...God knows we need some “media reform.” I’m sure you know those two words are really an incomplete description of the job ahead. Taken alone, they suggest that you’ve assembled a convention of efficiency experts, tightening the bolts and boosting the output of the machinery of public enlightenment, or else a conclave of high-minded do-gooders applauding each other’s sermons. But we need to be – and we will be – much more than that. Because what we’re talking about is nothing less than rescuing a democracy that is so polarized it is in danger of being paralyzed and pulverized.
Alarming words, I know. But the realities we face should trigger alarms. Free and responsible government by popular consent just can’t exist without an informed public. ...Only 13% of eligible young people cast ballots in the last presidential election. A recent National Youth Survey revealed that only half of the fifteen hundred young people polled believe that voting is important, and only 46% think they can make a difference in solving community problems. We’re talking here about one quarter of the electorate. The Carnegie Corporation conducted a youth challenge quiz of l5-24 year-olds and asked them, “Why don’t more young people vote or get involved?” Of the nearly two thousand respondents, the main answer was that they did not have enough information about issues and candidates. Let me rewind and say it again: democracy can’t exist without an informed public. So I say without qualification that it’s not simply the cause of journalism that’s at stake today, but the cause of American liberty itself. As Tom Paine put it, “The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.” He was talking about the cause of a revolutionary America in 1776. But that revolution ran in good part on the energies of a rambunctious, though tiny press. Freedom and freedom of communications were birth-twins in the future United States. They grew up together, and neither has fared very well in the other’s absence. Boom times for the one have been boom times for the other.
Democracy Now has the full transcript, there are also links to audio and video streams. Bill Moyers: "Our Democracy is in Danger of Being Paralyzed"
Update: 'Falluja and the disappearing media' - I'm throwing this into the mix as an example of MSM failure/complicity in the Iraq debacle.