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Why is the question of ownership of the media an important one?

Why is the question of ownership of the media an important one?

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In this essay, I link the issue of media ownership with the framing of the mass media, by suggesting that the dependence of privately owned media corporations on advertising. I suggest that framing occurs in a direct attempt to sensationalise the media, increasing viewers, therefore incrasing sales from advertsing.
In this essay, I link the issue of media ownership with the framing of the mass media, by suggesting that the dependence of privately owned media corporations on advertising. I suggest that framing occurs in a direct attempt to sensationalise the media, increasing viewers, therefore incrasing sales from advertsing.

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Sep 01, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 1SC 3012Richard Mac CarthySN: 106543456
Why is the question of the ownership of the mass media an important one?
In the following essay, I will address the ownership of the mass media. I will show why thequestion of the ownership of the mass media is one of particular importance. I will begin theessay by showing, regardless of other influences and exterior factors that the ownership of themass media continues to be an area where it is possible for the owners of the media, be it television, radio, or newspapers, to have a large influence on the final product produced by themedia corporation. I will attempt to justify this by showing the obvious differences betweenprivately owned media corporations, where wealthy owners and investors sit at the top of thechain of command, compared to publically owned television, such as the BBC, where thecompany functions with the help of taxes taken from the public, such as a T.V. license tax. What Iaim to show in this essay is that the ownership of the media, along with many other factors (most importantly advertising), has a direct influence on the final product the media produces, and that this influence can have a negative effect on the final product that is presented for publicconsumption. I will show that the influence of the owners of the privatized media can be most clearly observed by inspecting how news stories are framed. I will focus primarily on theinfluence of ownership on dedicated TV news programs and newspapers, as I feel that thesechannels, programs and papers can be held up against certain standards that can be, to a largeextent, universally accepted, such the responsibility of being unbiased, as well as theresponsibility of providing tangible, factual information, designed for use in the public forum(Champlain and Knoedler, 2002).As I will show, the public consumption of this information is of huge importance, as theinformation provided by news programs is often vital for the political campaigns, as voters useinformation gained from the news when deciding for whom they should vote (Champlain andKnoedler, 2002). The role of the media in general elections
shows the importance of themedia in modern society. I will examine both privately owned and publically owned news mediacorporations by comparing how they stand up to these strict above-mentioned guidelines forhow media news should perform. With regards to privately owned news media, I will examinepublications by Chomsky, who suggests in much of his work that the US media are activelyfiltering and selectively choosing which stories to cover, in a deliberate attempt to control the
weaker elements of society, as well as to increase the power of the wealthy, controlling socialelite (McCullagh, p. 77). While I do not wish to go as far as Chomsky does in his criticism of privately owned media corporations, I believe that he does highlight a failing on the part of theseprivately owned corporations
a failing to meet the standards that Champlain and Knoedlerhighlight.I will propose that advertising is at the heart of many of these failings. I will show that it is theneed for privately owned corporations to gain a profit from their programs that, in effect 
 them to sensationalize and falsify their stories. I will show that, because the first commitment of these corporations is to their owners or stockholders, that news stories are selected and framedin order to entertain the viewer, rather than to keep the public informed and educated. I willsuggest that this entire process is designed to keep viewers watching and increase ratings, whichwill attract advertisers willing to pay for space on the channel or newspaper. I will also suggest that, although publically owned television stations have many flaws and failings, that on thewhole, because they are not dependent on advertising, that they provide more factualinformation with less bias.
An example of the abuse of the media of their responsibility to give clear and unbiased news isprovided by Chomsky in a publication in 1986; in relation to the Middle East, he saw the use of 
the term “peace process” by the mass media
in the United States of America as a way of furthering the will of the ruling elite of the Nation. In the media coverage of the Middle East at thetime, the term
“peace process”
, which was, essentially, the U.S. approved plan for solving theIsraeli/Palestinian problem, was abused, according to Chomsky. The media used the term in sucha way as to suggest that anyone (such as the Palestinians) who was
against the “peace process”
was also
necessarily against “peace”. The media therefore
, in Chomsky’s
opinion -
opposition to the “peace process” (i.e.
plan for the Middle East) as opposition to
“peace” in general. This allowed anyone who was against the United States’ plan for the Middle
East to be vilified in the media as being people that were against peace in general (Chomsky,1986). Whether or not Chomsky is correct in concluding that this is a direct example of the mediabeing used as a tool in order to further the plans of the ruling elite, or whether there is somepossible explanation other than the influence of the owners of the news corporations that couldexplain the obvious failing
of the media’s responsibility to the public
, I do not want to say at thispoint. What I wish to show by this example is that the privately owned media corporations arecapable of obviously and dramatically failing in their responsibility to the public to provideunbiased, factual information.
The affiliations with the media and political parties can be, in my opinion, tied back to the fact that the media corporations in question are privately owned. To take another U.S. example,Dreier found that, after 1940, the vast majority of the most popular and most read newspapers inthe U.S. (all of which were privately owned) tended to show bias towards, and ultimately support the republican candidate for the presidential election at that time (Dreier, 1982). Interestingly,during this period,
which lasted into the 1980’s when the study was published,
the majority of Republican candidates who ran for president were, in fact, elected to office. Although I will not speculate as to whether the bias in the media was a factor in the success of the candidates, I wishto note three things; firstly, the biased views of the media were in agreement with the popularopinion of the general population, regardless of whether their bias actually influenced thepopular opinion or not. Secondly, even though bias in the newspapers regarding political issuesis, to some extent, publically accepted (for example, the
Irish Independent 
is commonly seen to besupportive of 
Fine Gael)
, bias in the media, no matter what the subject, should not be tolerated,and is a clear and unacceptable failure by the media to provide unbiased true news. Finally, thebiased
papers in Dreier’s study were
privately owned corporations.In order to explain these failings by privately owned media corporations, I believe that it isnecessary to briefly discus the influence of advertising on privately owned media corporations.Privately owned media corporations must, by definition, seek finance to support themselves. Themost readily available, form of income for these corporations comes in the form of advertising;adverts are shown in the breaks between programs, and
the corporations sell the “space” for
these adverts. For these privatised corporations, advertising provides the majority of theirincome (McManus, 1992). The key for the corporations is that the program must be popular, inorder to entice advertisers to buy the space available between certain shows. With the constant need to meet the costs of actually running their corporation, corporations must therefore try andgain as much money as possible from advertising. In this respect, the actual quality of the news,in terms of being unbiased and factual become less important 
what is important for the privatemedia corporations is a continued source of finance (McCullagh, p79). I believe that thisdependency on advertising can explain the examples proposed by both Dreier and Chomsky.
In the case of Chomsky’s exa
mple of the media as being a tool for preserving the power of thesocial and political elite, I believe that the influence of advertising provides a more reasonablesolution. Instead of a sinister conspiracy at a global level that is designed to keep the masseslulled into a placid state of ignorance, and where the powerful can rule unquestioned, we aregiven a simple solution that works within the confines of the capitalist paradigm that we functionin. The news corporations, believing that sensationalised stories, or stories that instil a sense of panic or fear would increase the numbers of viewers, deliberately fudge the figures orterminology of their stories, hoping that the framing of the news in a certain way will increasetheir audience, thereby increasing their advertising, thus acquiring more funds (McCullagh, pp.

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