Issue:
Media Orthodoxy & Censorship
List of Links | Suggested Reading List

Take a look at In The News. Why aren't these stories being presented to you in the paper and on TV? Take a look at Suppressed News Stories. Why is the major media of this country not covering many of the largest stories that effect us?

A major reason behind the suppression of many stories is that the major media in this country are owned by a very small number of corporations--what almost amounts to a monopoly. If the story is not consonant with the interests of those corporations it is killed.

"Eight corporations control the three major television networks (CBS, NBC, ABC), some 40 subsidiary TV stations, over 200 cable TV systems, over 60 radio stations, 59 magazines including Time and Newsweek, chains of newspapers including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post, 41 book publishers, and various other media enterprises... The media are not merely close to corporate America, they are an integral part of it. As such they manifest all the same symptoms: increasing concentration of ownership, big salaries for top executives, political conservatism, union busting, and a constant push for profits.

"Three-quarters of the major stockholders of ABC, CBS, and NBC are banks such as Bank of America, Citibank, Bankers Trust, Chase Manhattan, Morgan Guaranty Trust. Representatives of the more powerful New York banks sit on the boards of the major networks... Besides banks, the big media organizations hold interlocking directorates with giant companies that have major investements in airlines, coal and oil, insurance, telephone communications, nuclear power, and nuclear weaponry.

"Three major networks garner over 80 percent of all TV advertising intended for a national audience. Of all the existing TV and radio stations, 80 percent are network affiliates. Six corporations earn most of the revenues in the publishing world. Four major studios control most of the box office gross on Hollywood films. Eight studios account for about 90 percent of US film video rentals. Five conglomerates own 95 percent of the music industry. [1]

" Less than 4 percent of US cities now have competing daily newspapers under separate ownership [3].

"Through mergers, packaged news services, union busting, wage freezes, and staff cutting, the large media conglomerates have attained a rate of return on thier investment that is double the industrial average. [4]

NOTES:

[1] Ben Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, 3rd ed. (Boston: Beacon press, 1990), pp 21-24; Benjamin Compaine, ed., Who Owns the Media? (New York: Harmony Books, 1979; Michael Parenti, Make-Believe Media: The Politics of Entertainment (New York; St. Martin's Press, 1992), pp 181-184; Alex Jones, "Newspaper Sale; A Trend Continues," New York Times, February 2, 1985.

[2] Washington Post, October 11, 1987.

[3] Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, Ch.1

[4] Wall Street Journal, January 10, 1985

(from "Empire of Lies and Deception" by E. Baskakov).


"In many Third world countries, the US and its closest allies control up to 90 percent of the news flow. As the Indian journalist A. Raghavan said: "The developing countries that have freed themselves from colonnial political dependence are still saddled with information dependence." As electronics and the use of computers develop, this dependence increases.

"Assisting in this "information imperialism" are the US State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA, the USIA, and the Voice of America, all of whome deluge the earth with thier own peculiar brand of "information"." (from "Empire of Lies and Deception" by E. Baskakov).


How (Not) to Cover a War: Fawn, Whitewash, Wave the Flag

By Norman Solomon

from IGC... excerpts:

Consider the opening words of the lead front-page article in the New York Times last Sunday: "NATO began its second month of bombing against Yugoslavia today with new strikes against military targets that disrupted civilian electrical and water supplies...."

The concept is remarkable: The bombing disrupted "civilian" electricity and water, yet the targets were "military."

Correspondents have no business going through such linguistic contortions to preserve the favorite fictions of Washington policy-makers. NATO's bombing of urban areas should be reported for what it is -- especially because such destruction of infrastructure leads to widespread disease and civilian deaths, as is occurring now in Iraq.

* In medialand, there are informal but well-understood limits to media discourse. As the missiles fly, tactical arguments are acceptable; basic challenges from Americans who question U.S. prerogatives and motives are not.

High on the U.S. agenda has been the aim of making that part of the world safe for unbridled corporate investment and big profits -- though you wouldn't know it from the corporate-owned U.S. news media.

* On human rights, journalists commonly go along with the double standards favored by the White House and congressional leaders.

