Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dangerous Media Monopolies - Gannett Mainstream MegaCorp

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It is, in my view very dangerous to have one mainstream newspaper with wide readership and great influence over the mainstream population purchase another chain of newspapers, news aggregators, or digests. It makes them larger and more powerful in terms of prevalence of influence and of promoting an agenda (if they have one), be it political or be it financial.

As we have all come to know, what we call "news" nowadays tends to be less about reporting facts, as it is about commentary regarding events, people and the like, with a strong slant in favor of the owners' (or the most financial influential advertisers) subjective point of view.

More newspapers and an increased geographical locus breeds more broadcasting of this subjective journalism -- in some cases, newspapers are so closely aligned with government interests, that certain matters remain unmentioned (treated as confidential or suppressed), while other diversionary trending stories (pop culture, the weather and the like) are used to replace them.

When newspaper chains become multimedia conglomerates, like Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., or like Gannett, which is acquiring more and more radio and television properties, this effect of news "skewing" is further enhanced by the addition of new audience members who prefer to get their news by morning drive shift radio or by television. Multimedia conglomerates are as powerful as Big Oil, but more subtly so. They work on the minds, and do not attack the wallets, of consumers quite so directly. And their influence and subtlety makes them a more dangerous foe. Ther are only about five or six major multimedia broadcasting conglomerates in the United States today, with Gannet (symbol: GCI) about the fourth largest.

The article below comes to us courtesy of SmartBrief, on of my favorite vertical industry newsletters, and a great aggregator of news regarding any given major industry:

Gannett, in $2.2 billion deal, will buy Belo Corp.
Gannett plans to acquire Belo Corp., which owns and operates 20 TV outlets, including nine in the top 25 markets, in a deal worth $2.2 billion. The acquisition will result in Gannett owning or operating 43 stations, making it the fourth-biggest owner of top network affiliates and extending its reach to almost 1 in 3 U.S. homes. USA Today

Can you imagine the pure power of being able to influence one in every three (on the average) households?

That is one of the reasons I chose to read many unaffiliated "fringe" papers, and why I listen to public and small private radio. I want to know as much as I can. I do not wish to become one of the Sheeple, nor will I inflict that type of brain freezing on my blog readers, In fact, independent blogs might be one of the best sources of news and commentary left to those who are not operating in a state of sleep walking and following the unidentified stranger in front of them, be it the Grim Reaper, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga or Donald Trump [I'm choking -- I'll be back after I've had a glass of water].

The fringe, the unaffiliated papers, radio stations and blogs are the last stronghold of truly independent news and commentary which is actually called commentary. The growing media monopolies are mind eaters. Enjoy them, but don't count upon them for the data necessary to render an intelligent decision -- for that, you'll need both above ground and "underground" sources.

Douglas E. Castle 

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