American News Media: Compromised and Corrupt

Independent media is critical for the very existence of an informed democracy. However, mainstream media is in bed with the economic and political powers they are supposed to keep a vigilant eye on.

The mergers in the news business have increased at a record pace. It results in drastically limiting the spectrum of viewpoints broadcasted on mass media. With US media outlets mainly owned and controlled by for-profit massive conglomerates and supported by corporate sponsors, independent journalism is extremely compromised. Because of this, the profit of the conglomerates share holders has become the number one priority.

The big media corporations are also becoming fewer, as the larger ones purchase the smaller outlets. Quite often, as news organizations fall under the control of  huge conglomerates, with interests in other industries, impartiality suffers. One example is General Electric and its ownership of NBC, the same thing applies with Time Warner control of CNN and Murdoch’s News Corp with The Wall Street Journal.

The media landscape is also becoming more fragmented, partisan and it tends to feed its audience “red meat” stories as their primary news regimen. Sensationalism sales, it is good for the ratings and it keeps the share holders happy. It becomes a cycle of catering to the lowest common denominator of the viewers.

This phenomenon is affecting even the major national newspapers. Quality print press is shrinking quickly, partially because of a decrease in readership, but also a rapid slide in advertising revenue. Even the biggest and most prestigious newspapers such as The New-York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times are feeling the pinch. Some (such as the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal) were bought by large corporations.

As far as objectivity in the most reputable publications, some alarming trends have been emerging in the last two decades. We all remember that during the build up to the war in Iraq many journalists, even at the New-York Times, were beating the drums of war to make America’s public opinion favorable to the invasion. The New-York Times has also a long history of bias in favor of Israel. More recently, some serious allegations were made of collusion between some journalists of The Washington Post and their sources at the CIA.

Most Americans following the news closely watch cable news. This is where the partisanship and lack of real reporting is the most blatant. Of course, the best example for this is Fox News.  But to be “fair & balanced”, corporate meddling & pressure on editorial decisions affects CNN and MSNBC as well.

The big “stars” of cable news are not journalists, but entertainers. They are mainly concerned in influencing and feeding their respective audience with news targeted to a specific political goal. To some extend, it is the case from all across the political spectrum.

All those media personalities have a very specific political agenda, they are very good at keeping on ” message” and telling their audience exactly what they want to hear. They don’t report the news and the facts, but instead spin reality to make it fit into  preconceived opinions.

All Photos by Gilbert Mercier


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