by Kristine Villanueva
Media conglomerates have managed to create the greatest illusion is history: the illusion that people have a choice. Most people watch television, listen to the radio, or watch movies without realizing that only a handful of media corporations act as gatekeepers to information that the general public consumes daily. The six companies that own the media are Disney, Newscorp, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS, and GE. These six also own 90% of the media – an alarming number – staggeringly different from the fifty in 1983.
But what’s the problem with that? News could sometimes be skewed or even go unreported. Take the recent Disney Cruise Line story, for example. ABC failed to report a story about a Disney cruise line worker who was arrested on April 11th for molesting a thirteen year old girl after luring her into an unoccupied cabin. No worries, CBS reported it.
As do-gooder as CBS may seem for scooping up the story, they also have an agenda – to depict Disney in a poor light. Why? ABC’s parent company is Disney. Disney and CBS are rivals in the exclusive world of media ownership. But they can’t get away with pulling off a stunt like that all the time (though it wasn’t the first occasion). It’s a tough game these corporations are playing. In some ways, each company holds each other accountable for their failures. Nonetheless, more information gets swept under the rug than gets brought to light. It’s all about the money. This new-age yellow journalism isn’t a step towards informing the next generation and that means the media can get away with almost anything.
However, there still exists hope for change. The future rests on the internet to be the new backbone of journalism. One website attempts to inform the next generation about the news is PolicyMic.com. Their mission sttement says, “PolicyMic helps our generation understand what’s happening in the world, why it matters, and how it impacts them.” The site writes a wide array of topics from politics to foreign affairs and usually shy’s away from fluffy topics. They also aren’t owned by the infamous six previously mentioned above, so they are not agenda-seeking. If more sites existed that scrutinized the media, and informed young people about media literacy then conglomerates have less power. But it doesn’t stop at news.
Even the movie industry shares this struggle. Similar to media ownership, big movie companies like Warner Brothers, Fox, and Sony Pictures control which movies make it to your local theater. Women directors very seldom get the spotlight. According to Debra Zimmerman, “…I can guarantee you, eighty percent of people we’ll be talking to are men, not women, and they are the ones who are the gatekeepers.” Feminist movies often don’t make it to the mainstream world because of these gatekeepers. Moreover, women directors hardly get recognition for their work. Only one director, Kathryn Bigelow, won an academy award.
This is the world we live in. Although movie goers have some say with what stays in theaters through popularity and ticket sales, their voice is not nearly as powerful enough to show women director’s work in an AMC. Likewise, media companies continue to control the information we digest. We have little power over reform. Still our future will only progress if upcoming generations can use what they have to change the future for the better.
Miles, Chris. “10 Corporations Control Almost Everything You Buy – This Chart Shows How.” PolicyMic. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.
Staff, Crimestider. “Disney Cruise Line Steward Ahmed Sofyan Arrested after Being Accused of Molesting Passenger, 13.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.
Redding, Judith M., and Victoria A. Brownworth. Film Fatales: Independent Women Directors. Seattle: Seal, 1997. Print.
“PolicyMic.” PolicyMic. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.