President Bush has signed a bill that will create a single web site where all federal spending can be tracked. Bloggers helped unfreeze the bill by finding out which two senators ( Stevens & Byrd) had used a parliamentary maneuver to put the legislation on ice. The blog pressure helped push the bill to the President who said in part:
“Every year, the federal government issues more than $400 billion in grants, and more than $300 billion in contracts to corporations, associations, and state and local governments. Taxpayers have a right to know where that money is going, and you have a right to know whether or not you’re getting value for your money.”
Thanks to Eric Kavanagh for alerting me to the successful end to this blog-backed effort. Kavanagh promotes a a similar concept called the citizen auditor which he envisions as a way to create web-based teams to scrutinize government spending. The new federal website will provide information for any such efforts — and the example persistent public pressure can get results.
Media ownership hearings in Los Angeles The Federal Communications Commission has released the details of the public hearings it will hold on Tuesday, October 3 in Los Angeles. If this is a new issue to you please visit the recent posting that will provide background. Stop Big Media is the umbrella group organizing opposition to any FCC rules that would allow the mass media to grow more massive still.
My vested interest This blog is my personal outlet. I also write for a daily newspaper and am a member of the Newspaper Guild, the union that represents many journalists. Andy Zipser, editor of the Guild newsletter, recently wrote a lengthy article whose title captured the thrust of the piece: “If you work in mass media, the news could be better.”
I’ll let you sift through the drepressing statistics of job losses (such as: “the newspaper segment is actually contracting with a 19 percent decline in employment over the last 15 years”) and instead make one point apropos of my perhaps bipolar position as a mass media wage earner who spouts a mini media mantra.
There is all too much tension, rivalry and mutual disdain between the paid newsies of the mass media and the rising rebel journalists of the blogosphere. My feeling is that journalism belongs to those who practice it, not to those who own media properties. Journalists inside the pay structure need to raise their esteem of those on the outside. Bloggers meanwhile see themselves as the true guardians of the public’s right to know, a view championed by Glenn ( Instapundit) Reynolds in his book, “An Army of Davids.”
I welcome the Davids to the battle for truth but I think it unlikely that enough folks armed with jawbones will show up in time to bring all the Goliaths — whether government, corporate or cultural — to heel. Mass media will continue to play the most prominent role in forming and informing public opinion.
So I worry as a citizen, as well as a wage earner, when I read in the Guild report that declining job security for mass media types suggests:
“that low wages and employment insecurity result in timid reporting and, at the extremes, in a corruption of journalists “that may be jeopardizing the media’s role as a watchdog for society.”