MLive: Reporting on and Taking Money from Betsy DeVos
Media scholars like Bob McChesney have made it clear that there was never a heyday of journalism in the US and that news agencies have always been compromised because of the relationships they have with centers of power, because of the increasing consolidation of ownership and because news agencies are also businesses.
The reliance on advertising for most news agencies inherently compromises their ability to practice journalism without financial consequences. I was on a panel years ago with local news managers in the greater Grand Rapids area and one TV executive said,
“My job it to make sure that the shareholders with this company are happy. The only way to keep them happy is to get good ratings and good ratings means more advertising dollars. Anyone who tells you our primary job is to inform the community, doesn’t understand how this all works.”
When news agencies rely on the money from an industry they are also reporting on, do you think it is possible for them to honestly report the truth?
Today, on MLive, it was ironic that there were several articles about the upcoming vote in the Senate on whether or not to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, and right next to those articles appeared ads from the Reserve and Neurocore.
Both Neurocore and the Reserve are part of the Windquest Group, which is owned and managed by Dick and Betsy DeVos.
So how is it that so many people still think that MLive has any integrity when it comes to challenging power in this community? This is not to say that they never do good reporting. However, we have demonstrated for years how the Grand Rapids Press/MLive has never really challenged the power of the DeVos family. There have only been marginally decent articles in the last few months, because MLive has been forced to have to report on the nomination of Betsy DeVos by President Trump.
Now that DeVos has been confirmed as the Secretary of Education we should be extremely skeptical that MLive or any other local corporate news agencies will report honestly and with integrity on the role Betsy DeVos plays as Secretary of Education and the larger role that the DeVos family plays when it comes to influencing policy at the federal, state and local level.