Corporate Media Focus on "Infotainment" Undermines Democracy
Interview with Jeff Cohen, media critic and author, conducted by Scott Harris
With the highest monthly death toll in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion, a bloody resurgence of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, a fragile cease-fire in Lebanon and a federal judge's ruling that President Bush's domestic surveillance program is unconstitutional -- the biggest news story in American media is the questionable confession of a man in a 10-year-old murder case.
A media riot followed reports that John Mark Karr, an American living in Thailand had confessed to the 1996 murder of JonBenet Ramsey, a 6-year-old beauty queen living in Boulder, Colo. After the story broke, television news, especially cable news channels, broadcast almost round-the-clock coverage of the case, virtually blocking out all other critical news stories in the U.S. and from around the world.
Television executives argue that they're only giving American TV viewers what they want, but media critics assert that journalism has long ago lost out to the entertainment value of scandal and sensationalism which is cheap to produce and inoffensive to those in power. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Jeff Cohen, founder of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. Cohen, author of the book, "Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media," discusses his insiders' view of how media corporations decide the time devoted and viewpoints presented in covering news stories.
Free Press www.freepress.net
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting www.fair.org
Professor Robert McChesney, author of the book "Rich Media, Poor Democracy": www.robertmcchesney.com
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