OLD Media Moves

Filmmaker suggests more aggressive coverage of credit biz

April 30, 2006

Filmmaker Danny Schechter, a 1978 Nieman Fellow and the producer of the movie “In Debt we Trust,” came away from the film with the belief that journalism should do a better job of covering the credit business.

Schechter writes, “I am raising this issue, and suggesting ways that it can be reported, because I believe this is an essential story for us to tell.

• Report more regularly on these credit issues; billions of dollars are involved, not to mention millions of lives.

• Identify the key corporate institutions and contrast the compensation of their executives with the financial circumstances of their customers.

• Shine a spotlight on how special interests and lobbyists for financial institutions contribute to members of Congress and other politicians, across party lines, to ensure their desired policies and regulations.

Investigate political influence affected by campaign contributions. Some reporting about this took place during the bankruptcy debate, but there has been little follow-up.

• Examine the influence credit card companies have on media companies through their extensive advertising.

• Take a hard look at the predatory practices in poor neighborhoods – and crimes committed against poor and working class people, who are least able to defend themselves. Legal service lawyers tell me that they are overwhelmed by the scale of mortgage scams involving homes whose value have been artificially inflated.

• Focus attention on what consumers can do to fight back. Robert Manning, author of “Credit Card Nation,â€? explains: “If ten percent of American credit cardholders withheld their monthly payments, it would bring the financial services industry to a standstill. At a larger issue, what we have to do is to get people involved at the state level, get their state attorney generals involved, aggressively filing class action lawsuits and then putting pressure on key legislators to say, ‘This is unacceptable that they’re not representing and balancing the issues of commerce with consumers. The balance is tilted dramatically against the average American.’â€?

Read more here.

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