A biased look at the biased media

By Rebecca Antsis
Staff Writer

In the latest on a list of big corporate media mergers, AOL made a bid Feb. 7, 2011, to buy the leftist-leaning site, The Huffington Post, for $315 million. Known for its intelligent content, The Huffington Post will soon have to answer to a mighty new boss. Time Warner, parent to AOL, is the world’s second-largest entertainment conglomerate, as well as the world’s largest media conglomerate, according to Freepress.net.

Although AOL will own the Post, the company claims that Arianna Huffington will continue to oversee all editorial content. Huffington assures the public that the buyout will not lessen the publication’s credible, in-depth political content. Yet, AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong emphasized that only 15 percent of the Post’s content has to do with politics.

Let the spin begin.

What happens to our liberty when those entrusted with keeping the elite accountable are owned by them? With a pull of their purse strings, the power-holders possess the tools to shape mass consciousness and sway public opinion, controlling information that appeals to their agendas. Do you ever wonder why all three news channels air exactly the same stories? No one likes to be lied to, and certainly not by those whom we depend on for factual, objective information. If you are not worried, you should be.

So why and how did the media devolve from being the prime ensurer of a democracy’s health into a jibber-jabber drone propaganda machine and personal toy piano for the elite? Through corporate mergers and heavy deregulation by the Federal Communications Commission.

As the accompanying timeline suggests, the concentration of media outlets has been in a dizzying state of acceleration since the FCC ruled to deregulate media ownership regulations in 1996. Today, the Big Six that rule the media include: General Electric, Walt Disney, News Corp., Time Warner, Viacom and CBS. The variation and number of sources we get our news from today has been decimated, from the local many to the corporate few.

Married to a screen or a gadget, anesthetized to nature, proselytized to believe that the world is a simple tale of right or left, homogenized to be consumers in a culture of false choices and constantly flooded with information, you may be asking, who is to say what is truth and what are lies? Do we gobble this up out of fear? Or are we numb to it because it is in front of us all the time?

We need media that is unbiased, disinterested, for the people (and not the corporations), so we can make sense of our world. We need to demand this, and the surest way to be heard is through our dollar.

In the meantime, read between the lines and do not let any talking head convince you without turning a critical eye. Listen to and watch your local radio and television stations. Read your local newspapers and magazines. Let us not allow our perceptions of the  world to turn into McDonald’s Happy Meals.

A Timeline of Media Consolidation

Arizonans, where does your TV content come from?

Arizona TV Content Ownership

This article appeared in the April 2011 print edition of The Raven Review.

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