Saturday, April 14, 2007

LET'S TALK ABOUT CIVIL DISCOURSE

NEXT STEP. Here's what the media watchdog organization that initially (April 4) red-flagged Don Imus' racist and sexist statement have now suggested. David Brock, President of Media Matters for America, writes on their website:

"I applaud CBS for listening to reason and canceling Imus in the Morning. Viewers and listeners sent the clear message that they would no longer tolerate bigotry on America's airwaves. It is our hope that this incident will begin a broader conversation about the responsibility that news corporations, journalists, and media figures have to the American public. This is an opportunity for the media to truly raise the bar to a higher standard and return to the fundamentals of journalism."

AFTER DIALOGUE, A NEW STANDARD. This echoes my own earlier post here and on the New York Times website. No one wants a media witch hunt, but there should be a new standard for what is permissible and acceptable on the public airwaves set by the Federal Communications Commission. That FCC standard should be set only after a robust nationwide public dialogue.

OFFENSIVE WORDS AND LYRICS. Media Matters for America has documented repeated and numerous offensive statements and innuendos for major TV and nationally-heard radio personalities. Read a few for yourself to see the range and depth of the problem. To me, these are unacceptable. And these do not take in what occurs on local talk radio 24/7. Nor does it begin to address the offensive raunch in song lyrics. Along with unacceptable references to race, gender, and social role, I find the use of intimidation and threat of violence in discourse alarming.

NO MORE EMPTY PROMISES. Tipper Gore was one leading voice to try to address offensive lyrics several years ago, only to have the industry big-wigs make empty promises they quickly abandoned or made meaningless. Well, it's time for a new discussion. This time the FCC, weakened as it is from seven years of a "hands-off, business knows best" administration, cannot let entertainment barons have the last laugh.

CIVIL, CIVIC, & SELF-SERVING JOURNALISM. Civil journalism is the least that Americans deserve. Civic journalism is what they should receive, but national entertainment conglomerates, cable and satellite corporates, and national news organizations have all but quashed the very idea of civic journalism. They insist on a broken sensationalist approach ("if it bleeds, it leads") that is driving many of us away from their media (and advertized merchandise) entirely. But if they will not engage in civic journalism, the least they can do is make whatever it is they offer civil.

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