Corporate Media Missing Stories As Corporations Quash Coverage

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Videos by Sam Mayfield

The bad news is corporate owned media did a poor job reporting the news during the Egyptian revolution. The even worse news is that one of the few independent media tools that did get the news out from Egypt is being threatened in a place you might least expect it — the supposed free speech leader of the world, the United States.

As you might expect, members of the independent media spoken to by The UpTake at the National Conference For Media Reform generally had low opinions of the corporate-owned media.

Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman said in Egypt corporate media looked “like they were under the covers in their hotel room with a lower third that said ‘reporting from an undisclosed location’” while independent media was broadcasting out in the open to the masses.

Free Speech TV’s Don Rojas faults the corporate media for reinforcing the false concept of “objective” reporting. What the corporate-owned media really offers, Rojas says, is a corporate view of the news, which is hardly objective.

But attendees at the National Conference For Media Reform also are worried about another corporate ill: the control corporations want to exert over a tool citizens and independent media have been using to go around corporate owned news channels. That tool is your cell phone.

The AT&T T-Mobile Threat

During the revolution in Egypt, citizens and independent media were using cell phones “to document atrocities by autocratic regimes in the streets” says Free Press’ Tim Karr. He says cell phones are a powerful tool that people need to start thinking of as “political.” In the United States, corporations are already blocking certain video applications from using cell phone networks. He says if AT&T and T-Mobile merge, the situation would become even worse because both companies oppose net neutrality and a combined company would control 80 percent of the U.S. market.

If independent reporting is suppressed, corporate-supported fringe movements such as the Tea Party can have their message amplified without serious challenge.

“The Tea Party movement, even though it is a relatively fringe movement, is very powerful within the political realm. And there’s no doubt that is being pushed by fears of … the stories that have been told about how black people are moving in and taking over what should be the rightful property of white people,” Sut Jhally of the Media Education Foundation told The UpTake. “I don’t believe the billionaires that are funding this like the Kochs, I don’t think they really believe that. But they know they can utilize this audience around those fears to support their own right-wing corporate agenda.”

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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