Mass Media: An Unreliable Source?

A new Gallup Poll out last week reported that 60% of Americans have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.

I have been a skeptic of mainstream news for quite some time now and I was hoping to see the percentage even higher than 60%. More in the range of 80-90%! And here’s why:

Back in 1983, approximately 50 corporations owned the vast majority of all news media in the United States.

(Graph courtesy of Media Reform Information)

Presently, mainstream news media including but not limited to newspapers, magazines, television, and radio has been concentrated in the hands of just six powerful media corporations. Yes, SIX corporations. Six corporations control most of what we watch, read, and hear every single day. Scary, huh? These billion dollar companies own not just our television networks and magazines, but movie studios, publishing houses, music labels, and internet websites.

In 1983, fifty corporations dominated most of every mass medium and the biggest media merger in history was a $340 million deal. … [I]n 1987, the fifty companies had shrunk to twenty-nine. … [I]n 1990, the twenty-nine had shrunk to twenty-three. … [I]n 1997, the biggest firms numbered ten and involved the $19 billion Disney-ABC deal, at the time the biggest media merger ever. … [In 2000] AOL Time Warner’s $350 billion merged corporation [was] more than 1,000 times larger [than the biggest deal of 1983].

–Ben H. Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, (Beacon Press, 2000), pp. xx—xxi

The six media giants: Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, CBS Corporation, and NBC Universal (Comcast 51%, GE 49%). Their objective? To make money. Not to report truth to the American public. They are not going to threaten their relationships with their big money advertisers such as the pharmaceutical companies who ironically spend more on advertising (BILLIONS) than on research and development. Seriously! Similarly, they are not going to compromise their own political views (think FOX News, CNN, and MSNBC) or their love for war (GE is ranked a top military contractor) and fear-mongering. Oh Brian Williams, you talking head you. 

Fortunately, more and more people are realizing that mainstream news is bought and paid for. I for one, couldn’t be happier. The original title of this post was called, “Mass Media is Full of Shit.”

Further Reading:

The Military-Industrial-Media Complex
Why war is covered from the warriors’ perspective
By Norman Solomon