The way the environment is reported is clearly influenced by the corporate ownership of the media, especially when it comes to issues such as dioxin which have such large and immediate financial ramifications for media owners. Whilst the media is also influenced by news sources and advertisers, the corporate agenda of the large media moguls is not so different from that of their corporate advertisers.
Bagdikian argues: “Since media owners are now so large and deeply involved in the highest levels of the economy, the news and other public information become heavily weighted in favor of all corporate values.”
Most media organisations are owned by multi-national multi-billion dollar corporations that are involved in a number of businesses apart from the media, such as forestry, pulp and paper mills, defence, real estate, oil wells, agriculture, steel production, railways, water and power utilities. Such conglomerates not only create potential conflicts of interest in reporting the news but ensure the makers of the news take a corporate view.
The boards of these media companies typically include representatives of international banks, multinational oil companies, car manufacturers and other corporations. The owners and boards of media companies influence the selection, shaping and framing of the news to attract advertisers.
The mechanism of control generally exercised by media proprietors is through the appointment of editors, “who become the proprietor’s ‘voice’ within the newsroom, ensuring that journalistic ‘independence’ conforms to the preferred editorial line.” The power of the media is not just through its editorial line but also in covering some issues rather than others, some views but not others.