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Today, just a handful of firms are responsible for most of the information that people sees, hears or reads. Most disturbing of the concentration of ownership is the unregulated and near-complete control over information in the hands of a small number of very powerful corporations. These big corporations of mass communication and media are becoming more and more influential our lives. The media institutions operate under advance capitalism. The information that we get is selected and framed to serve particular political and economic interests, such as commercial needs and corporate needs, but not individuals’ interests. The effect of TV, dairy newspaper, magazines and internet so far has largely been to increase the political crises and profit motive. If communication and media are abused, they can be used against society, and changing our world in a very negative way.
Western democracies have free-market economies, in which individuals are at liberty to produce and consume according to their own interests.1 In our society, our democracy is based on the free exchange of information, on an open market place of ideas. Many communication activities have been returned to private hands from the public ownership due to the privatization and deregulation. There are several reasons for the concentration of ownership and the cut down of government regulation.
Firstly, revenue-strapped governments have become eager to assign more and more areas of the economy to market forces.2 Some government action can lead to a less efficient allocation of resources and slow down the development of the economy. For example, regulatory agencies fixed the prices can only allow the corporate to earn a normal rate of return. In addition, due to the changing of economy, many small firms expand their power by selling to local market, merge up by a bigger corporation. The powerful corporation can fix the prices and control output to maximize the profits, which can benefit the economy growth. They can even cut prices to drive the other competitors out of the business. Implementing the intercept requirements could harm the competitiveness of our country products in the global market.
Secondly, the growth of the technology allowed the market to expand without bound. For example, the Internet is a new method of communication and a source of information that is becoming more popular, which everyone can access it from anywhere and anytime. The government cannot interfere with what we see and hear makes it more and more difficult for national governments to assume control of cultural production. Thirdly, people’s sense of belonging to the national community has changed.3 People do not want to put more power in the hands of the government. They think government involvement creates even more problem than they can solve. Sometime can lead to a less efficiently, wasting time and money.
The deregulations of the mass communication and media have threatened the public interests. The factors of concentration of ownership, the profit motive and advertisers interests are the main key to determining the production and the content of news and media. The press and the media are responsible for reporting news, issues and events as clearly as possible. Since we are educated about what is happening in the world around us and updated on issues that we care. Any distortions can cause the information to be misinterpreted or completely wrong, result in the misinforming of the public. However, based on the capitalism, large media corporations make profit by selling the audiences to the advertisers. For example, the economic structure of a newspaper is that it sells readers to other business.
They are not really trying to sell newspaper to people. They just try to increase their readerships in order to increase the advertising rate.4 They are not trying to provide what people want to see, but to communicate the public to a large number of companies or businesses. The media content is depending on the advertising company, which can affect both the content of news as well as the process by which news is “created”. We have to think deeply about the questions such as: How all these factors affect people’s lives? What purpose does people’s lives serve as? Can we continue to gain the absolute truth? However, the sad thing is many people do not know or concern the horrors that control and power can bring to our society. Corporate journalism and corporate control of the cultural, information and entertainment complex have always existed.
The media has been increased the political crises around the world. Take 911 as an example, the U.S. media devoted huge coverage to the attacks and their aftermath, but omitting a critical and accurate discussion of the context.5 The way which news broadcast, print, radio and Internet present news has a great effect on our emotion or feeling. Many Canadians are indignant as much as the Americans are when we heard that thousands people were killed by an airplanes hit in the World Trade Center. They support U.S to start the war against Iraqi because they are deeply influence by the mass media. The truth is, beside the reason of revenge and the elimination of terrorism, is the over taking of the petroleum a one of the reasons too? Country’s culture industries can be overwhelmed by foreign influence. The United States has always had stringent restrictions on foreign investment in its telecommunications and media sectors.6
Another negative effect of the mass media is the influence of the advertising have on us. Is advertising deceptive? Does it create or perpetuate stereotypes? Advertisements are everywhere in television, newspapers, magazines and internet. These media not only reflect our society, it also constantly reinforces certain ideas and human being.7 Companies and businesses often overwhelming the benefits and advantages of their products. They are willing to stretch and distort the truth, just to convincing people to buy their product. They may hide some facts such as the expensive price. For example, BMW ads amplify the amazing horsepower and the superior performance of their vehicles but will not mention how costly they are.
Nike ads are accused of implying that their shoes will give a consumer athletic ability. The result is customers usually buy the things that they really do not need. Children most likely ask their parents to buy the toys and clothing after they have seen the commercial on the TV. It has created a stereotype, such as boys prefer to play robots and girls love dolls. Also, teenagers have become top consumers in today’s society, so advertisers have focused on getting their business. Teens like to purchase new items to keeps up with the changing trends. Therefore, advertisers use their view of teens to create ads. Some ads may have bad effect on teenagers, such as alcohols and cigarettes.
Although the concentrations of ownership, deregulation and technology have threatened our public interest, we can still able to learn about the choices that we face and make reasoned decisions. We have choice to see, to read, and to hear what we wanted to. It is up to the consumers to make wise choices and develop shopping skills that are intelligent. The one event may give rise to several news. People should learn to make an analysis of the truthfulness and express their own feeling but not influence by the media.
Chodos, Murphy, Hamovitch, Lost in Cyberspace, James Lorimer & Company, Publishers, Toronto, 1997.
Chomsky, Noam, Understand Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, The New Press, New York, 2002.
Ermann, Williams, Shauf, Computers, ethics and society, Oxford University Press, New York, 1990.
Gay, Martin k., The New Information Revolution, ABC-CLIO, Inc., California, 1996
Lorimer, Gasher, Mass communication in Canada, Oxford University Press, Canada, 2001.
Mckibben, Bill, The age of missing information, Plume, Penguin Books Ltd, 1992.
Global Media Markets and Citizen Information http://faculty.washington.edu/bennett/Media_Markets.htm
Ansolabehere: Media Deregulation http://bostonreview.mit.edu/BR23.3/ansolabehere.html
1 Lorimer, Gasher, Mass communication in Canada, Oxford University Press, Canada, 2001, p.205.
2 Lorimer, Gasher, Mass communication in Canada, Oxford University Press, Canada, 2001, p.205.
3 ibid p.206
4 Chomsky, Noam, Understand Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, The New Press, New York, 2002, p.16.
5 Chomsky, Noam, Understand Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, The New Press, New York, 2002,
6 Chodos, Murphy, Hamovitch, Lost in Cyberspace, James Lorimer & Company, Publishers, Toronto, 1997, p.93.
7 Mckibben, Bill, The age of missing information, Plume, Penguin Books Ltd, 1992, p.17.