Essay #1 - Media Ownership
Mass media is ideally what its name suggests, a voice for the masses. But, as the line between the business and editorial side of journalism grows hazier, it is instead becoming a tool for the minority of corporate and political elites. Increasingly concentrated ownership has created an oligopoly in the media industry. The result is homogenized and watered down content heavily influenced by owner and advertiser interests. Journalistic integrity is taking a back seat to the bottom line.
A good journalist's aim is to produce a product that is diverse, innovative, has substance, and is independent from business or government influence (Croteau, 150). The aim of a good owner is to maximize profit. The respective sides' goals often conflict. It is the owners who win this conflict, as in the free market money is power.
The propaganda model best shows how the system works. It names five filters that determine what is news and how it is covered: Ownership, advertising, dependence upon business and government experts, flak, and anticommunism (Herman, 77).
Concentrated ownership and profit orientation of media firms is the primary factor, contributing largely to the other four.
Advertising as the primary source of income separates media from other consumer products. Those who consume media do not directly pay for it. They do so indirectly by purchasing the advertised products or services. This distorts the model of supply and demand, creating a model that does not necessarily meet the public's needs (Croteau, 30).
Dependence on experts is initiated in the interest of objectivity. A journalist must use credible sources for their stories. Whether justified or not, one values the word of a government or corporate leader over that of an average citizen. One asks. "Who is he to say?" However, these experts can manage...