Environment in Crisis

The Media
The Media

Framing the News

Owner Influence
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Supplying Audiences for Advertisers

Noam Chomsky (1989), who has documented a number of biases in the US media's treatment of foreign affairs, points out that media corporations "are closely integrated with even larger conglomerates" and like other business they sell a product—audiences—to buyers—advertisers.

In short, the major media—particularly, the elite media that set the agenda that others generally follow—are corporations 'selling' privileged audiences to other businesses. It would hardly come as a surprise if the picture of the world they present were to reflect the perspectives and interests of the sellers, the buyers, and the product... (p. 8)

The owners of the media influence the selection, shaping and framing of the news to attract advertisers—"Proprietors determine the target audience and general editorial approach to that audience" (Windschuttle 1988, p. 264)—but also to ensure a favourable political climate for their media and other business concerns. About a third of newspaper chain editors admitted in a survey by the American Society of Newspaper Editors that they "would not feel free to run a news story that was damaging to their parent firm" (Bagdikian 1983, p 32).

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Bagdikian, Ben H. 1993, The Media Monopoly (Beacon Press: Boston).

Chomsky, Noam, 1989, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (London: Pluto Press).

Windschuttle, Keith, 1988, The Media: A new analysis of the press, television, radio and advertising in Australia, 2nd ed (Ringwood, Victoria: Penguin).


© 2003 Sharon Beder