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Mass media and neo liberalism media essay

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We live in an age when the global environment is undergoing a rapid change. The media need to respond to these changes more quickly and more accurately than other sectors of society. Otherwise, humanity faces a future of even greater confusion and instability. The most important factor bringing about change in the world is our means of communications. Every day, new technologies are developed which connects people from different parts of the world in a matter of seconds. Globalization would be impossible without a global media system and communication to promote global markets and to encourage consumer to buy goods and services, often sold by the largest multinational corporations. And as the result of the globalization of the capitalist economy, neo-liberalism is formed. In this paper, we will first examine the definitions of the term “ neo-liberalism”, and “ mainstream media” follow by the relationship between the two terms, and later we will analyze the paper using the case of Monsanto Company.

Definition

Neo-liberalism is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the late-twentieth-century which is a redefinition of classical liberalism, influenced by the neoclassical theories of economics (Wikipedia, Neo-liberalism). It proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by the maximization of entrepreneurial freedoms within an institutional framework characterized by private property rights, individual liberty, free markets and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices (David Harvey). The state has to be concerned with the quality and integrity of money. It must also set up military, defense, police to secure private property rights and to support freely functioning markets. If markets don’t exist in area such as education, health care then it must be created by the state if necessary. Beyond this, state should not venture (Harvey) Neo-liberalism was one of the main engines of development for the Industrial Revolution. Neo-liberalism seeks to transfer part of the control of the economy from state to the private sector, in order to bring a more efficient government and, to improve economic indicators of the nation. The policies advocated by neo-liberalism are often taken to “ Washington Consensus”, which contain 10 proposals which are as follow;

Redirection of public spending from subsidies (“ especially indiscriminate subsidies”) toward broad-based provision of key pro-growth, pro-poor services like primary education, primary health care and infrastructure investment;

Tax reform – broadening the tax base and adopting moderate marginal tax rates;

Interest rates that are market determined and positive (but moderate) in real terms;

Competitive exchange rates;

Trade liberalization  – liberalization of imports, with particular emphasis on elimination of quantitative restrictions (licensing, etc.); any trade protection to be provided by law and relatively uniform tariffs;

Liberalization of inward foreign direct investment;

Privatization of state enterprises;

Deregulation  – abolition of regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudent oversight of financial institutions; and,

Legal security for property rights (Wikipedia, Neo-liberalism).

However, people were unhappy with neo-liberalism as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.

Mass media is a term used specifically to envision and designed to reach a very large audience such as the population of a nation state. It was found in the 1920s with the advent of nationwide radio networks, mass-circulation newspapers and magazines (Wikipedia, Mainstream Media), and later the internet was found. During the 20th century, the growth of mass media was driven by technology that allowing the material to be printed and copied. The technologies such as printing, record pressing and film duplication allowed the duplication of books, newspapers and movies at low prices to huge audiences.

Mass media can be beneficial for making public service announcement, advertising, advocacy, and for entertainment. It also act as a heart of the democracy by supplying the political information that voter can judge them on. The media identify the problems in the society and then serve as a channel to inform and educate that people often rely on for uncovering wrongdoings led by powerful people (Wikipedia, Mainstream Media). However, there is growing concern that the mass media are not performing to its standards. The news is more entertaining than informing, giving out information mostly gossip, scandals, sex, and violence. Political news is not being informed that much. So with this, voters are left with paid political propaganda containing only meaningless slogans causing them to ignore the politics. It has also been said that the watchdog is barking at the wrong thing, which means that they are not doing their job properly.

Relationship between mainstream media and neo-liberalism

Privatization and the Propaganda Model

With Privatizations in the age of neo-liberalism, the highly concentrated media system is in the hands of huge private concerns violates in a fundamental manner of the media. Privatizing the state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors, had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

Privatization of public assets has been among the most criticized and disputed aspects of neo-liberalism. They are characterized by the process of transferring property, from public ownership to private ownership. According to Marxist Theory, this serves the interests of the capitalist class, as it moves power from the nation’s governments to private parties. At the same time privatization generates a means for profit for the capitalist class, because after a transaction, they can then sell or rent to the public, what used to be commonly owned (David Harvey).

