What do General Electric, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS all have in common? They all tell us what to wear, how to walk, how to dress, what to eat, what to listen to, how to act, etc. How so, those companies control 90% of the media. Those 6 media giants control what we watch, read and listen. Let’s start this essay with some statistics. Here’s some interesting facts. In 1983, 50 companies controlled 90% of all American media, 70% of our cable is included. In 2011, 6 of those conglomerates own the same large percentage of American media. In 18 years, 44 companies no longer controlled the media. Today, 232 media executives control the information diet of 277 million Americans, that’s 1 media executive to 850,000 subscribers. Comcast’s NBC merger controls exactly 1 hour of every 5 hours of television. Time Warner controls an incredibly large proportion of the news resulting in 178 million users reading Time Warner’s news. Impressive.
Lets break it down a bit further regarding exactly who owns what. Apple, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft own the Internet. Bertelsmann, Gannett Co., The Hearst Corporation, News Corp, Tribute Company, and Washington Post own the print industry. AT&T, Cablevision Systems Co., CenturyLink, Charter Communication, Inc., Comcast, Sprint Nextel CO., T-Mobile USA, Time Warner Cable and Verizon own cable and telecommunications. CBS, Comcast, Bain Capital/Thomas H. Lee Partners (Clear Channel), Gannett, News Corp, Time Warner, Tribune Company, Viacom, Walt Disney, and Washington Post own television and radio.
These corporations have a large impact on the stories that get covered in our communities. We live in an age now where absentee corporations own media. An absentee owner of a business may purchase a business as an investment but have very little to do with its day-to-day operations. This is exactly what’s happening with these media corporations. Junk news and celebrity gossip are replacing meaningful and educational debates. It is a safe bet that the owners of these corporations are all men, white men in particular. Coincidence? I think not.
According to the Women’s Media Center, 63.4% of journalists whether freelance writers, online, in print or on air, citizen journalists, or non-paid commentators are men, while 36.1% of those journalists are women. During the last quarter of 2013, men anchored 60% of news broadcast and provided 66 percent of field reporting. Topics such as world politics, business and economics, technology and science are reported by men. Women more frequently report on topics regarding health, lifestyle, culture, education, weather, and entertainment. What is this saying? Women do not have the equivalent intellectual capacity of an intelligent man? How so women surpass men in IQ scores. It appears that sexism is the issue here. However, PBS’ signature news show NewsHour feature an all-female co-anchoring team of Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill. Out of the nation’s 10 most widely circulated newspapers, the Chicago-Sun Times has the largest number of female bylines with 46% of its stories covered by women.
Over the years, we have seen the declined of women of minorities in the newsroom. In 2010, black women represented 50% of all black newsroom employees. As of 2013, the number has dropped down to 47%. Other minorities oriented newsrooms have experienced a decline in employees who were women of color. As of 2013, women of Asian descent represent 52% of all Asian newsroom employees when in 2004, 2005, and 2006, they represented 55% Multi-racial women accounted for 53 percent of all multi-racial newsroom employees. That figure was 47 percent in the 2013 report.
“Who Owns the Media?” Free Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.