For the fifth and final season of what Newsweek and others (Barack Obama's favorite character is Omar) have deemed as the most critically acclaimed show on television, David Simon's, The Wire, takes a deeper look into corruption in the media room. In the most notable instance, Baltimore Sun reporter, Scott Templeton has fabricated a story about how he was contacted by a serial killer of homeless people in Baltimore. The story obviously draws a lot of attention, which both Templeton and his upper level management benefit from. They decide to change the direction of the entire newsroom (which is a little scary in itself, the idea that a public news source always has a particular theme of news that "they" think is relevant) towards rising the awareness of the public to the misfortune of the homeless in Baltimore. In response to the public appall raised from these articles, the mayor is forced to change his election motif towards the homeless and helping citizens who cannot help themselves. The political direction of the entire city of Baltimore has been altered based on a fabricated story from one reporter.
In chapter nine, Ron L. Jacobson comments on President Clinton's Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Act was the first piece of major legislation regarding ownership guidelines for United States telecommunications since 62 years prior with the Communications Act of 1934. The Act had two major purposes, to consolidate telecommunications ownership and to try and deregulate the internet in order to provide mass availability. Critics of the act believed that the government needed to keep a closer eye on a media source (mainly the internet) that could provide such an expansive, efficient, and convenient source of news and exploration for the public. In order to do this they forced the ownership of all telecommunication networks to consolidate into only a few major companies (i.e. AT&T and the Bell companies). Behind the rally cry for Universal Service (free public telecommunications access) the consolidation seemed to most as a necessary evil. The way I see it is the government wants to expand the information highway for public appeal, and more importantly for corporate aspirations. At the same time, a medium which can offer the public such an expansive (and invasive) source of news and information, free of charge, is a scary thing to go unregulated. Therefore, the government has rallied behind the idea of Universal Service while sneaking in the idea that this "unregulated" service will fall under the ownership of only a few mammoth companies. The red flag that surfaces for me after sifting through all of this information is, do I really believe that these major news and network providers are unbiased to political coercion? I mean did the government really go to AT&T and tell them they were going to expand their business by legally forcing thousands of small private network companies to come under their (AT&T's) ownership and not ask for anything in return? And were the major companies chosen for consolidation decided upon by drawing straws, or were these the best major companies in the business who would be the most compliant with the current politicians involved? We look back to The Wire and Scott Templeton...We know that the news which is provided to the public will ultimately have political implications on how people and events are viewed by the public, whether the news is true or fabricated. By trying to keep the telecommunications network under the ownership of only a few major companies so that the broad casted news and information can be more easily regulated, is the hand of the American government breaking the innocence of objective news? Check out this youtube on how FOX News is completely biased because of its infiltration by right wing support.
Although I do have my doubts about political involvement in my "objective" news, I believe that the movement towards Universal Service is a positive evolution, regardless of the ownership issues.