Reclaim the Media

There's a group in Seattle that goes by the name Reclaim the Media. I heard about them during a local station break of Democracy Now.

There is only one way to retake the mainstream media in this country, something that cannot be done: To gain control of it at the level of the contributor, as Raymond Williams has written in Communications.

Many people -- Chomsky, for example -- have been trying to enlighten the media for years through piercing, poignant, and accurate criticism, much of it based in empirical analysis. Hasn't worked. Among journalists, groupthink dominates; The Seattle Times provides a daily example. Many journalists uncritically and tacitly adopt the dominant values and ideas of the system in which they are embedded -- a system that has radically moved to the right during the past 28 years. Corporate control has shifted the focus of the media from serving the public -- from being the guardian of the public's right to know and from holding the government accountable -- to serving the business interests of their owners. Those interests are, in a word, plutocratic.

The only plausible course of action is to go after the audience of the media. Part of the answer is media literacy: Helping people decode the media at the grassroots level and at the national level. Despite its name, Seattle's Reclaim the Media aims to do just that.

Media literacy can expose discourses of domination, identify the values that underlie a report, and unearth the perspective that governs what news is covered and how. Media literacy can't just be about decoding messages. It also must be about decoding media culture, including its structures, relationships of power, and collective fantasies, as Ken Sanes has done with his work on film at

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