Today, only six corporations own all of the U.S. news media outlets the public consumes. General Electric, The Walt Disney Company, News Corporation, Time Warner, Viacom, and CBS Corporation own the majority of U.S. media.
While many people argue that the media does not form their opinions, it has been proven that the media influences the public. A study done in 1968 by Professors Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw still holds true today. The Agenda Setting Theory explains that the media tells us not what to think, but what to think about. The media tells the public what is important and what they need to know. If a story shows The Walt Disney Company in a bad light, that story is not going to be associated with any of the media they own.
Most Americans don’t realize that all of the news they watch, read, and hear is being controlled by these six monolithic corporations. Most people do not realize this may affect the news they are receiving. Journalism, a field that used to focus on truth telling, now seems to focus on making money. Dan Rather, a former CBS Evening News anchor, explains the changes he has seen in the media.
Ben Bagdikian, a former reporter and editor of The Washington Post, Dean of the School of Journalism at UC-Berkeley, and author on media corporations wrote an article and said, “…when we consider some of the most spectacular mergers in the media industry, we confront a more subtle but profound power. It is the power to socialize, to influence the values and behavior of individuals and of whole societies.”
The concentrated power of these corporations is affecting not just public opinion, but what is seen as important as well. The limited ownership of the news is diminishing global view and media intelligence. Are the goals of these corporations congruent with the public’s interest?