Media Consumers – Essay Sample

Media Consumers – Essay Sample

What exactly is the case for manipulation that this essay puts forth, and how should this inform the average media consumer’s understanding of the media they are receiving?

It is argued by liberal theorists that the media should be a space whereby the views of politicians are relayed to the public and needs of the public voiced to Politicians (Curran & Seaton.287). According to the German Philosopher Jurgen Habermas this space or Public Sphere as he defines it is an essential cog of any fully working democracy, and should therefore be free of interference from state, individual or corporate manipulation (Habermas. 14)  .

However,   it is argued by Julie Holla in her 2005 report “Fear and Favour” that the modern media is, by its very existence in a capitalist system, subject to influence from groups such as the aforementioned which prevent the media from fulfilling its democratic obligation.

Holla suggests several factors that present themselves as obvious candidates for apparent manipulation.  Highlighting the modern media’s dependence on advertising revenue as key area for debate (Holla. 2005)

The central argument to this point is that the economical clout of multinational corporations wielded through advertising contracts has direct influence over media content and coverage. This has clear implications for Adolph Ochs’s notion of a press that “give the news, all the news . . . impartially, without fear or favour, regardless of party, sect or interest involved.”(Holla. 2005. October 9 2009.)  Furthermore Holla gives the example of Garnett owned media stations whereby guests pay to be on the show thus rendering the notion of impartiality all but redundant as airtime is given to those with the financial capability of securing it, thus suggesting a serious manipulation of the liberal model of the media (Holla. 2005)

Another theorist to have noted such pressures on the media is Noam Chomsky. Chomsky argues that these pressures act as filters on the news we as citizens are given (Chomsky 1989).  One such filter noted by both Chomsky and Holla is that of the media proprietor. The debate Holla highlights centres around the notion that media proprietors use their outlets as mouthpieces for their own political agendas or to further their own economical gains. It is argued that both scenarios have occurred countless times and represent the role of proprietors as a worthy focus point in examining the manipulation of the media.

Highlighting well known names such as ABC and CBS Holla raises the issue of synergy whereby programmes that fall under the same umbrella of media ownership cross promote thus excluding rivals and narrowing the variety of programming available to viewers which could be viewed as manipulation to suit a certain proprietor’s commercial needs (Holla. 2005).

The issue of media proprietors also stretches into the realm of politics. Building on Holla’s identification of both the proprietor and politician as potential manipulators of the media, McNair argues politicians are forced to pander to media proprietors for fear of minimal exposure (McNair 149).

Politicians are also far from blameless for their own attempts to manipulate the press to their own gains as highlighted by Holla, who gives the example of Journalist Armstrong Williams who was paid by the Bush administration to give positive coverage to the administration’s No Child Left Behind Act.  The obvious flaw in this in a democratic sense is that it placed Williams in a position of being on the payroll of the very Politicians he was duty bound to ask questions of (Holla 2005)

Holla’s essay essentially attempts to raises awareness that while the media uphold an image of serving the public there are numerous filter that prevent it from fully carrying out this role (Chomsky 2005).

Moreover, as consumers of this news we as citizens must be aware that while we may live in an era of rolling twenty four hour news coverage it has been highlighted that this does not necessarily mean we live in an age of diverse media outlets or news stories.  Rather it has been argued we receive news that has been subject to numerous attempts to manipulate it whether by Politician, big business or conglomerate media ownership.





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