VISION for the Media Sector: Everyone has access to a wide range of diverse and accurate information from sources that are transparent about their funding and which include in-depth analyses and honest debates about controversial issues.
Danger: A handful of corporations own the media and their influence is not transparent to viewers. Their intrinsic conflict of interest limits our access to diverse perspectives.
Opportunity: We can use the Internet to access diverse information, broadcast events and information instantaneously, share best practices as well as solution strategies, and explore issues and innovations with people all around the globe.
Why not have a transparent way to see who is funding the news we get and a way to assess what conflicts of interest they might have?
We rely on the media to be informed about what’s going on in the world. It shapes our thoughts, values and beliefs about society. With consolidated corporate control of the media, we don’t get the whole picture. Without accurate, honest, transparent and diverse information we can’t make informed decisions about our lives.Danger: Corporate Control of Media
Today there are only 5 who dominate the industry: Time Warner, The Walt Disney Company, News Corporation, Viacom, and Bertelsmann. GE follows as a close sixth. These conglomerates now own more than 80% of the U.S. media including TV and radio stations, movies, newspapers, magazines, books, and websites. They literally control what people read, watch, and hear.
The problem with media consolidation is that:
- The main media conglomerates have conflicts of interest that impact coverage of information. Corporate media has a message to sell. It shows up in the form of blatant advocacy or subtle omission. For example, NBC is owned by General Electric, which also owns GE Aircraft – a supplier of engines for military aircraft. This puts them in a position to benefit from people supporting war. As a result, war is often portrayed as a military hardware show, rather than the devastatingly consequential horror that it is. General Electric also has a $17 Billion “Healthcare” unit that offers a broad range of products and services including medical technologies, biopharmaceutical manufacturing, and drug research. It therefore benefits not only from the promotion of pharmaceuticals, but also from the lack of coverage about the value of natural remedies. This comes at the expense of the viewer who is unaware of the conflict of interest, and the omission of dissenting opinions.
- Consolidation limits our access to information. Without transparency, viewers are unable to see if they are getting biased news or if they are inadvertently supporting causes and candidates they don’t want to support. For example, News Corp. (parent company of Fox News) gave $1 million in the summer of 2010 to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business lobby that was running an aggressive campaign “in support of the Republican effort to retake Congress.”  Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corp., also gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association in June of 2010. This influences coverage of elections and political campaigns. Fox News Channel, The New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal (all owned by News Corp.) may endorse candidates without disclosing the fact that they’ve contributed large sums of money to their campaigns. As Nathan Daaschle, the head of the Democratic Governors Association said, the Fox News disclaimer should read "News Corp., parent company of Fox News, provided $1m to defeat Democratic governors in November."  Contributions from media companies are not uncommon, this is just an extreme example where one party is clearly favored over the other. More transparency of funding should apply to all news outlets (corporate and independent) so viewers can consider potential biases in the information they are getting.
To see how we can change this dynamic, check out the opportunity below.Opportunity: Independent Media
Independent media is a good alternative to corporate media. It has investigative reporting rarely seen in mainstream news and its funding comes primarily from listeners, viewers, and foundations rather than advertisers. Although foundation contributions can be quite influential, and are often the tax-exempt arm of the large corporations, independent media does cover issues that are untouched by corporate media. Any news outlet is apt to have some sort of bias, because its decisions are ultimately made by individuals and each of us has our own opinions and agendas. Furthermore that bias will attract support from like-minded individuals. But if the sources of funding are transparent and not beholden to the selling of particular products, and we each take responsibility for accessing a variety of points of view, we stand a much better chance of getting accurate information and informing a process of truly critical thinking. By supporting independent media we can begin to get the honest feedback we need in order to effectively transform the prevailing global dynamic of injustice, suffering and planetary degradation.
What Can I Do?
You can challenge media consolidation by getting your information from diverse sources and contributing to independent media. What matters most is that you access a variety of sources so that you get a range of perspectives and that the sources are transparent about their funding. It can be surprisingly challenging to find out who funds the media, even for independent stations. You can put pressure on these stations and other news programs by contacting them at the emails listed below. Stations that are viewer-funded can provide the most diverse coverage because they don’t risk losing their advertisers. Some of our suggestions include:
TV and Radio
Link TV brings you news from all over the world as well as diverse cultural programs. It is 30% funded by viewers. Its largest foundation supporters include The Annenberg Foundation, Attar Supporting Organization, The Attias Family Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Firedoll Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Kalliopeia Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Otto Haas Charitable Trusts, The Philanthropic Collaborative, Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Wallace Global Fund. You can contact them here.
