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volume 3
may 2000

Media matters

 





  An interview with Robert McChesney
by David Barsamian
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  In the United States the debate on media and monopoly is raging. In this debate Robert McChesney (photo right), professor of Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has shown himself as one of the main critics of corporate media. Chesney is the author of Telecommunications, mass media and democracy. The battle for the control of U.S. broadcasting, 1928-1935 (1993), and more recently Corporate media and the threat to democracy (1997). His latest book is Rich media, poor democracy (1999), published by the University of Illinois Press. In November 1999 he visited Boulder, Colorado, to speak at the twentieth anniversary celebration of Left Hand Books. David Barsamian of Alternative Radio seized this opportunity for a lengthy interview.
 
Media matters: 1. Monopolies "There's a myth going around that capitalism is based on competition. Have you heard that one?" says Robert McChesney, professor of Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in the first part of his interview by David Barsamian of Alternative Radio. Instead, he argues, the media are "... under the greatest wave of corporate concentration and the greatest attack on competitive markets arguably in the history of U.S. capitalism."
Media matters: 2. Public broadcasting "The problem with good journalism is, it invariably gets you in hot water with people in power," argues Robert McChesney, professor of Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in the second part of his interview by David Barsamian of Alternative Radio. "It's so much easier to cover Linda Tripp, Lorena Bobbit or Joey Buttafuoco. You can put a camera in the courtroom. It doesn't take any intelligence to cover it. It's very inexpensive. The profits skyrocket." And, that's why we all see a real trivialization of news content.
Media matters: 3. A better media system? "What would a McChesney broadcasting system look like?" Robert McChesney, professor of Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, answers this question in the third part of his interview by David Barsamian of Alternative Radio. His answer is clear: "Let's break up these big companies. When we went into Germany and Japan in 1945 we broke their media up. We said concentrated media was anti-democratic and promoted fascism. I think we should take a dose of our own medicine."
Media matters: 4. References. As McChesney often debates his views on the internet, many of his publications are available on-line. This page offers a quick overview of some of his articles and interventions on the debate on media ownership.
See also: Free Press, founded by Robert McChesney as a national non-profit media reform organization working to - open, democratize and ignite media policy debates; - increase advocacy efforts in Washington connected to grassroots outreach across the nation; - strengthen the media reform network and the broader movement; and - make media a bona fide issue in America & mdash; through innovative grassroots and communications strategies and working with partner organizations.
   
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  Copyright © 1999 Alternative Radio. For information about obtaining cassette copies or transcripts of this or other programs, please contact: David Barsamian, Alternative Radio, P.O. Box 551, Boulder, CO 80306, USA; Phone: (800) 444-1977; E-mail: ar@orci.com; Home page: www.alternativeradio.org.
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