Let’s take a moment to talk about the illusion of free choice. According to Business Insider “Media has never been more consolidated. 6 media giants now control a staggering 90% of what we read, watch or listen to”. This consolidation refers to the fact that, in America, only 50 media companies owned 90% of the media in 1983, as compared to the mere 6 owning it now. In Australia, this problem seems to be much more concentrated with only 7 main share holders “owning” the Australian media. These consist of Rupert Murdoch, Gina Reinhart, James Packer, Bruce Gordon have stakes in companies such as Ten News, Win Television, Fair Fax Media, News Limited and many more. With the “owners” of Australian media being less than the number of fingers I have on both hands it’s easy to see how this illusion of free choice is apparent on our TV’s, radio’s and in our newspapers.
With few people in power, it’s easy to conclude that suggested the media is only “serving the interests of those in power” (Turnbull 2014). However, what would the media be like, if not regulated/backed by these share holders? On one hand, we could see an increased rise of user generated content, citizen journalism, giving a voice to the voiceless. Therefore leading to the reputable nature of the media/journalism becoming flawed. On the other hand, we could see the excuse of ‘it’s only in the public’s best interest‘ popping up a lot more. And, although regulated and from a reputable source, we could find the public becoming complacent, and embracing exactly what they are fed without question.
This also highlights issues of censorship and the notion that with one main ‘big brother’ or boss, they have the power to express their opinions in a very public sphere. As present in Murdoch’s 2013 clear election bias with Journalist, Peter Chen stating “Murdoch is uniquely able to dictate the content and thrust of his media arm in Australia”. But media ownership is not only occurring in Australia, as apparent with Russian TV faking footage of the Sochi Opening Ceremony’s now all too famous five ring blunder. Therefore highlighting just how easy cheating people of their right to know the truth is.
Although it is insurmountably important to understand any bias/censorship behind the media we are consuming, it is also worth nothing that as a collective, we have the power and education to challenge any ideas presented by the media. It is so easy to do a quick google search to check and challenge any ‘facts’ presented by the media.
We aren’t sheep, so don’t act like one.
Turnbull, S 2014, ‘Media Mythbusting 3: Information Just Wants to be Free’, lecture notes, BCM110, University of Wollongong, viewed 28 March 2014