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Friday, July 29, 2011

"Hell No" - Your Right to Dissent

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Citizens for Media Reform

by Tabitha Justice

Today I invite you to join me on a journey to deconstruct the often confusing and frustrating relationship between the political establishment and the media establishment in America.  If we can understand the system, we can change it.  We can take the best parts of our media — the education, visibility and power — and strengthen our democracy.  We can get rid it of the worst parts of our media — the partisanship, misinformation and divisiveness — and begin to work together again, to see each other as fellow Americans instead of opponents.  So what do you say?  Want go on a media quest?

Why study the media?  I have heard it argued that the quality of a democracy is only as good as its legal framework, the participation of its citizens and the strength of their education and civic knowledge.  If we consider these three elements as the balancing legs of a democracy, it only takes one wobbly leg to overturn it.  While education can come from many different sources, historically, there has been no source more effective than the media.  This is something our founding fathers intimately understood.  That’s why the press is specifically mentioned for constitutional protection.  However, it is important to note the continued existence of a free press is not guaranteed.  There are no laws requiring citizens to seek out or provide journalism.  There are no laws that guarantee the quality of that journalism.  And there are few laws that protect the press from being purchased by powerful special interests and transformed into something else entirely. Quality journalism must be recognized, desired and demanded. And there is only one special interest who can do that: We the People.
Media, like any other product, is consumer driven. It is the consumer who decides what they read, what they listen to and what they watch. It is the consumer who decides whether to select media that educates, media that entertains, or media that distorts. As consumers, we can and we must make informed choices if we expect the standard of political journalism to change. Perhaps most importantly, we must understand that we are responsible and accountable for our own individual level of civic knowledge. We must take the initiative to seek out truth and understanding and actively disregard false and misleading information.