North Texas Daily

Media conglomeration is detrimental to democracy

Media conglomeration is detrimental to democracy

Media conglomeration is detrimental to democracy
March 01
12:00 2021

My initial reason for going into journalism was because I felt that the profession is indispensable to democracy, meaning when practiced with discretion, it holds the powerful accountable by keeping the public informed. On the flip side, this means that when media answers to those it is meant to keep tabs on, it operates as little more than yet another tool to keep the masses in line.

Media conglomeration, for those who do not know, is when a significant number of media entities are all owned by a singular company. As of now, 90% of all American media outlets are owned by either National Amusements, Disney, TimeWarner, Comcast, News Corps or Sony. These six corporations, all with their own agendas, and all of which are prone to prioritizing profit over journalistic integrity, set the agenda for what the public and the government deem relevant, and with little to no regard for the question of ethics outside of how it might impact their reputation.

Media conglomeration at best renders journalism obsolete, and at worst, it weaponizes a profession that could have been used to prevent this very problem that is the concentration of power by those with enough to keep it. Disney owns ABC News, so if Disney does something questionable, ABC cannot be relied upon to give an objective assessment of the situation. This in turn will likely skew the public’s perception of the controversy in Disney’s favor, even if the corporation was not in the right, as corporations rarely are. Or if Healthline were to provide the public with erroneous medical advice, NBC probably either wouldn’t report on it or would use connotative language to trivialize the matter because both companies are owned by Comcast.

Media conglomeration also has adverse effects on the entertainment industry, in that it stifles creativity by suppressing the competition. Disney’s vise grip on cinema in particular has made it difficult for other studios, ones with original ideas and animation techniques, to flourish. And while Disney has created many a groundbreaking film, it is not the only studio capable of doing so, and is no doubt depriving the public of some revolutionary art by monopolizing the very concept of animation.

There is also the problem of the public not always knowing where their money is going or what company they may inadvertently be endorsing. Say you wanted to boycott a certain company for one reason or another, but failed to realize that other companies you had continued to support financially were inextricably tied to the one you had a problem with. On that note, media conglomeration makes life more difficult to hold corporations accountable for their actions because the extent of their reach makes it almost impossible not to engage with them in some capacity.

Media conglomeration is detrimental to democracy, and to progress in all its forms. The general public deserves the freedom to choose which companies to support, and to be able to trust that their news source won’t sacrifice truth on the altar of capitalism.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

Rachel Card is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was born in Austin, Texas, and is currently quarantining there with her family and three dogs.

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