Ideology and Power?Media Conglomerates, Freedom of Speech and Marxist Theory 1984 Apple Macintosh Commercial (directed by Ridley Scott) HYPERLINK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhsWzJo2sN4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhsWzJo2sN4 we will have a short discussion about literary paranoia about media in texts like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, etc. EFFECTS OF DEREGULATION ON THE NEWS MEDIA Repeal of the Fairness Doctrine In 1949 the FCC created the Fairness Doctrine, which stated that licensed radio stations to ?devote reasonable attention to the coverage of controversial issues of public importance? Under this rule the stations had to provide ?reasonable, if not necessarily equal?opportunities for opposing sides to express their views. The original reasoning behind the Fairness Doctrine was that the airwaves belonged to the public, so the radio broadcast industry was obligated to serve the public interest. The chief reason for repealing the Fairness Doctrine was that deregulating broadcasting would eliminate government interference and allow stations to compete freely in the market place. The Fairness Doctrine was repealed in 1987 during President Ronald Reagan?s second term. The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine resulted in the extremely partisan, political talk radio shows of today. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 The Telecommunications Act of 1996 lifted most restrictions on hhow many radio and TV stations one corporation could own. As a result, radio and television ownership became increasingly consolidated, through media mergers that lead to localized media monopolies. Media Ownership In the early 1980s, 50 media companies owned most of the U.S. mass media. Now, five corporations control most of America?s daily newspapers, magazines, radio, television, books, and movies. These corporations are Time Warner, the Walt Disney Company, News Corporation, Viacom, and Berteismann. General Electric has recently combined its NBC media holdings with Universal?s movie studios to form NBC Universal, the nation?s sixth largest media company. After the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Clear Channel quickly became the nation?s largest owner of radio stations. By 2006, Clear Channel owned more than 1,199 stations. Clear Channel holds monopolies in many towns. Now roughly two dozen newspaper chains dominate most of the country?s 1,500 daily newspapers. Practically every cable company monopolizes its local audience. Media and Politics Sixty percent of eligible voters voted in the 2004 presidential elections. This was the highest percentage since 1968. In 2004 national political campaigns spent over $1.5 billion on political advertising. Most of the money went to television stations in the battleground states--such as Ohio, Colorado, and Florida--where either presidential candidate had a chance to win. In both the 2000 and 2004 elections, the news media tended to emphasize polls instead of analyzing key issues. Media reports of early exit polling affect voter turnout. According to a 2004 report from the Center for Public Integrity, the broadcasting, cable, and telecommunication industries spent $1.1 billion dollars between 1998 and 2004 in lobbying and campaign expenditures ?to affect election outcomes and influence legislation before Congress and the White House.? Media and the War in Iraq In the early stages of the war in Iraq, the broadcast media packaged its coverage in Pentagon terminology, such as ?Operation Iraqi Freedom? and ?shock and awe.? At the beginning of the war, the U.S. media sent 500 reporters, who were ?embedded? with the troops. Between 1992 and mid-2006, 580 journalists died in the line of duty worldwide. Thirty-one percent of those deaths occurred covering war. Eighty of those deaths, including the deaths of 59 Iraqis and 2 Americans, occurred in Iraq. War reporters face two opposing criticisms: They may be accused of being unpatriotic if they criticize administration policy and performance. They may be accused of writing propaganda if they only report government-sanctioned news. In 2003, when the war in Iraq began, many TV anchors wore American flag and USA lapel pins. The news media did not begin to ask critical questions about the war until a year later, when public opinion polls showed declining support and the daily death toll of American troops was at its highest. In 2006, both the New York Times and the Washington Post ran stories apologizing for not investigating the administration?s justifications for going to war in the first place. ?Buying the War? Bill Moyers April 25,2007 HYPERLINK http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/watch.html http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/watch.html ?The Control Room? Media and Government Secrecy In the First Amendment, the founding fathers guaranteed the freedom of the press so that journalists could serve as the ?watchdogs of democracy.? This was the beginning of a continuing tradition of animosity and distrust between government leaders and members of the media. For instance in 2006, The News York Times disclosed a secret Bush administration program to monitor bank records of suspected terrorists and millions of others. Republican Congressmen called this report an act of treason that should be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Also in 2006, The Washington