At a time when our attention has been directed at GE and News Corp. and the alleged agreements between the two and the respective TV news divisions they own, Dan Rather pens an op-ed for the Washington Post asking for a presidential commission to study the current overall situation in our news media. Rather believes “corporate consolidation” and FCC deregulation have brought us dangerous, watered-down reporting:
Corporate values of risk aversion have increasingly filtered down to newsrooms, supplanting news values. The big conglomerates that own most of America’s news media may have, at any given moment, multiple regulatory, procurement and legislative matters before various arms of the federal government; their interests, therefore, can often run contrary to the interests of the citizens whom journalism, at its best, is meant to serve. There is little incentive to report without fear or favoritism on the same government one is trying to lobby. Increasingly, the news we get — and, significantly, the news we don’t get — reflects this conflict of interests.
While presidential commissions are generally reserved for the expected major national issues — terrorism, social security, etc — Rather believes the state of affairs in our news media has gotten so dire, nothing less will suffice: “This is a crisis that, with no exaggeration, threatens our democratic republic at its core.”