Monday, July 02, 2007

Sorry for the lack of activity, but it's been a taxing week at work. I've got a lot to post this week, though, including an article on the making of the only-to-this-date midget Western, "The Terror of Tinytown."

Some folks on the right wing like to talk about how the press in general is left leaning. Generally, I find a lot of reporters to be mistrustful of anyone in power – left or right – and the corporate ownership of most media tends to produce products that advance their own status quo agendas.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) recently released an analysis of talk radio that is pretty eye opening for folks who feel that somehow talk radio isn’t “big” media and that it isn’t dominated by a single point of view.

Take a moment to go to and read the whole report for yourself.

Here’s one of their major points: radio stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission are supposed to serve their local area. Are they actually serving the public good by running one kind of viewpoint and eliminating most local programming?

From the report: “Our analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.

“Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk—10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.

“A separate analysis of all of the news/talk stations in the top 10 radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the programming in these markets is conservative and 24 percent is progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as New York and Chicago…

“Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management…

“‘There is little free speech or free choice in a market system that pushes out one-sided information 90 percent of the time on the radio,’ said John Halpin, senior fellow at CAP. ‘Radio stations are licensed to operate in the public interest. Promoting one point of view over all others does not meet any reasonable public-interest standard. We need to restore the original purpose of broadcast licensing – to ensure that radio stations are responsive to local and community needs.’”

Interestingly, they found that corporate-controlled radio is conservative, but radio stations owned locally or by women and minorities tend to be progressive.

Here are their suggestions: “This analysis suggests that any effort to encourage more responsive and balanced radio programming will first require steps to increase localism and diversify radio station ownership to better meet local and community needs. We suggest three ways to accomplish this:

• Restore local and national caps on the ownership of commercial radio stations.

• Ensure greater local accountability over radio licensing.

• Require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting.”

This was published in one of our papers on Monday morning and I already have received a letter saying that liberals want to supress freedom of speech by eliminating conservative radio. I'm convinced no matter what I write, people simply read what they want to believe.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs


Mark Martin said...

I agree. People read what they want to believe.

Mike Dobbs said...

Was that a shot?

Mike Dobbs said...

I've been trying to unwrap Hershey Kisses PERFECTLY and you've got me rattled.

Try unwrapping Bit o Honey perfectly for a real challenge.

Bill Dusty said...


Nobody is saying talk radio isn't biased. Those are opinion shows whose hosts are entertaining a targeted audience. The fact that conservatives are more successful than liberal talk show hosts simply means that they are better at entertaining the audience being targeted.

When people talk about "liberal media bias", they are talking about journalists who are supposed to be unbiased in their reporting of straight news. Liberals such as yourself don't see your reporting as being left-leaning when you write it. You just think you're simply writing the plain truth. This is true whether the subject is foreign policy or urban vagrancy.

Your bias, however, is far more apparent to those who do not share your viewpoints and can see the slant.

Mark Martin said...

I wouldn't call it a "shot" any more than I'd say you're "not a creative". It's just a - let's call it a mirror. Yes, people read what they want to believe, and you are a people. It's like I was telling Mr B, and now Bill Dusty is telling you: You accept what you agree with as "real news".

Bit O' Honey is one of the worst offenders in a whole different class of infuriating candy. The paper becomes welded to the goo!

Mike Dobbs said...

Bill and Mark: you guys just believe what you want to? Or are you superior?

Bill I don't know you well enough other than we seem to agree on some things and disagree on others. When you disagree with me I'm "liberal" – a code word for either a subversive or a mental defective.

I don't know when I written a left-leaning opinion on the homeless, but I'm old and over-worked and I do forget stuff. Bill, I know I'm never going to convince you that I'm a basically open-minded guy who might share more views with you than you think.

I know that will never happen because Mark has been one of my closest friends for nearly 20 years and he agrees with you!

