Published on
the Rockford Register Star (Illinois)

Conference Call: Restore Free Speech, Stop Big Media

Harlan Johnson

It's all about the numbers. THREE. That's how many attended the June 6 to 8 National Conference on Media Reform in Minneapolis from Rockford. How sad. The theme, MEdia Reform, begins with ME. So here I am. I guess it does begin with me.

I hope you, the reader, will wake up and become involved with, and I had asked local media to send someone. None did. So, dear reader, please get involved. Your life depends on it. I'm not exaggerating. Well, maybe a little - but hey! Fear-mongering works!

Bill Moyers' passionate speech electrified the audience and blew me away. He said, "What you don't know can kill you." He quoted his son, author of the book, "Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption." Even if the media is broken, "Nothing is ever broken that can't be fixed." Ahh. Some hope.

Last year, Moyers came out of retirement, compelled by his passion for our rights. Watch NOW (8 p.m.) with David Broncoccio, which Moyers started, and Bill Moyers Journal (WHA 21 Friday 8:30). Careful. You might get hooked!

"Media Reform was born on my show five years ago," said Moyers. When he interviewed the founders, Bob McChesney and John Nichols, they "were so intense that they just melted the screen." PBS's CEO bought a hundred copies of their book "Our Media, Not Theirs."

Moyers said: "Our dominant media are accountable only to corporate boards.

"We'll lose that fight without you; the only antidote to organized money in Washington is organized people at the roots."

Catch his speech at

Dan Rather praised our enthusiasm, saying, "Make your enthusiasm viral." So, dear reader, I hope you'll spread the healing "virus" I'm sharing - information crucial for your freedom.

See Rather on Comcast Digital Cable 928, 10:30 a.m. Fridays.

One theme was Net Neutrality, Internet Freedom. Do you really want Big Business (Comcast, AT&T, Sprint, etc.) to be gatekeepers of your access to the Internet, getting richer and bigger at your expense - and I mean EXPENSE - taking away the freedom of the press guaranteed by our Constitution? This is real. It threatens all of us. Our freedoms are under attack.

Moyers said Comcast (which just raised our rates and reduced our choices) packed a Senate hearing with strangers they hired off the street! The Vigilance of Free Press, the national nonpartisan organization that sponsored the National Conference on Media Reform, countered this cynical tactic.

The two FCC commissioners dedicated to preserving our rights, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps, both spoke, and Senator Byron Dorgan (D N.D.) said the three other FCC commissioners tried to take away our Internet freedom. Adelstein appealed to the Senate. In a bipartisan action they voted overwhelmingly to nullify the FCC's act. The House needs to follow suit. Please call Rep. Don Manzullo. Hold him accountable.

The second theme is the need to reverse the monopoly Big Business has on TV, radio and newspapers.

Did you notice the departure of beloved columnists, through voluntary buyouts by GateHouse Media, new owner of the Register Star? Fritz Jacobi says GateHouse ownership wasn't a factor. He said the buyout is intended to increase profits for the Register Star. Hmm. For big business, profit and stockholder dividends are all that matter.

Sen. Dorgan spoke of a deadly chemical spill in Minot, N.D. Six commercial radio stations all played homogenized music originating from over a thousand miles away. No one at home. No warning!

Sen. Dorgan asked, "If owned by six different people, do you think they might have gotten somebody out of bed" to alert the public? Two companies own all six Minot radio stations.

He quoted Natalie Maines who said, "We are ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas." That's all she said!

Suddenly, the Dixie Chicks were boycotted and banned by 1400 radio stations! A mass uprising. But wait! These stations are ALL owned by TWO companies: Cumulus (WROK, WZOK, Q98.5 and the Eagle) and Clear Channel, with nineteen stations in Chicago, Madison, Wis., and Milwaukee. Reminiscent of Nazi book burning, both giant companies held rallies. Cumulus smashed CDs with giant tractors! This is about free speech. Even if you love George Bush, I hope you are shocked by what the owners of our "local" radio stations did.

Your very life - your future - depends on restoring the freedoms being taken away from us. We can do it. Go to, and Browse the videos and audios of workshops.

Finally, visit Van Jones' amazing closing speech wasn't released. Too partisan. NCMR practiced SELF-CENSORSHIP as a nonpartisan organization! Let's bring Jones to Rockford. His ideas will help our Cool City with its Freedom Field to really make a difference.

Harlan Johnson is a consultant to human systems, marriage and family therapist, member of the Alliance for Nonviolent Communication, and video producer.


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