Private conglomerates tend to pressure the media not to report the company’s wrongdoings to the society. In this way, the business owner uses the media to manipulate the messages for their own purposes.

Propaganda model is a theory advanced by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in a the book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, that can be use to show systemic biases in the mass media in the U. S, however, the model is applicable to other country that has a similar economic structure and has the similar cause of the media biases.

According to the propaganda model, private media as selling a product that is readers and audiences rather than news to other businesses. From the propaganda model types of news in the news media are postulates into five general classes of filters which are the ownership of the medium; medium’s funding sources, sourcing, flak, and anti-communist ideology.

The first filter is ownership of the media which says that mainstream media outlets are either large corporations or part of conglomerates, the information presented to the public will be biased with respect to these interests. Such businesses have extensive financial interests that may be endangered when certain information is widely publicized. Therefore, if to maximize profit means sacrificing news objectivity, then the news sources must be fundamentally biased, in which they have a conflict of interest (Herman and Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent).

The second filter is funding that refer to the mainstream media depend heavily on advertising revenues to survive; the model suggests that the interests of advertisers come before reporting the news. As a business, a newspaper has a product which it offers to an audience. The product is composed of the affluent readers who buy the newspaper. According to this “ filter”, the news itself is nothing more than “ filler” to get privileged readers to see the advertisements which makes up the real content. The people buying the newspaper are themselves the product which is sold to the businesses that buy advertising space; the news itself has only a marginal role as the product. (Herman and Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent)

The third filter is sourcing which refer to the mass media’s need for a continuous flow of information to fill their demand for daily news. For example, in an industrialized economy, consumer want information on the numbers of events occurring worldwide and they argue that this task can by done by only the government or large business as they have necessary material. To this, Herman and Chomsky mentioned about a symbiotic relationship arises between the media and parts of government which is sustained by economic necessity and reciprocity of interest. For example, government and news-promoters could make it easier for news organizations to buy their services; according to the authors (p. 22), they give journalists advance copies of speeches and forthcoming reports and write press releases in usable language. On the other hand, the media become fail to run the articles about the wrongdoings of the company as the company provided them with resources. So basically, the corporation depends on the media to run news in their interests and the media relies on the business for resources.

The fourth filter is flak which Herman and Chomsky refer to as the negative responses to a media statement or program. It is characterized by concerted and intentional efforts to manage public information. Flak from the powerful can be either direct or indirect. The direct could include Letters or phone calls from the White House to Dan Rather (a journalist and former news anchor for the CBS Evening News) And the indirectly could include Complaints delivered en masse to their own constituencies stockholder about media bias

And the fifth filter is anti-ideology which exploits public fear and hatred of groups that pose a potential threat, real, exaggerated, or imagined. Communism once posed the primary threat according to the model. Communism and socialism were portrayed by endangering of freedoms of speech, press. With the Soviet Union’s collapse, proponents of the propaganda model have argued that, the credibility of anti-communism has been compromised and that the anti-communism has been replaced in the form of anti-terrorism -emerges from a thorough examining of the concept of terrorism as well as an attempt to prevent the terrorist from occurring.

This Propaganda Model can be applied to Monsanto Case Study: Forced Fox TV to censor the coverage of the dangerous milk drug.

The Monsanto Company is an American-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world’s leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed. Monsanto’s development and marketing of bovine growth hormone, as well as its political lobbying practices, have made the company controversial around the world (Wikipedia, Monsanto). The company introduces Bovine somatotropin, commonly known as rBGH, which is a synthetic hormone that is injected into cows to increase milk production. IGF-1 is a hormone stimulated by rBGH in the cow’s blood stream, which is directly responsible for the increase in milk production. IGF-1 is a natural hormone found in the milk of both humans and cows causing the quick growth of infants. Though this hormone is naturally found in mothers to be fed to their infants it produces adverse effects in non-infants. The hormone behaves as a cancer accelerator in adults and non-infants; associated with breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancers. (Wikipedia, Monsanto)

Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, were former employees working in Fox TV channel were fired in relation to a conflict over reporting information that they found uncovered about rBST. The reporters found documents from Monsanto, which showed that they failed to turn over health concern information to the FDA about rBST. They wrote the story that was uncovered in 1996 about the human health risks of rBST, and the fact that the FDA never received this information. The station began publicizing the upcoming broadcast of the story. Monsanto then consulted Fox about the issue. Monsanto is affiliated with top FOX advertisers, and threatened Fox not to inform the society of his wrongdoings. Later, the station asked the journalists to spin, distort the story. However, the journalists refused to do so. With this, Fox then offered to pay the reporters for their life time salary by in return they should not reveal the story to the public. The journalists refused to sign the contracts and they were fired after the refusal. This story is also featured in the documentary -The Corporation 2003 that shows how corporate behave to the people such as reckless disregard for the safety of others, deceitfulness, lying for profit.

The reporters then sued Fox in Florida state court, claiming they could not be fired for refusing to do something that they believed to be illegal. In 2000, a Florida jury found that while there was no evidence Fox had bowed to any pressure from Monsanto to alter the story However, in 2003, the case was then overturned by appeals court as nothing illegal had actually occurred or was occurring to blow a whistle on (Jeffrey Smith).

With neo-liberalism, privatization also occurs, which results in the large businesses taking over the media like Monsanto and uses the media for its own purposes. They are relying on the media to distort the story in the way they want. As you can see from the Monsanto case, the Fox TV should have the ethics and morality of informing, educating, and proving the public with the information and news of what is going on in the world. But in this case, although the two journalists found out the information that was uncovered about the dangerous milk drug, the media still fail to inform the public of the dangerous milk as the Fox TV needs to rely on the large company for the resources and they know that if they do publish a news on Monsanto cases, their TV channel will be harm. The two journalists had tried their best in order to fight for justice and rights for the public to know about the dangerous drug. However, Monsanto knows that if the stories gets publish, their reputation will be destroyed and the society would no longer have trust in them. Monsanto doesn’t care about what other people feel. They don’t even have concern for both the animals and human consuming the dangerous milk. What all they cared about is maximization of the profits. By introducing the Hormone, for the cattle to produce more milk, and hence results in more people consuming milk shows that the company is trying their best to maximize profit in whatever way they sought off. All of these actions are all about the conflict of interest.

In the globalization era, we cannot denial the fact that mass media had played a major role in influencing every citizen in every society young, or old, rich, or poor. The media is a part of everyday life. News and events occurring in other parts of the countries are bought to our country through the means of newspaper, radio, television, and even virtually. Mass media influences society especially in neo-liberalism society because the media flattens the world we live and create the sense of competition where individual, institution; group of people in the society is competing in the market, political, economical, and social structure of the society. These influences is increasingly changing day by day and it leads to the question of morality and ethics of the mass media in providing, informing, and educating people with news and events accurately in the right place, at the right time, and to the right person. The purpose of this is to create a peaceful world where everyone in the society would cooperate. The government should use laws to control the media in order to solve the conflict by enforcing laws and punishing all those people committed wrong doings in order to set a role model for the society. Media needs to fight and struggle for justice and rights for the people to have an access to all the information. The media should act as a watchdog in which the society relies on. Nevertheless, all the problems of privatization of the public property into private, is the results of neo-liberalism which creates competition in the society and causing the damage to the society, as the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer.

Work Citation

http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Bovine_Growth_Hormone

http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Mass_media

http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Monsanto

http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Neoliberalism

Fog, Agner. “ The supposed and the real role of mass media in modern democracy.”

Harvey, David, ed. Neo-Liberalism as creative destruction. 2006.

Herman, Edward s S., and Noam Chomsky. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. 1988.

Smith, Jeffrey. “ Monsanto Forced Fox TV to Censor Coverage of Dangerous Milk Drug.”

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