NOTE: This is a guest blog post from Megan Tady. Megan is a writer for Free Press. Prior to working with Free Press, Megan was a national political reporter for In These Times magazine, a staff reporter and editor for The New Standard, and worked extensively as a freelance journalist.
Big news: The establishment media are finally picking up on the Occupy Wall Street story. In fact, Occupy Wall Street coverage increased to nine percent of the overall news hole from Oct. 10-16 — up from two percent two weeks prior. As Jon Stewart of the Daily Show said, the media dial has gone from “media blackout” to “media circus.”
Increased airtime and column inches, however, don’t necessarily equal quality reporting. Protest coverage has consisted mostly of reporters and news anchors making sweeping generalizations about a “hippie movement.” Media watchdog groups like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting say stories have been short on actual facts and long on criticism of the protests. From interviewing scholars and “experts” to speak for the protesters instead of talking with the legions of folks at the encampments themselves, to pinning the movement on a few scantily clad youngsters, the media are fumbling to tell this story in a quick, seamless sound bite.
But why are the mainstream media botching this? And if the mainstream media aren’t telling the full story, who is?
The Botch Job
To be fair, some mainstream reporters and commentators have produced lucid, elegant and instructive coverage. But for the most part, the media appear confused, dismissive, and patronizing of a movement that is sparking action across the nation.
The reporting we see is a result of larger problems. Mainstream media, owned by only a handful of corporations, has evolved to defend, rather than report on, the companies that fund and own it. A movement that is indicting major corporations for corruption, greed and scandal is therefore attacking mainstream media outlets. We’re asking reporters to bite the hand that feeds them, and most are willing to risk only a nibble, if that.
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