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    Another Black Face on MSNBC: Good News For Joy Ann Reid, Not So Much For The Rest of Us

    A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR Managing Editor Bruce A. Dixon

    If Fox News is the Republican ministry of TV propaganda, MSNBC is the mouthpiece of the White House and corporate Democrats. The last real journalist in an MSNBC host spot was Phil Donahue, fired for letting antiwar lefties on the air once in a while. MSNBC must have a lot of confidence that their new host Joy Ann Reid will carry their water, and leverage her black face to carry their message to us, instead of the other way around.

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    CNN's Black In America: What Happens When Popeye's Teaches Chickens History & Current Events

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

    Comedian Lily Tomlin once said that no matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up. CNN's latest installment of “Black In America” with its focus on the “tragic mulatto” proves her right. CNN's version of history erases the actual origin of North America's “one drop rule.”

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    Tavis Smiley Responds to Cancellation of “Smiley & West” in Chicago


    An Open Letter from Tavis Smiley

    Chicago public radio officials felt compelled to add insult to injury when cancelling Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West’s weekly political program. “I do not abide insults to my hard-working and dedicated staff,” said Smiley. “One could argue that it is easier for an African American to be president of the United States than it is to host a primetime radio program on Chicago Public Radio.”

    Media's Portrayal of Black Youths Contributes to Racial Tension


    by Joshunda Sanders

    Black guilt is written in the skin, and assumed until proven otherwise. That’s how U.S. society and media operate, pronouncing a negative verdict on a whole people, especially those who are young and male. Black lives in which pathological drama is absent are deemed unworthy of note. “Narratives about everyday lives of black people haven't been a priority in news coverage.”

    At Least Some Ministers Tell the TRUTH: Hip-Hop, Social Media and Revolutionary Politic


    Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

    Theoretically, “any Black woman or man is a potential revolutionary.” But here’s another truth: No organization, no revo – whether the potential revolutionaries are Internet-connected or not. A wired populace may hold in their hands the tools of mass political action, but those same tools are wielded by huge corporations and the governments that protect them, as San Francisco Bay transit cops showed when they shut down the cell phones of potential “flash” demonstrators. The end requires more than just the technological means.

    Huffington Post-AOL “Black Voices” Are Just More Corporate White Noise


    A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

    Only a generation ago, seeing or hearing black voices on the broadcast airwaves was a rare treat. Those were the days when segregation created a Jim Crow market that white corporate entities pretty much left alone. But no longer. Corporate media have become expert at targeting black audiences, in using black faces and voices to push its disempowering message of consumption and acquiesance to injustice and empire.

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    Mass Media and African Sovereignty

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

    The military and economic superpower attempting to bend the world to its will, is also a communications superpower bent on drowning out all worldviews at variance with its own. “An ability to be sovereign requires an ability to communicate that need, to make it a popular idea among a given community, and to protect against the psychological assaults from hostile entities.” The colonized, including Africans in America, find their representations of sovereignty smothered.

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    Time to Grab the Mic: Low Power FM Radio Licensing Window Looms

    Without control over some form of mass media, without the ability to speak with and to hear its own voice, no community can long exist.  Commercial media in the hands of for-profit broadcasters can only build markets, not communities.  This year, the FCC will accept license applications for hundreds or thousands of new local low-power FM radio stations in cities and towns across the U.S.  It's an unparalelled chance, and the last chance for local organizers for peace and justice to grab the mics.

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    Social Movement: Obama’Laid and the Internet

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

    The recent Netroots Nation conference shows that Obama'Laid is easily dispensed in digital form, inebriating millions. What does it matter if 25 percent of Twitter users are Black, when “by 2012 75 percent of the country will have only one Internet service provider offering high-speed broadband Internet?” Clearly, the revolution will not be Twitterized. A real mass movement is needed.

    Beware of Invisible Negroes!

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

    Black people are no longer newsworthy. That's the result of a Pew study, which found "stories defined as significantly focused on Black Americans accounted for only 1.9% of all news coverage." And a majority of that coverage was of the Henry Louis Gates run-in with a Cambridge cop. The lesson: "A defeated people need no coverage."

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    Bend It Like Imperialism! The World Cup 1, African Liberation Nil

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
    So many Black American entertainers and luminaries flocked to the World Cup opening ceremonies in South Africa, one veteran activist was prompted to remark that "these folks are crossing the picket line." It is a line that separates South Africa's poor Black majority from the real beneficiaries of the "gold" -  "the soccer elites of FIFA, the elites of domestic and international corporate capital and the political elites who are making billions and who will be benefiting at the expense of the poor."

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    Tavis Smiley’s Annual Black “Radical” All-Star Game

    by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

    Event Meister extraordinaire Tavis Smiley gathered his hand-picked Black All Stars for a “Black Agenda” conference, in Chicago, over the weekend. The usual suspects were in attendance, shining and rhyming luminously and voluminously. President Obama’s stock had fallen, but “blind adherence” to the Democratic Party still reigned near-supreme.

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    Network Neutrality Should Be The Beginning, We Need Community Control Over Public Media

    Cheap, fast and universally available broadband access will be as vital to community economic development in the 21st century as paved roads.  But neither universal access nor a just media propagated over those broadband channels will happen without a sharp struggle for community control over a vastly expanded and democratized public media system.  Network neutrality should be the beginning, not the end of the demands of the media justice movement.

    The Titans of Technology: The Internet, Radio and Our Newton’s Laws

    newton's lawsby BAR columnist Jared Ball
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    We are constantly told that media fairness and effective access is always just over the horizon, awaiting the maturation of new technology. Yet we never arrive at the technological Promised Land. The internet, for example, will not cure what ails Black-oriented radio. It is quite possible that “the next generation of the internet will be less open than the already less-than-free medium that it is now.”

    Untold Stories: Haiti, White Supremacy, US Foreign Policy and Corporate Media

    more on haitiby Solomon Comissiong
    The U.S. corporate media have a difficult time covering the Haiti catastrophe. “Haiti's poverty and economic desolation were largely made-in-America,” an inconvenient fact to transmit to American audiences. Corporate media's “job is to invoke pity, confusion, and ignorance, as well as to uphold the benevolence of white supremacy.”

    The Persecution of Michael Jackson

    by Ishmael Reed

    The self-serving infotainment networks have a new product to take the place of news and real programming for at least the next week.  The trashing and rehashing of Michael Jackson, his family, legal and other troubles, his art and his life will be served up to us by corporate media who have no responsibility to truth, to art, to anything living or dead except profit and the protection of whatever lies they might have told previously.

    The US Mainstream Media: Selective Omission and Planned Misinformation

    boob tubeby Solomon Comissiong
    There is method to the maddening homogeneity and shallowness of the U.S. corporate media. “Keeping the public as dumbed down as possible keeps their corporate clients happy and their political partners in power.” Media corporations advertise that they sell “news,” but what they're really marketing is a daily defense of imperial rule. That's why, for example, “they won’t tell you how so-called 'free trade' policies create sweatshops, plunder, mass migration, and civil unrest.”

    Professional Athletics, Corporate Media, and Racism


    1968by Solomon Comissiong
     What's the point of debating the salaries of professional athletes? To a far greater extent than we can afford, African Americans allow themselves to be distracted by games. "We cannot allow ourselves to become more preoccupied with the final score of the Sunday afternoon NFL game than we are with the current 15 percent unemployment rate within the black community." And if we must be preoccupied with sports, "Why not spend some of our precious time raising the social consciousness of these black professional athletes?


    Black Radio and the "Performance Rights" Toll Booth

    radioby BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon


    The cynically misnamed "Performance Rights" legislation will not benefit performers.  It will extract a premium from radio broadcasters, killing some, and transforming others for the worse.  It will create another piece of "intellectual property" which the recording industry is poised to benefit from at the expense of artists, radio broadcasters and the public, and legaiize payola.  And once the performance rights toll booth is established in broadcast radio, it can and will be deployed elsewhere.  HR 848 is bad news for broadcasters, bad news for artists, and bad news for almost everybody.


    Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey, Tavis Smiley, and the Impoverishment of Black Media

    joyner, havey, smileyby BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    When the Tom Joyner Morning Show was pulled first from Chicago, and then from other markets early this month, Joyner counseled listeners that " radio will never be what it once was, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it."  This message of powerlessness and permanent defeat, of resignation to someone else owning and controlling the black conversation may be all we can expect from Joyner and the rest of the black elite.  But is it the real answer? Does it even address the crucial question of how we might have and own our own black civic conversation?


    Wired Less: Disconnected in Urban America


    Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other telco giants have spent mad public relations money spreading the myth that the digital divide is a thing of the past.  Some heedless and lazy black bloggers have helped spread this lie, but it's still a lie.  Redlining of and denial of service to poor and minority communities has been a core feature of the business models of the cable industry since its start decades ago, and of the phone companies for more than a century.  But in the 21st century, cheap, available broadband internet is as necessary to economic development as paved streets and roads.  Communities without it will become or remain economic, educational, business and social backwaters.

    See, hear and read more stories about the digital divide and what it costs communities, families and lives....