To depart from their own propaganda functions, major U.S. media outlets could insist on pursuing tough questions. Such as: If humanitarian concerns are high on Washington's agenda, why drop bombs on Yugoslavia and give aid to Turkey?

The shame of how newspapers treat their delivery peoplefs.. Excerpt:

Between 1992 and 1997, 99 news vendors were killed on the job, eleven of them under the age of 18. A 1994 Newspaper Association of America survey found there were about 450,000 child and adult carriers in the United States and that only 5.9 percent of carriers were covered by workers' compensation.

The reason newspaper carriers are not covered by workers' comp is simple enough: in a decades-long campaign, the newspaper industry has successfully sought to exclude newspaper carriers from workers' comp laws, minimum wage laws, workers' safety laws, right up to and including social security laws. They have done this by pressuring legislatures to write newspaper carriers out of these laws designed to protect workers.


Related Web Links

The Black Broadcasting Alliance
Canadian Broadcast Standards Council
"Empire of Lies and Deception" by E. Baskakov
Federal Communications Commission
Green Paper on the Convergence of the Telecommunications, Media and Information Technology Sectors from the European Publishers Council
Media Control and public relations, article by Noam Chomsky
Media Know How Resource Center
NTIA's Office of Policy Coordination and Management
The Public and TV: Viewer and Citizen
Telecommunications and Broadcasting Convergence in Canada
World Wide Links on the media


Suggested Reading List

Alger, Dean. Megamedia : How Giant Corporations Dominate Mass Media, Distort Competition, and Endanger Democracy. Rowman & Littlefield, 1998. 256 pages. Available hardcover for $19.57 from Amazon.com. ISBN: 0847683893. "Media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates and corporate conglomerates such as Time-Warner and Disney increasingly dominate the mass media - from TV and radio to newspapers and books, movies, and even the Internet. Where once there were hundreds of independent media owners and producers, now a mere handful of megamedia organizations overwhelmingly control the media. Because the quality of news and entertainment is sacrificed at the hands of these conglomerates, we suffer both as media consumers and as citizens. Censorship creeps in, not from the government but from the protection of conglomerate interests. Megamedia offers a unique look at the ominous impacts of this control of mass media and suggests ways to hold big corporate media responsible for not only increasing competition but also presenting society with fair and unbiased information." On order for PAC library.

Bagdikian, Ben Haig. The Media Monopoly. 5th ed. Beacon Press, 1997. 320 pp. Avail. ppb for $12.80 at Amazon.com. ISBN: 0807061557. ".. classic work on control of the modern media describes the digital revolution and reveals startling details of a new communications cartel within the United States. "An eye-opening attack on the growing concentration of major media."Clarence Page, Chicago TRIBUNE... When the first edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 1983, critics called Ben Bagdikian's warnings about the chilling effects of corporate ownership and mass advertising on the nation's news "alarmist." Since then, the number of corporations controlling most of America's daily newspapers, magazines, radio, television, books, and movies has dropped from fifty to ten." At PAC library, call number P96.E252 U625 1987

Barnouw, Erik, and Eric Barnouw. Conglomerates and the Media . New Press, 1998. 190 pages. Available paperback at $10.36 from Amazon.com. ISBN: 1565844726. "An examination of the effects on increasing conglomerate control of news and culture, by nine leading insiders and critics. What are the effects of increasing conglomerate ownership on the creation and dissemination of news and culture? Available for the first time in paperback, these nine essays by leading media insiders and critics take probing, critical looks at the dramatic changes of recent years. Opening with a fascinating overview of radio and television history by Erik Barnouw, the "dean of American media critics," the first part of the book features longtime media insiders such as Richard M. Cohen (former CBS Evening News senior producer) and Gene Roberts (managing editor of the New York Times), writing candidly on the effects of increasing profit expectations in the newsroom. In the second part of the book, prominent media analysts, such as Mark Crispin Miller (author of Boxed In), Thomas Schatz (author of The Genius of the System), David Lieberman (USA Today), and Patricia Aufderheide (In These Times), discuss the dumbing-down of the publishing industry, the transformation of Hollywood the increasing importance of merchandising and foreign rights in all media, and the false promise of the digital age. Finally, Thomas Frank (The Baffler) examines advertising and the possibility of resistance to conglomerate control of the media." On order for PAC library.

