Bill Moyers, speaking to the National Conference for Media Reform states: “Our democracy is now put to a vital test, for the conflict is between human rights on the one side and on the other, special privilege asserted as a property right. The parting of the ways has come.”
By no stretch of the imagination can we say the dominant institutions of today’s media are guardians of democracy. Despite the profusion of new information “platforms” on cable, on the Internet, on radio, blogs, podcasts, YouTube and MySpace, among others, the resources for solid original journalistic work, both investigative and interpretive, are contracting rather than expanding.
Worrying about the loss of real news is not a romantic cliché of journalism. It has been verified by history: from the days of royal absolutism to the present, the control of information and knowledge has been the first line of defense for failed regimes facing democratic unrest.
I think what’s happened is not indifference or laziness or incompetence but the fact that most journalists on the plantation have so internalized conventional wisdom that they simply accept that the system is working as it should. I’m working on a documentary about the role of the press in the run-up to the war, and over and again reporters have told me it just never occurred to them that high officials would manipulate intelligence in order to go to war.