The spin that often surrounds war, is fundamentally damaging even if it is intended as damage control for the nation as a whole, or at the very least the leaders of the nation.
It has been hinted at within this work that the old adage, the public does not necessarily believe what it hears, but it hears what it believes is at play when it comes to media. As Jamieson & Waldman pointed out by their poll results, of the Gore Bush election, post media bias survey, there is a clear sense that the public sees the opposing view as the one that is most stark in their utilization of biased reporting.
Additionally, Bernard Goldberg's op ed piece regarding the reduced viewer-ship of network news clearly states that even the commentators seem to be painfully aware that the public no longer trusts the mainstream media to offer a fair unbiased accounting of the facts.
Contrary to the idea that people do not seem to believe everything they watch, is the idea of cultivation theory, which, states that subconsciously the television culture has been whitewashed or collectively reduced to the greatest common denominators that exist or are perceived to exist in culture. Without even knowing it, diversity has been weeded out of a presumably diverse culture by the fact that media seeks to demonstrate the greatest "good" for the greatest number of people. Programming and coverage tend to build upon the ideas that we already have, including as will be noted later stressing the fact that there is a "majority" ideology in American culture that the for profit media clearly builds upon to gain and keep viewers. Those who do not trust the media may seek to find alternative forms of media that speak to ideas that are more in line with contrarian concept than a moderate in the middle representation of the facts, yet each is exposed based upon the fact that for the most part the stuff that gets produced (i.e. paid for) is the status quo. Fox, Wall Street, Drudge, NPR, Pacifica, CBS, etc. all have a particular biases that is more or less believed by its viewers based on his or her already held beliefs, which are undoubtedly influenced by what came before. This brings us to a point which has briefly been touched upon in their work previously, and that is the idea of media corporate bias.
Corporate Media Bias
As was pointed out early in this work, (Chapter 1) newspapers and other media outlets learned rather quickly that they could not survive without sponsorship, as readers could not pay the bills if the newspapers expected to have any kind of mass readership. The same can be said of television as even the last of the "free" public providers of television has recently fallen to advertising media, as can be seen if one notes that PBS now has commercials. It should be noted that the acceptance of commercial and corporate sponsorship on the part of PBS and NPR has more to do with political funding issues than anything else, as the conservative federal government has to some degree attempted to wage a war on one of the last, "purely liberal" holdouts in media, the public broadcasting system.
The past decade has shown and increase in the trend toward consolidation of media. The trend crosses genres and borders and is largely a response to the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which was described in detail in Chapter 1. The conglomeration of corporate interests from a varied set of competitors in size and region to what is commonly now termed as the "big 6" with a few small stragglers waiting no doubt to be swallowed up by larger corporate interests.
A in 1983, fifty corporations dominated most of the mass media in this country (Bagdikian 1997, xlvi). But today a mere handful of firms dominate our mass media (Bagdikian 2000, xii). The Big Six, as they should be called, include AOL-Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, NewsCorp, Bertelsmann, and General Electric (Bagdikian x). (1) in the largest of all recent media mergers, AOL Time Warner combined AOL's 100 million internet sub-scribers with Time Warner's 75 million cable subscribers. AOL Time Warner is also a dominant player in cable programming, magazine publishing, movie production, book publishing, music recording, and other related ventures (McChesney, 92-93; Bagdikian, xi). Each of the other five media giants has substantial market power in most of these same areas (McChesney, 93 ff.). Moreover, the Big Six are intertwined due to ownership of stock in their fellow media empires, joint ventures, and other interlocking devices (cf. Rifkin 2000; Bagdikian; Croteau and Hoynes 2001). To quote TCI chairman John Malone, "nobody can really afford to get mad with their competitors, because they are partners in one area and competitors in another" (quoted in Rifkin 2000, 221). The firms compete vigorously in only one area, the battle for the largest share of advertising revenues (Bagdikian 2000, xxii).
As advertising revenues are the most dominant critical goal of each of these media giants the competition is not divided to outdo each other with thought provoking media representation of unbiased reporting or representational drama, they are in the war to gain the greatest number of viewers so they might be more able to bring in the greatest number of ad revenue dollars.
The traditional take then becomes what sells is what makes it to air, including but not limited to the goriest of gore, when it comes to television news. This is a message that is clearly illuminated by Fallows in his work Breaking the News, where he points out that U.S. media coverage is likely to give the rest of the world the impression that what is going on over here is one big drive by shooting, and that major media networks spend less than 6 minutes a day covering news outside the U.S. The argument that is brought forth by Chomsky & Herman in Manufacturing Consent, demonstrates that there are two basic target for propagandists, politics and class, and those who are in the middle and constitute the greatest numbers are the ones the mass media is trying to sway, to leverage their add dollars. Chomsky & Herman point out that the media is now populated by a limited number of elite members who set agendas through selecting topics, distributing information and concerns that meet the concerns of the elite members of society, the white majority and smaller media, such as local television then fall in line with this agenda, as a way to express the same need to compete for ad dollars.
Commit to a close with this discussion is something than cannot be left out, and is certainly not the least of the worries of the situation. Part of the competitive drive that si associated with the big media giants war for ad dollars is that the large corporations are also publicly traded and have a fiscal obligation to make their shareholders and their stakeholders as much money as they possibly can, thanks in part to the Telecommunications Act.
This eliminates risk as an option. Media then become a washed out representation of the status quo, with the large elite's making the biggest decisions based largely on what they know works. As a television viewer this makes me wonder if the current trend for massive amounts of remade programming, in conjunction with the huge piece of the pie emphasis on reality television is in fact entirely guided by corporate interests in making sure that risk taking is kept to a minimum and profit to a maximum. Wes Gehring, suspected in 1997, that media had run out of imagination.
Yet the theory that massive media companies reducing risk through strategic management and programming choice is likely just as much a cause as imaginative opportunity, which seems to be unbound in the American experience, but often goes under the radar and underrepresented for long periods, and especially during conservative administrations. Though this line of reasoning is an aside it also bridges the gap between the ideal and the real when it comes to media representation. Ideological biases are clearly at play in the development of programming and information dissemination of all kinds in mass media.
Ideological Media Bias
The collaborative agenda, which can easily be summarized as the ad dollar war, has conspired to stress to the American population that it is not diverse, as is preached but homogenous. Patriotic in times of conflict, even when the conflict is wrong, the conservative media gives us the impression that it is our duty as Americans, once the fighting has begun, to simply shut up and wave a flag. While the equally biased liberal media gives us the impression that none of the intelligence regarding Iraq had any merit whatsoever and that this war was not only wrong…