Sunday, March 11, 2007

Our News Sucks

I was thrilled to hear about the Nevada Democratic Party pulling out of the Democratic Presidential Caucus Debate being sponsored by Fox News. It is a fantastic example of how the progressive netroots community can come together to affect change. Special recognition goes to Matt Stoller, Robert Greenwald, and the savvy folks at MoveOn for their hard work. Thanks for not letting Fox News use our Party to legitimize themselves as a credible news source, while being a conservative propoganda machine the other 364 days each year.

That brings me to a conversation I had the other night, when I realized why our news sucks. It is all about money. Well, money and something else that I will address in a moment. The reason the news networks gave about a billion hours of coverage to Anna Nicole Smith's death and subsequent shenanigans is because America would watch it. That gives then more viewers, which translates into higher advertising revenue. News organizations are, indeed, businesses and they will act as such.

So, my initial thought was to advocate a state owned television station so that we could have a news organization free from the constraints of operating under the pressure of generating advertising revenue. Then I remembered that we already have one, or something like it.

In America, we have the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports stations and programming around the country. They also provide support to NPR, which is a very respected source of news.

For some reason, an overwhelming majority of Americans choose one of the major news networks to get their news. Then we end up getting lots of crap to sift through before we can figure out what the heck is going on in our country and in the world that matters to us. It is bad enough that we have editors and producers deciding for us what we should know. It gets worse when you end up with organizations like Fox News who choose their content with political motives as well.

Contrary to what I initially thought, we don't need a new state owned national television station. We need an American public that is more engaged in the goings on of our nation and the world and seek information in credible places. That, however, is a tall order and unfortunately, not one we can expect without changing many things about how our society operates. Until then, we will know all about Anna Nicole Smith's post-mortem controversies and not a heck of a lot about climate threat and other important issues.

Swedes Heart Americans

They just don't like Bush. Who can blame them?

First, please let me apologize. I intended to do at least one post daily while in Europe. However, I had no idea how busy I would be once I arrived in Stockholm. But, it's been a fantastic experience and I learned a great deal from the many interesting people that I have met over the past couple of days.

Back to my point. In America, we often think that Europeans now hate America. While I can't speak to that issue in other places, the people of Sweden do NOT hate America. Much like the progressives in America being able to be supportive of our troops in harm's way while opposing a pointless war, Swedes are able to distinguish their dislike of Bush from their admiration for the American people.

In fact, Americans are welcomed with open arms here. Sometimes, when you order a coffee in English, the barrister gives you a second look and gets a smirk while enthusiastically replying in English. American television shows, movies, and music are very much a part of the culture here and throughout Scandanvia. Even at the party I was at last night, perhaps a majority of the music played was English. It is amusing for me to watch the people here sing along to American music. They know the words better than I do!

In one brief discussion about New York City, one lady replied, "It's not Paris." That's about the only negative thing I heard.

However, when it came to Bush, Swedes and other Scandanavians were nearly unanimous in their dislike of him. It is interesting that I had very few policy-oriented discussions with anyone about Bush. The only exception was the war in Iraq. But it is no surprise that there is widespread anger here over the war.

At any rate, I'm very taken by this beautiful city and its charming, friendly people. The next time you meet a Swede, be sure to tell them you've heard great things about them!