June 2, 2003. The Federal Communications Commission loosened its previous media ownership rules which would allow the major broadcasting networks to buy smaller stations, and increase their national audience from 35 to 45%. The major companies would also be able to own other sources of media in their respective areas, such as newspapers and Internet sites. This approval, along with the pending Senate vote, was the basis of James Fallows’ article The Age of Murdoch in The Atlantic in September 2003.
Fallows is an American journalist, who has been involved in the news and journalism industry for over forty years. Besides being a Harvard graduate, he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University and served as President Jimmy Carter’s chief speechwriter for his first two years in office. His resume includes being an editor and writer for both local and national magazines, being a regular contributor to NPR, a professor, as well as being the author of ten books. His works are based primarily around economics, technology, and politics, so it was appropriate that a journalist with such extensive knowledge on these topics would cover a story that tied them all together, and in the field that he is so involved with.
Fallows’ commentary on NPR, as well as monthly editorials featured in The Atlantic, show that although he probably holds a certain political affiliation, he is a respected journalist and able to draw all aspects of an issue to his stories. His focus on Rupert Murdoch in this article gave a face to the controversy in the journalism industry of whether or not to loosen the FCC’s rules on media ownership. He gave equal focus on Murdoch’s fans and criticizers, as well as describing his own personal experience with Murdoch.
I believe that Fallows ultimately explained the rule changes fairly, explaining the rule changes thoroughly as well as explaining the voting process. He tended to put focus on FCC chairman Michael Powell, but then would counter his argument with the argument of rule protestors such as Mark Cooper. Fallows does seem to think favorably of Rupert Murdoch, however, which is controversial among both journalists and the public. That being said, his opinions are respected among journalists and politicians alike.
Ultimately, senate voted to turn down the FCC’s loosening of ownership rules. And today, we still struggle with who has control over the major media providers, and what kind of news gets spread to the public. The “wall” between the business and the news continues to be broken down. Fallows continues to be the national correspondent for The Atlantic. It also seems that his opinion on Murdoch has changed. Rupert Murdoch recently resigned as News International’s director, and is under investigation by both British and US government for bribery and corruption. Fallows’ article was written eight years before the scandal, and his article flies in the face of what opponents already saw in Murdoch, and how his admirers may perceive him now. This controversy also shows the danger of having too much power in the media industry today.
· A Boat Against the Current. (n.d.). : Quote of the Day (James Fallow, on Rupert Murdoch’s “Embattled” Career). Retrieved from http://boatagainstthecurrent.blogspot.com/2011/07/quote-of-day-james-fallow-on-rupert.html
· FCC approves controversial media ownership rules. (n.d.). CNNMoney. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2003/06/02/news/companies/fcc_rules/
· James Fallows | NewAmerica.org. (n.d.). James Fallows | NewAmerica.org. Retrieved from http://newamerica.net/user/167
· The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. (n.d.). The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Retrieved from http://www.civilrights.org/media/ownership/senate-votes-to-crush-fcc-ownership-changes-1.html
· Rupert Murdoch. (2013, September 22). News. Retrieved from http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/rupert_murdoch/index.html?offset=570