Do you know who controls what you see? Times have changed from when our parents watched the news. Over the past 20+ years the amount of companies controlling the news we see have decreased from 50 to about 6. According to Ken Doctor there is the “Digital Dozen, twelve companies fighting to have control over the news industry”(Doctor, 2010). Fox News is one of the largest media companies that has the most impact on this country; Rupert Murdoch has great control because of his media empire.
How did this all start?
Rupert Murdoch owns Fox News, which was bought out by News Corporation in 1985. In 1995, Murdoch started up Fox News Channel to acquire “Fair and Balanced” news. The problem is that since the beginning of Fox News it has been seen that they are unfair and unbalanced. Murdoch owns “9 satellite tv networks, 175 news papers, 100 cable channels, 40 book imprints, 40 TV stations and 1 movie studio making his total global reach 4.7 billion people”(Greenwald, 2004). This kind of outreach makes it easy for one to manipulate the news and have multiple sources agree even though all the sources are owned by the same person.
Why does this pose a problem?
With such a large global reach by Rupert Murdoch, it is easy for him to manipulate the news in order for it to reflect his views and also have multiple sources seem like what is in the news is true. In this case Murdoch’s news empire reflects his conservative views. It has been estimated that “Murdoch and his company News Corp. have spent close to $50 million here in America through well-heeled lobbyist” (Colarusso, 2011). With his power, he has used his money to persuade lobbyists and law makers to relax guidelines that would make it harder for him to snatch up multiple media guidelines. He has spent $5 million dollars a year to help push his conservative agenda.
What does this do for our news?
Since Murdoch is a known backer of the Republican Party, he strives to make sure that his “fair and balanced” news leans heavily to the right. Recently, the Moody Memos have come out. These memos are daily letters sent to the various Fox News stations by editors in NY and DC. The memos stated what the news should focus on to put the right wing in the positive spotlight and the left wing in the negative spotlight. As Fox has grown the blending news and commentary has become more and more apparent. Jon Du Pre, a former Fox reporter, stated that “they weren’t a news gathering organization, but a proponent of a point of view”(Greenwald, 2004). With Fox as the leading news channel in the nation, its large audience is now mistaking opinion for fact. Shepard Smith explains that he was told by a representative of Fox News that “Bill O’Reilly, Neil Cavuto and Glenn Beck aren’t really news people, they are editorialists and ought to be analyzed as such”(McDermott, 2010). This can be shown with Bill O’Reily’s talking points in his show. It is hard to differentiate what is fact and what is his opinion.
In an interview with a Fox news representative they stated that “I think we are the counterweight… I think that they have a liberal agenda and I think we tell the other side of the story”(Smith,2011). So instead of the representative defending the fairness and balance of Fox, they actually admit the fact they are very much conservative because the “liberal agenda” forces them to be. Ultimately the bias and unbalance causes us as the viewer to believe false information. A recent study by Fairleigh Dickinson shows that because of Fox News opinionated style of reporting, Fox leads people to be even less informed then those who do not watch the news at all.
What does this do to us as the viewer and America as a whole?
We are heading towards an election this year where most Americans won’t be in a room with the candidates, most people learn about the candidates from what the media shows them or doesn’t show them. With Fox News being one of our Digital Dozen their outreach can and does affect political views within this country, even if the “facts” they give are false or have been spun to make the opposition look bad. To help out its right wing agenda, this past election, “Fox has devoted more time to floor speech at the republican national convention then they do with the democratic convention” (Morris, 2007). Even now with the election only 7 months away it is important that we as viewers make sure we look at other news sources so that we get accurate information about what is really going on in our world. While yes it is great that these super news companies like Fox News in the Digital Dozen can get us “news” faster than ever, the downside is that multi-billionaires such as Murdoch can and do influence the news we get.
The super news companies are slowly straying away from fact based news to opinionated, it is hard for the viewer to get the real story because there are so few news outlets to get accurate information. While it might seem great that we can now get news whenever we want with these “digital dozen” companies like Fox news, it does come at a price. That price is at times misinformation and bias. So it is important to ask yourself, “Is bigger always better?”.
McDermott, T. (2010). Dumb Like a Fox. Columbia Journalism Review, 48(6), 26-32.
Morris, J. S. (2007). Slanted Objectivity? Perceived Media Bias, Cable News Exposure, and Political Attitudes. Social Science Quarterly (Blackwell Publishing Limited), 88(3), 707-728. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6237.2007.00479.x
33 internal FOX editorial memos reviewed by MMFA reveal FOX News Channel’s inner workings | Media Matters for America. (n.d.). Media Matters for America. Retrieved April 23, 2012, from http://mediamatters.org/research/200407140002
Colarusso, L. (n.d.). How Rupert Murdochs Money Helps Him Makes Friends – The Daily Beast. The
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Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
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