Yale lecturer Jim Sleeper writes on the TPMCafe web site that a News Corp. purchase of Dow Jones & Co., the parent of The Wall Street Journal, would be just another sign that journalism takes a back seat in a republic to making money.
Sleeper wrote, “On the job, every media-corporation employee has to do whatever management thinks will glue the most eyeballs to the newspaper or TV screen. Citizen activists who try to talk with corporate minions in civic terms often have an out-of-body experience. Just reading or watching what’s churned out by the glad-handing, goosing, scare-mongering producers of Fox and even the NBC Nightly News is an out-of-body experience for anyone seeking enlightenment or reinforcement of the values and virtues without which no republic can cohere.
“Murdoch is especially bad here because his huge engines so brilliantly stimulate fear, mistrust, and impulse buying, often subliminally. But he’s merely an especially duplicitous excrescence of bottom-line imperatives that have corrupted many great newspaper families and broadcast pioneers before the Murdochs and the Bancrofts. Even the most civic-minded heirs must bow to shareholder pressures like those Murdoch has goosed here.
“Journalists’ responses are often wrenching and sad. Newspapers that were dying through no fault of theirs amid conglomerate and technological upheaval get editors and writers whose consumerist pandering only makes their papers deserve the deaths they’re dying. Some editors attempt a phony irreverence, offering us noisy simulacra of freewheeling controversy in which nothing I’ve mentioned above can be discussed. Some even bait liberals and enemies abroad. That distracts these courtiers and servants of the quarterly bottom line from facing their own slavery and fills them with illusions of liberation and righteous mission.”
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