Mike Steindel (
Thu, 4 Mar 1999 16:39:22 -0800 (PST)

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I read this and wanted to share with you it's contents. I'm sure we have
all thought this before...But it points out rather bluntly why it is so
important to keep the Feds & Corp.'s  away from internet control. I know
they claim to want to protect our children, but thats what they always
say. So far they have not managed to protect kids from anything. I think
we need to protect our kids from them taking all there Civil Rights

By Norman Solomon =A0 / =A0 Creators Syndicate 

A new full-page ad says plenty about the pretenses of major TV networks
at the end of the 20th century. Reaching millions of readers across the
country, the advertisement declares: "NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.
Monday through Friday. It's all you need to know." 

Whether this daily dose of enlightenment includes the commercials is
unclear. But the ad's message is direct: Within half an hour, the show
enables viewers to understand what's happening in the world.

We've all heard that knowledge is power. But ultimate power can flow
from being a big gatekeeper -- deciding what information will be widely
distributed. In practice, a few media companies determine what most
Americans "need to know" on a daily basis.

Consider some comments from the man whose face is prominent in the
advertising for NBC's evening news. Nearly three years ago -- when NBC
and Microsoft joined forces to launch MSNBC, melding television and the
World Wide Web -- Tom Brokaw talked to an interviewer about the need to
manage cyberspace for young people. "We can't let that generation and a
whole segment of the population just slide away out to the Internet and
retrieve what information it wants without being in on it," he said.

Brokaw echoed the perspectives of his bosses -- the top executives at
General Electric, which owns NBC. The green Internet beckoned. It was
the color of money.

Like someone surveying vast forests and yearning to build theme parks,
Brokaw saw great entrepreneurial potential. In the summer of 1996, he
expounded on his views: "I also believe strongly that the Internet works
best when there are gatekeepers. When there are people making
determinations and judgments about what information is relevant and
factual and useful. Otherwise, it's like going to the rainforest and
just seeing a green maze."

Otherwise, in other words, people might actively participate in figuring
out what they "need to know." This would be bad for business -- or at
least for the mass-media biz, which thrives on telling people what they
need while selling it to them.

These days, much of "the news" is distant from even going through the
motions of serious journalism about weighty social concerns. Centralized
media power to decide what most Americans will find out today and
tomorrow -- providing a steady deluge of sensationalism and fluff -- has
gone far beyond mere infotainment. Especially on many TV news shows and
network newsmagazines, it's now more like "distractotainment."

The power to open the news gates wide goes hand-in-hand with the ability
to close them tight. Along with deciding what the multitudes of media
consumers need to hear again and again, the biggest and most influential
news outlets can also determine what the public doesn't need to hear
very often -- or ever.

"We live in a dirty and dangerous world," Washington Post Company owner
Katharine Graham said in a 1988 speech to CIA officials at the agency's
headquarters in Langley, Virginia. "There are some things the general
public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy
flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its
secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows."

According to Graham, Brokaw and other luminaries of American journalism,
we can trust the media institutions that made them wealthy. In effect,
they advise us to assume that we need to know exactly what they think we
need to know -- and whatever they decide we don't need to know isn't
worth knowing. In other words: Don't worry, be credulous. 
Norman Solomon's new book "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media" will be
published in early spring by Common Courage Press (1-800-497-3207; 

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