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Who Really Owns American Media?
In this era of blogging, news websites, and personalized Twitter feeds, most of us believe that we have more choice than ever 1 in how we get our news. But unless you're particularly 2 apt about the world of journalism, you might be surprised to learn how few choices we really have.
Thirty years ago, 50 different corporations owned 90% of the American broadcast and news media. Today, just 6 large conglomerates 3 have the same control over that media, which is still 90%. These huge corporations have successfully lobbied the U.S. Congress to loosen or dismantle federal antitrust regulations. These regulations were designed to prevent any one corporation from driving out 4 their competition and controlling public discourse. The debate on this issue centers on the balance between liberties and governmental interference. Some argue that a corporation's freedom to acquire media and voice its opinion trumps any right the public may have to diverse points of view. 5 The other argument would be that our constitutional freedom of the press requires regulation in order to maintain a free market of ideas and an informed citizenry.
According to data from 2007, the American media does not quite look like America. Although fully 33% of the American population was minority, 6 only 3.2% of American broadcast television outlets were controlled by minorities.
One potent antidote 7 regarding media consolidation is the Internet. 8 With some research, it reveals many resources for the curious and intelligent media consumer to hear informed voices from a wide variety of perspectives.
9 Although the Web abounds with gossip, partisanship, and fear-mongering from many major outlets, and conspiracy theorists on the fringe, the careful viewer can also find thoughtful analysis and civilized debate of the issues. Sites like ProPublica, FactCheck.org, and NPR provide in-depth, nonprofit, public-supported journalism that is less influenced by any corporate or political agenda.
10 Therefore, sensationalism sells, and the media conglomerates have mastered the art. As the first great American media mogul, William Randolph Hearst, said, "If you want the public in sufficient numbers, construct a highway. Advertising is that highway." Without large advertising and lobbying budgets, these nonpartisan 11 instances of journalism will have a difficult time competing with the big boys.
6. Which of the following best represents the information from Figure 1?
9. The author wants to introduce this sentence with a representation of modern media that contrasts with the ideal of "civilized debate." Does this introduction accomplish this task?
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