Robert McChesney, one of the United States’ most astute media critics, has written an important article, “Sharp Left Turn for the Media Reform Movement: Toward a Post-Capitalist Democracy,” in the February issue of Monthly Review.
As a co-founder of Free Press, McChesney has been a central figure in the media reform movement that has over time leaned more toward traditional DC lobbying rather than grassroots organizing. In this essay, McChesney says it’s time to return to the grassroots strategy, with a radical message. He argues that
the movement needs to recognize that the world has changed dramatically in the past decade. Specifically, capitalism is in the midst of a prolonged crisis with no end in sight. This changes the political playing field and opens up new requirements and opportunities for democratic reformers.
McChesney offers three proposals: (1) End the ISP Cartel; (2) Treat Monopolies Like…Monopolies; and (3) Treat Journalism Like a Public Good.
On the third proposal, he endorses Dean Baker’s idea to let every American over the age of 18 direct up to $200 of government money annually to any nonprofit medium of his or her choice, on the conditions would be that the recipient be a recognized nonprofit, that the recipient take no commercial advertising, and that whatever is produced by the subsidy be posted online immediately, made available at no charge, and enter the public domain.
McChesney ends with a bold claim:
these three reforms alone would radically reshape the nation and put the United States well on the way toward a post-capitalist democracy.