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Jaci Clement- Fair Media Council.

October 6, 2006 @ 12:00 am EDT


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Jaci Clement is the executive Director of The Fair Media Council and addressed LIMBA this morning. Our speaker’s expertise is the media in general. She described the media as you would any other infrastructure. The varied elements are constantly changing and the speed of the change is knocking the media companies off balance. Thirty years ago there was the five minutes news on radio, The nightly news on the three major networks, newspapers and little else.

Today there are 24 hour cable news, blogging added to the mix and the new players are wreaking havoc on the old structures. Complicating the situation further is the competition to get the story first, which sometimes precludes getting it right.

In their desire to remain relevant the old structures are disseminating their stories on the Internet, as well as through their traditional outlets..Some have teamed up with radio. CBS’s 60 Minutes, for example, broadcasts on the radio simultaneously. Some of these arrangements work real well, others merely reduce the amount of original material being produced. This is particularly true when newspapers devour their competitors and fire the reporters from one of the papers. The rational is “why do we need all these reporters”? But where that has been done the paper tends to have a more anemic content. The fewer the eyes and ears you have the blinder an deafer you get.

There are constraints on some forms of media and a lot less on others. The newspapers and broadcast media impose constraints of decency.The cable networks feel less constrained and the internet, well they will display anything. The beheading of a journalist will not be found in the newspapers, but it certainly will be found on the internet.

Ms Clement told us that the desire for market share has prompted media outlet owners to buy properties in all markets. The strategy hasn’t worked very well and now we are seeing them divesting entities that they do not understand, or in any case not work for them.

Other factors have disturbed the media business. The demographics are constantly changing and nearly impossible to keep abreast of. No media is building market share, according to Clement, there is one exception. That exception is the media that caters to the immigrant populations. The Hispanic Telemundo TV is building market share. That is also true of the media that serves the Asian market. I suppose it is true of all immigrant ethnic groups.

The important message that came out of this meeting is this. We are trusting our news sources less and less, and in many cases for good reason. If the media feels so much pressure to produce a story they will fail to thoroughly check their sources, that is not good for the republic, and the onus to check the material is our responsibility if we truly want to know.

Pictured: Jaci Clement, Fair Media Council and Mike DeLouise from Dowling College