Monday, February 04, 2008

Who Owns Your Media

If you happen to live in Alice, TX, your news is now brought to you by an Australian firm, Macquarie, that builds toll-roads. The big story is about the mayor's dognapping, but tomorrow it may be why you want a toll road.

The same is true of several other small towns whose independent newspapers have been bought up by that firm, which is now vying for the growing toll-road building industry in the Trans Texas Corridor that the legislature in Austin is considering.

The UK and Australian press have christened Macquarie, the Australian investment and banking group, the “Millionaire Factory” for the hefty bonuses it lavishes on its executives. Macquarie has several tentacles including the Macquarie Infrastructure Group which builds toll roads and the Macquarie Media Group.

It’s worth noting that the Macquarie Media Group has gobbled up more than 100 small town U.S. newspapers since last year, including the Dallas-based American Consolidated Media, which owns a number of small papers in Texas. Just this month it bought the Glen Rose Reporter in Glen Rose, south of Fort Worth. Its acquisitions make the Macquarie Media Group’s American Consolidated Media — the 5th largest regional newspaper publisher in the United States.

Why should we care? Because Macquarie Infrastructure Group has made several bids to build toll roads in Texas and across the United States. One of the Macquarie Media Group’s acquisitions is the Alice Echo-News, the homepage of which currently sports a web banner touting the I-69 Trans Texas Corridor public meetings. This is part of the same media campaign which angered legislators such as Senator John Carona (R-Dallas) chair of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Commission. The “Keep Texas Moving” media campaign is costing TxDOT up to $9 million. Meanwhile, TxDot says it will delay more than $1 billion worth of projects this year because it doesn’t have enough money, a claim that many legislators and citizens alike find laughable.

For more toll road fun, Carona, will hold a hearing February 5th, asking TxDot to explain where its money went, and why it didn’t mention this cash-flow crisis during last year’s legislative session.(Emphasis added.)

The government which produced our War Criminal In Chief has a long record of serving industry at the expense of the public. It has been carried into national operation by the worst executive branch in history, to this country's great damage.

Diane wrote about one of the truly destructive records that is being amassed at HUD in her post this morning. Such records of shameful behavior need to be studied, and they need to be considered in voting for our country and our states' future.

When media are gobbled up by a firm that has an interest in the local laws being written, it is a matter that needs more exposure. The FCC will probably show no interest until a new administration puts public servants into oversight of the country's needs and practices.

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Blogger Mr.Murder said...

Texas, past the extent it already is, will become a hub.

Spokes coming off that hub like a wheel, and trucks rolling through.

The state should fight the foreign driver items from NAFTA tooth and nail

It's one of the few so able, having considered itself "the nation of Texas" before it had statehood.

Most likely it's the one state that could find some merit in arguing against a treaty, having been founded on sovereign status initially.

I'm pretty certain Appellate judges might rule quite favorably.

It could set an interesting precedent. It of course could also deny other areas not considered relevant to the same background.

Or even be considered a cornerstone for a ruling pro La Raza... would be interesting to hear as much, from varied legal voices in the Lone Star State.

Perhaps Ronnie Earl could opine on such topics...

3:41 AM  
Blogger Snarkworth said...

At least we have a feisty, crusading small-town newspaper to get to the bottom of..........

Oh, wait.

3:46 AM  
Blogger jarober said...

I love the historical illiteracy inherent in posts like this. There was a brief window in American history - from about the 1940's to the 1970's - when the current theories about "independent journalism" became assumed verities. Before that time, it was common for business and/or political interests to own newspapers. Jefferson and Adams both had their own house organs leading up to the 1800 election, for instance - something I'm sure would horrify you.

Having honestly partisan papers is far better than the "objective" media we pretend to have. At least there's no pretense.

4:11 AM  
Blogger said...

... a web banner touting the I-69 Trans Texas Corridor public meetings. ....

Industry loves the I-69 corridor because it will allow them to bypass the Teamsters Union.

It will be interesting to see what happens in Texas when dueling interests -- corporate pro-business vs nativist anti-immigrant -- will duke it out.

4:35 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

jarober, the difference in the day of Jefferson and Adams was that there were newspaper publishers crawling out of the woodwork. Each was very biased, true, but there was a newspaper for every stripe. Now it's all of one bias.

And having reached that peak of independent journalism, why would we not be horrified to be sliding into this swamp?

5:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a brief window in American history - from about the 1940's to the 1970's - when the current theories about "independent journalism" became assumed verities.

That period coincided with the healthiest, most prosperous, and most democratic time in American history.

But of course this overall prosperity was achieved through a form of socialism, which is why the right wing wants all vestiges of it, and the independent journalism that helped sustain it by creating informed citizens, utterly destroyed.

