Saturday, April 21, 2012

Retweet: We're the news media, and we don't want you to know jack

If you didn't read this post on ProPublica or on The Guardian's website this morning this is your opportunity:

News organizations cultivate a reputation for demanding transparency, whether by suing for access to government documents, dispatching camera crews to the doorsteps of recalcitrant politicians, or editorializing in favor of open government.

But now many of the country’s biggest media companies, which own dozens of newspapers and TV news operations, are flexing their muscle in Washington in a fight against a government initiative to increase transparency of political spending.
The post is written by Justin Elliott and goes on to recount the efforts by big media firms to prevent or water down an FCC proposal that would require them to post online the details of political ad purchases.

The media's objections are not a surprise – certainly not if you have worked in the industry. Conservatives think that the media has a media bias, and many in the media see their management and ownership and believe it has conservative bias. That kind of thinking is very convenient if you are searching for a way to blame media for its political coverage.

But the reality is that the media is a business, and businesses don't like regulation, and anything that might negatively effect revenue.

If the movers and shakers that influence our politics are know that everything they do will be out in the open they may well cut back some of their activities – and that will take money from the pockets of the media companies. They don't like that.

ProPublica has, themselves, shown a light on media's position on this, but don't expect media companies to be shamed into doing the right thing. As in the Godfather, "it's just business, nothing personal."