What do we get out of the corporate mass media these days? We get sex, violence, lots of advertisements, misinformation, and political propaganda. We don’t necessarily get much coherent thought. Here is a silly example.
What is going here? Why all that garbage? The corporate mass media exists to make money. Its success is defined by profits, and advertisers provide those profits. Therefore, in order to get an audience for advertisements, the corporate mass media broadcasts cheap sex, gory violence, sensational news, and whatever propaganda the corporate leadership thinks will lead to increased profits.
Because there is too little profit in it, we cannot count on the corporate mass media to help make us better people. In fact, we have to expect them to do the opposite. Because they have goods and services they want to advertise and sell, the owners of the corporate mass media have a vested interest in decreasing our sales resistance. In order to get our attention, there is little evidence they have any desire to produce more expensive, thoughtful programming.
The rationale for the political propaganda. That is a bit more subtle. In a society as large and complex as the United States, when we look too long and too deeply for conspiracies, we will most probably err. Such conspiracies may exist, but they are not generally hidden. Both the Democratic and the Republican parties, for example, each have their own designs upon this country. In the sense that we have people working together for a common purpose, these parties are conspiracies. However, they are not hidden. Even when their methods are illegal, because We the People know what they are doing and let them get away with it, we have no one but ourselves to blame.
Perhaps five or six independent corporations sounds like enough to ensure competition, but these corporations do not operate independently. Many of the same people sit are the boards of these companies.
- In 2010, Project Censored determined “that only 118 people comprise the membership on the boards of director of the ten big media giants” (Big Media Interlocks with Corporate America).
- Interlocking directorate at Wikipedia shows this graphically and explains the significance.
Is The Corporate Mass Media Biased?
We have both Conservatives and Liberals complaining about news media propaganda.
- The Media Research Center and Accuracy in Media generally focus on report the Liberal bias. Oddly, neither of these seem much interested in reporting on the concentrated ownership of the mass media. What they focus upon is largely the bias itself.
- Fair has some interest in what motivates the bias in the corporate (see What’s Wrong with the News?). Advertising, Death Anxiety and Speculative Black Holes is an example of their work.
Nevertheless, this a Conservative blog. What the Liberals write is interesting, but it still comes the opposition. Therefore, here are a bunch of posts from Conservative blogs. From the Conservative’s perspective, the corporate news media is highly biased.
- Gullibility and the Media: “The More Things Change…” (thabto.wordpress.com)
- The Liberal Media Spin has Spun America off her Feet and Is the Media too Liberal? (votingamerican.wordpress.com)
- Media Bias Or, How Do We Stay Relevant? and The Mainstream Media’s Invisible Bias (familyfoundation.org)
- Egypt kicks out Al-Jazeera, U.S. embraces news source and Obama: ‘That’s just how White folks will do you’ (bunkerville.wordpress.com)
- Disillusion and Benghazi and the Banality of Evil (nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com)
- Where Was The Media When Jonathan Gruber Was Bragging About ObamaCare? and Why Are These Scandals Happening Under Obama? (www.ldjackson.net)
One thing I find peculiar about Conservatives is that we rarely complain that corporate giants have concentrated media ownership into a few hands. That is probably foolish, but we Conservatives want Capitalism to work, and Capitalism does work. What we forget is that we now have Crony Capitalism, not Capitalism. Therefore, we ought to give the research Liberals have done a second look. What have they learned that we can use?
Noam Chomsky has a Propaganda model that reflects his own biases. His theory identifies five general classes of “filters” that explains what sort of news the corporate mass media will broadcast. With a slight modification, Chomsky’s model makes sense.
- Ownership: The biases of the owners of mass media will be reflected in the outlets they own.
- Funding: The funding mechanism affects what is broadcasted. If the owners expect a news story to irk advertisers or keep people from buying what they advertise, they will not air that story. In addition, because news organizations are generally owned by much larger corporations, the owners expect the news they broadcast to be favorable to the interests of the corporation as a whole.
- Sourcing: Because news organizations cannot put reporters everywhere, the news media depends upon their news sources to find the news their viewers want to see. That makes the media dependent upon the government and the corporate contacts who serve as their news sources. This dependency makes it difficult for news organizations to broadcast news that irks their sources.
