Here's a question that haunts me: If we had a vibrant, decentralized media system in this country, would we have gone to war in Iraq?
We've seen time and time again how badly the corporate media are failing us. As the U.S. began its build-up to attacking Iraq, the media giants dismissed the millions who protested the war as voices from the fringe. Clear Channel radio, which has gobbled up local stations to build a nationwide empire of over 1,200 stations, promoted pro-war rallies throughout its network. Even news stalwarts like The New York Times and The Washington Post now admit they were far too ready to toe the administration's line on the threats posed by Saddam Hussein.
Fortunately, I'm not the only one seeing the need for a more diverse, independent, and responsible media. According to the media reform group Free Press, more than 2.3 million people contacted the Federal Communications Commission or Congress to critique the proposed FCC rules allowing greater concentration of media ownership. When Sinclair Broadcasting planned to force their 62 TV stations to play an anti-Kerry movie days before the general election, more than 200,000 people protested. Advertisers pulled out; Sinclair's stock tumbled; and the network aired more balanced coverage. I take these as signs that an exciting new movement is emerging to reclaim the media.
Right now, Sarah van Gelder and her editorial team are searching out the best stories on media and democracy for our Spring 2005 issue of YES! In that issue, you'll see stories on the increasing concentration of media ownership and what can be done to reverse the trend. You'll learn of surprising coalitions coming together to democratize our media. And you'll see where hope lies in the burgeoning new internet, satellite, print, and broadcast outlets that can decentralize and diversify our sources of information.
Already Susan Gleason, our marketing and outreach manager and a media activist herself, has learned that many groups are eager to give copies of the YES! media issue to local and national officials, business people, journalists, and community groups. They know the articles in YES! will help people understand what's at stake and how to create more responsible media.
How are we able to supply free copies of YES! to support these emerging movements? It's because so many of you, our readers, make donations. We're a non-profit organization, driven by our mission to support people's efforts to create a more just, sustainable, and compassionate world. Your donations allow us to fulfill that mission.
If you're a YES! subscriber, you recently received a letter from me. In it, I asked for your financial support. I hope you'll take a moment to respond.
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Your gifts enable the YES! editorial staff to do intensive research and elicit the best stories that open us all to new possibilities. Your support gets copies of YES! to more than 3,000 teachers, who use our stories with more than 60,000 students nationwide. I know that many young people are deeply discouraged about the state of the world and the future they are inheriting. We can help them see stories of people—including young people like themselves—making a difference.
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Your support keeps YES! alive. Thank you in advance for understanding the importance of this independent voice that deepens our democracy and strengthens our communities.