Carey, Alex, Andrew Lohrey (Editor), and Noam Chomsky. Taking the Risk Out of Democracy : Corporate Propaganda Versus Freedom and Liberty. University of Illinois Press, 1997. 232 pages. Available paperback at $15.95 from Amazon.com. ISBN: 0252066162. " An excellent and scathing critique of modern information systems and how those symbols can channel thought to protect the powerful... Alex Carey examines how Management, Gov't, and other powerful interests manipulate the symbols of our cultural life to destroy union solidarity, dillute political accountability, and distract attention away from issues (and solutions) that threaten those institutions." On order for PAC library.

Herman, Ed, Robert Waterman McChesney, and Edward S. Herman. The Global Media : The Missionaries of Global Capitalism. Cassell Academic, 1998. 320 pages. Available hardcover for $19.95 from Amazon.com. ISBN: 0304334340. "Professors Herman and McChesney sharply analyse the commercialization of the mass media over the last 20 years, and its increasingly global nature. Their debunking of corporate libertarian myths regarding the market providing consumer sovreignty in this arena, and the alert they sound, concerning the consequences of a few firms dominating the media and undermining democracy and the working class, makes this an essential read for all independantly minded citizens. Their treatment of the internet in particular is well worth reading." On order for PAC library.

Kamalipour, Yahya R., Theresa Carilli, and George Gerbner (eds.). Cultural Diversity and the U.S. Media. (Suny Series, Human Communication Processes). State University of New York Press, 1998. 307 pages. Available paperback at $17.56 from Amazon.com. ISBN: 0791439305. "This book provides rich and detailed accounts of how the media filters racial/ethnic identity through economic or sensationalized perspectives in newspapers, films, television, and radio. By exploring media descriptions of various racial/ethnic groups, Cultural Diversity and the U.S. Media provides opportunities to discover, debate, and discuss issues surrounding race/ethnicity and the role of the media in American society." On order for the PAC library.

Ledbetter, James. Made Possible by : The Death of Public Broadcasting in the United States. Verso Books, 1997. 280 pages. Available hardcover for $25.00 from Amazon.com. ISBN: 1859849040. "...considers the current state of public broadcasting and finds it decidedly lacking. During its early heyday, NET (National Educational Television, a forerunner of PBS) regularly aired innovative and provocative public-affairs shows; soon, however, public-television managers began toning down controversial content in a desperate--and doomed--attempt to secure government funding. When even these efforts failed, public television increasingly turned to corporate sponsors to fill the gap, resulting in a movement away from adventurous programming in favor of politically inoffensive, "safe" shows such as Sesame Street, Masterpiece Theatre, even Ken Burns's The Civil War. Today, Ledbetter writes, corporate influence rules in public broadcasting, much as it does in commercial television. A savage indictment of corporate underwriting and bureaucratic inefficiency.." At the PAC library, call number HE8689.7.P82 L43 1997

McChesney, Robert W., Ellen Meiksins Wood, and John B. Foster (eds.). Capitalism and the Information Age : The Political Economy of the Global Communication Revolution. NY: Monthly Review Press, 1998. Available hardcover for $43.00 from Amazon.com. ISBN: 0853459886. "presents fourteen new essays by leading critical thinkers, taking on the communications revolution from the vantage point of history and political economy. Robert W. McChesney on the myths of the global village; Heather Menzies on the information economy; Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman on the role of propaganda; Ellen Meiksins Wood on dreams of postmodernity; Elaine Bernard and Sid Shniad on neoliberalism in telecommunications; and others on the growing tension between the democratic potential of info-tech and the demands for capitalist profit." On order for the PAC library.

McChesney, Robert W. Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy. (Open Media Pamphlet Series). Seven Stories Press, 1997. 64 pages. Available for $4.76 from Amazon.com. ISBN: 1888363479. ".. traces the emergence of the global media monopoly, describes what the main players are up to, and details how the Internet is being brought under their control." On order for the PAC library.

