There’s some crossover here, for me. I’m a journalism student, both in university and in my private life. I grew up in an environment where we were told that ‘the media’ was always lying to you, and there was a diabolical figure behind it all who was trying to manipulate and control everything I understood to be true (Chick, 1988). This meant my surroundings imparted upon us a host of tools to look out for manipulations and lies, to look for conspiracy and to doubt the motivations of everyone outside of the church. This practice turned out to be pretty damn useful.
There is basically no such thing as an independent media. Consider that the Fairfax group is owned by one family, who also own mass media outlets in other English-speaking nations. Consider Silvio Berlesconi’s almost titanic grip on the Italian mass media. Consider that both Al-Jazeera and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation are government-funded (Qatar and Australia respectively).
What underpins this is a fascinating question of principle. For some, the news media is a business, designed to maximise profits. For others, the news media is an opportuntity to promote an actual ideology, an idea. Consider the strange overlap between people’s roles and their interests: Fox News USA is headed up by Roger Ailes, a man who served as Media consultant to Richard Nixon (McGinniss, 1969). Under Ailes, Fox news has boomed, has taken on its modern shape, and the way the news outlet expresses opinion seems congruent with Ailes’ personal views. Ailes is a staunch conservative who disdains coastal big cities (Carr, 2010), and there are almost innumerable examples of Fox news espousing a conservative perspective with a dismissal of coastal population centres. For example, consider the phrase ‘San Fransisco Values’ was actually used as an epithet (Maddow, 2007).
Carr, David, and Tim Arango. “A Fox chief at the pinnacle of media and politics.” New York Times 10 (2010): 302.
Chick Cartoon Tracts. 2014. Chick Cartoon Tracts. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.chick.com/default.asp. [Accessed 27 March 2014].
McGinniss, Joe – The Selling of the President 1968, Trident Press/Simon & Schuster, New York – Oct. 6, 1969. ISBN 0-671-27043-5
San Francisco Values 2007, Youtube video, Rachel Maddow, 29 January, viewed 27 March 2014, <http://youtu.be/Bt8L64gSRIE>.