Media haters

Media haters

: Larry Lessig’s cadre of media haters has a new book out. Mark Cooper is the author of Media Ownership and Democracy in the Digital Information Age from Lessig’s Stanford unthinktank. Please, please don’t buy it. That would be so un-creative-commons, so big-media of you. No, go get it for free and then read along with me.

I have two problems with Lessig et al. The first is that they hate media and media companies so thoroughly and indiscriminately. The second is that their cure for this is government involvement in media — which is to say, government interference in news and journalism. They disdain the free market of ideas and commerce. They want the government to impose ownership structures and even content on a free press to fit some paternalistic view they have of proper information in a democracy. That is the last thing government should ever decide. I find that constitutionally and democratically abhorrent.

I remain surprised that Lessig et al are the darlings of the libertarians. You’d they’d disdain anybody in favor of greater government meddling in our press and media. But they apparently hold their media disdain more dearly than their ideology… or their logic. Lessig wants less government involvment in copyright but wants more government involvement in media ownership. The thread that ties that together is only media hatred. It’s an intellectually and ideologically illogical stance.

Further, Lessig et al purposefully ignore the changes that have come to media in recent years. Today, we have far more outlets of news and information on TV than we have ever had, thanks to cable. We have far more viewpoints, thanks to the Fox revolution. We have new and diverse outlets of media in the Internet and in ethnic media. The barrier to entry to media is now lower than in the history of language.

At the same time, there are tremendous economic pressures on media thanks to new competition, necessitating new ways to do business (and sometimes, yes, that means consolidation).

In addition, technology means that consolidation is not only a matter of business but also of reporting: a text reporter can be a photographer can be a TV reporter — but only if that reporter works in an environment where he can do all those things, a consolidated environment.

They simply can’t stand the idea — the essential reality — that news is a business, not a government program. And in a free society, news is the last business that should be regulated by government. News must be regultated by the marketplace, the free marketplace of ideas.

But Lessig, Cooper, et al ignore all that in the face of their media hatred. They want to stick it to media any way they can. They want to see us spoonfeed what they think we ought to know rather than what we, the market, want to know — just at the time when, on the Internet and in weblogs, the citizenry is revolting against that sort of Mama-media.

I pulled a few choice quotes from Cooper’s book. Click on the “more” link below to read on…

Cooper writes:

I refer to the