The information industry in the United States is a subtle system of information suppression in the name of corporate profit and self interest. This information suppression comes mainly in the form of censorship and selective media reporting and advertising wrought with biases. The problem with the information industry is that it propagates a superclass uniform ideology through the media in order to permeate all factions of society with their views. Basically, the public airwaves and all forms of media have been taken away form the public and put into the hands of corporations, with private (not public) interests in mind. In order to break up the dominant media conglomerates that control what Americans watch, hear, and read on a daily basis we must establish independent broadcasting and support nonprofit sources of information.
Censorship in the media becomes obvious when one recognizes that we rarely, if ever, see mass media reports critical of the superclass. Rather, the major television programs and newspapers that reach a majority of the public, and which are controlled by large firms (GE, AOL-TW, Disney, Viacom, and NC), are extremely pro-business and pro-privileged. Because the fortunes of some of the wealthiest people in America are tied to the media, they will go to extremes to influence news, avoid embarrassing publicity, and maximize sympathetic public opinion and government policy. Thus, rather than structuring the media to benefit the public, pro-corporation content standards are set. These include measures to structure media content so as to not offend corporate advertisers and that will reflect superclass principles. Furthermore, when small, alternative media do attempt to break stories that are against public or workers’ interests, they are tormented with SLAPP (strategic action lawsuits against public participation) suits in order to drain their energy and limited resources—with the ultimate goal being the suppression of opposition to corporate media censorship.
All this corporate control of the media (mainly through corporate advertisers’ demands to control content) leads to bland, non-investigative reporting, corporate censorship, selective reporting, and direct pressure to change news stories that ‘fit the bill’. It also means that radio and television programs critical of corporate power have a hard time staying on the air—corporate sponsorship equates to narrow, neoliberal-centrist-conservative, pro-business news, information, and commentary. Additionally, corporate propaganda floods our schools as ‘educational tools and aids’. Classroom penetration by major news magazines through media-produced materials ensures the instillation of superclass compatible views and interpretations in our children’s’ minds.
Basically, the information industry no longer responds to the needs of the average American…they have abandoned their responsibility to the country. Instead of hearing both sides of issues, we are given right-wing justification for irresponsible actions; instead of real news, we are provided hours of entertaining distraction. There’s something wrong when everything we watch, hear, and read is a dissemination of news from consolidated corporations with pro-corporate slants. The artery of this problem lies in the corporate sponsorship of the media, which is where the information industry makes its revenues. If we want to take back our media, we need to cut this artery. One possible solution is to boycott corporate sponsor products unless they represent a more full spectrum of American opinions. Another line of attack is to show our collective dissatisfaction with the media outlets themselves—let them know we’re paying attention and that we are willing to cut their artery if things don’t change. The fact is that unless the public can advance into the media and take a more active role, more important struggles won’t be won.
Perhaps one of the most crucial actions that can be taken to increase alternative information and independent broadcasting is direct democratic media reform. Unless, of course, the United States is no longer a democratic nation! We must fight the penetration of advertisers in our schools, we must stop the growth of the media monopoly, and we must continue to produce independent, alternative, public newspapers, radio shows, and television programs. We can do this by petitioning and protesting the governmental agencies and politicians that have power over the information industry. For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who regulates what we watch, hear, and read, should be pressured into restricting media consolidation and corporate clout.
The results of taking back our airwaves would be extremely beneficial to the majority of American citizens. First, we would not be persistently bombarded with superclass ideologies and corporate propaganda. Rather, citizens would be presented all sides of any given issue. We would see, hear, and read more about foreign policy, environmental issues, and corporate irresponsibility in both of these spectrums. Rather than the information industry being an institution of superclass political and economic interests, it would serve the interests of the majority of the citizenry (who happen to be working class, not privileged elites). If American citizens gained more control over OUR media, we would be exposed to real issues and not selective information. The obvious benefits of this would be increased understanding of what is actually happening to us and around us on a daily basis; less biased and molded opinions; ability to critique antidemocratic happenings; and an increased class consciousness. With this would come a much greater ability to address actual issues that have led to increased inequality in the American stratification system. We could use public airwaves, newspapers and news magazines, and so on to tackle race, class, and gender issues. More people could become aware of the inherent problems in our education system and wealth gaps. Perhaps the new working class could create such a broad collective conscious as to tear through the smoke-screen of information created by our corporate sponsored, superclass controlled media. If we took the power to instill pro-business, pro-superclass ideologies via the media out of the hands of the minority, maybe, just maybe, American citizens would have the potential to change the stratification system to the benefit of the majority of working class people.