I’ve always wondered why more people don’t care about social change. The first article I ever wrote tried to answer that question. I’ve debated it, pored over countless books, and gone on tireless Twitter rampages. But this question usually comes back to a few simple core themes. Whether I’m talking with teenagers or adults, change often doesn’t seem necessary. I’m told that my education system is fine, that the American Dream is still alive and well, and that politics is still an equitable enterprise representing the interests of the common people.
Why should I believe otherwise? I’m not directly affected by the daily bureaucracy of Washington, nor can I change it if I try. I’m a loyal cog in the wheel of progress, working faithfully and blindly until I roll off a cliff.
If I held this philosophy, it wouldn’t be my fault. I wouldn’t be stupid, ignorant, or deserving of any type of negative abuse. The countless number of Americans who feel this way are none of these labels. They are simply misinformed.
The average American floats through their daily lives in an enigmatic bubble of mistruths and distractions. This country was founded on the principle of freedom of the press, yet the media now dictates how Americans think, feel and act.
Specifically, television is the outlet of choice. Eighty seven percent of Americans reported watching TV news in the past week, and the average American watches an astounding five hours of television every day. With 40 hours per week of work and 35 hours per week of television, TV broadcasting has become an indelible part of mainstream American culture.
If television presented an unbiased, realistic look at the issues that matter, then I wouldn’t see as much of a problem. But the unfortunate truth is that mainstream media subverts, ignores, and embellishes current events to better represent their own interests.
Here’s what the corporate media won’t tell you. Almost all news consumed through TV comes through just five major television networks, and all of these networks are owned by the super rich or big business.
- NBC is owned by Comcast. However, until 2013, GE held a 49% percent stake in the company, and is best known as the nation’s largest corporation. They’ve recorded profits of over 3.2 billion dollars selling weapons to the U.S military.
- CBS is owned by billionaire Sumner Redstone, who holds a net-worth of 6.2 billion dollars and endorsed George W. Bush in the 2004 election.
- ABC is owned by Disney, who’s CEO Bob Iger was awarded a 13.5 million dollar bonus in 2010 while ordinary workers were in the midst of recession era lay offs.
- Fox is owned by vocal billionaire conservative Rupert Murdoch, who used his vast media holdings in the U.K to decisively influence voters against progressives by mounting a full on media campaign to discredit the Labour Party.
- Finally, CNN is owned by Time Warner, the third largest entertainment corporation in the world. Their CEO Jeffrey Bewkes is a former employee of CitiBank, and is currently worth over 100 million dollars.
The millionaires and billionaires that manage these companies do not strive to represent the interests of the average American. They’re in no rush to cover stories on income inequality, labor unions or any type of social activism. It’s likely that you haven’t even heard of half these people. Good. They want to keep it that way.
Simply put, these five media corporations dictate the status quo in American society. They mold the perceptions of their viewers through their news the same way they mold the perceptions of their politicians through their cash. They can run a targeted media campaign to support an idea and on the same day donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to outside groups to make that idea a reality. It’s a two pronged sword of influence and greed that threatens the very fabric of American democracy.
Here’s an example. Take a look at these graphs breaking down federal spending for 2015.
Have you ever seen these graphs? I’m impressed if you have, but the answer is likely a no. While the U.S government awards over 1.22 trillion dollars in tax breaks to the richest individuals and corporations in America, the media keeps the public distracted through constant updates on the daily lives of celebrities like Kim Kardashian.
While the United States of America diverts over half of its discretionary spending budget on the military, a sum equal to almost 600 billion dollars, the media convinces the public these are necessary measures to preserve the common good. Frightening images are shown, blurry clips are replayed, and NBC owner General Electric keeps its lucrative military contract in place.
Nowhere is it mentioned on prime time TV that twenty two percent of American children live in poverty, or that the federal government spends eight and a half times as much money on the military than it does on educating the future leaders of tomorrow. It is not mentioned because it is not advantageous to do so. It would undermine the veritable media oligarchy that these corporate giants have worked so hard to establish.
It wasn’t always like this. In acclaimed journalist Ben Bagdikian’s book, The New Media Monopoly, he revealed that 80 percent of daily newspapers were owned independently at the end of World War Two. Now 80 percent of newspapers are affiliated with corporations.
This is not freedom of the press. This is freedom of a select powerful few to decide what Americans watch, read and think. Of course ordinary journalists and TV anchors are not evil. But for the most part, their hands are tied by the shadowy higher ups pulling the strings.
It’s time to take a fresh look at what we as Americans choose to allow ourselves to be influenced by. Youngchange-Bestchange is doing its best to bring you the issues that matter, but we can’t break this system alone. Don’t be the statistic that watches 5 hours of TV every day. Develop your own opinions. Look to alternative or more unbiased sources of news like social media, the BBC or NPR. The corporate media doesn’t want you to think like this. They don’t want you to challenge the status quo, or be your own person, or stand up for what you think is right. Prove them wrong, and make your own mark on the world instead.
Written By: Sam Gorman
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