that responds directly to the needs of the vast majority of people and not just to the needs of Corporate America.
The tone for the Congress was set on the opening night with three keynote speakers.
- Barbara Ehrenreich, a columnist for Z Magazine and Time magazine and the author of many books, including most recently ??Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War.
- Jim Hightower, the host of a two hour daily radio show out of Texas, and a former commissioner of agriculture in the Lone Star state. His new book is called, ??There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos.
- Jeff Cohen, the co-founder and executive director of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting or FAIR, a media watchdog group based in New York City. He is the co-author with Norman Solomon of four books including the ??Wizards of Media Oz: Behind the Curtain of Mainstream News.