jonathan's blog

Ruthless: A Memoir

Ruthless: A Memoir
by Jerry Heller, with Gil Reavill [Simon and Schuster]

The Hollywood record mogul who founded Ruthless Records with NWA's Eazy E looks back on the fat and lean days of the label, including his many colorful encounters with up-and-coming musicians, industry players and thugs. Inspired by Jeff Chang's (much broader) history of hip-hop, Can't Stop Won't Stop, Heller's book is an engaging read for those interested in the business and social scenes behind the emergence of west coast gangsta rap in the late 80s and early 90s. -jl

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The Case Against Media Consolidation

The Case Against Media Consolidation: Evidence on Concentration, Localism, and Diversity
edited by Marc Cooper [Fordham University]

Who spoke at the Seattle FCC hearing?

[Click names below for transcribed testimony]

At the Nov. 30 Seattle FCC Media Ownership hearing, event co-chairs Frank Blethen (publisher, The Seattle Times) and Sharon Maeda (Spectra Communications/Reclaim the Media) opened the hearing and introduced Congressman Jay Inslee. His comments were followed by remarks from the two FCC Commissioners in attendance, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein.

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Live, from the Seattle Public Library...

The Seattle FCC hearing is underway, with an over-capacity crowd in the auditorium of Seattle's downtown library. I'm motivated to post this live update just because I want to give props to two bloggers who are here covering the hearing live: Fernsehturm and Andrew from the the Northwest Progressive Institute. We're especially grateful to them due to some problems with our audio/video streams I've been getting email about--apparently an audio cable got kicked out of its connection for a few minutes!

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RTM statement at pre-hearing press conference

[RTM statement, Nov. 30 2006]

I'd like to offer my welcome and my thanks to Commissioners Adelstein and Copps for accepting Seattle's invitation to attend this forum--cosponsored by Reclaim the Media, The Seattle Times, KBCS Community Radio, the Minority Executive Directors Association and the UW Department of Communication--and largely organized by community volunteers. All cosponsors of tonight's event believe that the topic, the FCC's policies regulating consolidated ownership of media outlets, is an issue of overwhelming civic importance.

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Questions and answers on media ownership

Q: Why is "media ownership" an issue?

A: In past decades, the US government placed limits on the number of newspapers, radio and TV stations which a single company could own nationally, or within a particular market. These rules support democratic values by helping ensure the public has access to multiple voices and opinions in a diverse media culture. Since the Reagan administration, however, these rules have been under attack by corporate media owners who wish to expand without regulatory checks and balances. After the industry-supported Telecommunications Act of 1996 abolished limits on national radio ownership, hundreds of radio stations were gobbled up by increasingly large owners. Clear Channel ballooned from 40 stations to over 1200; local ownership became rare, and minority ownership nearly extinct. Concentrated ownership encourages owners to enact cost-saving measures such as shrinking or abolishing news departments, "voice-tracking" fake local DJs, reducing the number of independent voices on the air.

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People's Movements, People's Press

People's Movements, People's Press: The Journalism of Social Justice Movements
by Bob Ostertag [Beacon]

Social movement advocacy journalism – from William Lloyd Garrison's Abolitionist to the feminist punk zine Clit Rocket – is the focus for this fine study commissioned by the Independent Press Association. Author Bob Ostertag finds that the measure of success for social movement-based periodicals turns out to be their contributions to movement goals and values rather than measures commonly associated with mainstream commercial press - such as circulation or objectivity. Detailed chapters cover print media of the 19th century abolitionist and suffragist movements, the environmental movement, dissident GIs during the Vietnam War, and the multifaceted gay and lesbian movement. An inspiring and fun read. -jl

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Seattle hip-hop organizing focuses on media access and social justice

On Nov. 19, Reclaim the Media helped put together a breakfast gathering with a number of Seattle hip-hop performers, promoters, organizers and community media producers. While groups like 206 Zulu, Coolout Network, OseaO productions, Silent Lambs Project and others have been meeting and organizing together for a few months now, the particular excuse for this meeting was the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center's "Hip Hop: Back to its Roots" festival, a weekend-length showcase of hip-hop performing arts and politics. RTM partnered with festival organizers to bring up Bay-area hip-hop journalist and media visionary Davey D. Davey was a featured guest at the brunch meeting. Photos from the event here.

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Cable News Confidential

Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media
by Jeff Cohen [PoliPoint Press]

Between 1996 and 2003, Fairness and Accuracy and Reporting co-founder Jeff Cohen went into the belly of the corporate media beast, as a pundit for Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, then as producer of the latter network's ill-fated "Donahue" program. Engaging and often hilarious, Cohen's memoir of his journey from in-the-streets media activist to TV pundit is full of anecdotes revealing how news coverage and "debate" are shaped in today's craven cable news industry. In the book's hopeful epilogue, Cohen surveys some ways in which grassroots progressives are using new media technologies to circumvent the cowardly and formulaic corporate media gatekeepers. Buy extra copies—you'll want to share this book with friends and family. -jl

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Help launch FM Baobabs in Dakar, Senegal

Assane Diallo is the director of the John F Kennedy Center, an international education nonprofit based in Seattle. He's getting ready to help launch FM Baobabs, a new community radio station serving Dakar. The new station, staffed by local volunteers, will broadcast local and international news and educational programming in several languages. (see the station's complete prospectus for details).

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey