By Bob Dorn
There’s only so much a few individuals can do against what more and more appears to be a remodeling of Mussolini’s corporate state, and only a bit more that a gathering of individuals like San Diego Free Press can. But I think The Freep is growing.
Every month I see a contribution from a talented writer whose name I hadn’t noticed before. I read comment lines from people who know more about the issues at stake in San Diego and the world than I can see in the Atlantic, Reuters, ABC, CNN, CBS and CBs..t sites of the nation’s overfed, paralyzed and monetized media.
The endurance of The Freep offers me at least one sure takeaway: money kills journalism.
Back in the 80s and 90s Washington Post editor, Ben Bagdikian, produced a continuously reprinted and revised book, The Media Monopoly, so popular its later editions were re-titled The New Media Monopoly. In them he did case-by-case studies of story suppression by newspapers as the concentration of journalism’s ownerships fell into fewer and fewer hands. Later, even larger conglomerates and non-media capital concentrations began acquiring the newspaper monopolies. By 1987 Bagdikian had established that of all newspapers “72 percent were owned by outside corporations and 15 of those corporations had most of the business.” A few years later the number had grown to more than 90 percent.
Today, not one traditional television news outlet is owned by a corporation exclusively or even marginally dedicated to journalism.
Big Money doesn’t kill journalism accidentally; it sets out to do it. But money doesn’t kill principles.
So, what can The Freep do about all this corruption?
When Doug Porter puts in 100 or 120 hours a week not only researching and writing The Starting Line, and THEN turns to editing the site, he’s not doing it for money, he’s doing it because he’s learned the principles of journalism.
Anna Daniels doesn’t go to community meetings, doesn’t tail the Tea Party’s voter suppression units, doesn’t feel the pain of people whose kids are going hungry in City Heights because a corporation paid her to do it.
Lawyer Frank Gormlie doesn’t keep an eye out for the cases of people who’ve been screwed up by a few police because he’s interested in a payday –-what comes to my mind is that woman in OB who was burnt out of her home only to have her children taken from her by cops who found some weed. He does it because he’s hearing that voice in his head that keeps repeating the word, justice.
I have no doubt The Freep and thousands of other organized citizen journalists across the country and the internet will survive. They will carry on and act up so long as official propaganda driven by an ever more monetized nation continues on its present course. They – we –will survive and even eventually have significant impact because we run on principles, not principal.