McChesney, Robert W. Rich Media, Poor Democracy : Communication Politics in Dubious Times. University of Illinois Press, 1999. 424 pages. Available hardback at $23.07 from Amazon.com. ISBN: 0252024486. "BILL MOYERS--"If Thomas Paine were around, he would have written this book. If Pau l Revere were here, he would spread the word. Thank God we have in Robert McChesney their equal in his love of liberty and his passion to reclaim it from the media gian ts who treat the conversation of democracy as their private property." ...RALPH NADER--"RICH MEDIA, POOR DEMOCRACY is more than a prolonged wake-up call; it shames those who do nothing and motivates those who are trying to build a more democratic media that reflects the all-important noncommercial values which forge a just society." ...Anyone who wonders why today's radio and TV are insipid wastes of our public airwaves (which they get to use for free) will find the answers here. Newspapers aren't far behind in this downward spiraling toward content-free mush. We are surely a more ignorant and less cultured nation in large part due to decisions made in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when the idea of establishing radio as a public, education-oriented system was tragically shot down. Now we are left with a floundering, increasingly commercialized National Public Broadcasting System, and a shockingly hypercommercialized, inbred, overmerged "free-market" media system, made worse by the give-away Telecommunications Act of 1996 that hardly anyone knows about--for good reason: the media must not want us to know what they've done. This book will really open your eyes. You might even want to cry over the missed opportunities we have had as a society due to the rapaciousness of Big Media." On order for the PAC library.

Salzman, Jason, and Jack Salzman. Making the News : A Guide for Nonprofits and Activists. Westview Press, 1998. 240 pages. Available in paperback at $15.96 from Amazon.com. ISBN: 0813368987. "This book is an invaluable resource for anyone trying to get the press to take notice of their cause. It takes you step by step through the process of navigating your way through the dog-eat-dog media jungle. Great insights, concisely written, and true-to-life samples and examples... Not just for activists! A very easy and engaging read! Teaches by example,(and lots of them) not just theory. Excellent examples of press releases. Each chapter is a small book onto itself! Everything is easy to find. Absolutely no dead wood! Even the "Resources" section at the end is worth the price of the book!" On order for the PAC library.

Simon, Julian. Hoodwinking the Nation. Transaction Publishers, 1999. 144 pages. Available in hardcover for $29.95 from Amazon.com. ISBN: 1560004347. " Most people in the United States believe that our environment is getting dirtier, we are running out of natural resources, and population growth in the world is a burden and a threat. These beliefs, according to Simon, are entirely wrong. Why do the media report so much false bad news about the environment, resources, and population? And why do we believe it? Those are the questions distinguished scholar Julian L. Simon set out to answer in his book, Hoodwinking the Nation... how the false bad news is disseminated. He notes that journalists know little about statistics and science and thus gather data in ways that lead to inaccurate conclusions, and politicians may misuse statistics in the service of their own policy and political goals. Simon contends that psychological and cultural mechanisms make people receptive to bad rather than good news.." On order for the PAC library.

Turow, Joseph. Breaking Up America : Advertisers and the New Media World. University of Chicago Press, 1997. 248 pages. Available in hardcover for $15.75 from Amazon.com. ISBN: 0226817490. "Now that Americans are dividing up into militias and staking out a few acres of inviolable homeland, perhaps it's time to ask how the country came to be so deeply fragmented. Joseph Turow points to the ways that the techniques of "target marketing" by advertising agencies exploited and exacerbated existing fissures in U.S. society. Turow is too subtle a thinker to believe that advertising is responsible for the differences between people, but he makes a strong case that the way those differences have been used to distinguish different markets for different products has, simply by defining and presenting various subcultures, furthered those differences. This vicious cycle of targeting and producing target markets is analyzed both historically and politically to show the difficult effects of assuming that Americans are not united, except against each other." On order for the PAC library.

Winokur, Julie (Ed.). We the Media : A Citizen's Guide to Fighting for Media Democracy. New Press, 1997. 222 pages. Available in paperback at $12.76 at Amazon.com. ISBN: 1565843800. "...filled with up-to-the-minute facts, figures, and commentary on the state of the media today. In irreverent and informative sections on ownership, commercialization, content, and access, the book makes plain the real dangers of increasing media concentration, and highlights efforts throughout the country to combat it... Over 80 illustrations, charts, and graphs." On order for the PAC library.


Please send comments to: Colby Glass, MLIS

Return to The Independent Thinker

Return to Philosophy Homepage