Rebecca MacKinnon, the former Tokyo bureau chief of CNN writes about why CNN is broken. She writes that although there is pressure from the administration to spin stories, most of it comes down to pure commercial interests. It also reminds me that "freedom of the press" in the US constitution was referring to people like Thomas Paine, not mega-corporations like CNN/Time Warner.

Rebecca MacKinnon
Priorities of American Global TV:
Humanity, National Interest, or Commercial Profit?

...When Richard Parsons, the CEO of CNN's parent company Time Warner visited Tokyo in the fall of 2003, he held a Q&A session with a group of Time Warner's Tokyo-based managers whose work ranges from movies, to music sales, to online services, and also to news. I asked him whether he viewed Time Warner's news properties - such as CNN and TIME magazine - to have a special social responsibility for educating the public about current events, or whether CNN was just another commodity like any other product or service sold by Time Warner. He replied that he does not view CNN any differently from any other company owned by Time Warner.

[...]

When I started working for CNN in 1992, things were different. Those were what longtime CNN employees now refer to as the "old days" when the network was run directly by Ted Turner, before the 1996 merger of Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner. "When CNN reported to me, if we needed more money for Kosovo or Baghdad, we'd find it," Ted Turner wrote in the July/August 2004 issue of Washington Monthly. "If we had to bust the budget, we busted the budget. We put journalism first, and that's how we built CNN into something the world wanted to watch." He blames the current situation on the concentration of news media in the hands of a small number of mega-corporations, and blames U.S. government regulators for allowing this to happen. "The loss of independent operators hurts both the media business and its citizen-customers," he argues. "When the ownership of these firms passes to people under pressure to show quick financial results in order to justify the purchase, the corporate emphasis instantly shifts from taking risks to taking profits. When that happens, quality suffers, localism suffers, and democracy itself suffers."

2 Comments

the article is a great look inside the modern news machine, post 9/11 that is...
the only thing i found short-sighted was the fact that dick parson's really couldn't have said anything other than what he did in front of such a diverse group of time warner managers - he is a corporate executive that in that setting did not want to make a statement that showed a preference to one unit over another...
rebecca's blog is great too...

Is it just me or is it strange that Ted Turner is complaining that the government should have stopped him from selling his company to Time/Warner?

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