August 12, 2009

The Scariest Graph You'll Ever See...

In 1983, 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S. At the time, Ben Bagdikian was called "alarmist" for pointing this out in his book, The Media Monopoly. In his 4th edition, published in 1992, he wrote "in the U.S., fewer than two dozen of these extraordinary creatures own and operate 90% of the mass media" -- controlling almost all of America's newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, books, records, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies. He predicted then that eventually this number would fall to about half a dozen companies.

This was greeted with skepticism at the time. When the 6th edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 2000, the number had fallen to six. Since then, there have been more mergers and the scope has expanded to include new media like the Internet market. More than 1 in 4 Internet users in the U.S. now log in with AOL Time-Warner, the world's largest media corporation.

In 2004, Bagdikian's revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations -- Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) -- now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric's NBC is a close sixth.

--Media Reform Information Center, Links and Resources on Media Reform

(Borrowed from an article on The Existentialist Cowboy's site.)

August 09, 2009

Writers and Restraints (or, Badinage and Discipline.)

I often worry a bit that we writers who frequent those odd dens of insecurity called workshops sometimes demand too much adherence to “rules” – fair enough, to learn and know them is important, and to be aware of what certain editors demand is wise, but quite honestly I think we’re making a rod for our own backs (cliché, sorry) if we run every single phrase through the mill of correctness.

No other expressive art form (music, sculpture, visual arts) demands such rigid subservience to a set of rules that are sometimes arbitrary, often archaic and frequently ill-defined.

A fellow writer, who I know from several workshop sites, and whose work I like and respect, has become almost fanatical in his loathing of adjectives and adverbs, ruthlessly hunting them down and strongly suggesting their removal. He is in some writing workshop where, apparently, all members are being taught to write “properly” and “expressively” and where, I imagine, they will all end up sounding alike.

Obviously, some adherence to the rules of grammar is advisable in order to avoid confusion and to convey ideas with clarity, and I wouldn’t respect anyone who claims to be a master of their craft while maintaining an almost total ignorance of the tools of their trade, but life is messy and often that’s the most truthful way to write about it. My advice is – write clearly, write honestly and write humanely; everything else is dress rules for the madhouse.

August 03, 2009

Monday Morning "Look What I Found On YouTube" Segment…

Okay, so John Scalzi and other people found them, after other people found them, but they helped steel me for the week ahead.

(Actually this isn't off YT - they didn't allow embedding)