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L.A. Times' Coverage of the MTA strike

by Ben Hoffman Wednesday, Sep. 20, 2000 at 3:48 PM
blazer@antioch-college.edu (707)280-9656 4477 Hollywood Blvd, Ste 213

A letter adressing the LA times' one-sided coverage of the current MTA strike.

This is a letter I wrote in response to an article in the L.A. times on Sept 19th. The article said that the unions were responsible for the strike, but did not offer one single comment from any worker, union official, or any other strike supporters. I honestly didn't really expect any more, but something needs to be said about this, as the LA times is by and large the newspaper that people read while waiting to get on buses/trains that are now shut down. We do not need the riders to be turned against the unions by nearsighted reporting. This, with the former article on the IMC site paints a picture of the Times' diminishing care for the communities that buy it's paper. Anyway, the letter is as follows.

---

Dear L.A. Times,

I arrived in the city of Angels about a week ago as an intern for a small local film and video company. During my short stay I have been reliant on the MTA's buses and trains to travel to and from work. While the MTA strike means that I must walk to and from work (a definate inconvenience), I still support the strikers, as their continued economic prosperity is directly proportionate to the safety and timeliness of the MTA systems. I noticed, however, that the vast majority of your articles in your paper covering this crisis do not even consider the voice of the people who are striking. Instead the articles focus around the politicians and upper-management's opinion. The unions and the drivers who support them should have at least equal time if your article's intent is to give the reader a fair view of an issue that directly affects them. I understand the need for discretion, but to print a 2000 word article that talks about the union without ONE union voice is simply one-sided... biased. If it is your goal to be "the (proverbial) voice of the people", union opinions on the issue must be in the same article as the mayor's statements, not consigned to a blurb somewhere amongst the movie-listings and comics. Anyway, I will get off my soapbox now and hope that these words are considered.

Sincerely,

Ben Hoffman

----

I encourage people to read (on the web... don't support their paper by buying it off the stand) the times' articles and see if their coverage is really as one-sided as I read it.

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Letter writing is obsolete

by Tim SpiritWalker Wednesday, Sep. 20, 2000 at 5:10 PM
SpiritWalker21@Juno.com

I hate to sound pessemistic or cynical, but you can write to these media people till the cows come home, but the fact of the matter is, is that they will not bat an eyelash to your words. You (we) are looked upon as the "other side". They are against us, and they will prompty throw your letter out. We are not even considered human beings to them. Direct action is the last and only resort.

In Solidarity,

Tim SpiritWalker

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Direct Action, huh?

by Vindicator Wednesday, Sep. 20, 2000 at 6:44 PM

So, sitting down and writing isn't a direct action?

Don't be so limiting in the sphere of influencing the media. As bad as the LA/Chicago Times is, they want to sell newspapers...so that they can get a good ad rate for their "commercials". Enough people write and they start to sweat a bit. Eventually, they have to publish one or two.

That's where the direct action also occurs. The other side of that letter, the reader, is exposed to this person's thoughts and ideas. The influence can never be estimated.

Keep on letter writing. Especially handwritten. Congressional offices count one (esp. handwritten) letter as the opinion of 500 constituents.

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reading without supporting the paper

by Ishmael Alfredsson Thursday, Sep. 21, 2000 at 2:51 AM

Actually, reading articles on the L.A. Times' Web site still generates financial support for the newspaper (and it's owner/masters). It's an odds-on bet that they're counting Website hits, and that the number of hits per day that they can point to will affect the advertising rates they can charge.

It's occurred to me that a cheap way for a paper to generate a temporary spike in sales/Website hits, etc. would be to occasionally print an article that is calculated to generate outrage among some particular group- preferably one that can spread the news among themselves online, thus causing lots of people who might not bother to buy the paper or visit the Web site to run out and buy the paper to see for themselves. After all, in the profit-driven world of modern corpo-journalism, who cares if you temporarily piss off a particular community of interest, as long as you get the circulation figures to justify fat advertising rates?

Perhaps it would be useful if some of the coverage of the strike were to find its way onto independent sites like this one, so that we could judge it for ourselves without having to become part of some megamedia corporation's statistics.

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paper v. web

by Ben Hoffman Thursday, Sep. 21, 2000 at 5:01 AM
blazer@antioch-college.edu

well then, I'd rather support their use of a medium that does not destroy forests and only generates them .005c rather than pick up half a dead tree and give them a dollar ;). I'd advise anyone to do the same. But the point about the corporatization of the web is very real (and frightening). The IMC, and many other organizations, have taken the responsiblity (knowingly or not) to keep the web a place where people like me (god forbid) can feel confident in speaking their mind to a rather massive audience. Corporations have been in the business of mass-buyouts of information-infrastructure since the advent of the television. Community radio did exist in a very real capacity until large conglomerates gagged them with red tape (and a wad of bills) in the 1950's. Now we have the web... now we will soon have our community radio back legally, and _now_ is the time to take at the very least a part of our electromagnetic spectrum back from the very people calling themselves "the voice of america/the people." Right now is quite possibly the only chance i'll ever see in my as-so-far short lifetime to do this. TAKE IT BACK, TAKE IT NOW. TAKE YOUR VOICE. It's free (for now)

(/end preaching to the choir)

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