Media diversity under threat

Source: The Sunday Leader
The following editorial by Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was murdered in Sri Lanka on January 8, 2009, was published in The Sunday Leader on January 11. [see more]
Three sectors have an interest in the media industry: governments, the private sector and civil society. While their interests do not coincide, there is always some overlap between them, specially between the interests of governments and private media. Ownership of the media has experienced a radical shift over the last decade. The worldwide expansion of neoliberal economies, technological developments and the emergence of international and regional multilateral trade agreements have brought about an increasing concentration of media ownership throughout the world.

This pattern of ownership of the means of communication reflects today’s global system, in which the world’s 225 richest persons own a combined wealth that is more or less equal to the annual income of the 2.5 billion poorest persons in the world. A handful of international and regional media corporations, such as AOL-Time Warner, News Corporation, General Electric, Sony, Vivendi, Viacom, Televisa, Globo and Clarín, control large sectors of the media market. Nearly 35% of all the newspapers distributed in the United Kingdom belong to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Silvio Berlusconi controls three of Italy’s four private broadcasting stations and he recently appointed one of his friends as head of RAI, the country’s public broadcasting station.

This contraction in the number of media owners and the stress on profitable content has led to a reduction in the number and variety of opinions, viewpoints and spaces for informed discussions. Media content and distribution systems are in the hands of a few corporations. As a result, ordinary people are denied access to independent media channels and alternative views on the future of the economy, politics and society.

When it comes to events of global import, in which winning public opinion over turns into a critical battle -as was the case with the last Iraq war-, mass media plays a key role. Ownership of such media and its relationship with political power structures, therefore, gain great significance. During the war in Iraq, the leading mainstream media of the US (with global coverage) became the main mouthpiece of the Bush and Blair administrations, not once questioning these governments’ intentions and justifications. Cases like this evidence the need for more serious and independent media that will allow people to access reliable information so they can form their own opinions and use the information to decide what issues to support.
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UPDATES
Monday, January 19 2009
Lasantha Wickrematunge: And then they came for me
(Source: The Sunday Leader)
Monday, March 31 2008
City of terror: painting Paraguay's 'casbah' as terror central
(Source: Toward Freedom)
Friday, July 06 2007
Live News Africa - a survival guide for journalists
(Source: International Federation of Journalists)

Mainstream media

Who owns the media? (Media Channel)

Chomsky: what makes mainstream media mainstream (ZMag)

European journalists condemn 'monstrous' media law as Italy supports concentration (International Federation of Journalists - IFJ)

Diversity, democracy and access: is media concentration a crisis? (MediaChannel)

Christian fundamentalism and the media (World Association for Christian Communication (WACC))

Press freedom

Statement by APC opposing actions against the online presence of Middle East News Agency, Al-Jazeera (APC)

Why strong and vibrant free culture communities are important for freedom of expression

Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2007 (Reporters without borders)

Free speech and RCTV in Venezuela (Upside Down World)

World Press Freedom Day: Stop jailing journalists!

Report on freedom of information in Tunisia (Ligue Tunisienne pour la défense des Droits de l'Homme (LTDH))

Attacks on journalists

Lasantha Wickrematunge: And then they came for me (The Sunday Leader)

Live News Africa - a survival guide for journalists (International Federation of Journalists)

Breaking the chains: Arab world and Iran press freedom report (International Federation of Journalists)

Call for independent international inquiry into targeting of media and killings of reporters

Targeting and tragedy: Report on media casualties in 2005 (IFJ)

Lack of diversity

E-media in development: Combining multiple e-media types (First Monday)

Defining Indicators of Media Development (UNESCO International Program for the Development of Communications (IPDC))

Digital television and radio: Democratization or greater concentration (APC)

Free Media vs Free Beer (Engagemedia)

Citizens offer new take on news (BBC News Service)

Unreality TV

Look out telenovelas, Telesur is in town (Council On Hemispheric Affairs)

The mass media, symbols and ownership (TNI-News)

The conglomeratisation of media and the degradation of culture (Third World Network Features)

The great media breakdown (Mother Jones)

Corporatised media and ICT structures and systems (Women in Action)

The nine firms that dominate the world

Coverage of conflicts

Media coverage of the war (Global Policy)

The media war (World Press Review)

African press response to the war in Iraq (World Press Review)

City of terror: painting Paraguay's 'casbah' as terror central (Toward Freedom)

In Iraq crisis, networks are megaphones for official views (FAIR)

Telling it like it isn't (Palestine Media Watch (PMW))

A news revolution has begun (Zmag)

US media coverage of the Palestine-Israel conflict

Arab media: broadening the spectrum

Al-Jazeera: making a difference (Choike)

Al Jazeera English promises to set non-western news agenda (Telugu Portal)

The war on Al Jazeera (The Nation)

Arab and Iranian media comments on the September 11th attacks (Panos Institute Paris)


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