Of all the stories in this book I found the chapter on nuclear energy to be the most compelling for me. It is not surprising that the government would spend millions, even billions of dollars, on something that a large part of the public had little to no knowledge of. The government continued their nuclear energy campaign despite numerous protests at all of the major nuclear plants around the country. This was amazing to me because I find it outrageous that the news of an uproar in anger through protest would be so covered up by historians who should be giving Americans unbiased information. I also found a lot of parallels amongst the NRC and the FCC today. Both these government organizations were given the task of regulating the industry, instead they let the industry control them. Both the media industry of today and the nuclear industry of the past four decades were immensely large industries with very deep pockets, fully capable of paying off their respective regulatory government organizations. Both the FCC and the NRC were given the task of protecting the American from the harms of powerful corporations, instead they ended being the lapdogs of the industries. I think that it is extremely important that American citizens challenge the media industry just like they did with the nuclear industry. The question now remains how to accomplish such a task on a much larger scale? Hopefully Mr. Williams can provide some insight to this question, and perhaps draw some clear parallels between the strategies used by nuclear protestors and apply those similar strategies to the media industry. Nuclear spending has decreased tremendously over the past decade or so as clean energy sources have now taken primary importance. I feel like this change in focus was greatly influenced by the protest that ensued throughout the country during the 1980s and 1990s. This gives us hope for the future, maybe with a little determination and shear manpower we can force a change in the media, cause clearly we need it.
Conversely, lessons from this movement could be used in the music industry. Currently the music industry is under the control of only a few major record labels. The days of independent labels had ended until the invention of Youtube and social networking. Now musicians are able to gain some attention from self-advertising to the public but in the end these music labels are the ones that decide who can make a career from their songs. I would ask Eesha how principals taken from this story could apply to the music industry’s current issues?
For me, the story that I enjoyed most while reading this book was chapter four, the story of the Shoreham nuclear power plant and how the citizens used their local newspaper and resources to over throw the major corporations. I enjoyed this because I myself come from a small town and I know that if ever my community were in need of something, I would love to see us rally together and take a stand. This is what we see less and less in the media, the unity of smaller towns and newspapers to stop a global giant. What we see today is the corporate giants taking over everything and anything in order to gain profits. The era of the little guys is over, so my question to Eesha, is how do you keep a small media source or company alive in this current time?
The most compelling story for me is the story about the media coverage of the Shoreham nuclear power plant on Long Island.
For me the impressive thing about this story is that in a large part thanks to one single reporter, Karl Grossman, who covered the issue of the Shoreham nuclear power plant for a family owned local newspaper, The East Hampton Star, a grassroots movement got sparked and continually supported in taking on the big fight against nuclear power culminating in the closing of the Shoreham nuclear power plant., preventing an accident that could kill thousands of people and leave hundreds of square miles uninhabitable.
With his almost weekly published articles in The East Hampton Star over a span of almost 10 years, Karl Grossmann has inspired grassroots actions, emphasized concerns, protests and strategies and reinforced citizen’s confidence to believe in their power to stop the nuclear plant while other media outlets, local or widely-read daily newspapers on Long Island like the New York Times or Newsday either ignored the issue completely or if they were covering the issue they would not express any opinion contrary to the interests of LILCO (Long Island Lighting Company) who built the Shoreham plant or the nuclear industry at large.
Comments made by activists like “Without Karl Grossman’s reporting, Shoreham would not have been closed” or “It was a combination of word-of-mouth and reading the Start that inspired me to get involved” and “Karl Grossman was a critical factor. A few small papers helped us. The major media betrayed us” show how much impact local journalism can have in supporting a cause that is important for a certain community. The story also shows that larger media outlets, like The New York Times, have to play by the rules of their financial supporters, putting their financial well-being before a truthful and balanced coverage of certain issues connected with their supporters.
In this case, however, the ignorance of the major media outlets had no influence in stopping the local journalism, especially in person of Karl Grossman, to speak out for a cause and to help build a grassroots movement that ultimately brought about the closing of the Shoreham nuclear plant.
How can it be ensured that especially local journalism does not have to cautious about what they are reporting concerning controversial issues like this, meaning without having to fear about their financial well-being if they express critical remarks?
I really liked the Wal Mart story because I remember hearing about this a few years ago. I was really surprised to find out that most of their workers are females. I would really like to know why they make up the majority. It is really upsetting to find out that Wal Mart is so successful because they don’t pay their workers enough money and they pressure their suppliers into giving them their merchandise for a cheaper price. It’s terrible that most of their workers don’t make enough money so they are forced to rely on food stamps or that a company as successful as Wal Mart doesn’t have a health plan for all of their workers.
I’m really happy that St. Petersburg, Florida was able to stop a Wal Mart from being built on the wetlands, but I would have liked for the focus to have been on the conditions for the workers because that’s where it seemed like the chapter was heading. It was really nice to see that a town had enough power to stop such a giant and well known corporation like Wal Mart.
