Media ownership is something I am quick to associate with censorship. I guess this presumption stems historically from the blatant abuse of power which has led to media as a tool of manipulation. Looking back, there are many instances where ownership has led to some form of censorship. The most prominent example which many jump to is Hitler’s use of media throughout the Holocaust. He weaponised the media to propagate pro-German and anti-Semitic ideology which fuelled support for the genocide. Nazi propaganda became part of the culture due to the sheer pervasiveness of such ideology. It’s instances like these that make us question the veracity of the media and whether we should be so dependent on it.
However, to fear something akin to Hitler’s form of media ownership in the contemporary world would be considered ridiculous. Many claim that we are more inclined to be critical of what the media presents to us and thus the likes of Hitler’s influence would not pose a threat today. I actually find this quite amusing. Just because we claim to be more critical doesn’t mean that we are in practice. Media has multiple sources, all of which come along with their own connotations and opinions which taint the veracity of it. The biggest struggle in sourcing honest media lies in ownership and censorship.
If we’re talking about media ownership, we can’t go without speaking about dear old Rupert Murdoch. Having ownership of 23% of newspapers in Australia, Murdoch has his hands in many pies. This allows for him to not only dictate which news is presented but also the paradigm by which it is presented. This in fact is the case for all owners of any form of media, not just newspapers. Their ability to control the media possesses them with power to also control the population.
However, coming back to the idea of ownership and censorship. The fear surrounding media manipulation by the likes of Hitler manifests itself differently in the contemporary context. Instead of propagating ideology, there is a careful selection of what is covered, with lack of attention exacerbating current social and political issues. The most personal one for me is the coverage of America’s occupation of the Middle East. For so long, and even now, many have adamantly justified the violence incited and sustained by U.S forces in the Middle East. This sentiment was endorsed by media outlets with an evident political inclination. Additionally, idea of endorsing democratic ideals was also spread through the media and thus perpetuated a narrative that turned a blind eye to the 2 million lives lost. Another issue is rising number of missing girls in Washington D.C, an issue barely covered by mainstream media. This lack of coverage is associated with racial prejudice as the girls are of African-American decent.
Here in lies the existence of censorship in its modern form.