The Mainstream Corporate Media is on its deathbed. And we of today’s People’s Progressive Digital Media say good riddance.
The Fairness Doctrine, introduced in 1949, required radio and television broadcasters to present all sides of important social and political issues in a fair and balanced manner. Thirty-eight years later, that policy was abolished – and we have seen the results.
When the FCC tossed out the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, there was a perception that forcing modern media (radio and television) outlets to present all sides of important issues was somehow “unconstitutional.” The first challenge to the Fairness Doctrine came in 1969 in Red Lion Broadcasting v. FCC. In that case, a radio station challenged a provision of the policy requiring broadcasters to present responses to personal attack ads and give equal time to the opposition. Although the Supreme Court ruled against the plaintiff, it was the proverbial first shot across the bow in the battle for media control. Five years later, in Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, the SCOTUS ruled that newspapers were not obligated to provide equal space for all candidates when it came to political editorials and endorsements.
Ultimately, Dennis R. Patrick, FCC Commissioner under Reagan, came to the conclusion that requiring corporate broadcasters to present all sides of the issues without bias was in violation of their right to free speech under the First Amendment. The FCC decision to end the Fairness Doctrine was unanimous.
Now, thanks to a generation of media consolidation, six giant corporations control 90% of the broadcast media – meaning that nine-tenths of what the public sees and hears over the airwaves is determined in corporate boardrooms by a handful of powerful men with their own agendas.
Fortunately, they haven’t been able to control the World Wide Web – and they have no control over social media. Today, the generation that grew up with radio and television is dying off – and corporate mainstream broadcast media is going down with it. Today, the largest and fastest-growing demographic of voters are those forty and younger who were raised in the digital age. They understand their role in shaping the 21st Century news media.
We at Ring of Fire are proud to be among the leaders in remaking news media and once more providing information that is relevant and important. Progressive digital media is not beholden to private corporate advertising interests, and we’re not afraid to address the hard issues. But here’s a fact: none of us can do it alone. Progressive media is only as good as the sum of its parts. The more of us who participate, the louder our voices become.
Help us here at the Ring of Fire by telling us what stories you want to hear and share by leaving your comments and sharing with your friends on social media. Our democracy – indeed, our very existence – is at stake.
To quote our friend Thom Hartmann: “Tag! You’re It!”