New Iraq withdrawal plan includes call for media reform

At the March 2008 Take Back America conference in Washington, DC, a group of progressive candidates for the U.S. House released a new 36-page plan to end the Iraq war and occupation in 2009. A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq notes the extent to which timid and uncurious coverage by our national media helped smooth the Bush Administration's path towards war, and calls for media policy favoring more diverse media ownership and media representation. Here is the relevant excerpt from the report:

Restore Public Trust in Media

In looking back at the Washington Post’s pre-war coverage, Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., put it this way:

“We were so focused on trying to figure out what the administration was doing that we were not giving the same play to people who said it wouldn’t be a good idea to go to war and were questioning the administration’s rationale,’’ Mr. Downie said in a front-page article that assessed the newspaper’s prewar coverage. ‘’Not enough of those stories were put on the front page. That was a mistake on my part.’’

The lack of impartiality and skepticism on the part of the news media allowed administration claims to go unchallenged, and denied the American public a full examination of the arguments for and against going to war.

The consolidation of ownership of news organizations means that it doesn’t take long for a beltway- centric “conventional wisdom” to take shape. Due to the limited number of media outlet owners, this conventional wisdom is repeated over and over, through a variety of outlets.

An informed electorate was seen by our founding fathers as a critical ingredient for a functioning democracy. Accurate, timely and impartial information can only be guaranteed through an independent media. When publishers, editors, broadcasters and their bosses lose their independence, the electorate can no longer be confident about the information it receives.

A first step towards restoring our independent media would be the adoption of new media ownership rules through S.233 2: Media Ownership Act of 2007.

S. 2332: Media Ownership Act of 2007

This legislation would require the FCC to include greater public participation when changing regulations related to broadcast ownership, to do studies on the impact of such rule changes, and to establish an independent panel on increasing the representation of women and minorities in broadcast media ownership.

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