Post?s reporter Dana Priest won a Pulitzer Prize for her story of a covert program to capture terrorism suspects abroad and send them to secret prisons in Eastern Europe. (At the Bush Administration?s request, the Post did not disclose the locations of these prisons.) In a roundtable discussion on NBC?s Meet the Press, William Bennett, a conservative spokesman for Republicans, said Priest?s report was not worthy of an award but instead it was worthy of jail time. The Supreme Court has protected the news media?s right to criticize the government throughout American history. In 1971, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote, ?The government?s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people.? PROBLEMS WITH INCREASING CONCENTRATION OF MEDIA OWNERSHIP Decline in range of available material Exclusion of minority voices without economic power Self-censorship for political favors and economic gain Dominance of Corporate advertising and marketing Prevalence of easily understood, popular, formulated, bland entertainment MARXIST THEORY AND MEDIA TERMINOLOGY Alienation Bourgeoisie Capitalism A competitive social system, emerging in seventeenth century Europe, involving private ownership of accumulated wealth and the exploitation of labor to produce profit, which creates such wealth Capitalist Terrorism Consumerism False Consciousness Hegemony a complicated intermeshing of forces of a political, social and cultural nature Ideology A set of ideas that give some account of the social world, usually a partial and selective one Paradigm an entire system of thought that characterizes an entire period. Proletariat Karl Marx (1818-83) ? German philosopher and journalist who analyzed the emerging industrial capitalist order of nineteenth-century Europe Marx never specifically wrote about mass media; however, many of our cultural suspicions about media can easily be traced to his influential ideas. MARXIST THEORY APPLIED TO MEDIA (Summarized and paraphrased mostly from The Media Student?s Book, p.176) Marx divided societies into two classes: The bourgeoisie who own the instruments of production and are ultimately responsible for alienation and a host of ills, and the proletariat who want to save themselves and society. He believed the working class had the power to change history by their united action and practical experience of working together rather than competitively. He said dominant ideas, which are accepted as ?common sense,? are in the interests of the ruling class to secure its dominance. Those who own the means of production control the means of producing and circulating the most important ideas in any social order. The ruling class believes its own messages because it employs a group of conceptualizing ideologists who, according to Marx, ?make it their chief source of livelihood to develop and perfect the illusions of the class about itself.? The meaning-making members of any society (including the media) support the dominant class by making workers believe that existing relations of exploitation and oppression are natural and inevitable. DIRECT APLICATIONS TO U.S. MEDIA The myth of a classless society camouflages real social relations. Mass media distracts from (and often reinforces) the realities of poverty, racism, sexism, etc. Media heroes and values reflect ruling class ideas. Media either masks class differences or defends the ruling class. MEDIA CENSORSHIP (summarized and paraphrased mostly from The Media Student?s Book, p.177) Every member of human society practices some form of self-censorship. The ways in which the news media reconstruct reality represent some degree of censorship, whether it is deliberate or not. Classification systems sometimes restrict viewing by broadcasting late at night or suggesting parental guidance. Examples of government influence on news reporting: Censorship of reports of casualties, enemy responses and torture. Allowing only approved journalists into war zones Embedding journalists in war zones Classification of sensitive documents Banning fiction or entertainment material related to war or terrorist incidents (Britain banned a CSI episode that seemed closely related to the London bombings. Examples of censorship and propaganda in Rupert Murdoch?s News Corporation In 1998 Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corporation, prevented the publication of a former Hong Kong governor?s memoirs, which were critical of the repressive Chinese regime. As a result , the Chinese government gave him permission to start a cable TV station in China. Murdoch?s friendship with Ariel Sharon and his extensive Israeli investments have reportedly influenced his staff to rewrite news articles. Murdoch?s British newspapers have taken strong anti-European positions, which seem to be related to the Europeans resistance to Murdoch?s desire to take over sectors of their media. There are rumors that in the spring of 2004, Murdoch made it clear to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair that unless Blair called for a referendum on the EU constitution, the Sun would switch support to the Conservatives. Donald Lazere?Modern Marxist culture analyst Domination is perpetuated through overt propaganda in political rhetoric, news reporting, advertising and public relations, and through the often unconscious absorption of capitalistic values by creators and consumers in all the above aspects of the culture of everday life. (Berger 