I would like to ask Eesha Williams why the radio seems to be friendlier to local causes than newspapers. In a lot of the stories he mentioned that the radio played a huge part in supporting local causes. Why are newspapers more reluctant to support local causes than radio programs?
After reading about how Cecilia Lanman used access to local media outlets to create a movement that ended up saving a huge natural monument I was deeply moved. Lanman used what small media outlets that she had access to in order to save a irreplaceable natural location.
Lanman managed to organize a peaceful protest of thousands in order to prevent a logging company from cutting down the redwood forests outside san Francisco. Even after local newspapers tried to reduce the efforts of the protest, Lanman managed to rally enough people not only to stop the logging, but also to influence the US Government to purchase the land that was going to be logged and turn it into a preserve, so that the Redwoods can be appreciated by generations to come.
It is inspiring stories like these that reinforce the fact that small public media outlets will always be an important influence in our culture. Eesha took a local scale event like the protest and showed how it effected not only our culture and natural landscape, but actually resulted in a fundamental change to the protection of our natural resources.
The story that I found most compelling was the story about Wal-Mart. I had not realized how controversial it was when developing new Wal-Marts. It is such a prevalent and common company, so it was interesting to learn a bit about its history, especially history that is controversial and usually not advertised to the general public.
I was amazed to know that by 2005, Wal-Mart became the biggest company on Earth. I did not realize how popular it was. I feel that all the buzz is usually around Target or K-Mart, I never really hear much about Wal-Mart. This chapter had a lot of interesting facts as well. One that really stood out to me was that as of 2005, two out of three Wal-Mart workers were women. I am curious to know why that is? One conclusion that I came to was that the Wal-Mart spokespeople stated that they expected their workers to have another source of income from a spouse. Therefore, they more likely hired women because since men tend to make more money than women in general, they figured women already had income from their spouse, consequently they could pay them low wages.
I was shocked to find out that many Wal-Mart’s employees’ wages and benefits were so low that they qualified for food stamps, healthcare and other programs. I had no idea that their employees were treated so terribly. It reminded me of labor workers when reading. Also, I didn’t realize how sneaky Wal-Mart was. For example, they lobbied tax breaks and used tax payer money to buy land for stores and warehouses. This shows me how unethical Wal-Mart is. I am still very surprised that I had never heard of this before, especially because Wal-Mart is such a popular company.
It was interesting to read about how some suburbs turned Wal-Mart down such as in St.Petersburg and Inglewood. I feel that I always here about new Wal-Marts being built, not rejected. It was refreshing to read about a community coming together and rejecting something that they did not want and that did not fit into their community. It was admirable that activists in Florida decided to save their Wetlands and not let Wal-Mart destroy the environment. The St.Petersburg Times was helpful to the environmentalists and positively helped save the wetlands. This is media I enjoy reading about, not celebrities and reality TV stars.
How can media expose certain controversies without being harsh and degrading to the company and still have a positive outcome? For example, Abercrombie and Fitch only hires employees that are attractive even if they are poor workers. How would this issue be exposed to project a positive change?
“‘In Florida, activism is rare. I wanted to let people know that it’s normal to care about stuff and want to do something about it. Activists aren’t crazy.'” -Andrew Stelzer
Eesha Williams’ story about the battle against Wal-Mart is especially interesting to me. I grew up in southwest Colorado, Telluride and Durango, and have watched corporate developer move into Durango (included Wal-Mart) and also seen them successfully barred from Telluride.
In the mountains of Telluride, the closest corporation is several hours away by car. Telluride sits in a box-canyon, with only one direction to sprawl: west on the valley floor. For over a decade the town of Telluride fought to raise money to buy the valley floor, in order to preserve the land and likewise prevent development. After raising $50 million dollars, and a 6-1 vote of the Colorado Supreme Court, Telluride won.
Durango on the other hand has more room to sprawl. I have witnessed the exponential development between the rural fields of Bayfield (just 20 miles east of Durango) and downtown Durango. While several small businesses have withstood competitors and successfully established a loyal customer base, many businesses struggle to survive and eventually close. There is one Wal-Mart in Durango, and while it seems convenient to purchase all one’s necessities at one location, I also wonder what impact Wal-Mart has had on all of the local competitors who have lost business due to its establishment. I am also wary to support Wal-Mart due to its low values—its history of mistreating employees and of ignoring its negative impacts on the environment.
As a journalist I am excited to read about small, local news sources, such as the WMNF radio station and The St. Petersburg Times, which have been able to make such a huge impact on their communities. I especially think that WMNF covered the Wal-Mart debate in an effective and extremely ethical way. Through interviewing a variety of specialists on air, Stelzer was able to expose listeners to multiple negative effects of the proposed Wal-Mart, without actually telling the listeners what to think. Also, the radio station provided listeners with vital information on where, when, and how to get involved with the debates—once again giving power to the people, and connecting them to the information necessary to take action.
Questions for Eesha: With the continuing advancement of media conglomeration, how can we help multiple local media sources survive? In your opinion, what is the most effective media medium for reaching people, at the local, state, and international levels?