Reading Reflection #3 – The Media Monopoly

Ben Bagdikian’s Afterword from his book The Media Monopoly really struck a nerve with me. Bagdikian writes like a true conspiracy theorist with his idea that the leading corporations decide what sorts of news and entertainment programs are made available to us here in the U.S. It’s the same sort of diatribe you hear as an undergraduate from your history-major dorm mate who tries to tell you that the Freemasons own the world and the Illuminati are even higher than the Freemasons with their uber secret meetings and handshakes. Blah.

Now, I’m not going to disagree with Bagdikian entirely as I have watched television shows get progressively more provocative over the years. Moreover, I’m a new parent so I should be concerned with the type of garbage that’s on TV now – because it will probably only get worse. But! Bagdikian doesn’t seem to want us to take any responsibility for what we watch. As we we’ve seen with television shows that come and go, the ones that stand the test of time are those that are enjoyed by a lot of viewers!

Bagdikian writes that “there is a growing gap between what a majority of citizens have said they want and what television gives them.” He doesn’t cite or point the reader to any studies that can support this though. Honestly, I myself fall into this category of wishing for something to be on TV – but not getting it. But this is a capitalist market that we’re in,
and someone other than me is watching Snookie on MTV, someone who’s making MTV’s advertisers VERY happy. It’s just the way it is. I don’t have to watch it – and I don’t.

Citing other examples problems in our society like the lack of  funding in education, lack of universal healthcare, pollution, unemployment and more, Bagdikian is just regurgitating others have said in the past. It’s nothing new really.

I do wish to focus on one thing that I absolute agree with him on. He argues that a “national habit” of staying indoor to take in free news and entertainment was set after the introduction of the TV. I agree. Though, now that’s shifted from TV to the Internet. The bottom line is, the family unit is different than it was in the mid-1950s, we don’t all do things collectively as a family after dinner like playing games or socializing with
our neighbors. We just don’t – buit we should.

In short, I think Bagdikian would agree with a lot of the same ideals if we were to have a beer together and talk about this. It maddens me that these corporations have the power that they do and I too get sick and tired of all the smut that’s on the TV. However, its up to us to change it. Not the government as he has suggested.


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