The concentration of media ownership, causing significant leverage to a handful of media houses, has raised grave concerns about the future of press and information homogenization. All things considered, the mainstream media has put blindfolds on news reporting, a fact we need to change to step forward.
The mainstream media holds the highest rank among the world population it serves due to the resources and audience it has in the field of journalism and reporting. It is taken by everyone to be “the” source of information, without even thinking for a split second that they might be faulty. The dependence on mainstream media has blindfolded most people to such an extreme, that they never seem to think of the faults it has, such as fake news and lack of objectivity. That’s where independent and alternative media come in play. Here we have pointed out a few flaws the mainstream media has, that everybody should know.
Mainstream Media and the 2016 Presidential Election
Let’s first take a look at the last presidential election in the US. Mainstream media is the biggest player when it comes to politics. People get informed about their candidates through the press. The more a candidate gets mentioned in the media, the more opinionated the public becomes. A lack of screen time slashes out a candidate’s chances of winning the nomination big time. Trump and Hillary got to the finals of the presidential election because they appeared in every edition of the published press, for either negative or positive reason, during the early stages. Bernie Sanders quickly got cut out of the picture because of a lack of coverage.
Name Recognition is a key asset in the initial stages of any election, and as the report by Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy says, 2 out of 5 registered Democrats in the USA didn’t know about Bernie Sanders or had a very little information about him.
Biased News Coverage
The coverage inevitably led to people not being able to form an opinion or decent knowledge about the candidate. Mainstream media is the one to be blamed here. Although the tone of Sander’s coverage was impressively confident, he was given minimal coverage, compared to other candidates. According to the report by the Shorenstein Center, Hillary Clinton got three times more coverage than Sanders, who got less coverage than all of the Republican candidates. Even though the tone of Hillary’s coverage was mostly negative, the extensive coverage from the press undoubtedly led her to the finals
The biases on the news coverage are something that is painfully evident. We can tell that the mainstream media is biased just by looking at the coverage and screen time that each of the US Presidential Election nominees got. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each got 75% of total coverage and press mentions of Democratic and Republican sides respectively. Other candidates like Bernie Sanders and Jeff Bush, who had equal qualifications, could not stand out because of the lack of press coverage.
Terror and the Mainstream Media
Politics is not the only genre where the mainstream media shows its biased behavior. The media is biased in its reports of the deeds of US Forces in peacekeeping missions. Their stories are full of news about terror attacks, the number of terrorists killed, and terror organizations exposed. As Rick Mullen, a former journalist, Vietnam veteran, and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve officer said, “I have got used to our American media pouncing on every transgression by U.S. Forces while ignoring the legions of good and noble deeds performed by U.S. and coalition forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This sort of thing is akin to the evening news focusing on the few bad things that happen in Los Angeles or London and ignoring the millions of good news items each day.”
The media knows that its viewers are more likely to relate to victims who are more like them. Terror attacks in the Western World and North America are still a relatively unusual occurrence, so even a small incident related to terrorism gets bulk resources deployed. To investigate the media bias in its coverage of terrorism, Sociologist, and Lawyer Sean Darling-Hammond collected reports of media coverages of terror incidents during the two months after the 2015 Paris Attack. His study concluded that of the three major terror attacks in November there were 392 articles about the assault in Baghdad; 1292 articles about the attack in Beirut; but over 21,000 articles widely reported the attack in Paris.
The alternative media has to be given some credits for the work it does. The rise of Twitter as an alternative media has played a vivid role in challenging the mainstream media as the sole source of information. But there is more work to be done to develop alternative media outlets. Most of the world population is still on the receiving side of the news coverage. More and more people have to start taking advantage of alternative media sources like blogs, vlogs, and Twitter to actively reach out to the under-covered places and bring actual information to the public.