This year's presidential race may be the first in history to
receive more paid TV time than free, as the networks continue to
cut back on political coverage while raking in record amounts of
money from political ads. Media companies meanwhile recycle some of
these profits into campaign contributions, buying politicians
silence on issues like requiring free airtime for candidates.
MediaChannel editor Aliza Dichter has put together a
special report exploring the entangled relationship between media
industries, politicians and policy.
'The relationship between media and politics is the hidden disease of American electoral democracy,' writes Dichter. 'Media companies are among the highest donors to political campaigns, while rarely covering their own role in campaign financing. Advertising - money paid to media outlets - is the single highest campaign expense, while, as President Clinton has noted, the United States is the only 'major democracy' that doesn't mandate free air time for political candidates and parties.'
Dichter's comprehensive compilation includes in-depth analyses of the impact of media money on politics and policy from FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), Columbia Journalism Review, and Mother Jones (see the September/October issue of Utne Reader). Also featured in the report are links to the media policy platforms of the Democratic, Republican and Green party platforms (Reform party and Buchanan campaign platforms do not include any positions on media policy), as well as articles from the Civil Rights Forum on Communications Policy, Freedom Forum and Z Magazine on where the candidates stand on media issues. -- Leif Utne