|Bill Moyers Journal looks at
hate on the airwaves
One focus is on
Knoxville, Tennessee, where the recent shooting at the Tennessee
Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has left the pastor asking what
role hateful speech from popular right-wing media personalities may
have played in the tragedy. (See
our earlier reports.)
The PBS announcement: "What happens when America's
airwaves fill with hate? ... a tough look at the hostile industry of
'Shock Jock' media with a hard-hitting examination of its effects on
our nation's political discourse."
Tonight, Friday, September 12, at 9:00 PM
(EDT) on PBS (check
local listings here).
It's not pleasant reading, but click here to
a full transcript of the show >>
WHO ARE YOU TO CHALLENGE ME?
by Bruce Gagnon
Secretary/Coordinator of the Global Network
Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, has shared with us his poem
reflecting on the way the media have become the unquestioned -- and
unquestionable -- authority in our society. The media seem able to
dismiss movements of protest against the war -- defining reality for us
in ways that distort it until there's little left of reality or truth.
[Posted here 3-13-07]
I heard a story the other day
about a Bangor Daily News (BDN) media official
telling peaceniks they had not covered their recent protest
because it was old news.
stuff like that.
One peacenik thought about it
and wrote the guy back
and wondered if the BDN
was going to judge car crash stories
and murders and fires
by the same journalistic standards.
I'm certain the BDN scribe was insulted by such audacity.
How dare you say such things to me he must have thought.
I am the creator of the community reality
I am the maker of fortunes and careers
I am the breaker of hearts and lives
I am the one who does as his corporate bosses tell him
I am the chief lackey around here.
Who are you to challenge me?
I remember many years ago
a media gate keeper telling a friend and me
not to worry our pretty little heads
about informing the public on a particular concern.
The newspaper, the Orlando Sentinel, had a plan.
They were on the case and had it under control.
The media was the message
the media is the god.
A democratic debate was not needed
activism was not needed
the public was not needed
agitation was not needed
ideas from the great unwashed were not needed
the media boys were on the case.......
Go home and find something useful to do
with your otherwise wasted lives.
And so it goes today from Iraq to Bangor.
The pages are filled with all the news that is fit to be printed.
Whole sections of the paper are left blank for me now
as I rustle though the daily rag
passing the big adverts,
the color pictures of men in orange suits
on their way to trial
for another sensational murder
or driving under the influence
of a crazy society.
Pages of stories about oranges looking like grapefruit
and birds singing in winter
while Baghdad blows up again
and people cry invisible tears
and Washington burns our health care money.
And politicians tell us they are almost there.
The news is twisted
and flattened out
to fit the tiny spaces
between the ads for women's underwear
and big stories about violent video games
and returning heroes from a war far away.
A letter here and an announcement there
keep alive the illusion
that all is well here at home.
That democracy and the old ways are sound.
But the truth lies with the rusty scissors
as fewer pages are clipped
in our scrapbooks
where the stories of our lives used to be collected
to pass on to our children
so we could teach them
about the good work that was done
to keep the fires alive.
Somehow the spirit rages on.
The Russians learned to read between the lines
and today we turn the Times upside down
trying to learn the same lesson
so we can be free again.
By Bruce Gagnon to
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
http://space4peace.blogspot.com (our blog)
People of faith – whether on
the left or the right side of the spectrum – seem to agree that we want to
protect our children and our families from the values of commercialism. A
group called Commercial Alert has just opened a very helpful new website,
which is "to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to
prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of
family, community, environmental integrity and democracy."
The website now includes
C An extensive
archive of hundreds of articles about commercialism;
C An action center where you can participate in our
online campaigns; and,
C Hundreds of weblogs where you can discuss articles
and issues relating to commercialism.
Take a look >>
Big Bird Lives to See Another Day!
This message comes to us from People for the American Way
Late yesterday afternoon, the House of Representatives rebuked Right Wing
attacks on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting!
Thanks to your efforts, Democrats and Republicans banded together to
overwhelmingly restore $100 million in funding to the CPB by a vote of 284
While this will undoubtedly help secure the financial future of
independent public broadcasting, its political future is still very much in
doubt. Ken Tomlinson, head of the CPB, continues his efforts to turn it into
a mouthpiece of the Republican Party. And today his right wing agenda
advanced one step further when he succeeded in getting Patricia Harrison,
formerly a co-chair of the Republican National Committee,
named as president and chief executive
of the CPB.
While saving the financial future of public broadcasting is important, it
is even more important that we protect the independence and integrity of its
programming. That is why we ask you to join us by
signing a petition calling on
President Bush to fire Ken Tomlinson and replace him with someone who
respects the vital role that independent public broadcasting plays in our
Click here to sign our petition demanding President Bush fire Tomlinson!
This time, it's for real: Save NPR and PBS
This message comes from MoveOn.org
You know that email petition that keeps circulating about how Congress is
slashing funding for NPR and PBS? Well, now it's actually true. (Really.
Check the footnotes if you don't believe me.)
Sign the petition telling Congress to save
NPR and PBS:
A House panel has voted to eliminate all
funding for NPR and PBS, starting with "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow,"
and other commercial-free children's shows. If approved, this would be the
most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting, threatening to pull
the plug on Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch.
