Thursday, October 18, 2007

Who will own the news?

We're quickly becoming franchise nation. Whether it's Subway, Target, Starbucks or Olive Garden, our once interesting, diverse and sometimes quirky human and commercial landscape is fast becoming homogenized.

It's happened with the media too. Here in Connecticut, long-time readers will tell you about their devotion to hometown papers in New Britain, Bristol and New Haven, until, they were devoured by a media conglomerate, stripped of their assets, and left to become shadows of their former selves. Yes, newspapers are in trouble, but corporate ownership and decimation of newsrooms is not the answer.

And now the FCC is proposing after long deliberation, to give the conglomerates another break, allowing them to own newspapers, radio stations and TV stations in the same cities. Local TV and radio are bad enough without having to worry about the board of directors in Dubuque.

I'm totally against this new ruling, though I worry a little less now that the internet has allowed interested citizens to find news in places other than the usual places. However, speaking from the viewpoint of a citizen activist in Middletown, I can attest that boards and councils are more likely to do what they please, out of public view, if there is not a vigorous press guarding against improprieties.

I think the answer lies in the rise of citizen websites which take the place of local newspapers. Still, it's important to protest the potential ruling to the FCC and your elected representatives.

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