In looking over the reading reflections for this week, one theme stood out to me: The public has lost trust in journalism and much of this is because mainstream news media is owned by money-hungry corporate conglomerates.
Jeannie tied the readings together really well. She quotes Skoler, when he says there has been “…a steep drop in public trust in journalism,” and explains how this started with large-scale mergers of media companies in the 1980’s. We stopped trusting them when they started to change their business models to maximize profits. This directly links back to Bagdikian, who blames major media and their “need to satisfy the major sources of their income, corporate advertising.”
Both Maryellen and Megan talk hopefully about how this distrust might be improving because of the internet. These two posts made me think long and hard about this issue.
Megan says that she gets much of her online news from MSNBC. In another post this week, Andrew talked at length about the news apps on his iPhone, from sources like MSNBC, USA Today, CNBC, CNN, etc. It seems to me, that as much as we like to believe the internet is changing our habits, it’s really just the technology that’s changing. The news sources aren’t actually changing all that much.
Marcy touches on this in her post. Bagdikian’s concerns about big media and their need to satisfy corporate advertisers is only getting worse – and it’s not just big media that’s doing this anymore. Take Facebook as an example. Rowdy pointed out in his presentation this week that Facebook is selling our information to corporate advertisers. It seems web giants are just as guilty as big media when it comes to corporate greed.
As much as we’d like to blame big media and their corporate advertisers for the profane, violent, and sexually-explicit content of some television programming – the internet has only exacerbated this issue. In her post, Jackki discusses media’s effects on children.
People have always been fearful of the way new technologies are influencing our nation’s youth. There used to be big concerns about the immoral behavior that was happening in movie-picture houses (as they were once called). Back in the days of Ed Sullivan, the public became concerned when a hip-gyrating Elvis was supposedly causing bad behavior among teens.
Most of these concerns were unfounded. Sociological studies have shown that children (whether they listen to their parents are not) are indeed influenced by their behaviors. Too, their peers have great influence over thier actions, particularly when it comes to bad behaviors.
It’s a very slippery slope to start censoring television and the internet for fear of what a child might see or experience. I, for one, definitely err on the side of the First Amendment, giving us a choice as to what types of media we consume. We know that our content choices have been limited by media conglomerates and their need for advertising income, but the same traps exist online.