Columbia Journalism Review - August 26, 2019

"At precisely the moment when we need more reporters covering the healthcare crisis, the climate emergency, and economic inequality, we have television pundits paid tens of millions of dollars to pontificate about frivolous political gossip, as local news outlets are eviscerated."

... Real journalism is different from the gossip, punditry, and clickbait that dominates today’s news. Real journalism, in the words of Joseph Pulitzer, is the painstaking reporting that will “fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, [and] always fight demagogues.” Pulitzer said that journalism must always “oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty.”

When we have had real journalism, we have seen crimes like Watergate exposed and confronted, leading to anti-corruption reforms. When we have lacked real journalism, we have seen crimes like mortgage fraud go unnoticed and unpunished, leading to a devastating financial crisis that destroyed millions of Americans’ lives.

Real journalism requires significant resources. One reason we do not have enough real journalism in America right now is because many outlets are being gutted by the same forces of greed that are pillaging our economy. 

For example, two Silicon Valley corporations—Facebook and Google—control 60 percent of the entire digital advertising market. They have used monopolistic control to siphon off advertising revenues from news organizations. A recent study by the News Media Alliance, a trade organization, found that in 2018, as newspaper revenues declined, Google made $4.7 billion off reporting that Google did not pay for. 

At the same time, corporate conglomerates and hedge fund vultures have bought and consolidated beleaguered local newspapers and slashed their newsrooms—all while giving executives big payouts. Gannett’s proposed merger with Gatehouse Media, for instance, will consolidate hundreds of publications under one mega-corporation’s control and slash $300 million worth of “synergies”—which is often corporate-speak for layoffs. Matt Pearce, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, notes that “the new Gannett/Gatehouse CEO is getting $4.5 million in bonuses and stock just for walking in the door.”

... When I am president, my administration will put in place policies that will reform the media industry and better protect independent journalism at both the local and national levels.

For example, we will reverse the Trump administration’sattempts to make corporate media mergers even more likely in the future. We are not going to rubber stamp proposals like the new plan to merge CBS and Viacom into a $30 billion colossus. 

I have long opposed media consolidation, and was one of only 16 members of the US House to oppose the disastrous 1996 Telecommunications Act, which accelerated consolidation. In my administration, we are going to institute an immediate moratorium on approving mergers of major media corporations until we can better understand the true effect these transactions have on our democracy. ...
Read full report at Columbia Journalism Review