The media is primarily used to disseminate information. It is a platform for communication between the people and those who hold authority. In today’s world the media has an immense role in the functioning of society and has the ability to reach a mass audience through technologies such as print, Internet, television, film and radio. There has been increasing concern over the growing concentration of media ownership as well as how this increased media control influences and shapes democracy. Concentrated media ownership refers to the number of individuals or corporations who control an increasing share in the mass media market, which at present is very few. For example, eleven out of twelve major Australian Newspapers are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation or John Fairfax Holdings (Independent Australia, 2011). Society has seen media moguls, such as Rupert Murdoch, dominate cross-media ownership with companies in print, television, film etc.
The media and politics are closely intertwined and with an increase in concentrated media ownership and control, issues such as political bias; the trivialisation and sensationalism of political issues in the pursuit of profits; and the decreasing amout of editorial diversity and expression, have become issues of concern for the consumers of this mass media.
Street describes bias as “the idea that the practices of journalists and editors result in articles and programmes that favour one view of the world over another, providing sustenance for one set of interests while undermining an alternative” (Street, 2011). Bias is a large issue within all media, and authorities enforce a myriad of regulations and restrictions on media corporations to try and eliminate it. With an increase in media concentration, and the power that the media yields, eliminating political bias within the media has become an important issue. Since most of the media institutions are owned by corporations, such as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the most common assumption is that the media as a whole may be influenced by its owners. For instance, there are times when the owners' decision may affect the kind of information that media would disclose to the public. Wagner makes the point that “the news media distribute much of the information we receive about the world around us. Thousands of politicians, policy researchers and opinion makers wish to transmit information to the public at large. The news media serve as intermediaries in this information market, selecting to transmit a fraction of the millions of potential messages to an audience” (Wagner, 1997). For example, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News channel was been criticised for its right-tilted news coverage. Murdoch has always been seen to favour the conservative side of politics and the Fox News channel has been seen to show preference toward the Republican Government in America. Fox Founder and president Rodger Ailes was a republican political operative in Washington. He helped with The Nixon and Reagan campaigns as well as the elder Bush’s media strategy for his presidentiary campaign in 1988 (Ackerman, 2001). David Asman, The Fox News Channel’s daytime anchor was known for his association with the right- wing Wall Street Journal. Another anchor for Fox News, Tony Snow, was a conservative columnist and also the chief speechwriter for the first bush administration (Ackerman, 2001). The Fox News Channel also hosted employees and presenters such as Eric Breindel, John Moody and Bill O’Reilly, all of whom were known for their conservative, right wing views (Ackerman, 2001). Rupert Murdock stated, “ "I challenge anybody to show me an example of bias in Fox News Channel." (Ackerman, 2001) However, looking at the individuals that were in charge of disseminating the news at Fox, it is hard to believe that none of the political stories covered by Fox did not favour the more conservative side of American politics. Media conglomerates, such as News...
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