McChesney (and Nichols) on media reform

Robert McChesney and John Nichols have a great article in The Nation this month about media consolidation, media reform and the fight against the FCC’s proposed media ownership rule changes. They do a great job of setting the issue in the larger context of the “host of systemic flaws that have become evident as mass media have come increasingly to be defined by commercial and corporate concerns.”

Worth a read: this is about our ability get the critical information we need to exercise our duty as citizens in a democracy.

Great interview with George Lakoff about framing

UC Berkeley News has this fantastic interview with George Lakoff of the Rockridge Institute, in which he discusses how conservatives use language and framing to dominate politics, and how progressives are years — if not decades — behind in developing long-term “frames” that can shape public understanding of civic issues. This goes way beyond campaigns, way beyond messages, into the underlying linguistic constructs that shape our social narratives.

Why haven’t progressives done this? Lakoff has a controversial explanation: the underlying moral assumptions of the conservative & progressive worldviews.

There’s a systematic reason…. You can see it in the way that conservative foundations and progressive foundations work. Conservative foundations give large block grants year after year to their think tanks. They say, ‘Here’s several million dollars, do what you need to do.’ And basically, they build infrastructure, they build TV studios, hire intellectuals, set aside money to buy a lot of books to get them on the best-seller lists, hire research assistants for their intellectuals so they do well on TV, and hire agents to put them on TV. They do all of that. Why? Because the conservative moral system, which I analyzed in “Moral Politics,” has as its highest value preserving and defending the “strict father” system itself. And that means building infrastructure. As businessmen, they know how to do this very well. Meanwhile, liberals’ conceptual system of the “nurturant parent” has as its highest value helping individuals who need help. The progressive foundations and donors give their money to a variety of grassroots organizations. They say, ‘We’re giving you $25,000, but don’t waste a penny of it. Make sure it all goes to the cause, don’t use it for administration, communication, infrastructure, or career development.’ So there’s actually a structural reason built into the worldviews that explains why conservatives have done better.

Interesting conference: “Beyond the nonprofit/industrial complex”

Incite! Women of Color Against Violence is putting on an interesting-sounding — and provocatively titled — conference in Santa Barbara, CA this spring. The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond The Non-Profit Industrial Complex.

The conference aims to explore, among other things, how the 501(c)3 organizational model affects social justice organizations, whether there are alternatives to this model, and how this model can be used more creatively/subversively.

I think these are important questions — and not just for the anti-violence community.