The twitter-sphere is choked with Free Press’ latest panicked entreaty – one urging the defeat of Congress’ latest effort to curb online piracy through the House’s so-called SOPA bill.
Says a couple of tweets:
SOPA is everywhere on the Internet and nowhere on the nightly news. End the #SOPA blackout: http://t.co/yDbDuYqN via @freepress
Mainstream media can’t be trusted as a source for pertinent info RT @freepress SOPA is all over the Internet & nowhere on the nightly news.
Note the two-fer here. Anti-SOPA. And anti-private media. It’s the anti-private media meme that interests me most in the present matter (but the two issues are related, as I’ll get to below).
You know, when things were going their way, and the FCC was poised to pass its illegal Net Neutrality regulations late in 2010, many in the media were on Free Press’ side. In fact, story coverage supporting Net Neutrality flooded the marketplace. Consequently, Free Press sat in the catbird’s seat, with a Cheshire Cat-like grin. They got quoted everywhere, in every possible medium.
Now, the shoe’s on the other foot.
Because private media has so much invested in protecting their own content and innovation, it’s not surprising that they’d want to tamp down Free Press’ (and others’) whining about SOPA’s supposed end-of-Internet-days consequences.
Of course, this puts Free Press’ undies in a wad. It’s used to getting its way with the stick-it-to-the-Man writers and editors of Big Media. Frustrated that the media’s iconoclastic leanings don’t work when the issue at hand directly affects the media’s own interests, I can almost hear Free Press shout in the background of every tweet:
Wahhhh, private media companies won’t do our bidding to ‘protect the Internet!’ They want SOPA. You hear that, Occupier Activists? If Big Media doesn’t agree with us – ALWAYS – then they’re evil and must be taken down! Have at it, OWS-ers. And bring your pitchforks, too.
Such frustration and brattishness was bound to occur. You see, Free Press’ anti-SOPA and anti-private media activities are really two sides of the same coin. Both policy issues deride the importance of private risk, private property and the rights attendant to ownership.
Ultimately, Free Press’ goal is to achieve a post-capitalist, anti-property utopia, where digital media remains unhindered by private ownership rights; and the outlets that create, distribute and grant access to that “freed” media are merely government appendages, dedicated toward meeting “higher” social justice and “fairness” ends.
As Free Press’ founder and self-avowed Marxist, Robert McChesney, notes, a key part of that utopian destination – one which “enriches” citizens with all the “proper” information for self-governance – is public / non-profit media.
We need to revamp daily newspapers into independent post-corporate entities, vastly expand funding to public media and find ways to subsidize nonprofit journalism online.
The St. Pete Times, run by the non-profit Poynter Institute, is a model groups like Free Press want to replicate.
But here’s what you get with that Utopia. On a recent weekend in Tampa, I opened up the St. Pete Times’ year-end edition and found that of the 29 stories printed in its A Section, nearly 1/3rdof its 15 pages (including one full-page) posted critical or mocking stories of the GOP. In case one didn’t get the idea that Republicans were evil, the opinion page even included two openly hostile, anti-GOP cartoons to boot.
How’s that for enriching the populace? In the universe of stories that could have run in the A Section, not a single anti-Administration / anti-Democratic Party / anti-Left story seemed worth printing by the publication.
I guess in the St. Pete Times’ view (and likely Free Press’, too), the world sucks, and it’s all the GOP’s fault. So, having more unquestioned Left in our world is always better, right?
The push to stop SOPA is really about promoting a property-less society. Who cares if it means poaching (stealing) private property from creators. In Free Press’ estimation, creators have no moral right to lock up ideas or information anyway. In fact, creators are the real villains, stealing and exploiting for profit – because all ideas and information should be free (like butterflies and bunnies).
Quite frankly, the media is doing what it should have been doing when Net Neutrality regulations were in play – that is, protecting its property, and urging the same for others in the value chain. Big media – like most anyone who creates digital or other content for a living – knows that enormous private risk and investment goes into delivering their products to the public. Good content doesn’t just grow on trees. It must be invested in and ultimately paid for. Creators have a right to protect their interests and the fruit of their efforts.
Of course, social justice and other isms that strip away economic freedoms and liberties in the name of “fairness” have no place for “selfish” property holders (of any stripe).
Our job is to make media reform part of our broader struggle for democracy, social justice, and, dare we say it, socialism. It is impossible to conceive of a better world with a media system that remains under the thumb of Wall Street and Madison Avenue, under the thumb of the owning class.
While I am not a cheerleader of the mainstream media for a variety of reasons, it seems clear to me that a world filled only with myopically Left-leaning publications like the St. Pete Times – one based on a property-less society – would, er, suck really badly.
Yes, the “owning class” is imperfect. But groups like Free Press should embrace it. Without it, there’d be nothing good for guys like Robert McChesney to poach.