Media Dictatorship

Media ownership is not simply control over what is advertised and circulated. It is control over what a society is exposed to, and in turn, the power to coerce opinions. Media ownership has the ability to slowly and subtly groom a society to one of a conforming political, societal and personal standing. To me, media ownership matters most for those ignorant to personal agendas present in many media outlets. If media bias and persuasive agendas are not understood, media will not be treated with scepticism. 

New Limited and Fairfax essentially own the whole of Australia’s media – but if you didn’t know that ,why would you doubt that their media presenting is accurate and unswayed? This is a real danger for people, especially in Australia as a country with one of the highest media concentrations on a global scale. 

Privately owned media seems like it would be a good way to overcome this issue. However, when private media is owned by a handful of people it does not promote free media or enable individuals to choose their own views. Take, for example, Rupert Murdoch‘s News Limited:

Australia’s largest media company is Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, which has the Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and the Australian as its main newspaper mastheads, along with a plethora of online divisions like news.com.au and its NewsLifeMedia magazine business which has brands like Vogue. (Ricardo Goncalves)

Murdoch_owns_news (Photo source)

This much hold over the media can easily lead to exploitation of control. In 2013 there were 293 political stories run in the Daily Telegraph (owned by Murdoch). According to John Menadue, only six of these articles were pro-labour and 134 articles were anti-labour. Such consistent campaigning in favour of one political party would sway (or attempt to) public opinion to be in favour of liberal, historically supported by Murdoch. 

Photo source (a), Photo source (b).

Yet government owned media does no better. It can distort and manipulate information to entrench the incumbent politicians, preclude voters and consumers from making informed decisions. Perhaps the most recent example of this is Turkey. Earlier this month Twitter was banned at the personal behest of Prime Minister Erdogan, and Youtube has followed suit. This comes as a result of leaked information of Erdogan’s association in large-scale corruption, war plans against Syria and media manipulation that would undermine the his election campaign. 

TWE

(Photo source)

The PM has been quoted saying that he doesn’t ‘understand how people of good sense could defend this Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. There are all kinds of lies there’, in an attempt to frame himself as the victim and not the manipulator. 

Clearly, media ownership, whether it be controlled privately of governmentally, matters. It has the ability to coerce the public in one direction, or ‘protect’ citizens from information that is defamatory to the validity of a ruler.  

References:

Djankov, S, Simeon, McLiesh, C, Nenova, T, Shleifer, A 2003. ‘Who Own the Media?’, The Journal of Law & Economics, vol. 46, no. 2, pp.341-382

Goncalves, R 2013, Factbox: Who owns what in the Australian media, SBS, viewed 31 March 2013,
< http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2012/06/22/factbox-who-owns-what-australian-media>

Kent Smith, E 2014, ‘Now Turkey blocks YouTube: Days after Twitter ban, video site is barred after leaked audio recording of Turkish officials discussing Syria appeared online’, Mail Online, Viewed 31 March 2013,
< http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2590855/Now-Turkey-blocks-YouTube-Days-Twitter-ban-video-site-barred-leaked-audio-recording-Turkish-officials-discussing-Syria-appeared-online.html

Menadue, J 2013, Tony Abbott’s debt to Rupert Murdoch, ‘Pearls and Irritations’, viewed 31 March 2013,
< http://johnmenadue.com/blog/?p=738>

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