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Dan Rather addressed the 2008 National Conference On Media Reform in Minneapolis on Saturday, where he warned of the dangers of corporate media ownership. Rather told the crowd:
Now, I have spent my entire life in for-profit news, and I happen to think that it does not have to be this way. I have worked for news owners who, while they may have regarded their news divisions as an occasional irritant, chose to turn that irritant into a pearl of public trust. But today, sadly, it seems that the conglomerates that have control over some of the biggest pieces of this public trust would just as soon spit that irritant out.
So what does this mean for us tonight, and what is to be done?
It means that we need to be on the alert for where, when, and how our news media bows to undue government influence. And you need to let news organizations know, in no uncertain terms, that you won't stand for it...that you, as news consumers, are capable of exerting pressure of your own.
It means that we need to continue to let our government know that, when it comes to media consolidation, enough is enough. Too few voices are dominating, homogenizing, and marginalizing the news. We need to demand that the American people get something in exchange for the use of airwaves that belong, after all, to the people.
It means that we need to ensure that the Internet, where free speech reigns and where journalism does not have to pass through a corporate filter... remains free.
We need to say, loud and clear, that we don't want big corporations enjoying preferred access to - or government acting as the gatekeeper for - this unique platform for independent journalism.
Watch Rather's address below: