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The Progressive

The Bezos Absurdity

As the commercial model of journalism is in freefall collapse, those remaining news media franchises have become playthings for billionaires, generally of value for political purposes, as old-fashioned monopoly newspapers still carry considerable influence.

The United States went through this type of journalism at the turn of the last century and it produced a massive political crisis that led eventually to the creation of professional journalism, to protect the news from the dictates of the owners.

Today professionalism has been sacrificed to commercialism, and the resources for actual reporting have plummeted.

Perhaps nothing illustrates the desperation facing American journalism and democracy better than the fact we are reduced to praying we get a benevolent billionaire to control our news, when history demonstrates repeatedly such figures are in spectacularly short supply, and the other times we relied on such a model crashed and burned.

America meets an existential crisis with an absurd response.

No wonder this is a golden age for satire.

We have to do better.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

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Robert McChesney

Robert McChesney is research professor in the Institute of Communications Research and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois.  His two most recent books include Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America (with John Nichols) and Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy. His many other books include The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again (with John Nichols), Rich Media, Poor Democracy, The Political Economy of the Media, and Problem with the Media: US Communication Politics in the 21st Century. He is also co-founder of the media reform group Free Press.

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