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Media Ownership Concentration

The author of this report is asked to do a Marxist analysis of a media conglomerate and what does or tends to happen when a single corporate structure owns multiple publications and how the forcing out or limiting of other publications can lead to a stunted and incomplete view of reality due to an artificially limited marketplace. The company used as an example in this report is Time Incorporated, a subsidiary of Time Warner, that owns a number of publications numbering nearly twelve dozen including magazines in the fashion, television, entertainment and sports spheres. The three magazines that will be used for analysis will be People, InStyle and Marie Claire, as these magazines are owned by the same conglomerate and are used to push an image and a lifestyle in the name of making money. However, this is done at great expense to society and the media sphere given the message that is being presented and how dominant it is in the market place.

Questions Answered

The three magazines in question are quite different from one to the other but the three have one thing in common. They all push celebrity and fashion in the name of enriching the magazine's owners (Time Inc.) and the companies that sell and market products in the magazines. Depending on the magazine and the article, these products include makeup, clothes, movie, television shows and so forth. The latter two of that list is especially delicate and interesting given that Time Warner is also heavily involved in the television and movie business given their ownership of Time Warner Cable as well as other entertainment venues and avenues (Time, 2013).

The concentration of ownership and the diversification of a fashion magazine (Marie Claire), Entertainment Weekly (a TV/movie publication) and InStyle (which features elements of both of the prior magazines) allows Time Warner to hit the style and entertainment industry on three different fronts. If Time Warner was in no way involved in the entertainment and/or fashion industries, there would still be cause for concern due to the homogenous ownership between the three firms but the fact that they do have a very massive involvement in the entertainment and style industry means that they have a huge conflict of interest as it pertains to who they shill, who they shill for and why (Sorkin, 2005).

Profit maximization is clearly on the mind of the owners and operators of the magazines as well as the people they partner with. However, much like the interweaving of Comcast and NBC, there is a lot of murmuring about whether they are giving a fair shot to actresses or fashion nameplates that deserve it and/or whether they are force-feeding certain message (including political) fashion trends and entertainment options in the name of enriching the other bastions of the Time Warner label as well as the cronies and friends of the same.

To take this a bit further, it is quite interesting how a convicted woman-batterer like Chris Brown is still showing up in movies and putting out music that is marketed while more wholesome and virginal acts like Taylor Swift are being pilloried and mocked. Obviously, if Chris Brown was not selling movie tickets and music, he would not be marketed, but it is clear that these publications are putting dollars over decency. On top of that, the body image and sex appeal message that are propagated by these magazines put immense pressure on young girls of compromised self-esteems who get the perverted message that they are not worth anything unless they are skinny as a rail. This never-stopping barrage of imagery and content can lead to self-alienation or alienation with social cliques, along the line of Marxist belief, where people in ancillary and non-traditional groups are treated like dogs and outcasts because they cannot or will not mesh with the "in" crowd and what they like, with magazines like People, InStyle and Entertainment Weekly making sure people understand what they should like and what they should not (Pearson, 2013).

Between the body image thing and people being unfairly and unjustly pimped or pounced on is just unseemly and sometimes immoral. Profit dollars alone should not be the endgame and huge conglomerates with the hands in too many cookie jars can lead to a domination and filtering of what is seen by the public sphere and what is not. It is not quite as bad as the same thing happening in the news and/or political scenes as the results of that can be infinitely more destructive. However, to say that there is no negative impact to society from what is being hocked and why is simply false on its face. Things that would concern Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman are on full display with the media clearly filtering things so that people see what is wanted to be seen. There are outliers at times. Duck Dynasty, just as one example, is probably not something the above publications even mention willingly, but the crushing public desire and craving for everything Duck Dynasty makes them impossible to ignore. Just do not expect to see Uncle Si in Marie Claire (Lee, 2013).

Another Marxist prism that should be used for this whole dynamic is that of false consciousness. A major problem in the United States and countries like it is that entirely too much emphasis and import is placed on being phsyicall attractive and being wealthy. It leads to people spending in general on things they do not need, often on things they cannot afford and sometimes leads them to make ill-advised or even insane choices like getting unneeded plastic surgery or engaging in destructive lifestyle habits like anorexia/bulimia, drug use, excessive alcohol use and dressing in an overly-sexualized manner. Many of those, the latter in particular, are creeping further and further into the teenage years of young girls and boys (the former in particular) and the consequences of this false sense of what defines and gives people value should be disturbing to capitalists and Marxists alike. Sure, the half a million dollar house is nice but one can save hundreds of dollars a month in a mortgage payment by getting a slightly smaller house. Sure, Gucci makes nice things but so do Coach and Dooney and Burke.

The media moguls and conglomerates are defining what is worthwhile and what is a waste of time. They meld these statements and assertions with pictures. The way in which this powerful medium combination is sometimes wielded is quite sad and disturbing at the same time. This is not to say that people should not be allowed to buy what they want because this is not true. This is also not to say that the entertain and fashion industries are evil by nature because they are not. However, the unholy allegiance to the proverbial almighty dollar is causing both media titans to make very bad choices and this is affecting society and its associated populace in unseemly ways. People like Chris Brown, popular or not, should be blackballed from celebrity life (at least for a while) so as to make clear that he is persona non grata with there being no gray area as to why that is being done. On top of that, nothing short of an all-out apology and a squeaky-clean behavior streak thereafter is the MINIMUM pre-requisite and he himself should have to come out and say that what he did was wrong and it is never alright or acceptable to do what he did. Sports magazines do much the same thing as it relates to Tiger Woods and his prior pervasive infidelity. This is not to say that he is anywhere near as bad as Chris Brown based on what he did, but Tiger was engaged in extremely self-destructive, immoral (to many, at least) behavior that will depict a horrible example to his children as he ages as well as society as a whole based on the fact that it is rarely mentioned any more. Tiger, at least for now, is mostly a shadow of what he used to be but he still gets more media and sports attention than any other golfer.


Obviously, the media moguls need to make a profit to keep operating and expanding and that is a fair thing to concede to them. However, selling one's soul to make a buck despite any horrible societal trends are pushed or regardless of who is featured prominently whether or not they are redeeming people at all is a very troubling trend indeed. Even without the moral implications, the concentration and localized nature of media ownership can be a bad thing, especially when the different media units in question are interweaved with the industries they are touting. The only real solution to this problem is to break up companies or otherwise restrict them from owning companies in disparate but related industries that can cause conflict of interests and unfair levels of control over what is seen by the public…[continue]

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