Saturday, June 13, 2009

Our Media:Not From Concentrate

Since the 1980s, many media and entertainment companies have merged or been bought out, leading to a more heavily concentrated media world in terms of ownership. These major multinational corporations have proven to be extremely successful in feeding our need for information and satisfying our craving for entertainment on a daily basis. They control our TV shows, newspapers, movie industry, radio and news broadcasters, social networking websites... but wait a minute... does anyone else see something wrong with this picture? If you ask me, that's a whole lot of power concentrated into the hands of a few...corporations?

Let's put things into perspective. Mother Jones magazine reported that there were only 8 giant media companies dominating the US media by the end of 2006. In other words, most people are getting their news and information from:

1. Disney (owner of ABC news, market value: $72.8 billion)
2. AOL-Time Warner (owner of CNN, market value: $90.7 billion)
3. Viacom (market value: $53.9 billion)
4. General Electric (owner of NBC, market value: $390.6 billion)
5. News Corporation (owner of FOX news, MySpace, market value: $56.7 billion)
6. Yahoo! (market value: $40.1 billion)
7. Microsoft (market value: $306.8 billion)
8. Google (market value: $154.6 billion)

Now you may wonder why there would be anything wrong with this picture. After all, this is the way that our market economy runs, right? Let me just point out some of the major implications that an increasingly concentrated mainstream media has for our society.

1. The death of journalism

There used to be a time when journalists were free from the pressures of the market and were able to report responsible, honest, and credible news. But as our society has changed to become reliant on the market to control the economy, the main purpose of news has been to sell, sell, sell. What does this imply? It means that journalists have to conform to the interest of advertising companies and state agendas (who provide the most funding to the media), and not the people. Quality, in-depth investigative reports are put on the back burner if they do not serve commercial and state interests. The scary thing about all this is that corperations control what issue we should and should not know about, and manipulate how we see the world. FOX news and CNN are notorious for their politically and commercially influenced broadcasting over the years, especially during the Bush administration.

2. The death of freedom of press

The fact that media corporations are becoming more and more concentrated has many implication for our freedom of press. As citizens in a democratic society, it is crucial that we have a free and diverse media that portrays a wide range of issues and perspectives in the press. This, however, is not the reality of a heavily concentrated media world that is constantly being influenced by a few elite CEOs whose primary goals are to cater to commercial and political agendas. In his documentary, OutFoxed, Robert Greenwald criticises Fox News Channel and its owner Rupert Murdoch for promoting right-winged views.

The bottom line is this: most people’s views and understandings of the world are shaped by what they see in the media. For this reason, it is crucial that we give attention to the issues surrounding the media concentration, and become critical of the content we are being fed on a day-to-day basis.

-Sarah Resendes 0765983

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