It’s bizarre that in a country of 330 million people, a handful of people own the major media. The alternative media has been the response. From Rebecca Strong at rebeccastrong.substack.com:
But what’s in it for them?
In a recent Twitter survey I conducted, nearly 90% of people rated their trust in mainstream media as either “very low” or “low.” And is it any surprise? Ever-mounting media consolidation has narrowed the perspectives the public is privy to, ownership and funding of these corporations are riddled with conflicts of interest, crucial stories keep suspiciously getting buried, and big tech companies are outright censoring and demonetizing independent outlets trying to break through the noise. The media is supposed to function as a power check — and a means of arming us with vital information for shaping the society we want to live in. It’s never been a more important industry. And it’s never been more at risk. In this series, I’ll tackle each factor threatening the media’s ability to serve our democracy — with input from journalists, media critics and professors, and other experts.
Earlier in April, I kicked off this series with a piece about the problematic history of media consolidation. Read Part 1 here.
“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” A. J. Liebling, 1960
When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million in 2013, he made a written promise to employees: “We will continue to follow the truth wherever it leads, and we’ll work hard not to make mistakes. When we do, we will own up to them quickly and completely.” It was an admirable commitment, but as they say, actions speak louder than words. Here are a few editorial decisions that were made in the years following that acquisition:
- The Post ordered “no pardon” for whistleblower Edward Snowden — after not only using him as a source for its groundbreaking NSA stories but then accepting a Pulitzer for that series.
- One month after the editorial board demanded that Snowden’s leaks on U.S. spying come to a halt, Amazon became a beneficiary of that spying when it won a contract to host CIA data. The Post refused to provide disclosure of this when covering the CIA.