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« Guest posting -- Michael Serafin | Main | Pic of the Day »

January 04, 2003

Free Reads Benjamin Campaine on media concentration

Friedrich --

Benjamin Compaine in Foreign Policy (here) bursts a lot of PC bubbles about the supposed evils of what's imagined to be ever-increasing media concentration. Are the News Corps and AOL/Time-Warners just inches from establishing total control over each and every one of our thoughts? Er, no.

Sample passage:

Media companies have indeed grown over the past 15 years, but this growth should be understood in context. Developed economies have grown, so expanding enterprises are often simply standing still in relative terms. Or their growth looks less weighty. For example, measured by revenue, Gannett was the largest U.S. newspaper publisher in 1986, its sales accounting for 3.4 percent of all media revenue that year. In 1997, it accounted for less than 2 percent of total media revenue. Helped by major acquisitions, Gannett's revenue had actually increased by 69 percent, but the U.S. economy had grown 86 percent. The media industry itself had grown 188 percent, making a "bigger" Gannett smaller in relative terms.

Link found thanks to the ever-essential Arts & Letters Daily, here.



posted by Michael at January 4, 2003


I'm glad to hear that NewsCorp isn't washing my brain. My eyebrows did rise a little, however, when Mr Compaine told me that it is Australian. Yes, its shares are listed in Australia, but they're also listed in the US and the UK. Yes, it's controlled by Rupert, but he became a US citizen a long time ago, so that he could buy Fox. Or maybe the ownership of any media company is determined by the nationality of the editor of its largest US newspaper. Yes, that would explain it...

Posted by: Felix on January 4, 2003 5:49 PM

I thought the must read on Arts & Letters Daily was the list of nomonations for owrds and phrases to be banned from popular discourse: "black ice', 'on the ground', 'challenges', 'extreme' ...well, you get it, right?
Which got me to thinking about whether
'PC' should be nominated?

Interesting piece, not the least for apprising me that Amazon is a media company.

This observation killed me:
Often viewed as a negative, consolidation may have considerable social benefits. It took the deep pockets of News Corp. to create and sustain a long-awaited fourth broadcast network in the United States.

This is the first time I have read anywhere in the world that the creation of Fox Network has had social benefits (not counting keeping some of its more rabid personnel off the streets).

Compaine is on the money with this:

Corporate Ownership Is Killing Hard-Hitting Journalism"

A bright red herring. When exactly was this golden age of hard-hitting journalism? One might call to mind brief periods: the muckrakers in the early 20th century or Watergate reporting in the 1970s. But across countries and centuries, journalism typically has not been "hard-hitting."

Putting aside the larger question of who is responsible for the msierable state of media in the US (like the Okie farmer
says in Grapes of Wrath, "Well, then who do we shoot?) the consolidation of media
affects the media culture. Are the senior executives at Bertelsmann meaningfully different than at Viacom or Disney? I think they are not. Do they have the bottom line as their guiding star? Oh yes they do. Does that pervasive value affect the editors and writers and producers and photographers?
You betcha.

Mr Compaine's insights not withstanding, the perception that media conglomeration
has had a chilling effect on media workers seems obvious to me. And if not then who do we shoot?

Posted by: Robert Birnbaum on January 5, 2003 8:40 PM

Felix --When I get too dizzied by the multinational spectacle of it all, I blog a bit. Seems to help anchor me, as well as remind me of the ways in which the media universe is loosening up. So what if current magazines largely suck? I can run my own. Even if there's always the eensie problem of getting paid ...

Robert -- You don't like "PC"? But I see so much of it around still. What would you suggest as a replacement ? Happy to adapt.

As for Fox being a plus or a minus ... not being a TV news watcher myself, I have no opinion. But I can introduce you to a whole lot of righties who think that Fox has added a great deal to the TV-news universe. Don't ask me why, but I suspect that not many of them hang out in your literary circles ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 6, 2003 1:58 PM

As a matter of style I tilt against abbreviations and acronyms. I mean, PC could stand in for pretty cool, pretentious crap, preternaturally clever, positively corrupt or the way I always use it, petulantly cruel…

Anyway, here are some substitute phrases you could use instead of Politically Correct: Use as adjectives or nouns

Running dog collaborationist deviation

Leftist cliché



Nieman Marxist

Posted by: Robert Birnbaum on January 6, 2003 2:35 PM

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