Business PBS NewsHour

Published on March 9th, 2014 | by Todd Smekens

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Media & FCC: Misinformation Should Come With a Label

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MUNCIE, IN – We’ve demanded it on food. We had to demand that it stop during children’s shows. We had to demand it be changed in school cafeterias. We had to demand that it stop being done by Congress. In our Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware – world, monied interests get to sell their message however they see fit to make them the most money possible. They use psychology, chemistry, philosophy, and even our instincts and sins to convince us to spend our limited resources – dollars – on their product, service or message.

Their goal is to maximize shareholder value – it’s their fiduciary obligation.

According to Wikipedia, marketing is defined  as:

A social and managerial process designed to meet the needs and requirements through the processes of creating and exchanging products and values. It is the art and science of identifying, creating and delivering value to meet the needs of a target market, making a profit – delivery of satisfaction at a price.”

What about selling you information?

Every article we create for the reader is for informational purposes. Muncie Voice is not looking at demographics to figure out your needs and wants, and then figure out how to meet them to separate you from your precious dollars.

Our goal is to seek out truths, attend events and meetings, do follow up research, and then tell you about them. Depending on who you ask, you’ll hear different labels. Don’t put labels on something before you read it. Read it first, and then tell us what you think.

In the digital world, there is many ways for companies to brand their product and services. Since we are not a publicly traded company, our shareholders cannot influence what we publish. Even though I publish articles on the website and edit them, I do not alter their message. However, there are some articles that have been submitted which I will not publish. They fall in the category of propaganda. Their entire purpose is to falsely spread disinformation.

We’ve talked with many people who have been victims of false information being spread. We see it all the time on social media, but even the media giants fall victim to it while others publish it intentionally. No matter what you think you know, Fox News is not fair and balanced. It is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who is staunchly conservative, and Roger Ailles has been using right-wing propaganda for years to push conservative candidates and agendas.

Going back to Wikipedia, the definition of propaganda is:

In Propaganda (1928), Edward Bernays argued that the manipulation of public opinion was a necessary part of democracy. In public relations, lobby groups are created to influence government policy, corporate policy, or public opinion, typically in a way that benefits the sponsoring organization. When a lobby group hides its true purpose and support base, it is known as a front group. Front groups are a form of astroturfing, because they intend to sway the public or the government without disclosing their financial connection to corporate or political interests. They create a fake grass-roots movement by giving the appearance of a trusted organization that serves the public, when they actually serve their sponsors.

If consumers are just as serious about the information we consume as we are about the food we ingest, we should demand labels so we know what we are buying. And yes, every time you pick up a paper or tune in to Fox or MSNBC, you are buying information.

Think of how many ways marketing, public relations, and propaganda are used to manipulate you. In a capitalist economy, the structure of the entity will decide their primary goal. We’ve even learned the Public Broadcasting (PBS) cannot be trusted thanks to the great work of David Sirota at Pando.com. Not only did he discover and point out that PBS NewsHour was receiving monies from ultra-conservative billionaire John Arnold to run a series bashing public pensions, but this week he shed light that PBS NewsHour isn’t actually run by the public broadcasting network:

Most Americans likely assume that the NewsHour (which, after all, is made with the support from viewers like you) is actually owned and produced by PBS. It is an understandable assumption considering PBS’s own president declared that the NewsHour “is ours, and ours alone,” and further considering that the program receives millions of public dollars every year.

However, since 1994, the NewsHour has been produced and primarily owned by the for-profit colossus, Liberty Media. Liberty, which is run by conservative billionaire John Malone, owns the majority stake in MacNeil/Lehrer Productions – the entity that produces the journalistic content of the show. While other standalone public television projects are often produced by small independent production companies, the NewsHour stands out for being owned by a major for-profit media conglomerate headed by a politically active billionaire.

Where in the world is this “expansive and abusive Big Government” we hear so much about from the ultra-conservative crowd who attacks existing government from every angle? Why hasn’t the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) been jumping up and down screaming about this? You know, protecting consumer interests.

Going to back to Wikipedia again, “The FCC is an independent agency of the United States government, created by Congressional statute (see 47 U.S.C. § 151 and 47 U.S.C. § 154) to regulate interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Why haven’t we heard about this from the large well-funded corporate conglomerate media empires?

When our own public broadcasting networks are being used to sell us the same version of white-washed lies all the other media companies peddle, how are we supposed to be informed?

We haven’t been. Period.

As I’ve alluded to over and over, a good part of this country is waking up to certain truths – one of which is we’ve been lied to and manipulated for years.  It would be nice if the FCC had a labeling system for media requiring companies to disclose what brand of the news they are selling. Now you know that 90% of ALL media serves Wall Street and PBS is not trustworthy at this point. Caveat emptor – Let the Buyer Beware.

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About the Author

Journalist, entrepreneur, publisher, DSA member, and ethical leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy cycling, yoga, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter. Wellness advocate who practices servant style leadership.


2 Responses to Media & FCC: Misinformation Should Come With a Label

  1. Dwight says:

    Boy, that was a stretch. You went from the Sirota’s misidentification of WNET for PBS, to inferring that the NewsHour is biased based on the implied, unstated and unproven personal actions of the owner of a commercial company with an interest in the Newshour, to a complete lack of knowledge of how the public broadcasting system is licensed and operates. Each station is licensed to a local community or state, with its individual local board of directors answerable only to its own local audiences making the station completely independent by law in the selection of each and every program based on local needs and interests. Yes, that was a stretch. Too bad such poorly researched articles are considered news and get published in any publication.

    • Todd Smekens says:

      Since when do local boards guarantee freedom from bias? We have a local PBS that is connected with a philanthropic arm which isn’t entirely open to programming that would cater to more diverse audiences.

      NewsHour and PBS implied it was bias by not revealing the contract, and through its opaque agreement with the same private contractors.

      In addition, once their hands were caught in Arnold’s cookie jar, regarding their public pension programming, they immediately returned the money.

      Want to bet that occurs in more places than New York?

      Feel free to share some factoids which show PBS transparent operations in these arrangements. Just saying so, doesn’t mean so.

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