The cuts would slash 25% of the federal funding this year—$100 million—and
end funding altogether within two years. The loss could kill beloved
children's shows like "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Arthur," and "Postcards
from Buster." Rural stations and those serving low-income communities might
not survive. Other stations would have to increase corporate sponsorships.
If we can reach 250,000 signatures by the end of the week, we'll put
Congress on notice.
AN UPDATE from MoveOn on June 15: More than 300,000 have
signed the petition to save NPR and PBS from losing public funding. This is
huge, but we need your help.
Tomorrow, the House Appropriations Committee will decide
whether to approve these severe cuts to NPR and PBS. We can stop the
cuts—and save public TV and radio—with a strong show of public outrage.
We'll report to the committee members on our petition before they vote.
Can you help us reach 400,000 signers by the end of the
day? Please send this note to friends, family and neighbors who count on NPR
Thank you for all you do.
P.S. Read the Washington Post report on the threat to NPR and PBS at
on MoveOn.org, or the
In defense of freedom of the media
We recently posted a link to the speech by
Bill Moyers’ address at the National Conference on Media Reform in St.
Louis. Our earlier note >>
We received this note expressing appreciation of the
speech, and urging more attention to it.
I was delighted to find your publication of Bill Moyer's
speech in St.Louis on your website. That speech is one of the most direct
examinations of what the administration is seeking to do to damage the
freedom of the press in the U. S.
As a Presbyterian and surgeon, I would encourage you to
move it up to one of the headlines on your website. We need to make the
truth of what the administration is trying to do to silence dissension in
the press available to all who will read.
William B. McCullough, M. D.
Moyers' speech >>
Joan Chittister: We need better news reporting, with
less pressure for speed
Another reader has called our attention to a recent
article by Sister Joan Chittister, who takes note of the reporting problems
of Dan Rather and Newsweek, along with the efforts by Kenneth
Tomlinson, chairperson of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to press
for "balance" in the reporting by NPR. "Balance" -- toward the right,
apparently. Too much reporting, she says, becomes shallow and even
inaccurate because of the pressure of time, and the urge to get a story out
first. Reality gets distorted by the pressures of competition as well
as political pressures.
You’ll notice that this article appears in the National
Catholic Reporter, which takes note sorrowfully that the recent "forced
removal of Jesuit Fr. Thomas J. Reese as editor of America magazine
is tragic. He was forced from his position by his Jesuit superiors after
five years of pressure from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."
The note from Chris Baker:
I read this this morning, and felt it could use wider
distribution. She strikes a very compelling, and unsettling, nerve.
Bill Moyers responds to CPB's Tomlinson charges of liberal
bias: "We were getting it right, but not right wing"
Witherspooner Bill LeMosy sends this note: "Here's a
must-read for anybody concerned about public broadcasting. While the
neo-cons rage, the prophets still speak."
In his first public address since leaving PBS six months
ago, journalist Bill Moyers responded to charges by Kenneth Tomlinson - the
chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting - of liberal bias and
revelations that Tomlinson hired a consultant to monitor the political
content of Moyers' PBS show "Now."
Democracy Now! broadcast an excerpt of Moyers' closing address at the
National Conference on Media Reform in St. Louis, Missouri. Their web site
provides a rush transcript of the broadcast.
the excerpts here >>
the full text of the speech >>
Senate votes to overturn FCC media ownership
From the Presbyterian Washington Office:
For those who have a concern about the number of news outlets in your
community, the story below may interest you. As we have fewer and fewer
media, the ability of one person or one company to control what we hear
and read will increase.
The Congressional Quarterly reports, in its Midday Update for
The Senate delivered a stinging rebuke to the Federal Communications
Commission and the Bush administration today, voting to kill the
commission's June 2 rules loosening media ownership restrictions. But the
measure's chances of passage in the House are much lower. By a bipartisan
vote of 55-40, senators approved a resolution of disapproval (S J Res 17)
introduced by North Dakota Democrat Byron L. Dorgan that would nullify the
FCC's move to allow media conglomerates to own more television stations.
The measure also would reimpose a "cross-ownership" ban lifted by the FCC
that had prohibited one company from owning both newspapers and television
stations in the same market. The resolution is strongly opposed by House
GOP leaders, who likely would block it from reaching the floor. President
Bush, who supports the FCC's changes, also could veto the resolution. The
FCC's new rules were put on hold by a federal court Sept. 3, a day before
they were scheduled to take effect.
For more on
the vote, check out
the Washington Post's coverage.
For more information, contact:
Elenora Giddings Ivory
110 Maryland Avenue, NE, #104
Washington, DC 20002.
202-543-1126, fax 202-543-7755.
who gets labeled?
A careful observer refutes Bernard Goldberg's
claims of liberal bias in the media
You've probably heard about the recent best-selling
book by Bernard Goldberg, Bias, which charges that TV
newscasters are biased against conservatives. His "evidence"
is given in his assertion that they label conservatives politicians as
"conservative," while seldom applying such labels to
"liberals," since they view them as the norm.
