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The Media Channel


Danny Schechter

An

IPO a day seems to keep the market in play as Internet deals continue to hit the

jackpot throwing up new e-commerce driven sites and throwing off a new crop of

instant gazillionaires. Business schools across the world report their best

students dropping out to join the gold rush. ABC’s Nightline recently devoted a

show to documenting the launching of a site created by two such 20 something

biz-wiz’s with l00 million dollars in backing from CBS. Their claim to fame is

to have figured out how to effectively entice, or should we say, bribe visitors

by giving them a micro- chance to win big bucks on line. They called it their

"sauce." These entrepreneurs offered little vision exhibiting no

shortage of greed.

So

far, most of the money made on the Internet has been made on their stocks, not

their substance. Even Amazon.com, which pioneered a high profile model of

cyber-retailing, is in trouble. Reporting a $500 million dollar loss in the last

quarter, Amazon rang alarm bells among investors who thought they had found an

easy way to cash out on a high volume business.

Think

of all of those ‘masters of the universe,’ as an early generation of financiers

was called until their wings were clipped and bodies jailed. Remind yourself of

their rhetoric, their insistence on hard-nosed detailed business plans and

skilled managers. And ask: just why are they falling for all these

techno-dazzling on-line schemes and schemers? Why are they just shoveling

billions their way? As one astute letter-writer put it in a national magazine,

they "give the markets some mystical technology, a few outrageous claims

and venture fueled quick growth, then stand back and watch the feeding

frenzy." The irrationality of capitalism as an explanation, anyone? Where

have all the old fashioned snake-oil salesmen gone?

Missing

in all of this "new" media, course, is what has been missing in old

media-a commitment to serving the public interest and elevating democratic

discourse. While the web still has many relative advantages in terms of its low

entry costs, interactivity, many players, and potential as a global distribution

platform, it is quickly being steered in a commercial direction to serve as the

marketing tool of a new economic order.

At

the same time, out of media view, there has been the proliferation of non-profit

sites, with vast educational resources and a dazzling array of diverse

perspectives, including, most impressively, ZNet. As a result, the web is also

emerging as an organizing medium, a way for activists of all stripes, and on all

continents, to mobilize constituencies and galvanize political action.

One

ongoing example is the Zapatistas of Mexico, some of the poorest people in the

world, who have mstered one of our most advanced technologies. Another dramatic

case is provoided by the Falun Gong spiritual movement in China which uses the

web as a way to link and update its practitioners globally. It is no wonder that

its sophisticated use of e-mail and array of web stites has driven the Chinese

government to covert electronic warfare in a vain attempt to hack into and

disable their communications network.

It

is in this context that my colleagues at Globalvision and I are launching a new

non-profit global internet supersite, The Media Channel (www.mediachannel.org) in

association with OneWorld Online, based in England, (www.oneworld.org) to

monitor and try to influence the monstrous media machine that is dominating

world affairs as no one government or empire ever could. We have created the

Media Channel, with the help of our partners at One World, to make it possible

for media professionals, advocates, educators, and activists to interact on-line

and find out what we’re thinking and doing.

We’ve

been gratified, in developing this site, to find so many thoughtful and

experienced writers, media artists, researchers and reformers willing to take

part. So far, and I write before we launch, 234 media issues organizations have

agreed to participate and 75 leading analysts and activists from 25 countries

have said they will contribute. We will not only aggregate their deep supply of

content, but add original stories and opinion pieces. They will benefit when

more users discover and visit their own web sites.

We

are not the first to say that there is a crisis in journalism in this era of

gigantic media monopolies in some parts of the world, and continued state

repression in others. But we are among the first to argue that this is a global

problem and that an international response is needed. And we are among the first

to create a practical way for us to communicate across borders specifically on

media issues. You are invited to get involved, to join Z and our other

affiliates You can subscribe to our free weekly e-mail to stay in touch. Become

a media watcher in your home town, and send us information about media issues of

more than local interest. Give us feedback. Criticisms and corrections are

especially welcome. And Journalists: tell us about the stories that are beings

spiked in your shops and help us document censorship and self-censorship.

An

old friend of mine, Scoop Nisker, inventor of the "underground" radio

newscasts of the 60′s, says, "If you don’t like the news, go out and make

some of your own." And if you want to help make it better, participate in

Media Channel’s efforts to inform, inspire, engage, and change the media order.

Danny

Schechter, author of the forthcoming Electron Press on line book "News

Dissector" is the Executive Editor of the Media Channel. (www.mediachannel.org).

You can reach him at: ([email protected])

 

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