Read Rupert Murdoch’s tweet about the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
Now watch Sean Hannity’s piece on “no-go zones in France”.
Notice a pattern? That’s right; they are both idiots expressing their narrow-minded and xenophobic views. What’s worse is they’re passing it off as fact – this is when media ownership matters.
Sean Hannity’s show “Hannity” airs on the Fox News Channel in the US and is owned by Fox Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s company 21st Century Fox. Murdoch is well known for his right-wing conservative views and often uses his stranglehold on the media to influence the political landscape – Fox News is the prime example of this.
What the YouTube clip above illustrates is just how agenda and ideologically driven Fox News’ content is and how they once managed, and still attempt, to pass it off as factual and unbiased reporting – this is when media ownership can become dangerous. Now Rupert Murdoch, Sean Hannity, and anyone else working at Fox News have every right to be passionate right-wing conservatives; however they do not have the right to let their views dictate what they present as fact. Sean Hannity’s “factual” news report on France’s apparent “no-go zones” for non-Muslims is an example of this, and unsurprisingly Fox News was later forced to admit that these were indeed falsified claims (Wemple, 2015). Unfortunately issuing a retraction does very little in alleviating the problem as the report is already out there in the public domain, breeding a new wave of ignorance and intolerance. But concerns over media ownership go far beyond Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News to a much larger issue regarding the concentration of media ownership.
In Australia, the media landscape is dominated by two conglomerates, Fairfax Media and Murdoch’s News Corp. In 2011, Fairfax Media and News Corp accounted for 86% of newspaper sales and “an International Media Concentration Research Project… found that Australian newspaper circulation was the most concentrated of 26 countries surveyed…” (Flew, 2013). By spreading the power across only a handful of people, the freedom and diversity of media content becomes restricted as “owners of the media influence the selection, shaping and framing of the news to attract advertisers… but also to ensure a favourable political climate for their media and other business concerns” (Beder, 2004). For active consumers of the media, this limits their ability to form well-rounded views and question the information they receive. For passive consumers, their way of thinking is controlled by the dominant media moguls and can unwittingly become products of their agenda. Nazi Germany is proof of this.
When the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, they quickly gained control over all forms of media and communication in Germany. Led by the Minister of Propaganda, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazis eliminated anything that threated the Party’s ideology and bombarded the public with media more aligned to Nazi beliefs. The aim of this was to control the public’s way of thinking and reinforce the power of the Party. With no opposing media, the Nazis largely succeeded with horrifically barbaric results (Ushmm.org, 2015).
The censorship of Nazi Germany is an extreme example of what the concentration of media ownership can do to humanity. In a modern democratic society, the effects aren’t as catastrophic but still shape the make-up of society. Allowing moguls like Rupert Murdoch to acquire more and more control over the media landscape only restricts the consumers’ access to information and gives conglomerates the capacity to censor what is released. A future of concentrated ownership of media is a future dominated by Fox News. That’d be a very bleak future indeed.
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YouTube, (2015). Europe is finished’ Terror expert on Islamic ‘no go zones’ | Sean Hannity. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn8jNXfbIpA [Accessed 28 Mar. 2015].
YouTube, (2015). Outfoxed Effect • Ten Years Later • BRAVE NEW FILMS. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2i_HH54BPk [Accessed 28 Mar. 2015].
Wemple, E. (2015). Fox News corrects, apologizes for ‘no-go zone’ remarks. [online] Washington Post. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2015/01/18/fox-news-corrects-apologizes-for-no-go-zone-remarks/ [Accessed 28 Mar. 2015].
Flew, T. (2013). FactCheck: does Murdoch own 70% of newspapers in Australia?. [online] The Conversation. Available at: http://theconversation.com/factcheck-does-murdoch-own-70-of-newspapers-in-australia-16812 [Accessed 28 Mar. 2015].
Ushmm.org, (2015). Nazi Propaganda and Censorship. [online] Available at: http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007677 [Accessed 29 Mar. 2015].
Twitter, (2015). Rupert Murdoch on Twitter. [online] Available at: https://twitter.com/rupertmurdoch/status/553734788881076225 [Accessed 29 Mar. 2015].
Beder, S 2004, ‘Moulding and Manipulating the News’, Controversies in Environmental Sociology, edited by Rob White, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 2004, pp. 204-220, viewed 19 April 2015, http://www.uow.edu.au/~sharonb/mediachap.html