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Ownership of the media by a small handful of companies has created several problems for democracy since it’s existence. Because the media has been such a major source of information for us Americans we must learn to be skeptical of these large corporations and their motives. Commercialism and the lack of diversity of the media are two such problems that have been created due to these large corporations.
The main source of money for any media outlet, whether it is CNN or the local newspaper, is from advertisers, not the audiences like you would expect. “In a survey of 118 news directors around the country, more than half, 53 percent, reported that advertisers pressure them to kill negative stories or run positive ones.” News directors have also reported that outside TV consultants have been brought in to stations to critique their newscasts and improve ratings by often issuing blanket edicts about what should and should not be covered in doer to attract the most advertising dollars. (Just, 1) This fact now being known makes us aware that the media is often swayed from criticism of the products or mistakes of the corporations that give them this money. Important defects or corporate issues that we need to know about have possibly gone unannounced due to the fear of losing sponsors and profit.
The only way to guarantee diversity of opinion in the media is to have diverse ownership over it. The airwaves are a limited resource with a few channels still remaining. The Federal Communications Act says that the airwaves belong to the public, which has somehow has gone ignored over the years. Having been exposed to a less diverse range of ideas over the past few decades has left us assuming that what we see and hear in the media is all that there is out there. This is obviously no way to maintain an active marketplace of diverse ideas and opinions. This is defiantly no way to keep a true democracy. (Bagdikian, 2-3)
As you can see the corporate ownership of the media has become a problem to our existing democracy. Not only has the media become extremely commercialized it has also taken away the diversity that we need to make an honest judgment about something of importance to us.
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Bagdikian, Ben. “The 50, 26, 20... Corporations That Own Our Media.” EXTRA! June 1987.
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Just, Marion, Rosalind Levine, Kathleen Regan. Local TV News Project – 2001: News for Sale. 17 Nov. 2001