by Sen. Bernie Sanders
Today in America, after decades of consolidation and deregulation, some eight multi-national media companies control almost all the news you watch, read, hear, and download.
All across the country, corporate conglomerates and hedge fund vultures have bought and consolidated local newspapers and slashed their newsrooms — all while giving executives and shareholders big payouts.
The result of this trend has been the decimation of journalism.
The result of this trend is more than 1,400 communities across the country losing local newspapers, which are also outlets for local TV, radio, and digital sites that rely on them for reporting.
The result of this trend is ad networks lining up for billions of dollars a year in pharmaceutical and oil ads while failing to provide a consistently fair hearing for issues like Medicare for All or downplaying coverage of the climate crisis.
The result of this trend is that — according to one study published by Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, a non-partisan forum — despite millions of Americans struggling to survive, budget-strapped newsrooms “have not turned their attention to poverty.”
In other words, at precisely the moment we need more reporters covering the health care crisis, the climate emergency, and economic inequality, the corporate media is incentivized to ignore or downplay these critical issues.
The American people desperately need high-quality journalism.
I believe that is why most reporters and newspaper staff get into this work.
I am not talking about the ones that are paid millions of dollars to pontificate about frivolous political gossip, but the ones who, in the words of Joseph Pulitzer, undertake the painstaking reporting that will “fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, [and] always fight demagogues.”
When we have had real journalism, we have seen crimes like Watergate exposed and confronted. When we have lacked real journalism, we have seen crimes like mortgage fraud go unnoticed and unpunished, leading to a devastating financial crisis that destroyed millions of Americans’ lives.
I bring this up today because New York Times journalists and staff are currently attempting to bargain for a fair contract with management at the paper, but have not been met with good faith.
The staff at The New York Times are fighting for a living wage and fair pay — something that is not so radical when the company just approved $150 million in stock buybacks for its investors.
Real journalism requires significant resources, and one reason we do not have enough real journalism in America right now is because far too many media outlets are led primarily by the pursuit of profit as opposed to investing in the workers and resources it takes to educate the people of this country and hold the powerful accountable.
It is long past time in this country to reinstate and strengthen media ownership rules.
It is long past time we limit the number of stations that large broadcasting corporations can own in each market and nationwide.
It is long past time in this country that we prevent tech giants like Facebook and Google from using their enormous market power to cannibalize and defund news organizations, especially the small and independent ones without the infrastructure to fight back.
And it is long past time in this country that we explore new ways to empower media workers to effectively collectively bargain with large corporations like The New York Times.
Our constitution’s First Amendment explicitly protects the free press because the founders understood how important journalism is to a democracy.
Quality journalism is not possible when media workers are unable to earn a living wage, and when corporations prioritize profit above all else.
We need to rebuild and protect a diverse and truly independent press so that real journalists and media workers can do the critical jobs that they love, and that a functioning democracy requires.
Editor’s note: this letter was sent Dec. 9 to campaign workers, republished from VermontBiz.com. Bernie is right about at least one thing: traditional newspapers are suffering financially. But is Wall Street the cause, and is worker empowerment the solution?
What you are talking about Bernie is not high caliber journalism, but the stakeholder capitalist model pushed by the WEF and UN Agenda 2030. This model instructs news media and Educational institutions to push the same topics of concern to brainwash the public into democratic socialism. This is Fascism as defined by Mousseline, which is a government private sector partnership to control the political and economic future of the global population. A form of green Communism. As our favorite villain days, “You will own nothing and be happy!”
Boinie will not be happy until Pravda, (Russian) Granma (Cuban) The People’s Daily, (CCP) or Al Jazeera are the only media allowed.
I guess he doesn’t get the Burlington Free Press anymore as they have 3 topics harped on weekly, Ukraine, Trans issues, & Climate Change. The Climate articles always contain qualifiers like “may”, “could”, “might”, etc etc..Trust me, if they HAD any real, hard evidence they would CITE IT, again and again ad nauseum. Jeeze Bernie, there’s NO hiding it in Vermont’s “largest” daily paper, so large it’s down to 3 pages a day! How can you MISS it?
Just wondering Steve, because I’m not a BFP person, but do they not still have choruses of never Trump also playing in their heads for free ?
Hey Bernie Sanders please take a long cold winter hike in the mountains! I think a good place to start is Russia! Good Luck!!
As sometimes occurs there’s a kernel of truth in Bernie’s oration, but I was really amused by his citation of Joseph Pulitzer’s approval of newspapers that undertake the painstaking reporting that will …”always fight demagogues.”
Bless his heart but this delusional network is wearing thin.
Bernie knows that the majority of the privately-owned media is essentially State-controlled, but is upset they are not as on board with SOME parts of his agenda as others. The Left controls most of the broadcast and print media, all of public radio and television, K-12 public education and a majority of post-secondary education curricula. A disturbing number of Americans get their “news” late at night from Colbert and Kimmel, after about 5 beers. Seriously, Bernie, dont be so greedy.
The monopolization is real. He has a point.
However, the tug and pull between labor and management actually promotes democracy and stimulates progress. As far as control by labor, that is how unions work.
Is Bernie writing for the Babylon Bee now? The New York Times? Google? Facebook? C’mon Bernie. They are all part and parcel of the establishment. The same establishment you and your family enriched yourselves with for decades. The final bellows from a man who is facing extinction and irrelevence in 4, 3, 2…
So he’s arguing that news media ought to get a share of Twitter ad revenue because they supply links to their articles even though you can’t usually read the article until you pay for subscription to their paper. This would primarily benefit the major Mews companies and maybe some loose change for small and independent ones whose links appear on social social media only at the instigation of users and usually only in very limited circles. This would simply amplify whatever ‘fake news’ ( a subjective judgment) That characterizes the output of MSM but harm the ad revenue streams of social media which are already marginal. This is similar to banning no cause eviction, supposedly to help tenants but would in fact raise rents and reduce the availability of moderate and lower income housing.