Nunberg, writing in The American Prospect, does a little
content analysis of 20 major daily newspapers, and finds that just the
opposite is true: His sample "liberals" are labeled such for
more often than are the sample "conservatives."
He goes on to examine the deeper issues behind such
labeling, concluding that "the function of political labels isn't
to inform or indoctrinate readers about the people and groups they're
attached to. Rather, they're a way of reassuring us that the writer and
publication are comfortably in the center, at a safe distance from the
extremes on either side."
And finally he says: "If people are disposed to
believe that the media have a liberal bias, it's because that's what the
media have been telling them all along."
Who will benefit
from new FM air channels?
Here's a legislative update on LPFM,
from Beau Hunter of Radio Free Nashville (sent by Gene TeSelle)
The Oxley bill (HR 3439) is now out of committee and
ready for a vote in the House. Debate on the bill may start as early as
tomorrow (Monday, April 10). It is important to note that the bill has
been AMENDED. After seeing the altered bill, FCC Chairman Kennard
immediately issued a brief statement saying in effect that it would gut
75% of the already conservative plan the FCC is attempting to put in
place. If anything, LPFM should and could be greatly expanded.
In a way, the amended bill is worse than the original in that it allows
Congress to say, "We're for LPFM; we believe the public should have
access to the public airwaves." --Indeed: maybe a station in
Hohenwald, and one for a high school in North Dakota, and maybe one in
the Mariana Islands.
I know that many of you have already called your Representative in
opposition to the original Oxley bill. Nonetheless, I am somewhat
chagrined to have to ask you to call once again and let them know the
amended bill is no improvement. Their offices need to be FLOODED with
calls as soon as they open on Monday.
I have also neglected to state how important it is to let our Senators
know of our opposition to the equivalent Senate bill, S2068, introduced
by Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.
|The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has
recently adopted rules creating two new classes of low-power FM service
that will make thousands of new radio frequencies available for local
use by non-commercial broadcasters. The PC(USA) is planning to
support churches in using these new channels for good religious
However, there are moves afoot in Congress to kill the
new policy, essentially protecting the monopoly of the air-waves held by
The first story below reports the "good
news." Click here to jump
down to the "bad news" side of the story.
And for a statement from the Chairman of the FCC
defending the establishment of low-power FM stations, click
|Presbyterians Encouraged to Invest in
Low-Power FM Radio Stations
PC(USA) says it will help with technical aid,
by John Filiatreau, PCUSA NEWS Mar. 22, 2000
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is gearing up to help
members and congregations take advantage of a new, low-power FM radio
service (LPFM) for local broadcasts of religious programming, including
church music, educational programs, sermons and worship services.
In January, the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) adopted rules creating two new classes of low-power FM service
that will make thousands of new radio frequencies available for local
use by non-commercial broadcasters.
These new LPFM stations would operate at two power
levels. Broadcasts on 10-watt stations would reach an area with a radius
of one to two miles (three to 12 square miles); those on 100-watt
stations would serve an area with a radius of about 3-1/2 miles (about
38 square miles). Antenna heights for both levels of service will be
limited to 30 meters.
The FCC is not yet accepting applications for the new
radio licenses, but is expected to begin doing so within a few months.
During its recent meeting in Louisville, the General
Assembly Council (GAC) approved a motion from the Congregational
Ministries Division suggesting that it:
* Inform local congregations of the opportunity to
apply for licenses;
* Provide technical assistance in the application
process to congregations that express an interest in filing an
* Provide technical assistance in the start-up process
to PC(USA) congregations and individuals that are granted a license;
* Provide supplemental programming support to
denominational entities that operate LPFM stations.
The motion specified that "technical
assistance" means non-financial assistance, and that the level of
assistance to be provided depends on the number of entities that request
help with the application or start-up process. "Programming
support" includes obtaining and making available to local stations
various types of programming to supplement local programming.
The new stations, to be distributed among unoccupied
channels throughout the FM band, will all be non-commercial. Current
holders of broadcast licenses and parties with interests in other media
(electronic or print) will not be eligible for LPFM stations. The
licenses will be available only to local entities for the first two
years of availability. Each licensee may own only one station in any
given community, but eventually may own as many as 10 LPFM stations
The FCC has said only that it will begin accepting
applications "in a few months." However, it will provide 30
days' public notice before accepting applications. Application forms and
information on how to file applications for LPFM stations will be
available through the commission's web site << www.fcc.gov/mmb/prd.lpfm).
The FCC has said that its purpose in creating the new
low-power service is to "provide increased opportunity for new
entry and ownership diversity" while providing for "a fair and
equitable distribution of radio broadcast service" and maintaining
"the technical integrity of the radio spectrum in order to best
serve the public." It has said that LPFM license applications will
probably be filed electronically, perhaps by email, in order to
"speed the application process and therefore introduction of the
LPFM service to the listening public."
During conversations about LPFM during the recent GAC
meeting, some members commented on a recent "explosion" in the
number of "Christian" radio stations, most of them aligned
with the conservative Christian right, and said there is a need for
stations that impart reformed theology and "mainline"
They said LPFM radio service might be especially
useful in mission, community service and evangelism.
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!