The whole point which neither of you want to even discuss is whether or not the kind of corporate-run radio we have now serves the local good. That's the major point of the report from the subversives which you all dismiss.

Does Clear Channel actually care about programming?

Now I did work in radio as a talk show host from 1982-1987. You all would have hated me I'm sure. But at least I worked in the medium at a time when many radio stations were locally owned. Those local owners were more responsive to the needs of their communities beacuse they were part of that community.

Was there more "balance?" Maybe. My station had a conservative morning host , a middle of the roader in the mid-day and me at drive-time. Other stations featured people who played a persona: the jovial morning guy, the abrasive over-night guy, etc.

There's not much local talk anymore as it is cheaper to bring in syndicated shows. It's about the money and what's cheapest. Adn what's cheapest is three million Rush wannabes hoping to capture his ratings.

But hey, what the heck do I know. I actually think unwrapping Bit O Honey is a challenge.

I'm going to bed.

Mark Martin said...

I'm not afraid to discuss.

Does corporate radio programming serve the public good?

No. Not necessarily. Neither does corporate moviemaking, corporate TV, corporate television, corporate music...

Your belief that corporations are programming conservatives in a devious plot to squash "progressives" (sorry, I just HAVE to put that ludicrous label in quotes) is paranoid and flies in the face of their admitted reasons for programming what they program. They say they program what makes profits, and it is easily proven.

Your refusal to admit that other media is liberal-biased is also confounding.

I'm discussing, I'm discussing! Just because I don't dissect point-by-point does not mean I am not addressing the Big Point.

Mikey, you wonder if Clear Channel "cares" about programming. Tell us all who does "care". Please. Tell me who cares. If caring is what is needed - tell me who cares. I'm not going to predict your answer - I'll wait and see.

ps - I can't wait for Mr B to get back to his blog! The Libby thing is going to have him in hysterics and convulsions. I'm sicka alla that comic book crap. I want another MELTDOWN!!!

Mark Martin said...

oh yeah, and this old chestnut:

" you guys just believe what you want to? Or are you superior?"

Come on, Mikey, you know I could ask you the same question! That's what baffles me! You think "THEY" are like that, but you are not.


SRBissette said...

I'm on, guys, and Libby was indeed first and foremost this AM. Jesus Christ, the foxes are eating the entire goddamned hen house!

You can jam the left or right media up your collective asses as far as I'm concerned. Read the excellent book INTO THE BUZZSAW -- read it! -- and tell me leftist media dominates the US. It's absolute myth that Bill and Mark argue here; what's being proposed once again is no 'belief' in media unless it condones/propogates one's personal views only, which isn't journalism, its yellow journalism at best.

Other than THE DAILY SHOW, which is neither news or journalism, none of 'the media' available outside of the internet (where blogs have supplanted so much journalism that once existed) reflects 'left' philosophies. This country has swung so far to the right, center superficially looks 'far left' in the 21st Century.

You can have it.

Mark Martin said...


The guy's totally beside himself!

You gotta love that guy...

Mike Dobbs said...

Mark: All will be revealed tomorrow.

But as a tease: I "care" whether or not local media does its job. People who hope to see more local coverage care. Ever sit behind a desk at a newspaper and hear people complain their stories don't get covered by the BIg Corporate Daily or the TV or radio? I have and people do complain. Consumers want more local press.

Was that your answer?

I NEVER SAID CORPORATE MEDIA IS TRYING TO REPRESS LIBERAL OPINION. You're projecting your opinion about me onto me! Get it off! It's staining my shirt!

Corporate media is about one thing: making money the easiest way possible. They care about the economic status quo and politics that maintains that status quo.

Interestingly enough liberal radio is making money, too. Ed Schultz does beat Sean Hannity in some key market. What drives Big Eddie nuts are programming execs that ASSUME his show won't make MONEY. It's not about ideology, but sales. I sat and listened Ed talk about this at the Talkers event. He had his ratrings with him to PROVE that he wasn't blowing smoke.

