Another one of the most ominous problems is that owners of media firms can experience conflicts of interest. Major American news firms regularly experience political conflicts of interest. According to FAIR, an American media watch group:
Top news executives and celebrity reporters frequently socialize with government officials. The most powerful media companies routinely make large contributions to both major political parties, while receiving millions of dollars in return in the form of payments for running political ads… In this incestuous culture, ‘news’ is defined chiefly as the actions and statements of people in power. Reporters, dependent on ‘access’ and leaks provided by official sources, are too often unwilling to risk alienating these sources with truly critical coverage. Nor are corporate media outlets interested in angering the elected and bureaucratic officials who have the power to regulate their businesses.44
Major media firms also experience conflicts of interest with respect to business: “Media corporations share members of the board of directors with a variety of other large corporations, including banks, investment companies, oil companies, health care and pharmaceutical companies and technology companies.”45
Also, media firms can experience conflicts of interest with respect to ideology: “[The] Brownsville, Texas PBS affiliate KMBH, owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, claimed that they didn’t air the Frontline documentary Hand of God because PBS failed to provide the video feed in time (Valley Morning Star, 1/18/07). Critics suspected the station’s actual reason had to do with the documentary’s subject matter: Catholic priest molestation scandals.”46
44 “Issue Area: Official Agendas.” Fair and Accuracy in Reporting.
45 “Interlocking Directorates.” Fair and Accuracy in Reporting.
46 Jackson, Janine and Peter Hart. “Fear & Favor 2007.” Fair and Accuracy in Reporting. March/April 2008
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