Scott Ludlam (from The Guardian… “Oh the bias!”) has said that a diverse media ecosystem is the backbone to any democracy, including Australia. He argues that regardless of your own political beliefs we should all be fighting for the diversification of media ownership. And to an extent, I certainly agree.
The usual argument put forth is that when there is a dominance of media ownership by a few ‘big guns’ (Murdoch, Packer and Fairfax), the under-saturation of Australia’s media market will lead to abuses of power. As well as conflicting interests, a lack of diversity in content, analysis and opinion.
This all seems common sense on first consideration. However, when I begin to really think about the question why does it matter who ‘controls’ the media, I feel a little underwhelmed by my own personal conclusions.
It is certainly true that currently, if you turn on your TV you are guaranteed to be watching a channel produced by one of six companies. The fate of newspapers is even grimmer, with only four major players. So why does this matter?
Media not only informs, but also holds the power to shape the publics perceptions. We are all familiar with Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Stalin’s USSR as extreme examples of what abuse occurs when the public are manipulated by one dominant media source.
Let’s not all run away crying in despair, just yet. I would like to think that most Australians are intelligent enough to navigate the contemporary media landscape, by ascertaining if a story has a particular agenda. Never, is a story going to be 100% objective or free from bias, to think that way is both naïve and idealistic. Journalists have their own ideologies that inevitably contribute to how they interact with a particular issue or story.
I suppose, why people are panicking, is that they are afraid that if there is only a few opinions being thrown around by the media, they will be left in the dark about alternative ideas. However, I really don’t believe that to be the case. Perhaps I have too much faith in the general population of Australia; currently we are in a time of dramatic change in how we communicate with one another, with social media taking centre stage. Although much of how we receive our news online is via the mega media companies, we are provided a platform via blogs, Twitter and Facebook to discuss our own opinions about current affairs amongst our peers.
I feel it needs to be said that virtually all the research that went into this blog post has come from publications that were produced by the ‘monopoly’ including the criticisms made by Ludlam…Oh the irony!
- The growing threat to Australia’s media plurality | Scott Ludlam | Comment is free | theguardian.com . 2014. The growing threat to Australia’s media plurality | Scott Ludlam | Comment is free | theguardian.com . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/24/malcolm-turnbull-media-plurality-scott-ludlam. [Accessed 30 March 2014].
- MotivatorMelbourne . (2007). Media Ownership in Australia. [Online Video]. 11 July 2011. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsHov5GvV0o. [Accessed: 30 March 2014].
- Pusey, M, 2011. From the Media Moguls to the Money Men? Media Concentration in Australia. Media International Australia , [Online]. 140, 22-31. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=66210904&si [Accessed 28 March 2014]
- Images courtesy of the Conversation, newthinktank and Multimedia Learning