Free Speech TV is a progressive, independent TV and multimedia network. It is 33% funded by viewers. Foundation supporters include the Alphawood Foundation, Lannan Foundation, LEF Foundation, Otto Haas Charitable Trust, Park Foundation, and The Tides Foundation. You can contact them here.
Democracy Now! is a national, daily, independent news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. They have a socialist slant, but do in-depth coverage of stories rarely seen in mainstream media. It is 65% funded by viewers and does not publicly disclose information about large Foundation funders. You can contact Democracy Now! here.
These news sources span the spectrum and together provide a snapshot of what is being reported from various political perspectives. They each provide valuable information, but often have their own biases, as noted below.
Left leaning, democrat slant:
Common Dreams gives you daily news from a progressive perspective.
Huffington Post brings you daily breaking news on a range of topics.
Truthout works to “broaden and diversify the political discussion by introducing independent voices and focusing on under-covered issues and unconventional thinking.”
More traditionally conservative:
Campaign for Liberty focuses on individual liberty, constitutional government, sound money, free markets, and a noninterventionist foreign policy.
Mises Institute offers a libertarian perspective.
The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization — a think tank — dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.
Republic Magazine.com covers critical issues rarely seen in mainstream media.
Focused on exposing the Global Domination Agenda:
G. Edward Griffin investigates the truth behind diverse topics including chemtrails, cancer cures, and the Federal Reserve.
Info Wars is the publication site of activist and radio host, Alex Jones, who exposes critical information about the global domination agenda.
David Icke publishes articles on a regular basis ranging from global governance, to microchipping, to mind control.
Amped Status is 100% reader-funded.
Global Research covers a diverse range of topics.
General Media Websites:
The Center for Media and Democracy investigates PR campaigns run by powerful institutions; assists grassroots activism; promotes media literacy; and sponsors “open content” media. You can access independent news on their site and contribute to wiki-based investigative journalism.
The Center for Public Integrity produces original investigative journalism about and is dedicated to making institutional power more transparent and accountable.
Project Censored examines media censorship and "tells the news that didn't make the news and why".
Free Press is the largest media reform organization in the U.S. with close to half a million activists and members. Their current campaigns are focused on internet neutrality and fighting media consolidation.
Donate to Stations that you Want to Support
Independent media is largely funded by listeners and viewers. Pledging your support has far-reaching value.
Ben H. Bagdikian. The New Media Monopoly. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004.
News Corp Gave $1 million to Pro-GOP Group by Ben Smith, September 30, 2010: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0910/42989.html
Rupert Murdoch Donates $1 Million to Republicans by Ewan MacAskill, August 17, 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/aug/17/rupert-murdoch-donation-republicans
The Guardian. Fox News (and the Times) Silent on News Corp’s $1 Million Republican Party Donation: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2010/aug/20/news-corporation-fox-news
 Free Speech Financial Report: http://www.freespeech.org/financial-report
How can we stop corporations from limiting our access to websites on the Internet?
Danger: Net Neutrality is at Risk
Both government and major media corporations are continually trying to undermine the freedom of the Internet.
The Cyber Security Act threatens to authorize Chinese-style censorship of Internet sites and content. Government control of the Internet not only threatens our access to information, but also creates the possibility of being shut down. For example, in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, the government completely turned off the Internet throughout the country because the people were using it to organize and rally the masses. This shows the extreme vulnerability of the people when government has control of the Internet or when there are laws in place to allow them to override the private sector. By keeping the Internet open, we can maintain access to diverse, critical information and effective organizing tools.
Companies including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Google are also trying to get rid of net neutrality and set up a tiered system of content delivery so that people who pay more can have their websites load more quickly. This would further discriminate among people by giving quicker access to those who can pay more.
Opportunity: Citizen Pressure Can Keep the Internet Open
Citizens benefit from having free, open, neutral Internet access – it means we can access and share information freely, connect with anyone online, and go to any website without interference. As private media corporations endanger this reality, a cross coalition movement – of everyday citizens, organizations, religions, and communities – has formed to keep the Internet fair and equal. The SavetheInternet.com Coalition has grown to include more than 850 organizations, 1.6 million people, and 6,000 bloggers. By keeping the pressure on, we can keep the Internet neutral, which is absolutely essential for effective organizing, networking, activism, and communication on a global scale.
To see how activists stopped Time Warner’s price gouging in April of 2009, check out the success story.
What Can I Do?
This well organized coalition consists of “more than a million people who have banded together with thousands of non-profit organizations, businesses and bloggers to protect Internet freedom.” Their website constantly features important actions – you can join the coalition and receive the latest news, sign petitions, and get involved.