Why does it matter who controls the media?
We learnt about who the major players are in our media, as in who owns what shares of Facebook and Twitter, who owns which news companies in Australia and all that. It wasn’t surprising to learn that a lot of our media is controlled by only a handful of people. All major newspapers in Australia are owned by either News Corp or Fairfax Media. Gina Rinehart, the world’s richest woman, recently bought shares in Fairfax because she needed to sway opinions about mining – the industry where most of her money comes from. She holds just under 20% of the shares. In the troubled times of newspapers, her money has benefited Fairfax but people are worried about what will go into the news from now on. (Don’t worry, Gina’s been refused to take part in the editorial process, so has no say – at least from what I’ve read.)
The fact that most of our media is owned by a few handfuls of people is worrying because we have no way of knowing what’s true and what’s not. Take for example the recent attempt to introduce new media policies in Australia. It would restrict a LOT of the things journos are able to write about and was ridiculous. It was described as an “aggressive attempt to silence our media” and rightly so. The bill was probably laughed at in parliament and then shelved it. If you take the time to read about the bill, you’ll be appalled at how much control it would take from the media publishers and writers.
The fact that some people legitimately thought that this proposed bill was reasonable and necessary is ridiculous. We as the public have a right to read and know the truth and not some sugar-coated lie. Who controls of the media matters because they will have the power to publish almost anything they want, or at least sway the general direction of the media, such as promoting right-wing politics.
It matters because we deserve the right to know.