- Flak: What news organizations report is generally controversial. Sometimes the news organizations find themselves at the center of the controversies they report. Then they receive flak. If that flak is detrimental to their business interests, they seek means to avoid it.
- A Narrative: News organizations like to cover a long term news story, that is, they like focus their limited resources on a particular story that rivets people’s attention. That’s one reason why the corporate news media likes nothing better than a good war in a distant land.
Chomsky generally ragged on the ownership of the news by capitalists. However, government ownership or funding of the news media creates greater problems. Check out PBS or NPR. If corporate interests will not allow the news media organization they own to tattle on them, why would politicians allow a news organization they run or support to either to thwart their plans or tattle on them? History tells us in no uncertain terms that we must have a free press.
What Are Christians Supposed To Do About The Corporate Mass Media?
There are various views that Christians have on this subject. Here are some of them.
- America Abandoned By God! and Megachurch Pastor John MacArthur: Denominations That Allow Gay ‘Marriage’ Are ‘Satan’s Church’ (settledinheaven.wordpress.com)
- If You Can’t Beat ‘Em (3/16/13) and Leviticus 18:22 (Homosexuality) (tworiversblog.com)
- Hated by the World and Test the spirits (lifereference.wordpress.com)
- THEY PRACTICE EVIL BECAUSE THEY CAN. and CONTAMINATED? (josephelonlillie.com)
- Developing Godly Thinking and “How can we prevent our young people from losing faith?” (altruistico.wordpress.com)
- 50 Shades of fairytales and Mediated Reality and the Politicization of Tragedy (insanitybytes2.wordpress.com)
Personally, I don’t see much point in watching television entertainment. I threw out my TV set over thirty years ago, and I have not regretted it. When I am at the gym, I occasionally see a TV show. Since TV screens sit in front of elliptical machines and the treadmills, I cannot easily avoid seeing the trashier stuff, but I try to ignore it. That is one time I consider my poor hearing a small blessing.
Does that mean I think everyone should throw out their TV? No, but we should be particular about the things we think about. The Apostle Paul told us to think about things that would renew our minds (see Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:20-24 too).
Philippians 4:8-9 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
What should we think about? We have the beauty of the world, we have useful work, and we have people we love, but that is not enough. We each also need to spend some time reading and trying to understand the Word of God.
Psalm 19:7-11 English Standard Version (ESV)
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
What passes for entertainment and moral instruction in the corporate mass media is not good for us. Too often it is directly contrary to what scripture teaches. Homosexuality is wrong. Shacking up is wrong. Running around nude is wrong. Trying to inflame lust in others for things they cannot afford and don’t need is wrong. Coveting the riches others is wrong. Yet clever men and women have spent decades slowly morphing — distorting — the values of this nation. Some even try to persuade us the Bible supports their foul practices. That’s why we need to become familiar with what the Bible says and why the Bible says what it says.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians (people he converted who lived in central Asia Minor), he wrote against agitators who wanted to teach the Galatians a distorted version of the Gospel of Christ. Here is how Paul began his condemnation of those agitators.
Galatians 1:6-9 English Standard Version (ESV)
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Think about it. Even people who had spoken to the Apostle Paul could be led astray. So what are we to do? To defend ourselves and our loved ones from people who would lead us astray — to put on The Whole Armor of God, we each need to read and study the Bible.
Other Views (Citizen Tom does not endorse the links below. That includes the RT video. The point is only one side is discussing the consolidation of the corporate mass media.)
- NPR: National Public Radio Or National Propaganda Radio? (12bytes.org)
- MAPPING CORPORATE MEDIA (mediacology.com)
- Media Reform Information Center (www.corporations.org)
- Columbia Journalism Review (www.cjr.org)
- Who Owns the Media? (www.freepress.net)
- Media Conglomerates, Mergers, Concentration of Ownership (www.globalissues.org)
- Media Giants (www.pbs.org)
- Who Owns the News Media (www.stateofthemedia.org)
- Who Owns The News? (www.whoownsthenews.com)
To find other posts in the ANSWERING FOLLY series, just click on the link.