[T]he newspaper in the town near where [former Yankee pitching star, Jim Bouton] lives - Pittsfield, Massachusetts - wanted to use $18.5 million dollars of taxpayer money to build a new baseball stadium on property it owns. Turns out the property is polluted, although the newspaper didn't bother to disclose the fact, and that the new stadium was a way of passing off the liability to the public even while enhancing the value of the newspaper's property.
Turns out the newspaper, which Bouton thought was locally owned, is owned by MediaNews Group, based in Denver, Colorado, which counts among its 100 "media properties" The Salt Lake Tribune and the Denver Post. When Bouton and his partner went to the local publisher with a proposal to renovate the existing - and historic stadium - at no expense to the taxpayer, they were told: Out of our hands; check it with Dean (Dean Singleton is the mogul who runs MediaNews). They tried; Singleton didn't bother to answer, even when Bouton sent him a signed copy of Ball Four.
Turns out the conglomerate wanted its own stadium, on its own property, at public expense, despite the fact that the public voted down the proposal - three times! But, hey, what's a little democracy when the only daily newspaper and the largest law firm in town, and - hold on to your hat - General Electric (yes, that GE, which has title to its own media universe) want the indulgence of taxpayers for their little profit-making schemes.
The local newspaper publisher, Bouton tells me, "was being controlled by his boss in Denver. And the local politicians were being controlled by the local publisher. So there was a sort of puppeteer controlling the decisions that were made by the local government."
I keep coming back to the subject of media conglomeration because it can take the oxygen out of democracy. The founders of this country believed a free and rambunctious press was essential to the protection of our freedoms. They couldn't envision the rise of giant megamedia conglomerates whose interests converge with state power to produce a conspiracy against the people. I think they would be aghast at how this union of media and government has produced the very kind of imperial power against which they rebelled.
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.