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The Power of the Media Tycoon - Essay Example

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When Gutenberg invented the movable type printing system, the power of the press began to have a great impact on the future of mankind. The 19th and 20th centuries saw the rise and fall of media tycoons, mostly in the newspaper business, with political agendas and a hunger for power…
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The Power of the Media Tycoon
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Download file to see previous pages Today, the power of the media and the few people that control it, have been compared to world leaders in their ability to sway opinion and effect change. How does this power compare to the power of a US President While the media tycoons have the legal limitations of any business owner that answers to stockholders and a board of directors, they have the power to move public opinion, initiate social change, and influence foreign policy to an extent greater than any elected public official.
In the United States almost all the information available comes from a media outlet. Academic research is generally reserved for the small circle of specialists that have a position that offers them an interest and gives them exposure to the topic. These articles will occasionally get anecdotally quoted by the media, but the reports can be used for the outlet's own self-serving agenda. Selected quotes taken out of context can mislead the viewers in an attempt to sway public opinion. These opinion-centric newscasts exert enormous control over what people think and how they think about it. The ability to slant the news is even more significant in light of the increasing concentration of media ownership. The period of 1984 - 1999 saw the number of major owners go from 50 to 15 (Hasen 1626). The reduced number of outlets translates to an increased numbers of viewers and more influence.
Media owners such as Rupert Murdoch can stack ...
Reporters and pundits can be richly rewarded by presenting material in line with the network's political views. They can also be summarily punished and fired for developing a politically unpopular story of a scandal or major corruption. The network owner leverages these strengths to highlight or diminish a story's importance in the viewer's mind. The president is unable to cap a story or keep facts out of the viewer's homes. The recent events surrounding the investigation into the firings of the US Attorneys is evidence of the president's lack of ability to control the news. It is solely in the hands of the network and the network leadership.
When comparing a media tycoon's power in regards to public opinion to a president, it is helpful to consider the information disseminated during a national presidential election. Presidents and candidates are limited to advertising and 'free' news spots. They are limited in the amount of time and coverage they can get. News conferences can help a president get exposure for a program or to promote a political stance, but television news can paint the portrayal with an opinionated slant. The news is not simply responding to a market and giving viewers 'what they want'; they are actively promoting a social agenda. During a recent national election, coverage varied widely from Fox to NBC to CBS. They varied in the amount of coverage on issues such as race and gender and according to Larson, "...although network news shows generally compete for the same audience, have the same operating procedures, and have similarly trained workers, their stories differed" (23). News presentation has the ability to focus attention on a given event and make the event important ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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