5:12 AM  
Blogger Dwight said...

Having honestly partisan papers is far better than the "objective" media we pretend to have. At least there's no pretense.

Can you name one "honestly partisan" media outlet? Don't say Fox News, because they've never admitted to their pro-GOP bias. In fact, even GOP mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh like to proclaim their independence every now and again.

If Macquarie's newspapers all had notices letting everyone know that another branch of the company was trying to build toll roads through Texas - and more importantly, next to all the towns in which they have newspapers - then perhaps that could be considered "honestly partisan."

I don't know if publishers back in the day were totally honest about their biases or if they tried to hide behind a veneer of objectivity like they do now. It's really not the point, and it's hardly historical illiteracy to suggest that this nation would be better served if multinational conglomerates weren't able to indiscriminately snap up media outlets to serve as faux-objective mouthpieces for their corporate agenda.

If we go back further than Jefferson and Adams, most people were illiterate. Is it then silly to decry declining rates of reading overall and the effect this has on newspaper consumption?

5:26 AM  
Blogger jarober said...

Phoenix Woman:

The prosperity of the early post WWII era had very little to do with government policy of any ideology. What it had to do with is the simple reality that every other industrial economy spent decades picking up the pieces after WWII. The US was the only power left standing after the war with a non-destroyed industrial base - it would have been nearly impossible to not have a "golden age" of prosperity.

Unless you have a plan for knocking down every other industrial power on the planet, don't expect to see that kind of golden age again - without regard to the political policies put in place.

5:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The FCC doesn't regulate newspapers, in fact no one does. Because, duh, 1st amendment.

What they are doing is pretty fucked up, but it isn't, hasn't ever, and shouldn't be illegal.

5:46 AM  
Blogger Dwight said...

The FCC doesn't regulate newspapers, in fact no one does. Because, duh, 1st amendment.

The ownership of media outlets has always been regulated, moreso in the past than now. It used to be illegal, for example, for one company to own more than one media outlet of any given type (newspaper, TV, radio) in one market. Conglomerates used to also be regulated in the type and number of media outlets they could own.

Your "duh, 1st Amendment" comment doesn't even work for newspapers' content, since there are libel laws. They tend to favor newspapers, as they should, but there is regulation.

6:05 AM  
Blogger Gnome de Plume said...

I live in a semi-small Texas town and our newspaper is owned by some conservative Southern chain. The news might as well come from Australia, it is so poorly edited and even less informative.

On the toll roads: I don't mind them per se - I took great advantage last week in going around I-95 traffic in Miami, but the way they are being done in Texas is absolutely criminal.

7:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the fact that Texas's just wants to build more roads. Wouldn't it make more sense to pour all that transportation money into something that will make sense in the future--like trains?

7:58 AM  
Blogger darrelplant said...

Randy Stapilus at Ridenbaugh Press in Oregon -- where Macquarie was on the way to winning a contract to build a road -- had a similar article about a year ago with some other info for those interested in exploring further.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It used to be that advertisements were delineated with the word "advertisement".

Nowadays, not so much.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

re: the FCC. The FCC is only empowered to regulate broadcast/electronic media - it has absolutely no role over newspapers. The examples that Dwight is referring to are only FCC matters because of the TV and radio interests involved.

The Department of Justice Antitrust Division has final say over mergers and publication agreements among newspapers in the same city - but that is an antitrust matter as opposed to "regulating ownership". If a newspaper company wished to start a second newspaper in the same city (as opposed to buying it's competitor which is what makes an antitrust issue) there is no press ownership regulations to stop it. "Anonymous" is right, Dwight (sorry, Dwight) is wrong.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Surfje said...

This is actually a good thing in the long run. Print media and other forms of MSM are dying at the hands of the emerging internet business model. As they are being sold for pennies on the dollar, corporate entities will see an opportunity for propaganda dissemination. The demise of the print media will be hastened by being prostituted to increasingly more obvious conflict of interest situations like this, eventually, and hopefully, resulting in a complete loss of credibility. So where will people turn for real news? Lefty blogs of course.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will we ever have media that seeks, investigates, follows up and presents the truth?

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've built toll roads in Ogdenville, North Haverbrook, and Brockway!


2:35 PM  
Blogger 1f Jef said...

ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX - News we can trust? ... not!MEDIA MOGULS BUY ELECTION - S.M.O.G. (Soros, Murdoch, Oprah, Geffen)

"Howard Beale's nightmare has been realized. A tiny minority, the most cohesive and powerful in the world, has come to completely dominate American television. But it's not the here to read rest of article.

We are reading the solution to the problem of a few controlling the news we rely on - Keep on posting!

8:17 AM  
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4:07 AM  

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