What does “media conglomerate” mean for our news consumption?

Kendall Polidori

The consumption of news has been profound since the first newspaper was published in 1690, and has grown tremendously through the rise of multimedia platforms. It is safe to assume that everyone in the United States receives some form of news or information throughout their day, but not many can say they truly know where the information they are getting stems from.

A media conglomerate, or a company that owns numerous companies involved in mass media enterprises, is something that not many people even know of, but it is crucial in understanding where your news is coming from. These enterprises consist of television, radio, publishing, motion pictures, theme parks and the internet.

It is known that 90 percent of the United States media is controlled by six major companies: Comcast, Fox, The Walt Disney Company, Viacom, AT&T and CBS. All six of these are under media conglomerate, and all of those companies are where are major sources of news comes from.

Think of all the different forms of publications and broadcasts there are in the United States. There are so many we almost cannot even keep track of them, yet so many of them share one thing in common: where they come from. Now, I don’t know if it’s only me that finds this crazy, but the fact that 90 percent of our media in the United States comes from only six companies blows my mind.

This means on 10 percent of the United States media comes from elsewhere, and who knows where that is from? The other 10 percent is not even mentioned most of the time, and to me that is a very scary thought, as I like to be aware of the information I am obtaining and where it is coming from.

Now, since 90 percent of United States media comes from only six major companies that own numerous publications and broadcasts as well, this produces endless questions for me. Does this mean certain news stations are fixed on specific frames because of the company that they are under? What does this mean for the news and information that is being delivered? Who decides what news platform should be followed under this company?

The questions go on and on, and it is a bit troubling to me, so I dug a little deeper into what goes on within Grand Rapids’ news world.

I took a closer look into MLive and Grand Rapids Press. They cover all forms of multimedia journalism for the Grand Rapids area. Now, Grand Rapids Press is owned by the company Advance Publications, which is an American media company. This means that anything that MLive or Grand Rapids Press is under the authorization of Advance Publications. But that is not all.

Advance Publications is under The Discovery Channel Company, an American pay television channel. The Discovery Channel is owned by 21st Century Fox, which is one of the six major companies that controls 90 percent of media in the United States. It is one huge spider web connected together.

Many people do not know what this means for the variety in the news that we receive, and it is not easy to tell exactly. While this may not be dangerous to the United States, it is not exactly how I pictured our world of media to look like and it makes me question the practices and frames behind the news that I am consuming.

The framing theory basically means that media focuses its attention on certain events and places them with a field of meaning. So, without you even knowing, a news source can be delivering news to you with a specific frame in mind, shaping how you look at an event or topic without you even knowing.

How we take this information is all up to you, but next time you watch, read, or listen to the news, take a step back and think about where it is really coming from.