Monopoly media and its corporate connections shape the news we get

Image by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters: Rupert Murdoch epitomises all that is wrong with Australia's monopolised private media

Contributed by Joe Montero

Everyone likes to complain about the media. This is often about perceived bias, and media bias id an objective fact, which is more than taking a different political position than the observer disagrees with. The fact is shown by the material evidence.

Large scale circulation media is owned by billionaires who have a natural bent towards their personal interests, including protection of the privileges that come with being a billionaire. They don’t want to highlight stories that attack these privileges. Media billionaires also generally have money invested in other type of business, depend on soci6al connections with other very wealthy people to keep the presses and non-print media rolling. The tendency is towards shared interests.

The table below provides a snapshot as it was in 2018> Murdoch’s News Corp takes up the lion’s share, and the rest is divided by a handful of others. There is no real competition.

Big media depends on money coming in from major advertisers. Upsetting them with the wrong kind of media stories isn’t good for business.

New technology has provided the means to cut business running costs by employing many less, including journalists, and turning towards fast outsourced news stories. This means that an alarmingly high proportion of news doesn’t come about through investigation by journalists. It is the produced by government or private interests, either directly or through public relations companies. These stories are sold to major media outlets, which then publish them.

News is created by those who have the money and connections to do so. This is true for major political stories, and it applies to both traditional and online media. The money trial is often hidden. It may involve government security interests or private concerns.

All of this is what the average punter considers the reality.

Researchers at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health found a clear connection between 86 news stories concerning 31 news outlets and the promotion of certain brands sold by fast food multinationals. Many of the stories are either copies of or largely the content of press releases issued by these multinationals. This contradicts the idea that responsible media should be reporting about the truth concerning health issues. It happens that the fast foods concerned lack in nutrition and have a negative impact on the health needs of the community.

Another study published in the same edition of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health revealed how these multinationals coopt not-for-profit organisations for a golden handshake, and these become part of the marketing strategy passed on by the media. A big example is advertising at sporting events.

This problem is about more than nutrition and health. It covers every sphere of life. In the generation of political stories, reporting on wars, the covering of corruption, and even when it comes to sport, it’s a case of he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Behind this is the reality that a small handful of people own the media. The antidote to this is the diversification of media, and this is impossible without the rise of public and community-controlled media.

Australia has been travelling gin the opposite direction. We have one of the world’s most monopolised private media landscapes, guaranteeing narrow reporting and censorship of counter views on an industrial scale.

Only anti-monopoly laws and alternative media can break this.

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