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Thursday, October 13, 2011

  • "News for All the People": Juan González & Joseph Torres on the Epic Story of Race & the U.S. Media

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    After seven years of research, the groundbreaking new book, "News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media," examines how the media has played a pivotal role in perpetuating racist views in the United States. It recalls lives of the unsung pioneering black, Latino, Native American and Asian-American journalists who challenged the worst racial aspects of the white-owned media. It also tells the untold story of how the fight over who controls the internet is just the latest chapter in a centuries-old debate on the role of the media — and the technologies used to deliver it — in a democracy. Today, in a Democracy Now! exclusive, we speak with the book’s authors, Democracy Now! co-host and award-winning journalist Juan González, and Joseph Torres of the media reform organization Free Press. "One of the things that we’ve uncovered is that this fundamental debate that is constantly occurring is: does our nation need a centralized system of news and information, or does it need a decentralized, autonomous system? And which serves democracy best?" González says. "It turns out that in those periods of time when the government has opted for a decentralized or autonomous system, democracy has had a better opportunity to flourish, racial minorities have been able to be heard more often and to establish their own press. In those periods of the nation’s history when policies have fostered centralized news and information, that’s when dissident voices, racial minorities, marginalized groups in society are excluded from the media system." On the role of civil rights groups in the digital age, Torres notes that "the internet is an open platform. [Internet service providers], up to now, have not been able to interfere with your web traffic. You can access any site you want without being slowed down. What they want to do is ... have a pay-for-play system, where if you have a website at Democracy Now!, Democracy Now! will have to pay more to make sure the public can see your site at the fastest speeds, otherwise you’re going to be slowed down. For people of color, it is critical, because of the low barrier of entries, the internet, that we keep the internet open — a free platform — because we don’t have the economic wealth to be able to pay ISPs to make sure our sites are loaded faster." [includes rush transcript]