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IMAGINE CRUISING DOWN THE AUTOBAHN WITH 256 HP UNDER THE HOOD, TOP DOWN, FIFTH GEAR, ENGINE WIDE OPEN, SCENERY A BLUR. THAT’S THE FEEL OF INTERNET ACCESS THROUGH THE NEW EDEN MATRIX. 1417 ea…K4e hest DIAL-UP ISDN ACCESS FOR JUST $18.50/MONTH FULLY DIGITAL PRI PHONE LINES WIDE OPEN CAPACITY TECH SUPPORT WITH A PULSE The Eden Matrix 106 E. SIXTH STREET, SUITE 210 AUSTIN, TX 78701 VOICE: 512.478.9900 FAX: 512.478.9934 Schechter set out to write news for BCN, but wound up being put on-air by DJs who couldn’t read his lousy handwriting. Introduced by future MTV VJ J.J. Parry as “The news detector, news reflector, news inspector and news dissector,” Danny Schechter has taken his news dissection duties seriously ever since. His book is filled with sharp and well-aimed shots at the mass media that control America’s public airwaves. \(Schechter’s currently an independent media producer; his book has its own CD, available separately. It’s a wonderfully subversive disc entitled News Goo, featuring media-critical cuts from an impressive roster, including Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Sekou Sundiata, William 0 ne of my favorite stories has Schechter and Globalvision partner Rory O’Connor trying to schmooze a deal with CNN in 1990: “We asked Ted for a meeting…. With that good old Southern hospitality and a toothy smile, he agreed to huddle with us. He remembered me, of course, and asked Rory and me to follow him. Enthusiastically, we did. We took an escalator downstairs in the Omni hotel, walking two steps behind him and wondering where he was going. We found out soon enough. He led us to the men’s room. And there by the urinals, while taking care of other business, we had our meeting.” Now if all we learn from this anecdote is that billionaire Ted Turner has to void his bladder just like the rest of us, that’s hardly. compelling news. What Schechter is showing us in this story is the very real way in which business gets transacted every single day. We can complain, bitch and moan to each other about corporate domination of the media. Or we can take a piss with Ted Turner. The last night of the Media & Democracy Congress, after a seemingly unending award ceremony honoring progressive “Media Heroes,” Michael Moore rose to introduce his new movie. “Go home!” Moore bellowed at the glazed conferees. “There’s a World Series going on! Get out of here! Go line-dancing!” Like Schechter, Moore has been in the belly of the beast, producing TV Nation for Fox, where he’s continuing to work on new projects. Schechter spent years producing for ABC’s news magazine 20/20, where his boss Av Westin laid out the criteria for what Schechter calls “the questions that guided America’s expectations for TV news”: I. Is my world safe? 2.Are my city and home safe? 3.If my spouse, children and loved ones are safe, what happened in the past twenty-four hours to shock them, amuse them or make them better off? As Schechter points out, “These questions frame their own responses and produce television that is titillating but ultimately pacifying, even numbing.” Television news, Schechter goes on to say, “encourages passivity by offering few reports on what people can do about what they’re seeing and few profiles on people who are trying to change the system…. In all my years at the networks, I never heard executives debate the best way to really explain the issues.” As a producer for a daily commercial radio talk showalbeit one with a consciously populist point of viewI wrestle with these issues every day, as does anyone trying to present a progressive viewpoint to a mass audience whose attention span and expectations have been so well massaged by Madison Avenue and Wall Street. “Media reform is not an impossible dream,” Schechter concludes. “It is critical for a renewal of democracy. In my own life, I have seen what can happen when activists zero in on injustices and speak out. The demise of racial segregation in our country and apartheid in South Africa, the end of the Vietnam War and the cold war all causes I invested energy into came to pass, in no small part because of public pressure and activism. They started as small murmurs of dissent and then turned into mighty movements for change.” There’s plenty of pithy media criticism and ideas for changeeven “A Declaration of Media Independence”in The More You Watch, but Schechter is after something more than yet another weighty tome on What’s Wrong With The Mass Media. During his journey into, through, and out the other end of the media beast, Danny Schechter has been taking notes. Like Tolkien’s dragon-slaying Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, Schechter has found the soft underbelly of the wealth-encrusted media monopoly, and he tells us where to aim our arrows so that we may bring down the beast. But most importantly, Danny Schechter has gone down into the beast’s lair and come back out alive, stronger, and hopeful. Perhaps that is the best news of all from The News Dissector. El Chris Garlock is the producer of Hightower Radio \(Jim Hightower’s nationwide an organizer for the National Writers Union. DECEMBER 5, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29