The Illusion of Choice

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A recurring theme of the responses to previous posts is the assertion that the internet and social media provides us with a variety of news sources from which to choose and that this allows us to form a better, more objective view of what is happening in the world today. 

But what if this freedom to choose is merely an illusion? As i have written in the previous post, 90% of the media that we access on a day-to-day basis belongs to a handful of organisations. 

Lets take Australian news media sources as an example. 

Australian media, and in particular the print media, stands out internationally among advanced democracies for its extreme concentration.

Three owners – News Limited, Fairfax Media and APN News and Media – hold approximately 98% of the sector, and two of these owners, News and Fairfax, together hold about 88% of the print media assets in the country. Some of you will argue that this is just print media, and that going online provides us with a much larger diversity of sources. Consider these facts:

  1. Clear evidence indicates that print media (including online versions of the most popular news brands) remains the dominant source of news for the rest of the news media sector – both traditional (radio, television, magazines, subscription) and new media (online only news sites, and very popular aggregators like Google and Yahoo or portals like Ninemsn).  
  2. All but one of the 12 news sites in Australia’s top 100 most visited sites are owned by major existing media outlets 

These statistics raises some interesting questions about the assertion that the diversity of news sources is so much greater online. Or is it simply that Australians are not exercising their freedoms to explore a wider variety of news sources?  And if that is the case, what does this say about our own news consumption habits?

So, where do YOU get your news from? Please leave your insights, views and opinions in the comments section below, your participation is much appreciated!

*All statistics and assertions made in this post are referenced from the Centre of Policy Development Australia, for more info please click on the link

 

 

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The Problem with Media Ownership

Consider for a minute that the majority of news media agencies today are owned by a small handful of individuals or corporations. 

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The above infographic quite clearly illustrates the virtual monopoly that these small handful of corporations has over our mass media channels. The question is, what effects does this concentration of media ownership have on the ways in which media news agencies generate and report news stories? 

The most apparent issues are those related to ideas of the political economy. Firstly, it is argued that with such a small handful of companies and corporations in control of the public airwaves, that the interests of the minority elite are inevitably promoted over the interests of the people at large. With that in mind, the increasing commercialisation of the news industry and the media in general mean that media news agencies today are primarily loyal to sponsors (Advertisers/government) and these interests take precedence over responsible news reporting and public interest.

How can these interests manifest?  

  1. Media owners/sponsors can choose to suppress or ignore news stories that do not serve their interest.
  2. Journalists and their reports may be directly sponsored by parties who are the subject of their journalism leading to reports which actually favor the sponsor, have that appearance, or are simply a repetition of the sponsors opinion.
  3. News stories are reported in such a manner as to favour media owners/sponsors interests. 

What do you think about the implications of media ownership and its effects of news reporting? Your comments below 

 

 

 

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