The Sneaky Fox…
News are more important in a society than one might think. The basis of free press in democracies, means that the purpose of news is to accurately and neutrally inform the people. The information of the news affect people’s daily lives, public opinion and in the end, policy-making and politics, and subsequently, the news has a strong ability to shape our societies (Kellner, 2012, 1174). It is even argued that the media not only influence public opinion, but contribute to shaping it (Berger, 2012, 176).
However, it becomes increasingly obvious that the reality is far from the idea of an ideal democratic society of a variety of view-points represented in the news. The neutrality is rare and a handful of big corporations monopolise the news that we are actually exposed to, thus affecting the variety, different view-points, or even accuracy. Obviously, this has effects on our society (Oswald, 1994, 387).
Rupert Murdoch is undoubtedly one that is to blame for this. He is the owner of the huge news enterprise, News Corporation, and he is infamous for his selectivity and tempering of news in order to benefit businesses that are in his own economic interests (Manne, 2013). His right-wing orientated conservatism is no secret and he openly supports the Republican Party in his news (Bagdikian, 2014, 15). On several occasions he has been subject to scandals of news tampering, phone hacking, corruption… The list is long (Kellner, 2012, 1174-1181).
Yet, a recent poll states that the flagship of News Corp, Fox News, with almost a third of the votes, is the most trusted news source among Americans. Yes, that is correct. The. Most. Trusted. Keep in mind, the US is, despite what some argue, the most powerful country in the world. Add to this, the fact that almost a third of the voters use a tampered media as their mainstream resource for news. This means that American policy-making undoubtedly is affected by what is communicated, or ignored, by Fox News. Consequently, Mr Murdoch is a very powerful man (Schwartz, 2015; Manne, 2103).
This provokes the question of how free the press is in our democratic societies. If the media is not providing us with accurate, diversified, or neutral information, but news that are tampered with or favouring certain politicians, the media is devastating for the practice of true democracy (Kellner, 2012, 1173-4).To restore the democratic norms in our society, the extreme media monopoly needs to end in order to allow the media to become more versified and wide-spanning. The question that remains is how this would come about, as people such as Murdoch, who use the media as means to an end- to benefit their own interests, are much too powerful to be controlled. Moreover, despite scandals and the obvious issues with the accuracies of the News Corp news, people evidently put trust in these false news (Bagdikian, 2014, 17-21; Kellner, 2012, 1193).
The solution could be found on the state-level, where they put regulations on these corporations. However, that is challenging if the corporations serve the interest of the governments or if they are too powerful for governments to want to tackle them. Despite the fact that state regulations may be a undesired action for western liberal and capitalist societies, this may be the only way to actually protect these values. Meanwhile, the corporations grow ever more powerful and become ever harder to control. Thus, this is a complicated issue which needs to be addressed. If not, we would need to redefine our idea of democratic free press (Kellner, 2012, 1193; Manne, 2013).
Bagdikian, 2014, The New Media Monopoly, Beacon Press, Boston
Berger, 2012, Media and Society: A Critical Perspective, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc., Plymouth
Kellner, 2012, The Murdoch Media Empire and the Spectacle of Scandal, International Journal of Communication vol. 6, pp. 1169-1200, http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/viewFile/1613/754. Accessed April 2015.
Manne, 2013, Why Rupert Murdoch Can’t Be Stopped: The Political Empire of the News Corps Chairman, in Monthly Magazine Essays, November 2013, https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2013/november/1383224400/robert-manne/why-rupert-murdoch-can-t-be-stopped. Accessed April 2015.
Oswald, 1994, Mass Media and the Transformation of American Politics, Marquette Law Review, Vol. 77, No. 385, pp. 385-414. http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1615&context=mulr. Accessed April 2015.
Schwartz, 2015, Fox News is the most trusted national news channel. And it’s not that close, in the Washington Post Online, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/03/09/fox-news-is-the-most-trusted-national-news-channel-and-its-not-that-close/. Accessed April 2015.