Objectivity on local radio

Dec 5 procession
This week some colleagues and I marched on our knees to the Colorado College president’s office to present signed petitions which asked that the college radio station carry a news program called DEMOCRACY NOW! (Exclamation theirs.) We’ve yet to receive a reply, but I wanted to explain our actions.

First of all, what is DEMOCRACY NOW? DN is a daily radio and television news show out of New York City that stands nearly alone in covering the stories which are being kept out of the corporate owned media. For example, every year the Colorado Springs Independent covers the year’s ten most censored stories. DN reports those and more, usually as they happen.

Do you know the story of Khaled al-Masri, the German Muslim who is currently being represented by the ACLU in a lawsuit against the CIA, for unlawful abduction, rendition, incarceration and torture? DN reported his story a year ago, after al-Masri found himself freshly drugged and dropped into a field in Macedonia. His story sounded so strange but had the ring of truth to it. Experts were planning to analyze strands of his hair to verify his account. It took more than a year before al-Masri was able to break national news. In between, how many extra-judicial abductions have been allowed to take place?

And the recent attention paid to the U.S. use of Napalm, and their use of White Phosphor as a chemical weapon? DN reported such incidences from the very first day the U.S. assault began.

Why KRCC? Because local community radio station is our great hope, and our first impediment.

By now it is widely accepted that FOX and the network media are mouthpieces for corporate moneyed interests. People of education turn to NPR and the NYT for example for what they believe is the balanced picture. But it’s not, and critical thinkers are beginning to see that the media has been playing a good cop bad cop psych-op routine. One side of the media plays the good cop, with its supposed liberal bias, but ultimately has the same agenda as its partner.

The local community looks to KRCC as a trusted advocate of objective news. But a growing number who supplement their news from the internet and from the Indy see that NPR really doesn’t cut it anymore. Have you heard NPR advancing the “Christmas” vs “holiday” war-on-Christmas canard? Elsewhere this story has been exposed as a concoction of the far right, but NPR is dutifully giving it legs.

Why go to the president of CC? Because KRCC station manager Mario Valdes has repeatedly rebuked everyone’s requests. Community members have been after him for years and his reply has been the same. Mr. Valdes has even slandered the effort by categorizing it as a small minority who want a political bias on KRCC. No one is asking for bias, just objectivity. And the number of people who’ve made this request has not been small. And it’s always been growing.

Plenty of public radio stations have adopted DN and can provide wonderful testimonies. They testify that DN beats out Morning Edition and All Things Considered in popularity. In some cases DN is their leading fund-raiser. While it might be hard right now to mount a large rally in front of the station to advocate for this change, it’s clear that if KRCC carried DN, and then threatened to take it away, crowds would protest en mass.

What next? Give station manager Mario Valdes the chance to argue for what values he stands when he opposes DEMOCRACY NOW. Let’s hear beyond the arguments which NPR advances to try to stem their eroding control over their affiliates. NPR has always fought the intrusion of a spoiler like DN in their line-up because it significantly hampers their editorial discretion.

Let’s schedule a townhall meeting, a public debate. To make it interesting public viewing, let’s make it a tag team debate. If Mr. Valdes is so concerned that Colorado Springs is such an uneducated community, too easily put off by issues of social justice and human rights, let’s cater to his mythical plebeian audience. The debate can be tag team, open to all, WWF rules!

Mr. Valdes will then get to see just how small is the group of DN advocates. As we’ll see how many people share Mr Valdes’ opinion against more objectivity on KRCC. Mr Valdes may bring the support and sympathy of many listeners, but how many will stand up next to him to argue against freedom of the press, Democracy Now’s many prestigious journalism awards, and the growing movement to reclaim the airwaves for the people?

Reprinted from MyKRCC.org

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