    Structural Racism Not on ABC's Agenda


    racismby Julie Hollar
    U.S. corporate media pretend to explore issues of race in America, but seldom go beyond matters of general perception, anecdotes, images, and questions about the availability of cab rides. ABC television prefers to package their racial reports as “encouraging stories,” writes Hollar. “But it's only possible to tell such encouraging stories by limiting your focus to one kind of racism--the overt kind that plays out through individually held prejudices.” Hard facts of institutional racism, such as wealth and incarceration disparities, most often escape ABC’s attention. Which is a slick and soothing way to sweep structural problems under the rug.


    The White House, ‘The Gray Lady’ and The Black Press

    essenceby Askia Muhammad

    The New York Times routinely reinvents history, even as it claims to be the first draft. On the subject of Black press interaction with the White House, the Times acts like a novice discovering history for the first time. The “Gray Lady” made a great deal about President Obama’s inclusion of lots of friendly Black media in his prime-time press conference – and in the process erased the real record of Black interaction and frustration with the executive branch of government. Veteran Black journalist Askia Muhammad sets the record straight, as he lived and remembers it. 

    Media Crisis and Grassroots Response

    by Jordan Flaherty

    The collapsing corporate media model of journalism does not augur well for the alternative, Left press, which no longer does much nitty-gritty work of investigation and slogging-it-out muckracking. In days gone by, “hundreds of radical magazines, newspapers and radio stations did the hard work of covering stories that the corporate media wouldn’t take on.” But not much, anymore. Left media need to re-evaluate their function, and rebuild a base of solid reporting with a mission. “It’s not enough for media to be focused on grassroots struggles; we also need communication, collaboration, and empathy for those directly affected.”

    Coverage of Obama and Ethnicity Says More About Media

    moreThe picture of a post-racial America that corporate media pundits fondly paint and serve up to us is about as credible as the declarations six months ago by some of the same experts that the economy was "fundamentally sound," One need look no further than corporate media coverage of the Obama administration.

    U.S. Corporate Media Propaganda Machine

    ChavezA study by the media watchdog group FAIR shows how four of the most influential U.S. newspapers "use their editorial pages to put Venezuela in a negative human rights light, while glossing over Latin America's worst human rights abuser, Colombia."
    Click here to download a broadcast quality MP3 of this Black Agenda Radio commentary.

    Gaza Disaster and the ‘Free Press’

    john_mawell06by John Maxwell

    The BBC refused to broadcast appeals by established UK charities for humanitarian aid to civilian victims of Israel's attack on Gaza, on the grounds that it could not be sure "whether aid raised by the appeal could actually be delivered on the ground." By this "hypocritical" device, the BBC dismissed expertise of agencies whose job it is to provide disaster relief. The BBC spokesman further claimed that the appeal would risk "reducing public confidence in the BBC's impartiality in its wider coverage of the story." The author's response: "I would like to hear what he would have said if half a million Israelis were homeless, 5,000 injured and nearly two thousand dead."

    FCC Commissioner to Public in Atlanta: "Shut Up And Watch TV!"

    by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

    In Atlanta, the FCC's sham “Digital TV Consumer Education” town hall meeting was a near-secret affair, held in a conference room in rather than the advertised auditorium.  FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate refused to answer questions about how the FCC gave broadcasters 5100 additional digital TV stations without the public bother or notice of issuing a single license. “Shut up, get yourself a converter box, and watch TV” was the FCC's message, and let us and the broadcasters worry about who gets the frequencies and why.

    FCC Spreads Digital Disinformation on TV Transition

    by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

    Thanks to corporate media's longstanding refusal to report on itself, along with a multimillion dollarFCC_Logo_Symbol333 campaign of public disinformation paid for by the FCC on behalf of commercial broadcasters, high-def TV and converter boxes are all most of know about the switch to digital TV. Last Monday, September 8, Wilmington NC became the first community in the nation to cease analog TV broadcasting and switch entirely to digital. Existing broadcasters gathered to rejoice at the prospect of hundrds of new digital channels which they receive free of charge, with no noticeable public interest obligations, and for which they don't even have programming.

    FCC Announces 80 City “We're Not Listening” Digital TV Tour

    by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

    Digital TV means four to ten times as many channels for each and every broadcaster with no obligations to the public. The FCC quietly awarded broadcasters this colossal gift of public property worth $70-$80 billion during the Clinton administration back in 1996. In the 12 years since, under Democratic and Republican presidents alike, corporate broadcasters and their stooges at the FCC have diligently peddled the cover stories that digital TV is all about the advent of high definition television, and that the only nagging questions are how and whether enough converter boxes will be available for consumers who can't or won't buy brand new TVs.

    In a final act of brazen misdirection to conceal this grand theft digital, FCC Commissioners are scheduled to tour dozens of cities between now and February 18, 2009, doing a lot of talking, but not much listening.

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