The media since its inception has displayed the powerful and innate ability to control the narrative. What makes this potent is the fact that the media can determine what it deems necessary to expose to the general public. What has complicated matters over recent years is the process of powerful media companies merging and forming conglomerates. Just recently, Time Warner and Comcast agreed to merge, two of the biggest cable companies in the business. This proposed merger has many skeptics concerned about the cost of future cable bills but also leaves the question open as to whether the message that is published will become controlled.
There is already a similar structure in place of a media conglomerate controlling the message, a conservative one and that is NewsCorp owned by Rupert Murdoch. Under the multiple media holdings under NewsCorp varying from newspapers, television and radio, many news outlets are considered partisan and have been accused of pushing a conservative narrative. The NY Post, Wall Street Journal and Fox News are all considered Conservative by nature. This is an example of a news conglomerate with its different news agencies acting as a platform to portray a certain image and push a certain agenda to a wide audience.
Which leads to the question as to whether media companies controlling the message, exerting that kind of influence on a mass audience is detrimental or beneficial? If you ask a devoted viewer of Fox News if they are content with the network seemingly having control of the Conservative narrative, their response would probably be positive. Whether factually correct or incorrect, the perception is that a news organization like Fox News does eschew a bipartisan political message. Whether this is beneficial for the audience is debatable. Fox News viewers are often considered in various polls as being misinformed. Despite the influence Fox News has on its viewers, the last two U.S. presidential elections have resulted in a Democrat being elected president in 2008 and retaining control of the White House in 2012 for a second term.
However, one lady has been able to single handedly change or at least greatly alter the current media landscape and she goes by first name basis; Oprah. Oprah Winfrey is a perfect example of a woman who has a brand and influence so large that it looms over the entire media landscape dating back to when she hosted her daily talk show on ABC network. When she ventured into creating her personal network OWN, it created shockwaves that reverberated throughout the media landscape. All of a sudden, seemingly over night, women of varying ages, ethnic backgrounds and social status had a forum they could turn to that provided programming throughout the day that catered to them. OWN had its own narrative and message to convey to an audience that made the media landscape more diverse.
Not many people have the influence to alter the media landscape but Oprah Winfrey did for decades and still does through OWN. Oprah felt that through mainstream media, women were not being properly portrayed. Through OWN, she invited women to a platform where women would be properly represented within media. Starting OWN like any network carries its own set of challenges and at first, OWN did struggle to gain a foot bearing in many U.S. households. After launching in January of 2011, OWN was loosing a whopping 300 million a year almost a year later in May 2012. Despite the fanfare and buzz that the launch of OWN generated, it still experienced its own growing pains. This information displays that even someone as regal as Oprah Winfrey had experienced initial problems.
Despite the startup problems, OWN is now thriving. Winfrey’s exclusive interview with disgraced former Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong brought buzz and publicity to the network where he confessed of using performance-enhancing drugs. All it took for OWN to finally gain traction and influence within U.S. households was one big interview. Credit should be given to Oprah for taking on the challenge of not only trying to change the media landscape but for catering to a segment in the general audience that made the media landscape more diverse and more thoroughly represented going forward.
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