The Corporate Media is Never Your Friend

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by Glen Ford
Black Agenda Report

"White media don't understand the importance of respecting black spaces."

If only for a brief moment, Black protesters and their allies at the University of Missouri let it be known that the corporate media is as much a foe of racial and economic justice as any other rich man’s institution, and should be treated as such.

Media privilege in America looks and smells much like white privilege – or some derivative of it – even when claimed by a person of color. When Tim Tai, an Asian student photographer freelancing for ESPN, tried to crash the “Black space” that protesters had established around a small tent city on campus, two white faculty allies intervened. Janna Basler, whose job is to assist the school’s Greek organizations, asked Tai to “back off” and respect the protesters’ boundaries. After all, it’s hard work forcing the resignation of the university president and the chancellor. In putting their futures on the line for justice, the students were performing a huge public service, one that would benefit the entire nation. Ms. Basler warned the young photographer that he was “infringing” on what the protesters “need right now, which is to be alone.” But, Tai argued that his pictures would connect “people all over the country to what’s going on.”

Tai was not so much making a case for his right to “report” – which does not convey any special privilege to infringe on other people’s rights – so much as his right to hawk his pictures to ESPN, the media conglomerate owned by The Walt Disney Company and the Hearst Corporation. One cannot imagine two companies less worthy to package and transmit Black people’s images than the foundationally racist Disney and genetically reactionary Hearst outfits.

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