While wading amongst the thousands of media channels that I encounter regularly, it has quickly become apparent that control throughout mass media is not merely based upon who ‘okay’s’ the final draft of a report or upload of a video. That control comes from a much deeper location that just happens to follow the distribution of wealth throughout the media. And where does this distribution path usually lead me to? Well, Rupert Murdoch of course. The ultimate gatekeeper.
While trying to find a dependable source it often becomes apparent that heavy bias almost cannot be escaped when it comes to most of the main media channels such as newspapers, as Murdoch owns The Daily and Sunday Telegraph, The Australian, Mx (city newspaper in Sydney and Melbourne), owns 45% of The Australian Associated Press, and even owns Vogue Magazine Australia. Not to mention The New York Post and Wall Street Journal, along with Harper Collins and over a hundred community newspapers. The list goes on. And on.
The problem is that this bias is almost always skewed in the direction of capitalist, rightist political views that make finding reliable representations of events almost impossible, unless of course you believe a biased view such as this is completely reliable. ‘Journalistic balance’ is quite often, therefore, thrown out with the bathwater.
Do we have this same problem in Eastern media? Well in the case of China, and how Chinese workers are depicted throughout the media, there is an equal, almost worse, problem that proliferates across mainstream media channels. As you may well know, the communist Jintao regime deliberately influences every publication that is issued under official mainstream media, and only through less mainstream media such as blogs do we see a more personal, less government-biased representation of events. For an example, China’s most popular blogger Han Han, who, though not particularly expressive of Chinese workers welfare and health, shows how blogging can be used to counteract the power of the government and give a more accurate representation of events according to a citizen of the country (his blog is translated into English, so have a look here).
It seems the difference between Western and Chinese media is a difference between how obvious censorship and bias are throughout the media. We believe that our values and beliefs are based upon hegemonic, societal trends, instead of a forced ideology, whereas the Chinese know their media is based upon a state ideology. But is there much of a difference?
Look at our media today, in a time where Murdoch seems to have a hand in every type of media there is, including on the Internet. How is it possible that one man can control most Western media and not have a strong ideological influence upon our newspapers, news stations and magazines? Considering that we often inform our values through our experience of these mediums, I would say that there is a definite element of ideological control permeating throughout our media based upon one man’s ideals. Is it not the ruling class, guided by wealth, who determines the accepted beliefs and values of society?