39 - % of U.S. consumers who rely on broadcast television for breaking news

37 - % of U.S. consumers who rely on broadcast television for breaking news

12 - % of U.S. consumers who rely on broadcast television for breaking news

9 - % of U.S. consumers who rely on broadcast television for breaking news


(SOURCE: Brill's Content 2/99)

Death of the Penny Press

The inaccesibility of mass media outlets taints the information we receive

n today's industry-controlled society, it is becoming increasingly hard to find a small, privately owned mass media enterprise. Newspaper chains, for example, control approximately 75 percent of American daily newspapers, and approximately 85 percent of American daily newspaper circulation (Pember, 98-99). In recent years, the restrictions placed on media ownership by the Federal Communications Commission have lessened considerably. Conceivably, this abundance of media concentration could be the result of certain corporations wishing to further spread the news and information expected of them by society, but ulterior motives are more of a driving force. Almost any mass media endeavor is a profitable one, but beyond that mass media serves as a tool to sway public opinion. This ability to manipulate widespread beliefs confers a degree of power upon the possessor of such power (Pember, 90).

Media power, in its purest sense, is political strength. It has always been a recognized fact in circles of authority that in order to control the public opinion, they must regulate the information which reaches the public Bagdikian, 2nd ed., xxiii). The Trilateral Commission, a worldwide consortium of wealthy families and financial institutions with the intent of placing its members in the highest political offices of the most powerful countries of the world ("Trilateral Commission - Headquarters"), published a 1975 report on the "governability of democracies." The study noted that the media have become a "notable new source of national power." Further, the commission found that this power is just one example of an "excess of democracy" which leads to a "reduction of governmental authority (Chomsky, 3)." The public generally does not realize the implications of such immense corporate domination, as they have seldom seen anything in the corporate media to suggest the political and economic dangers of such concentration (Bagdikian, 4th ed., 35).

Corporations that own newspapers continue to strive as proverbial corporate dictatorships. When an authority figure looms overhead, few will attempt to criticize said authority figure. This form of influence comes into play on numberless occasions, often not as obtrusively as one would expect. It is not necessary for a publication or broadcast program to praise its ruling corporation to expose the heavy hand affecting it-it is often what is not said which demonstrates the remarkable power the corporation possesses. At the very least, the corporation can assure that one subordinate does not instigate or provoke another. As another passive method of control, it can be relatively assured that even if one subsidiary does nothing beneficial for a corporate sibling, at least it will publicize or broadcast very little detrimental or critical information which could ruin the media tributary (30).