By Rodrigo Valencia
In no type of way is Big Brother, the fictional character from George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, a direct example of media ownership. Nevertheless, it is fair to use him for comparison purposes since media’s relationship with society in this era pretty much falls under the same concept of totalitarianism. In the dystopian superstate of Oceania, ruled by Big Brother, the citizens are under constant surveillance by the Socialist Party that holds absolute power. This is in terms of a political system where very few individuals have control of basically everything. Back to the topic of media, much of the same stuff that happens in a totalitarian state is also present in what many refer to as a “media conglomerate.”
With the images above I hope that you further understand the point that I am trying to make. To summarize it, it is basically about that one rich man having the power to influence each and every one of us. As stated in the picture, 6 corporations control just about all of the media. For many, this might sound completely normal but the truth is that this is a fact that we should all worry about. Why? Simply because the media is part of our lives and everything that we get out of it comes from a small amount of people who are predominantly white males. Whatever it is that we do with the media comes from their perspective and closed minded ideas that don’t usually benefit every race, culture, and gender. The graph below clearly displays the imbalance in media ownership that mainly benefits the white man.
In present day United States, there’s barely anyone out there who doesn’t have a phone, a T.V., or computer. These technological devices facilitate the jobs of these corporations to promote their ideas that generally don’t favor society as a whole. General Electric(GE), News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS are the big six that have possession of almost everything that we consume in terms of our relationship with the media . From movie production studios to record labels, many of the companies that provide us with hit records or award-winning movies fall under the branch of these corporations. For as long as we stay involved with the media we are going to be influenced by these people and their ideas that no matter how mediocre they can be, are still going to reach society.
Unfortunately, the way everything is currently set up doesn’t allow minorities or women to present themselves in a better way since their involvement in media ownership is relatively not even there. The rich white executives are the ones that decide how people are portrayed, say in TV shows or magazines. In most cases there’s an overrepresentation of the negative aspects that are not unique only to minorities and women. In the news for instance, the association of crime and minorities is what’s always in display. Apparently the executives behind these shows find no need to portray certain people in a positive way.
And what can be done to stop this, or at least improve the way general public consumes media? There are many options available that can be efficient, but at the end of the day it all comes down to money and politics. There are millions of people involved in this, which is the positive aspect in fighting against the injustice found in the multimillion-dollar media industry.
The South American nation of Argentina can perhaps be the perfect role model to follow after it passed a media law in 2009 preventing market concentration in the media industry. This is beneficial to the independent media outlets since it allows them to grow and spread more diverse content out. This act was even recognized by the UNESCO, as it was mentioned by Rebecca Ellis who said, “Argentina’s media law has been heralded by UNESCO officials as a model of media democratization in an effort to combat public disinformation and media monopolies, according to Prensa Latina.”  Instead of private media conglomerates controlling pretty much what everyone consumes, this law reduces that and promotes a competitive market where more and more companies are involved in the process of providing media suitable for the public. The more independent media companies, the more diverse it is which in return positively influences society.
For the sake of the public interest, it is necessary to keep big corporations from completely dominating almost everything that we live and experience. It is 2014, how we communicate, what we learn, and what we teach is mostly influenced by the media. Therefore, it is necessary to open this market to more minds and not just a few rich white men. The government’s constant favoritism of big corporations over smaller groups is not the way to go. Until a law is passed that restricts media consolidations from being a common move, there’s not much that can be done but to support inclusive media makers that treat everyone alike.
1. Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Penguin in Association with Martin Secker & Warburg, 1954. Print.