Quote of the day: On America’s plutocratic press

From an essay by musician and writer Will Meyer for Jacobin:

Today, at the same time local newspapers shut down and cut costs, the combination of increasingly concentrated ownership and for-profit technological innovation has convinced a new generation of billionaires to buy up media outlets and launch new media enterprises.

Some have become the personification of avarice and confused priorities. They purchase a newspaper, gloating about their investment in the public interest, and then offer their newsroom a big shrug as they slash jobs to increase profit margins. Others are philanthropists who support adversarial public interest journalism or inject much-needed cash into shrinking newsrooms.

Yet the problem isn’t the character of individual billionaires per se, but the fact that the political system has allowed such power to accumulate in the first place.

While it matters on some level whether these billionaire-owned or privately funded outlets churn out self-interested coverage (as Sheldon Adelson wants his Las Vegas Review-Journal to do) or critical reporting (as Pierre Omidyar justifiably sees his First Look Media as doing), a journalism dependent on the whims of the wealthy is not a media system worthy of a democracy.


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