stewart-cramer-vs-notcramer.thumbnail.jpgPerhaps much of this has been said before, but some of the fallout from Stewart vs. Cramer—the calls for changes in the way business “news” is handled—puts some long-simmering arguments about media consolidation back on the front burner.

Media conglomerates do not exist to deliver news, they exist to deliver shareholder value. It is in their interest to fluff the stock market and to curry favor with government regulators so that they can continue to acquire, conglomerate, consolidate, profit, and pay dividends.

There are individual reporters that try to do their jobs, but increasingly with less staff and more demands for additional content. Reporters are rewarded and promoted more often these days not for their clips as much as they are for their rolodexes and their ability to serve the needs of the parent company as detailed above. It is natural for them to want to get ahead and ensure job security. Pissing off powerful contacts doesn’t really meet any of these needs as the industry is currently structured.

Is there a fix for this? Yes, but it’s a very heavy lift. Roll back media consolidation. Re-impose limits on ownership that existed prior to 1996. Take away special wavers for multiple major channels in single markets.

Yes, it’s hard to get to that when the large and ever-growing media conglomerates lobby the heck out of the officials and electeds that would impose such reforms. . . so, we must then examine campaign finance reform as a way of taking the influence of the media conglomerates (and the telecoms that carry so much of our information) out of the regulatory process.

Getting real campaign finance reform is going to be difficult, as you know, since it needs to be approved by the folks that benefit from the status quo. The push is going to have to come from somewhere else. . . perhaps an aggressive Fourth Estate?

And there’s the rub. . . .

Gregg Levine

Gregg Levine