Sanders links pocketbook issues, media reform


I took a perfunctory look at the National Conference on Media Reform in a prior blog post. Last night I paid another visit to the site and scanned a long and daunting list of issues and a chart showing the Big Eight media companies.

But what caught my attention was a speech by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who linked media reform to a point close to home — the rising cost of living and the difficulty of making ends meet.

His remarks appeared on the Democracy Now web site where hostess Amy Goodman noted that Sanders, a self-described socialist, served 15 years in the House before being elected to the Senate in November of 2006. In talking about stories that mass media isn’t adequately covering Sanders said:

“If you were to ask me what the most significant untold story of our time is, in terms of domestic politics, I would tell you very simply that that story happens to be the collapse of the American middle class. . . . despite an explosion of technology, huge increase in worker productivity, tens of millions of our fellow Americans have seen a decline in their real wages and are working longer hours for lower wages. . . . How did that happen? How did it happen today that a two-income family has less disposal income than a one-income family did thirty years ago? How does it happen that thirty years ago, one person working forty hours a week could earn enough money to take care of the family; now, you need two, and they’re still not doing it?”

The point resonated with me. My New Year’s blog post was an ode to frugalty and an expression of relief that in 2006 I finally wiped out my credit card debt. Sanders’ tied the erosion of middle class incomes to globalism. I think the simpler cause is cultural. Americans are spending themselves into debt. And the media connection is simple and direct. Media feed on advertising. For media to grow Americans must spend. It’s a viscious circle I’ve bemoaned before.  

Sanders ended his speech with a challenge:

“(The) richest 1% of the population in America owns more wealth than the bottom 90%. The richest 13,000 families earn more income than do the bottom 20 million families. . . . Do you think that maybe this is an issue that should be thrown out there on the table? . . . But that is an issue that is beyond the scope of what establishment media is literally allowed to discuss.”

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Talking about ads: “Total U.S. advertising spending is expected to increase 2.6 percent in 2007 to $153.7 billion,” according to TNS Media Intelligence. “This anticipated gain is the smallest since the media economy emerged from its 2001 recession.” This snippet is clipped from a Center for Media Research report.

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In one last note from the media reform conference, Raw Story filed a report that mentioned how Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) “embraced Liz Wolf Spada, the mother of Josh Wolf, and asked her to contact his office with details of her son’s plight.” I’ll be saying more about Wolf’s case tomorrow.

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