So, you want to be a hard hitting, lead following, agitating journalist?
So do I. That’s the dream, right? Being able to find the truth behind the façade of any and all social issues. Yet how can we do this with the agenda of ‘the man’ skewing our stories?
I’m not about to go through a dizzying list of which publication or broadcaster is owned by what percentage of which media mogul and what political and social alignments they have. While that despicable sentence is hugely relevant, I’d rather take a look at it’s broader implications, and how this affects us aspiring journalist and the general public.
The most obvious concern for journalists and civilians alike is a lack of diversity within individual media corporations and the wider media environment.
If a significant proportion of shares in a media outlet are owned by one individual, it takes little more than common sense to realise that objectivity and diversity in the content being produced will be lost. When someone holds the greatest stake in an organisation, they can seize the powers of ‘editorial control’. This places pressures on employees to produce content that aligns with the political and commercial interests of their employer (Hart, E. 2011 p403). What we’re seeing as a result of this is the degrading integrity of journalism, with a less critical approach to news, creating a less broadly informed public.
The 2007 alterations in legislation allowed proprietors to own multiple media outlets in a particular market and for there to be cross-media convergence; owners of print could now own television news productions and vice versa and so on and on . . . sounding like a game of monopoly yet? The government attempted to curtail a decline in competitiveness by implementing the requirement of having multiple news outlets in cities and rural centres that were independent from each other. However, many organisations such as MEAA saw, and still see this as detrimental to the competitiveness of the news environment (Hart, E. 2011 p405).
It’s looking like we are somewhat in the poo when it comes to being a scrupulous reporter in the current environment, or being a well informed, and decisive public…
BUT, are we on the verge altering this?
Graeme Samuel, Chairman (2003-11) of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, asked in 2005 “…is technology making many of our existing concerns about media regulation irrelevant?” I feel like he may have been onto something.
Might the myriad of blogs and sites that report or comment on news pose a legitimate threat to big news conglomerates? I think the answer is an overwhelming ‘aye aye’. Many of these are organised, interactive and don’t require ‘adaption’ like traditional news mediums do; they fit the new mould. More importantly, they provide the all important elements of diversity and consumer choice.
This means that future legislation will have to adapt to regulating this new environment. Fingers crossed it all goes swimmingly.
This may just be the beginning of another downward spiral of media integrity in a new format, or it may be a fresh start.
I’m staying optimistic.
Refer to the references:
Hart, E 2011 ‘Case Study 6: media ownership’, in J Bainbridge. N Goc & L Tynan (eds) Media and Journalism: New Approaches to Theory and Practice, 2nd end, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria, pp.400-408