Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Control of What We Watch, Hear and Read

By Chester Campbell

I read an article yesterday about "the 6 monolithic corporations that control about everything we watch, hear and read." The author pointed out that in 1983, the vast majority of U.S. news media was controlled by 50 corporations. Now that number has dwindled to a handful of very powerful conglomerates. They own TV networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels, and many of the websites we browse.

I'm a firm believer in capitalism and the free enterprise system, but when a small group of men (and women) control the sources of the bulk of information we use in our daily lives, it's a little scary. As the author puts it, "When you control what Americans watch, hear and read you gain a great deal of control over what they think. They don’t call it 'programming' for nothing."

Okay, you ask, who are these Big 6 monoliths that dominate news and entertainment in the U.S.? They include Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., CBS Corporation and NBC Universal. You can read the article here and see the long list of companies in their domains, but for the mystery writers and readers, here are a few significant ones:

Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books, Scribner), Harper Collins, Zondervan, Hyperion Books, Disney Publishing

Want to write a book making one of the media industry's big advertisers the bad guy? Don't hold your breath till it's accepted. These guys aren't in business to point out the foibles among the favored. They're in business to make money. That's okay if your product doesn't involve shaping people's thoughts.

Much has been written about the difficulty of new writers getting on with the major New York publishers, as they're mostly geared to the search for blockbusters. A few make it, of course, but they'll likely replace some of those whose last book didn't sell well enough. Fortunately, they don't control the ebook market, and you can find just about anything you want there.

The first three novels I wrote after turning to fiction full time involved a shadowy group of power brokers working behind the scenes to shape the world to their liking. I had read some background on the Bilderberg Group by a newsletter writer who had done extensive research, although at the time it was hardly known outside inner circles. I suspect it was the same group Robert Ludlum used as a model for his conspiratorial shenanigans. You can find lots of info about them on the Internet now.

Surveys these days show the American people are rapidly losing faith in the mass media. A Gallup Poll released a few days ago shows only 43 percent trust mainstream sources to truthfully report the news. Like the Goldman-Sachs influence on the financial scene, the media conglomerates wield way too much power over the information flow.

What to do about it? I have no answer. Do you?

1 comment:

Beth Terrell said...

I have no idea, Chester. There are alternate sources of news, but it takes a lot of work to sort the wheat from the chaff. How many people will do that, when it's so easy to swallow what one is being spoon fed?