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Ron Placone Returns to CU

By Tsivia Chonoles
On February 24, 2016

Concord University received a visit last week from familiar comedian Ron Placone, no stranger to our campus. Placone’s visit this time was a slight departure from what most students expect when attending a comedian. His show was geared in particular towards the upcoming Presidential election and the problems with corporate media.

    Placone presented a witty and engaging commentary about the problems with American media today, dating back to the 1996 media deregulation. He opened by talking about how media is not simply television or other news outlets; media includes everything from the billboards and advertisements we see on a day-to-day basis. 

    “Because media is so powerful it has the ability to manipulate messages,” Placone said in his talk. He explained how he first became interested in the study of the media with the way that they discussed and presented the Iraq War. He discussed the main problems with the media: its lack of ownership diversity, and the profit-oriented business model the media follows. “The media caters to its advertisers,” he explained.

    American media outlets are owned by a small elite group of corporations, which makes our media a corporate one, and not a mainstream one. This was made possible by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which allowed corporations to own more than the previously allotted media outlets. He compared this Act to the failed attack on net neutrality, although net neutrality had a better outcome, when a few large cable companies took the FCC to court over their desire to make the internet work the same way that cable television works, forcing people to pay more for speedy internet service.

    Placone explained sponsored content and the use of “God-terms” and “devil-terms” in the media to help sway the opinions of viewers. Certain terms are commonly used in news and advertisements to portray things positively or negatively to the viewers. When addressing the profit-oriented business model, he brought up the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and how news stations such as CNN use such events in at

tempt to bolster their ratings rather than reporting on other newsworthy happenings at the time.

    Placone also discussed the media coverage seen during Presidential elections. “In elections, all too often the focus is primarily and nearly exclusively on episodic reporting,” he said to the crowd, “where it should actually, arguably, be the opposite. It should be thematic, it should be on themes, it should be about policy ideas, but it’s episodic. Why? Because that’s more alluring for ratings.” He went on to discuss the key difference between the way that Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders is running his Presidential campaign and the way that every other candidate is running their campaign: it is completely publicly funded. He has taken no donations from any large companies or corporations.

    “We are reaching the point where money in politics is slowly going to become a thing of the past, and I contend that the media has already reached that crisis point,” Placone said. He said that there was no real breaking-point that led to less faith in the corporately-funded media, rather that it was something that gradually happened over time from the 80’s and 90’s and gaining steam from 2004 to now.

    Placone ended his discussion by urging people to talk about the problems with the corporate media with friends and family, to question the messages given by the media rather than blindly accept them, and to get involved in trying to fix these problems. For more information about Placone you can visit his website, ronplacone.com.

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