J190 findings regarding impact of mainstream American mass media

The following list of findings about American mass media will emerge from lectures, videos and readings this quarter in Journalism 190:

1) Most mainstream media are owned by a few corporations connected to other large corporations.

2) Media content reflect corporate interests more than the interests of society at large.

3) Media strongly influence and shape issues, influence officials, voters and the democratic process -- and mostly they reflect government interests rather than fulfill the watchdog role over government.

4) Media content is dominated by entertainment and advertisements, and the "information" people get often originates from public relations arms of corporations, government and organizations.

5) Most Americans get their news from television and believe what they see.

6) People do not recall the specifics of new but only the general framework of news.

7) As media pay attention to an area, public interest in that area increases; when media lose interest, people lose interest.

8) The primary job of media is to deliver to advertisers an audience -- if possible, an audience in a lethargic and nonthinking state.

9) Advertising now functions an instrument of social control and over time has helped to shape Americans into consumers rather than citizens.

10) Media are propaganda agents in a democracy (and, in effect, act as force does in a totalitarian state -- Noam Chomsky calls this "thought-control in a democratic society" and argues that most of the people are diverted from their duties as citizens, in effect becoming self-centered and focused on things not important to voting).

11) Media are not liberal, but reflect conservative interests of their corporate owners.

12) Little (media) difference exists between the two major parties: Republicans and Democrats can be seen as two factions of the business party (in that they are supported largely by corporate interests); thus, the labels of liberal and conservative do not really apply except when one party is "liberal" on issues like abortion vs. pro-choice, gay rights, women's equality, etc. -- issues that do not involve corporate financial proft.

13) As cultivation theory and and agenda setting theory suggest, over time media content help shape public consciousness and behavior.

14) Media's record with diversity is abysmal because much media content stereotypes, promotes violent masculinity, portrays women as sex objects and gives a false picture of reality which helps to keep many who are not white and male in a state of fear (and more likely to support policies that are repressive).

15) The range of opinion in the United States is narrow by world standards and, in truth, ranges only from conservative to centrist.

16) American media are ethnocentric -- and most of their news from other parts of the world focuses on negative events, not issues or news of a positive nature.

17) The drive for profit by media corporations negatively impacts the amount of news gathering resources available and increases reliance on news from public relations sources, much of which is passed along without change or notation of who produced it.

18) TV news programs have the same standards as mass entertainment programs and compete for ratings in the same way.

19) In part because of ownership and restricted news gathering, mainstream media do not cover many issues important to society.

20) Corporations have become almost like private governments and do not receive the same media and public scrutiny that regular governments do.

21) Most mainstream media content does not encourage people to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens -- to become fully informed and vote.

22) Mainstream media play an important role propagandizing for war, not admitting mistakes and lies about war, helping maintain support for a war and being slow to end the war.

23) Media play an important role in how society deals with gender/race and tend to fuel the fires of violent masculinity and violence against women and racial prejudice.

24) Hope exists to undo the 23 above. Some of the answers include educating people about the above truths of media, helping to expose media as a huge social force and by working to move toward becoming a society not so dependant on mainstream media and not so irresponsible regarding duties of citizenship.

Updated 2016