I would like to welcome guest blogger Andrea Danforth. Andrea is a small business owner, a mother of four, a lifelong learner and an observer of life. She has lived all across the country, from Maine to Hawaii and believes the United States is one of the greatest countries on earth. We had a very enlightening conversation on her observation of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and I asked her to write a blog discussing the variety of issues affecting the United States today.
The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Movement believes that corporations place their interests above all else and have taken over our government and political process. This has been proven by the corporate-owned media’s coverage of the Occupy protests. The top 1% owns the corporate media and it is in their best interest to slant their reporting in order to maintain the status quo. The strategically different viewpoints reported from the corporate news media and the alternate independent media both showcase how much influence and control the largest corporations wield over this country and pinpoint how democratic discourse in the media is limited by those same self serving corporate interests.
Corporate media’s response to the threat of OWS’ message mirrored Gandhi’s Law-“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Even though the issues that the Occupy movement is protesting have existed for a good while, they haven’t been in the news as a part of public discourse. This is one of the reasons OWS took to the streets.
First they ignore you. There were no early reports of the movement’s protests. “Waiting for two weeks to begin reporting on these protests was all out censorship and it was inexcusable.” (Los Angeles Times) As people started talking and word got out on social media sites, this changed. The reporting moved into the then they laugh at you phase of Gandhi’s winning strategy of non-violent activism. The LA Times reported on the movement by quoting the Wall Street Journal, “The pundit class has largely ignored, dismissed or mocked the Occupy Wall Street protest.” The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page calls the protesters “a collection of ne’er-do-wells raging against Wall Street, or something.” (Los Angeles Times) They went on to say “We too find it hard to get especially worked up over a series of small demonstrations in a handful of cities, including Los Angeles, involving mostly disaffected people who have trouble expressing what it is they’re against.”
(Los Angeles Times) MSNBC headlines read, “Wall Street Protesters Spread Murky Message”.
For the first month and a half, thousands of protesters, attempting to organize and spread the word about the occupation, found that Yahoo blocked hundreds of thousands of emails. Hundreds received emails from Yahoo claiming “Suspicious Activity suspected. Email not sent. To protect account please contact Customer Care.” Twitter hash-tag trend maps have until recently shown that Occupy Wall Street tweets have been surging everywhere in the world except within the United States, meaning a corporate media block out. (Flores)
The alternative media, however, had no trouble reporting on the Occupy movement—who they were, what they were protesting, and why. Their view of the “disaffected” was entirely different. “It’s not just Johnny, unemployed college grad who is out there occupying Wall Street, it’s his dad who was laid off, and his grandmother, who knows the difference between right and wrong, and she’s fed up with it too”. The alternative media actually reported on the movement’s message as well, “The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.” (Payne)
I went to the OWS march on Times Square on October 15, 2011. I saw clear messages on the signs the protestors were carrying. “Big Money Out Of Politics”, “Wall Street Should Buy Stocks Not Politicians”, “I’ll Believe That Corporations Are People When Texas Executes One”, “New York Teacher, We Are the 99%” and “End The Fed”. One sign said, “We have clear goals” and then listed 7 of them. The National Nurses Association had signs saying “Tax Wall Street Transactions Heal America”. Many people, young and old, held signs saying, “Dissent is Patriotic”. The OWS message was clear to me. I also saw a wide variety of people there; teachers, nurses, students, young, old, black, white and in between, lesbians and straights. They were clean and well kept as well as polite and friendly. After my experience at the protest in New York, I decided to dig a little further into corporate media ownership.
What I found was an interconnected web of corporate ownership and directorship across many types of corporations. Three media giants own all of the cable news networks. Comcast and AOL Time Warner serve 40 percent of cable households. (Common Cause) Disney owns 10 television stations, 50 radio stations, ESPN, A&E, the History Channel, Discover magazine, Hyperion publishing, Touchstone Pictures, and Miramax Film Corp. Viacom owns 39 television stations, 184 radio stations, The Movie Channel, BET, Nickelodeon, TV Land, MTV, VH1, Simon & Schuster publishing, Scribner, and Paramount Pictures. General Electric owns 13 television stations, CNBC, MSNBC, and Bravo. News Corp. owns 26 television stations, FX, Fox News Channel, TV Guide, the Weekly Standard, New York Post, DirecTV, the publisher HarperCollins, film production company Twentieth Century Fox and the social networking website MySpace (Common Cause)
I recognized why the corporations would be threatened by OWS’ message and why they felt they needed to move into Gandhi’s 3rd stage: Then they fight you. Corporate media fought by complaining, focusing and reporting mostly on troubles at the Occupy sites: drug use, assaults, homelessness, cleanliness and infighting between protesters. They are effectively able to control the type of news focused on and therefore reported to the public. While it is true that sometimes the news media attacks corporations, they never mention, let alone advocate, the bottom line issues and reforms that could bring about positive change for the majority of the United States population. Some issues, such as meaningful penalties for white-collar crime, revocation of corporate charters and public, instead of corporate, financing of elections, have never seen the light of day. Election reform is probably one of the top concerns for the average American because all of us are aware of the massive amounts of money that it takes to get involved in national politics.
These are the issues that the Occupy movement is bringing to light. With corporate media’s enormous profit from paid political advertisements and the corporate owner’s interests in opposition to what is fair for the 99%, these issues have not gotten the public coverage and discourse that is wanted and needed by the majority of the people. Until the corporations no longer control the major news outlets, movements like Occupy Wall Street will never receive accurate representation in the mainstream media. As more and more of society becomes aware of the degree to which our news and information is controlled by corporate interests, I believe they will stand up with Occupy Wall Street against this control and its resultant takeover of our government and political process.
This is what needs to happen before the fourth stage of Gandhi’s Law- then you win.
Common Cause. “Facts on Media in America: Did You Know?” 01 01 2010. commoncause.org. 22 02 2012.
Flores, Whidden. “Fight Against Media Censorship of Occupy Wall Street.” 03 11 2011. Force Change. 21 02 2012.
Los Angeles Times. “Occupy Wall Street: The left’s answer to the ‘tea party’?-Los Angeges Times.” 04 10 2011. The Los Angeles Times. 22 02 2012.
Payne, Ed. “Wall Street protests enter 11th day.” 27 09 2011. cnn.com. 21 02 2011.
Report, Chase Kyla Hunter and Alternative News. “Early Web Censorship of Occupy Wall Street.” 30 11 2011. Alternative News Report. 23 02 2012.
Schoen, John W. “Familiar refrain: Wall Street protest lacks leaders, clear message.” 27 09 2011. The Bottom Line on MSNBC.com. 23 02 2012.