A New, Improved Media Reform Movement

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In this week’s issue of the Nation, legendary media critics Robert McChesney and John Nichols sound the call for a stronger media reform movement, one that “must prepare . . . to promote a wide range of structural reforms–to talk of changing media for the better rather than merely preventing it from getting worse.”

They’re right–for years, media activists have mostly worked to stave off consolidation, mobilize against big media-friendly legislation, and the like. It’s important (not to mention unglamorous) work, but McChesney and Nichols are right: The media reform movement should be about more than keeping big bad (corporate) media wolves at bay.

Now . . . we must require corporations that reap immense profits from the people’s airwaves to meet high public-service standards, dust off rusty but still functional antitrust laws to break up TV and radio conglomerates, address over-the-top commercialization of our culture and establish a heterogeneous and accountable noncommercial media sector. In sum, we need to establish rules and structures designed to create a cultural environment that will enlighten, empower and energize citizens so they can realize the full promise of an American experiment that has, since its founding, relied on freedom of the press to rest authority in the people.

We’ll be spending this weekend (June 6-8) with some 3,000 media activists at the 2008 National Conference for Media Reform, swapping stories and strategies and reimagining the future of the media. Tune in to Utne.com all weekend to see what’s unfolding, and to sneak a peek at the bold new movement for media reform.

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