In a political economy approach to understanding the media industry, this means that we are looking at:

The impact of this relationship on communication in society and the role - in turn - that the media plays in social/cultural/political/economic processes


Nothing about society is ‘natural' or inevitable


Our media system represents a particular set of choices about how information should be provided to the public

What is our system?

Capitalist, market-based mostly


Private individuals mostly decide what information should be provided to the public

- These decisions are based on what will earn them the most money However:

The issue of power and the media is complex because we expect it not just to make profit, but also to serve social goals.

Five filters that large media organisations have:

  1. Size, ownership and profit orientation

Immense capital requirements of the technology needed to reach a mass audience leads to:

  • Big, multinational media conglomerates

Massive investment/high risk commercial activities lead to:

  • Increased pressure to make a profit
  • Concentration of ownership and monopolization
  • Risk-averse con ten t developmen t (cautious, formulaic, etc)
  • Tendency towards vertical integration
  • Priority given to shareholders and owners, not the public

Rise of concentration of ownership leads to:

  • Increased risk of conflict of in terest
  • More power over more publications in fewer hands
  1. Advertising as ‘de-facto' licensing
  • The traditional model: the media sells audiences to advertisers so that advertisers can sell products to audiences
  • This produces an unhealthy dependency on advertisers and their political and economic interests to remain viable financially
  • The media needs to promote a consumer lifestyle, one dependent on buying goods/services
  1. Sourcing News and Information
  • it costs money to source news eg investigative journalism is expensive and ‘risky' economically speaking
  • Large institution (governments, corporations) gain access to and influence the news by ‘subsiding' the cost of sourcing and even producing news eg press releases
  • These sources become 'routine'for journalists - part of their everyday work practices. ‘Non-routine' sources struggle for access
  1. “Flack”
  • Negative responses to a political statement or program e.g. letters, law suits, legilisation
  • Effective 'flack' requires money and political power
  1. Fear of the ‘other'
  • This works as a social mechanism of control, affecting what kinds of stories are told by the media, what people are willing to say to the media, and by extension, how we think about the issue
  • Any 'other' can become a tool for generating fear and controlling messages
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