The New Media Monopoly
In 1983 there were 50 corporations that controlled the media in the U.S. Today that number is down to 5. What does that portend for democracy and the information needs of the citizenry? The 1996 Telecommunications Act had a lot to do with the acceleration in monopolies. Its enthusiastic advocates promised more media diversity. The results? A Niagara-like torrent of mergers and takeovers. On the surface it seems that America is blessed with lots of media choices. But is it? Bruce Springsteen sings of “57 channels and nothing on.” Maybe he should add a zero. Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister said, “The purpose of Nazi propaganda was to present an ostensible diversity behind which is an actual uniformity.”
Ben Bagdikian was the winner of almost every top prize in American journalism, including the Pulitzer. He was the former dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He was one of the most respected media critics in the country and was a reporter and editor for more than thirty years. The New York Times called him “an exemplar to a generation of journalists.” His landmark book The Media Monopoly was revised and updated with seven new chapters and retitled The New Media Monopoly. His autobiography is entitled Double Vision. He passed away in March 2016.