January 29th, 2012 12:47 EST
The Press Focuses Attention on Washington and Away From Local Corruption
Americans awakening to press calamity
The conglomeration of the American press into a handful of giant media holding companies has had an invisible bacterial and viral impact on our lives and our politics. Our body politic is ill, and the doctor is to blame.
- A diminished local and regional press exaggerates the federal government`s role and demonizes it.
- A less than vigilant remnant of our once influential local press tips towards the right by focusing on Washington at the expense of local and state government often controlled by Republicans.
- The rest of the country is anesthetized to widespread corruption by this profit-driven spotlight on Washington.
Washington is overemphasized for the same reason celebrities and trivia are overemphasized: it`s easier and cheaper to rivet attention on them than to conduct inquiries around the country. It`s easier and cheaper to report every foolish thing that drops out of a politician`s mouth than it is to investigate his backroom dealings.
Greed was the motive behind conglomeration and greed is now what helps Republicans scapegoat Washington and the federal government in general while the press gives a pass to the sins of Republican governance in hundreds of taxing units around the nation.
It`s no accident the press, happily nudged by Republicans, obsesses about the federal income tax while neglecting to present a big picture that would show property taxes are beating up taxpayers around the country, often due to local and regional Republican mismanagement.
The conglomeration of our local and regional press is a national disaster. It has instilled in the public mind a distorted picture of the state of American politics. It has helped to polarize opinion by reducing our lives to a handful of slogans traded back and forth by corrupt politicians feeding at the corporate and public troughs.
Ben H. Bagdikian, investigative reporter and press scholar, has been sounding the alarm about press monopolies since the 1950s when he was a star reporter at The Providence [RI] Journal. The Internet is awakening Americans to the calamity that has befallen local government, where all corruption begins.
The reason for those ubiquitous Sunday noise shows and all the other radio and television blatherers is primarily that they`re cheaper than real reporting. You can make a largemouth like Rush Limbaugh rich on what you`d have to pay for a single major investigation into corruption. Big Media calls it meeting the competition, but I call it greed. Big Media is not satisfied with the modest profit margin family-owned media outlets used to take.
The moral dimension of this is more appalling. We the public own the air waves; we merely allow the media to use them, but the impression they convey is that they own them and allow us the privilege of being charged to hear and see their drivel. The media are granted certain rights under the First Amendment, rights not extended to, say, a shoemaker or a tavern owner, and it was expected that in return for those rights they would honestly and diligently inform the public. It was expected, in fact, that they would be the safekeepers of government transparency. They have reneged on those responsibilities to feed us trash.
The founding fathers envisioned that an unfettered press, however malicious "and it was malicious in their day "would ultimately act as a doctor, curing the wounds inflicted by wrongdoers. The doctor is derelict. The doctor is being paid by the wrongdoers to ignore wrongdoing.
Djelloul Marbrook`s first book, Far from Algiers (Kent State University Press, 2008) won the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and the 2010 International Book Award in poetry. Artists` Hill, an excerpt from his unpublished novel, Crowds of One, won the 2008 Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction. Artemisia`s Wolf, a novella, was published by Prakash Books of India early in 2011. Alice Miller`s Room, a novella, was published in 1999 by OnlineOriginals.com (UK) as an e-book, and Bliss Plot Press of Woodstock, NY, recently published his novella, Saraceno, as an e-book. Orbis (UK), Smashwords.com, Potomac Review (Maryland) and Prima Materia (New York). His second book of poems is Brushstrokes and Glances (Deerbrook Editions, 2010). Recent poems were published by American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Oberon, Meadowland Review, The Same, Reed, The Ledge, Poemeleon, Poets Against War, Fledgling Rag, Daylight Burglary, Le Zaporogue, Atticus, Long Island Quarterly, ReDactions, Istanbul Literary Review, Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review, Damazine, Perpetuum Mobile, Attic, and Chronogram. A retired newspaper editor and Navy veteran, he lives in Germantown, NY, with his wife Marilyn, and has lifelong ties to Woodstock.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com