49) False Consciousness?Mass media and popular culture spread false consciousness ?leading people to believe ?whatever is, is right.? ?media a crucial link between institutions and individual consciousness Antonio Gramsci?Italian Marxist activist (1891-1937) Gramsci used the term, hegemony, to explain how dominant value systems become accepted as ?common sense.? According to Gramsci, in modern democracies different social groups struggle for control of consensus, or hegemony, using a combination of persuasion and occasional brute force. These struggles are ongoing. Power has to be constantly renegotiated. In this light, the media help the forces of power in their constant battle for public opinion. Merchants of Cool PBS Frontline??Under the Radar Marketing? & ?The MTV Machine? HYPERLINK http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/ http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/ More information about how the five biggest media conglomerates control the teen market see HYPERLINK http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/themes/mediagiants.html http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/themes/mediagiants.html Henri Lefebvre (1968/1984) Capitalist Terrorism Believed that people who live in capitalist societies are living in a state of ?terror?: Societies with radical class differences maintain order through compulsion and persuasion Sophisticated ways of masking repression and making unsuspecting individuals the instruments of their own repression and the repression of others. (Berger 52) Terror in a capitalist society may include growing old in a youth-crazed culture, being fat in a thin-crazed culture, being poor in a wealth-obsessed culture ? (53) MARXIST THEORY AS IT RELATES TO ADVERTISING Alienation Work is external to the worker?not fulfilling ?physically exhausted, mentally debased Work is imposed forced labor --not the satisfaction of a need, only the means of satisfying other needs (Berger 54) Mass media provide momentary gratification for alienated people?distract from consciousness of situation & misery At the same time they stimulate desire through advertising leading people to work harder. (55) Consumption to escape alienation Advertising has replaced the Puritan ethic as the chief means of motivating Americans to work hard. Advertising generates anxieties, creates dissatisfactions and in general feeds on the alienation present in capitalist societies. Advertising diverts people?s attention from social and political concerns and sters that attention toward narcissistic and private concerns Obsession with self-gratification Collective form of taste Immediate mission to sell goods, long range mission to maintain the class system (56) (57) Wolfgang Fritz Haug, German Marxist, Fuse sexuality on to commodities?advertising has learned how to mold and exploit human sexuality, to alter human need and instinct structures. People have the illusion of choice but act in response to stimuli generated by advertising and packaging Quote from Marshal McLuhan The Mechanical Bride ?Love-Goddess Assembly Line? compares Hollywood and advertising (59) ?The ad agencies and Hollywood, in their different ways, are always trying to get inside the public mind in order to impose their collective dreams on that inner stage.? The illusion of autonomy makes us all the more susceptible to manipulation and exploitation. Quote from Enzenberger:?The mind industry?s main business and concern is not to sell its product: it is to ?sell? the existing order, to perpetuate the prevailing pattern of man?s domination by man, no matter who runs the society, and by what means. Its main task is to expand and train our consciousness?in order to exploit it. (59) MARXIST THEORY AS IT RELATES TO HEROES AND CELEBRITIES (p.60) Heroes reflect their ages and society?or they transform their societies Models to imitate Deviant models disturb the equilibrium Bourgeoise heroes maintain the status quo Peddling capitalist ideology in disguised form Individualism is always connected to alienation Heroism is based on the significance of people?s acts We tend to celebrate charlatans?have power over men but not matter Marxist heroes fight for a new social order?one in which the bourgeois values of individualism, consumer lust, and upper-class domination are smashed Hegemony transcends and includes culture and ideology--Hegemony is that which goes without saying??common sense reality?which maintain the dominance of the ruling class The media are the unwitting influence of hegemonic domination Media analysis should examine not just ideology but also ethnological, worldview-generating content Hegemonic analysis connects culture to the patterns of subordination and domination (p. 62) Paradigm?refers to an entire system of thought that characterizes an entire period. Paradigm shifts occur when scientists suddenly see world in a different way. Hegemony is difficult to detect because it involves all the things we take forgranted and assume are part of reality. Global consolidation of the media doctrinaire?seeing everything in terms of preconceived concepts and notions Individualists interested primarily in themselves Egalitarian Fatalists Things are never as they seem in class societies?exploitation must be disguised to sustain social order. The truth is kept from rulers and ruled alike (p. 70) postmodern?incredulity toward metanarratives
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