Media Censorship & Free Press in America
by Peter Phillips , Project Censored
The restructuring of media in the United States is creating
forms of censorship that are as potentially damaging as overt
Media corporations have been undergoing a massive merging
process that is realigning our sources of information in America.
Values such as freedom of information and belief in the responsibility
of keeping the public informed are adjusted to reflect policies
created by bottom-line oriented CEOs.
Media owners and managers are motivated to please advertisers
and upper middle class readers and viewers. Journalists and editors
are not immune from management influence. Journalists want to
see their stories approved for print or broadcast, and editors
come to know the limits of their freedom to diverge from the bottom
line view of owners and managers. The results are an expansion
of entertainment news, infomercials, and synergistic news - all
aimed at increased profit taking.
The eleven largest or most influential media corporations
in the United States are General Electric Company (NBC), Viacom
Inc. (cable), The Walt Disney Company (ABC), Time Warner Inc.(CNN),
Westinghouse Electric Corporation (CBS), The News Corporation
Ltd. (Fox), Gannett Co. Inc., Knight-Ridder Inc., New York Times
Co., Washington Post Co., and the Times Mirror Co. These eleven
major broadcast and print media corporations now represent a major
portion of the news information systems in the United states.
For many people their entire source of news and information comes
from these eleven corporations.
Collectively, these eleven major media corporations had 155
directors in 1996. These 155 directors also hold 144 directorships
on the boards of Fortune 1,000 corporations in the United States.
They are the media elite of the world; they represent the collective
vested interests of a significant portion of corporate America
and share a common commitment to free market capitalism, economic
growth, internationally protected copyrights, and a government
dedicated to protecting their interests.
The eleven media organizations have interlocking directorships
with each other through 36 other Fortune 1,000 corporations creating
a solid network of overlapping interests and affiliations. All
eleven media corporations have direct links with at least two
of the other top media organizations.
Given this interlocked media network, it is more than safe
to say that major media in the United States effectively represent
the interests of corporate America, and that the media elite are
the watchdogs of acceptable ideological messages, the parameters
of news and information content, and the general use of media
Do the media elite directly censor the news? Without being
privy to insider conversations, it is difficult to prove direct
censorship by management of particular stories in the news. But
an organizational tendency is to comply with the general corporate
culture, and career-minded journalists and editors sharing this
common corporate culture will create what direct censorship cannot:
a general compliance with the attitudes, wishes, and expectations
of the media elite and in turn corporate America.
Keeping democracy safe in America requires an informed electorate
and a strong watchdog press. But major media today are tending
to favor news stories on sex scandals, celebrity events, and crime,
leaving less or little room for analytical news on important social
issues. If privately owned commercial media will not meet the
task of keeping democracy safe, then it is time for a strong public-supported
national news system.
[excerpted from an article by Peter Phillips, Director, Project
and Media Control