Hope you're coming tomorrow.

Bill Dusty said...


Just for the record: whether we agree on something or not, I *always* consider you a liberal ;-)

Radio *news* programs have an obligation to broadcast straight news. But why do you assume radio stations in general have an obligation to broadcast liberal (or conservative) viewpoints? They're privately-run stations that survive on advertiser dollars, not some utopian vision of equality and "balance". Liberals complain about *opinion* shows being biased because their own opinion shows simply aren't popular, thus they need to find a way to force-feed their views on us all. Well, sorry, but if "progressive" ideas and thinking are so popular, why the hardship in finding an audience for liberal opinion shows? Radio stations go where the ratings are.

Conversely, straight news broadcasts and print articles in the media tend to show a liberal bias - especially here in western Mass/northeast region.

Doesn't happen?? You've got a short memory, Mike. Remember last year when you found it essential and newsworthy to publish a front page story on the whackjob rantings of the "9/11 Truth Seekers" (or whatever their whacko name was) in a July 4th [week] issue of the Reminder? Jeez, they only argued that missiles rammed the Twin Towers and that Bush planned it all out. That story - by one of your asst. editors - was written as a straight news/informational piece. I kept waiting for her to mention that the group was a fringe organization. But that little detail never made it in.

No bias there, though.

My vagrancy reference was meant as a general statement about liberal reporting on the issues. But while we're here, why is it that not one publication in this region - not the Reminder, not the Advocate (no surprise there - but at least they don't pretend to be unbiased), not the Springfield Republican - ever questioned the workability of the City's (Spfld) much heralded 10-year plan to "end homelessness in ten years"? I scoffed at the idea the day it was announced. Yet the local media's criticism remains nonexistent.

Why do you suppose that is? Maybe because all the progressive editors in this region think it's just a swell idea?

Could be.

Bill Dusty said...

Speaking of Clear Channel bias, have you seen the window dressing at their offices opposite the MassMutual Center?

Mike Dobbs said...

Hey Bill, call Kevin Noonan and ask him if I've had the stories so far that has told more of the story than any other publication.

By the way, I spent hours this week working on a story about the Homelessness Plan...talking with Open Pantry officials and the homeless themselves. it should be in next Wednesday's Springfield edition.

Just for the record, I think the plan is flawed as it didm't acquire the apartments first; it doesn't have the social service network in place to support these people; and it assumes there will be a steady homeless population that will be served by the remaining can one predict.

If I remember the 9/11 story that was on page 2 not the front page and it included quotes from people who disagreed with the assertions made by the filmmakers. It was not one-sided.

Bill, you wrote,"But why do you assume radio stations in general have an obligation to broadcast liberal (or conservative) viewpoints? They're privately-run stations that survive on advertiser dollars, not some utopian vision of equality and 'balance.'"

Well the FCC licenses all radio and television signals. The frequency is NOT private. The deal between the private companies and the government is those station must act in the public good. What that means depends upon the community, but in the last 25 years the involvement in local programming , etc. has been severely eroded.

I don't want the FCC to tell stations they have to run Air America if they run Rush Limbaugh. What I think is necessary for the public good is a return to more locally produced content, which does indeed make money for a station. I think "balance" often times is more about syndicated versus local than right versus left in radio.

No I've not seen Clear Channel's windows, but I'lllook next time I'm downtown.

heather said...

Are the ten-year ending homelessness plans a liberal approach? They're being pushed pretty hard from the Bush Administration. Michaelann Bewsee of Arise for Social Justice has expressed reservations about the plan not meeting real needs. I would have a hard time pinning down whether the plans are conservative or liberal in approach, and I think such characterizations are not often helpful as labels. Instead they can blind us to the innovation behind the idea, which I believe we need to understand clearly in order to recommend subtle changes that could help such plans really work.

Personally I'm interested in the idea of setting standards and attempting to implement new policy in an experimental approach, rigid in principle but flexible in detail.