I recently read the book titled The New Media Monopoly: A Completely Revised and Updated Edition With Seven New Chapters published in 2004 by Beacon Press and written by Ben H. Bagdikian. I think it is well worth the read and provides some interesting perspectives even though it is now slightly dated due to the continued rise of the internet.
Some interesting quotes provided in the book by past leaders in the United States of America:
“Nothing can now be believed, which is seen in a newspaper”
-Thomas Jefferson, 1807
“A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both.”
“The first essential in determining how to deal with the great industrial corporations is knowledge of the facts.”
As touched on in the book by Ben H. Bagdikian in The New Media Monopoly scholars and universities today are faced with challenges of gaining access to important information
“Access to the most important literature in intellectual and scientific journals is increasingly threatened by great leaps in prices demanded by a global triumvirate of media monopolies in academic journals. Three dominant companies – Reed Elsevier and Wolters Kluwer in the Netherlands and John Wiley in the United States – can do this because each has the ultimate paradise of a monopoly – a captive market”
Also touched in the book is the tobacco industry and cigarette advertising. This illustrates the importance of recognizing how advertising can shape the content presented in the specific medium whether it be internet, television (TV), or magazine.
“In magazines that accept cigarette advertising I was unable to find a single article, in several years of publication that would have given readers any clear notion of the nature and extent of the medical and social havoc wreaked by the cigarette-smoking habit.”
-As quoted by R.C. Smith in Columbia Journalism Review on a study of magazine content for 7 years after 1970.
Near the ending of his book Ben H. Bagdikian says
“When the United States defeated Japan in World War II and established an American administration to reconstruct the old Imperial Government, it mandated that Japan create a noncommercial, unpoliticized broadcast system…because the American democracy forces declared that no modern democracy should be without one…. The five huge corporate conglomerates in the U.S. do not want greater political and social diversity because it would dilute their audiences and thereby reduce the fees they can demand for the commercials that produce their unprecedented profit levels….They have been a most powerful force in shifting the political spectrum of the United States to the right.”
Ben H. Bagdikian later says
“President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, demonstrated that conglomerates and monopolies harm the common good and are not beyond the reach of law.“
I encourage you to remember that various independent government organizations were created to help prevent monopolies such as the Federal Communications Commission http://www.fcc.gov/ and the Federal Trade Commission http://www.ftc.gov/.
Steven M. Greer, M.D., over at the Disclosure Project has some interesting comments on the subject in his article titled Media Play located at http://disclosureproject.org/docs/pdf/MediaPlay.pdf
“The truth is that we have free media – so long as it is inconsequential… Sure, you can say and write anything – so long as it does not get placed in front of the masses in an honest way….Big Media must be distinguished from the media in general, insofar as the former is utterly corrupted and the latter is sequestered into spheres of limited influence and significance. Mass retail media …and the like are less free on anything of real significance than the media of many third world countries – or even communist China.”