Short Takes

Cockburn Blasts U.S. Media

About 75 people crammed into the fiction area of the Harvard Book Store last night to hear Alexander Cockburn, a radical columnist and author of "Corruptions of Empire," assail the American media.

Cockburn, who writes for The Nation, a leftist weekly, said there are not enough alternative newspapers to replace "the insane lies that the media tells on a habitual and daily basis."

"Everyone knows who owns the press," Cockburn said, condemning the owners of various outlets for influencing the news. He said the American public believes there is a "free press," but that in certain instances, the "mainstream media can't move."

Specifically, he said, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) may not report freely on the products of its owner, General Electric. "Owners like to own things," he said, "and change things they don't like."


Cockburn read an excerpt from his book parodying the MacNeil-Lehrer Report, in which reporters cut off speakers before they can express their opinions.

"Things here got pretty bad," he said, "which shows how much we've go to do." He proposed "a ground-up restoration of political discourse, starting with the small local papers."

Praising radio as the most effective form of news coverage in America, Cockburn called it "the amniotic fluid of a progressive community."

Cockburn's appearance was the second in Harvard Book Store's "author series," which also includes writers such as Elizabeth Young-Bruehl, author of "Anna Freud," and Richard Goodwin, author of an autobiography, "Remembering America."

HSA Passes Amendment Boosting Student Power

Student members of Harvard Student Agencies (HSA) overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the company's by-laws last night that increases the number of undergraduates on HSA's board of students, faculty and alumni.

The vote completes efforts begun two weeks ago by discontented undergraduate managers to increase their say in the student-run company, which they said in recent years has been increasingly dominated by professional staff.

HSA, formed in 1957, employs 1350 students and grossed $2 million through its operations last year.

The amendment boosts the number of student directors from seven to ten. Voting student members approved the proposal 66 to 1 with 1 abstention. The number of senior directors remains set at 14.

The amendment also allows board members to place items on the committee's agenda where before only the president could do so.

Student director Gina L. Berardi '90 said that the amendment will help the board consider more issues important to students.

Turnout to the general meeting was exceptionally low, with 68 out of more than 300 eligible employees voting.

In regular business, HSA student elected six new student directors. A clerk and a treasurer were also elected.