For so long we have lived in a society where the bad guy was everyone else but us. Who we trusted was no longer the ones that were ‘good’, but simply those who were ‘less bad’. Throughout popular culture there existed an innate mistrust of anyone more important, more affluent and ultimately more powerful than us. But how the times have changed…
Somewhere between Generation X and Z a shift began to occur. The increasing access to information and ideas has given birth to a new ideal; that of taking responsibility for our own morals and values. The youth of today have rebelled against the perception within society of naivety and vulnerability, instead rallying for independence and acceptance, and a power shift between producers and consumers is paving the way to these ideals as we move further away from the fear of trust and towards an education of it.
History has taught us that the media can be a double-edged sword. Propaganda in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and even in British Wartime warned students all over the world of the perils that can be forced upon an otherwise unknowing society. Unlike our predecessors we are more aware of the bias which often lies in media reporting simply because of the awareness surrounding these issues.
New legislation has also protected us from the media moguls, particularly the ‘reach rule’ which limits access of producers to 75% of the population. The recognition of the strength of the media in its ability to persuade and perverse has created a society more aware of the use and abuse of power that can be exerted by those in charge. Bias is presumed, ideology expected and propaganda humoured (take Trump for example).
So while the monitoring and awareness around media is protecting society from a corruption of power, there seems to be a blatant exception to the rule- the internet. Argued to be the most powerful platform in our access to information it is particularly independent in comparison to traditional news mediums. There is no man in a suit rejecting ideas, crossing out facts or filtering his opinions- It is an unmonitored, unmitigated and most importantly un-owned fountain of knowledge.
And this knowledge is presented just the way modern society wants it; at the click of a finger, not through the flip of a page. As a society we are becoming less and less reliant on the traditional means of gathering information. Soon enough, newspapers may have more use in making paper mache than they will in delivering the headlines. Media moguls and their set agendas are now becoming less and less influential in our consumption of information as we become increasingly independent in sourcing it ourselves.
Recent statistics have shown that of those who have discovered news information on Facebook, 60% will open a new tab to find out more. 63% of the millennial generation use Facebook as a primary news source, and even more impressive is that about 5 million Australians will watch a video on Facebook every day. To throw that into perspective only 2.5 million Australians tuned into the 2015 Australia open final and thousands less for the nightly news.
The thing is, media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are not innately controlled in terms of what is presented. News from all different sources pop up on our feed daily, and we have the option to be prejudice in our own consumption.
“Contrary to the idea that social media creates a polarizing “filter bubble,” exposing people to only a narrow range of opinions, 70 percent of Millennials say that their social media feeds are comprised of diverse viewpoints evenly mixed between those similar to and different from their own. An additional 16 percent say their feeds contain mostly viewpoints different from their own.” – The Media Insight Project
The responsibility of media output is becoming less controlled by mainstream outlets and more by the individual. While big corporations such as Fairfax still exert control over what they produce, the bias of reporting is becoming increasingly irrelevant with the increase in access to information that the internet lends. The ownership of the media is becoming increasingly irrelevant as the new generation of tech-savvy individualists discern right from wrong on their own accord.
So when asked if it really matters who owns the media, we must recognize that it is not only the production, but consumption of media that must be addressed. In the 21st century individuals have control not only on their choice of media, but the means in which it is delivered and the effect that it has upon us. Traditional media is still owned and controlled by the big names their own ideas and agendas being flushed into news. But in a new era of communications, the ownership is beginning to fall on another set of shoulders, ones that are closer than ever before- yours.
Pusey, Michael and McCutcheon, Marion (2011), ‘From the Media Moguls to the Money Men? Media Concentration in Australia’, Media International Australia, No 140, pp. 22-31