Thirsty? Try Some Concentrated Media Ownership!

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator

Habitual breakfast connoisseurs generally greet a new day with a bowl of cereal, a coffee and a good newspaper to read. A metal spoon poised to enter the bowl of enticing cornflakes and a metaphorical spoon prepared to mentally ingest the daily bulletins.

Our taste in media, just like our taste in culinary delights, is subjective. In relation to the daily news, we engage with and ‘digest’ the edition whose perspective resonates most closely with our own. We are all aware that different news outlets can present alternative views on the same story. Certain media follow certain lines of bias in order to meet their political, social, or personal agendas.

This diversity of views is essential within a democratic society for consumers to make informed judgements on content. And this is why it matters who controls the media, or more pertinently- HOW MANY control it. As Elizabeth Hart outlined in her article Media Ownership “Whoever owns the media owns the message”. Increasingly it seems media ownership is becoming more concentrated. In Australia 11 out of 12 capital city daily papers are owned by either Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation of John Fairfax’s Holdings (E. Hart, 2008). The critical issue with this bottleneck trend of ownership is the limited perspective presented to consumers as the underlying message conveyed through media of the same owner is often the same.

The ‘bottleneck’ trend of media ownership in Australia

However an interesting platform has recently developed to combat the bias of this global phenomenon. The American website Allsides places stories from alternative newspapers side by side in order to expose bias and provide a “well-rounded view of complex stories.” This website cleverly alerts consumers to the issue of concentrated media ownership in news outlets by revealing their underlying agendas in a comparative environment.

Clearly in order to maintain a healthy democratic media environment, it is important to retain diversity of media ownership, to ensure a range of perspectives and a choice of opinions. I mean who wants to be eating cornflakes every day?

Pictures sourced from:

http://freer.com/bits/2010/10/17/the-dangers-of-media-ownership-concentration/

http://www.mapleleafweb.com/political-cartoons/growing-concentration-media-ownership-canada