September 04, 2006

Your Station's Papers, Zey Are Not In Order. Now Ve Are Seizing Your Transmitter.

Wired's copy chief, Tony Long, should stick to proofreading. Why the guy gets a column, I'll never know, because his personal calendar seems to be stuck in August of 1968 - even when his writing is coherent, which his current column most definitely isn't.

In the same column where he decries what he sees as the corporate media oligarchy...

Corporate interference in news gathering is nothing new, but the nature of it has changed as the power of these corporations has increased. The Republican-controlled FCC may have hammered the final nail into the coffin of independent journalism in 2003 by making it legal for a single corporation to own, within a single media market, up to three TV stations, eight radio stations, the local paper and the cable system.
(side note - anyone remember who was FCC chairman at the time? Michael Powell. Bonus question - appointed by whom? Bill Clinton. Apparently Long proofreads his own work.)

...he proposes a 'solution' that is so mind-bogglingly idiotic that I wonder if somebody else hacked his account and published it under his name to make him look bad:

Here's something else for the wish list, something we've never seen, or will see, until hell freezes over: Remove the profit motive from professional journalism. Newspapers, TV news departments, news radio and news websites are the tangible defenders of our free society. Something so vital to the safeguarding of our collective well-being should not be encumbered by the vulgar need to turn a profit.

So who pays?

The government pays, how about that? All legitimate news organizations would be licensed and subsidized by Uncle Sam. And Sammy has to keep on paying, even when the press bites the hand that feeds it. Because that's the press' job, after all. [emphasis added]

This is so full of crap I don't even know where to begin. Let's just go with the three most obvious problems:

  • It would make the FCC third only to the White House and the Pentagon as the most powerful force in the Executive branch (with the monstrous growth in bureaucracy and budget that implies). Given what Long thinks of the FCC, it seems clear to me that he doesn't recognize this; otherwise, he certainly wouldn't favor expanding their role in government.
  • It won't even work - it contradicts one of the arguments he makes for its necessity:
    . . . news gathering is expensive and labor intensive. The economic model for traditional media is so prohibitive that only the pashas who own these vast conglomerates can afford the ante. These are the same pashas, incidentally, who hobnob and swill champagne with the power elite. They're buddies with the very people they should be putting under a microscope. [emphasis added]
    Replace "buddies with" above with "licensed by" and you've still got the same problem.
  • It would be a gross violation of the First Amendment, because the clear implication is that only licensed agencies would be able to 'do news.' Do you think commiemedia would ever get a license? Do you think that anybody who started looking dangerous (regardless of which party is in control) wouldn't suddenly start experiencing licensing issues? What would happen if they were to try to publish anyway?

Now that I think about it, maybe Long's personal calendar isn't stuck in 1968. His idea of a government-controlled media is the epitome of 1984.


Posted by Chris at September 4, 2006 12:30 PM

Category: Media Stupidity

Details, details. The President gets to appoint the five FCC commissioners with the advice and consent of The Senate, but the agency reports to Congress, not to the executive branch.

Posted by: Anthony Trauring at September 11, 2006 04:02 PM