Today’s Readings on Publicity of Private Enterprise & Invisible Hands

These readings made me think a lot about the funding structure that was behind a lot of the media policies back in the 20’s and 30’s that Prof. Ewen rights about.  This piece is about the foundations, the same “liberal” ones today that funded media “reform” and how important it always was for PR, branding and marketing for corporations early on.

Today in America, tens of thousands of philanthropic foundations finance social change and, in the year 2000 alone, these foundations distributed $26.7 billion worth of grants. To date, while scholarly attention has been paid to the role of right-wing foundations in promoting a neoliberal media environment, few studies have critiqued the role of liberal foundations in funding similar media reforms. Thus with next to no critical inquiry from media researchers, the Ford Foundation – which is arguably one of the most influencial liberal foundations – supplied over $292 million to American public broadcasting between 1951 and 1977 and continues to fund progressive media groups like FreePress and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. This article provides a much needed overview of the problematic nexus between liberal philanthropy and progressive media reform, and concludes by providing a number of recommendations for how media activists may begin to move away from their (arguably unsustainable) reliance on liberal philanthropy.”


Of course the other timely piece it made me think about is all the bad corporate-backed conservative state-level legislation that is springing up everywhere funded by ALEC, like “Right to Work”, “Stand your ground”, the anti-immigrant “S-Comm”, preventing low costs broadband access, privatizing prisons just to name a few.

The organization ALEC just turned 40.

Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called “model bills” reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations.
In ALEC’s own words, corporations have “a VOICE and a VOTE” on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU? Numerous resources to help us expose ALEC are provided below. We have also created links to detailed discussions of key issues, which are available on the left.


2 thoughts on “Today’s Readings on Publicity of Private Enterprise & Invisible Hands

    • This is an interesting and insightful critique of the professionalization of not-for-profit work. It reminds me of battles within the Social Work community in the early twentieth century, where maternalism often overtook the premise of advocacy and, as here, tended to objectify “survivors” of oppressive conditions. My late wife, Liz, wrote about this in her book, Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars (1985).

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