Imagery and Culture
April 21, 2014
Thumbs Down To Big Media Corps
There are several big media corporations that are controlling what we watch. As consumers, we may think that we have the upper hand when we purchase television packages, but we are just the minority. In the hands of big media moguls, we are their puppets and they are pulling us by the strings in the pursuit of making billions. According to “The Global Movement,” an enlightening advocacy organization, “the public airwaves in this country have slowly been taken away from the public. There was a time when broadcasters were called upon to be responsive to the needs of the citizenry and present all sides of any given issue. It was part of their calling –to be the Watchdog of Democracy.” However, that is not the case now.
Other advocacy groups such as the National Conference For Media Reform said that “broadcasters make billions in profits while using public airwaves for free. In return, they are supposed to provide programming that fulfills community needs. Instead, lobbyists have successfully fought to make it easier for broadcast companies to gobble up even more free airspace while doing less to serve the public.” During the $45 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, there was a huge lobbyist movement in Washington that pushed for this. According to the New York Times, there were “at least 54 different groups that expressed their support for the deal –by sending letters to the Federal Communications Commission or signing agreements.” Some of these groups include the National Council of La Raza, National Urban League, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the Hispanic Federation (N.Y.), the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. As a result of their support, the Comcast Foundation paid these groups a total of $4,355,000. Who is really winning here? Not the consumers.
In return, “Comcast has 23.6 million cable subscribers, 18 million digital cable subscribers, 15.9 million high-speed Internet customers and 7.6 million voice customers,” which means more money for them and possibly more shows with poor content for us. If that fact doesn’t prove that consumers are losing then maybe this fact will. “The average American has no idea that super-rich predators with names like Rockefeller, Rothschild, Bronfman, Newhouse, Murdoch and Redstone are making vast profits and achieving immense power through their stranglehold on the American media (and, increasingly, on media around the globe.)” You may be wondering what these ‘super-rich predators’ have in common. They are old, white, filthy rich men that are pushing their agendas to appease their quota; which is not fair.
Perhaps that could explain why women and minorities are depicted negatively on daytime television or movies. For example, there are many shows on television that portray women in a sexist light. If they aren’t hyper sexualized like the women on “Sex And The City” then they are struggling, trying to make ends meet, and sidelined like the women on the “Big Bang Theory,” “Modern Family,” and “Two Broke Girls.” In fact, look at the way Black people are portrayed on television. Kerry Washington, a Black Hollywood actress, plays Olivia Pope on “Scandal,” which is a hit show on ABC. On the show she plays a political press aid that has a love affair with the President of the United States. Despite her reputable job title, her indecent behavior becomes the main focus of the show. On Thursday nights, people cannot wait to watch their love unfold every week. According to Indiewire.com, which is a site that primarily focuses on film and filmmakers of the African Diaspora, that during “Scandals third season premiere, 10.5 million people tuned in to watch the show; giving the ABC drama series highs in total viewers and adults 18-49.” As probably expected, the premiere delivered “712,877 tweets, which is the show’s highest social delivery t date and stood as the #1 most social series on Thursday night.”
A part from the shows popularity, what Scandal fans may have failed to realize was that the writers of the show have reinforced Black stereotypes upon Kerry Washington by painting her as a jezebel. With that said, “primetime television needs more strong and professionally accomplished women characters. Most shows are successful because they are relatable and have characters that we all hope to be like one day. It seems like wealth and success comes easily to all the male characters in the shows we love to watch.” Something needs to be done about this issue or else consumers will run the risk of supporting the objectification of women and minority groups. Thanks to Murdoch and all of his friends, there is a high probability that children may grow up with even more obscure interpretations of the world we live in due to the imbalance of race, identity, and gender roles in the media. As Douglas Kellner said, “media images help to shape our view of the world deepest values: what we consider good or bad, positive or negative, moral or evil.” And big time media corporations are taking advantage of that on our expense, but there are alternative media organizations that have been doing the opposite to help Americans better understand the media such as “Accuracy In Media.”
“Accuracy in Media is a citizen’ media watchdog whose mission is to promote accuracy, fairness and balance in news reporting. AIM exposes politically motivated media bias; teaches consumers to think critically about their news sources; and hold the mainstream press accountable for its misreporting.” AIM was founded in1969 by a group of concerned American citizens. It was led by Reed Irvine, an economist. Their main concern was that they did not like how inaccurate the media was. In other words, they did not believe that the media was fair, objective, or honest –which is how journalism should be. In the pursuit of dismissing unethical journalistic practices in American journalism, they banded together and sent inquiries to newspaper editors asking them to make corrections. If they refused, however, AIM bought advertising space in the newspaper to print the correction and later on, they published their own newsletter, books, documentaries, special reports, and purchasing stock. Overtime, this small group of American citizens grew into an influential organization with many full-time media analysts.
It is undeniably crucial to have alternative media organizations such as AIM because it helps disseminate what mainstream media organizations are forgetting. News stations such as ABC, NBC, CNN, Fox News, CBS, and MSNBC, for example, are under big major media companies that have their own agenda of what they want American citizens to know. With that said, ethical journalism standards will not be met and that poses a huge threat to us because as educated consumers we are supposed to know what we are investing our money and time in. That is way new media literacies such as AIM is important because it “helps American citizens form the ability to think across media, identify the same content as it is translated across different modes of representation, to understand the connections between story communicated through different media, or to express an idea within a single medium or across the media spectrum,” according to Henry Jenkins, the Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Finally, if more citizens continue to look unto reputable media organizations such as AIM, they will be able to debunk injustice or unethical journalistic standards in the media.
1. Jenkins, Henry, “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century.” MacArthur: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Pg. 56.
2. Obenson, Tambay A. “‘Scandal’ Season 3 Debuts W/ Historic Ratings! 10.5 Million Viewers + 712,877 Tweets.” Shadow and Act. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.