Media as a Business

How can the news be fair and unbiased when, in the United States, news and media organizations are owned by for-profit organizations that are motivated by profit? In 2009, the top 10 media companies combined generated $59.9 billion in gross revenues with Time Warner generating the largest percentage of that, totaling $46.48 billion. Other large media corporations include Fox Television, Walt Disney, CBS, Google media, Comcast, Omnicom, and Viacom. (Hasan, 2009)  Today, these news media brands compete within their own medium as well as across other mediums.  This drive for profits, that is generated by increased ratings, more website views, or selling more newspapers, creates an industrial conflict of interest.

Journalism, like all professions, has incorporated ethics into its professional ranks, and those standards are supposed to be enforced by the media industry itself, as well as by the professional associations that represent it. In reality, journalists have a lot of discretion in how they apply their own values when they report on specific stories. Baron explains that “most non-market issues are complex” and the ability to present them in a balanced and accurate manner that is fair “varies between media organizations”. (Baron, 2010, P 75)

As a result of the struggle with unbiased reporting, public confidence in news media has declined since the early 1980’s, with the public viewing the news media as “less professional, less accurate, less caring, less moral, and more inclined to cover up than correct mistakes”. According to a 1999 survey conducted by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE), “78 percent of the public believe that there is bias in the news media”. Baron speculates that media bias could arise from the demand-side of supply and demand. For example, individuals demand news as entertainment and probably have a demand for stories that are “consistent with their political or social viewpoints.” This provides an incentive for a news organization to bias stories in order to satisfy certain clientele. (Baron, 2004)

This issue of biased reporting also creates questions of corporate social responsibility. Doesn’t the news media have a greater level of social responsibility levied against it when compared to other organizations? After all, we are dependent on the media to inform us about public rights and wrongs. As you ponder the question of social responsibility, consider that other industries have championed social responsibility without jeopardizing their profit goals. For example, three of today’s most profitable corporations, Kohl’s, Starbucks, and the Vanguard Group, all have championed for corporate responsibility. (Kincaid, 2012)

About the Author

Jerry Landers is the Vice President of Business Development for Aspire Indiana. While the beliefs and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mr. Landers you can learn more about community mental health and how it intersects with business and media at http://www.facebook.com/AspireIndiana

References

Baron, D. (2010), Business and Its Environment (6th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. P. 199-207

Baron, D (2004), Persistent Media Bias, Retrieved from http://www.wallis.rochester.edu/conference11/mediabias.pdf

Hasan, (2009), Top Ten Media Companies In The United States, Retrieved from http://www.dirjournal.com/business-journal/top-ten-media-companies-in-the-united-states/

Kincaid, M. (2012), Building Corporate Social Responsibility Through Servant Leadership, Retrieved from http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/ijls/new/vol7iss2/IJLS_Vol7Iss2_Kincaid_pp151-171.pdf

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About jerrylanders

Executive Director for Aspire Indiana Health and Vice President for Aspire Indiana. Doctorial Student at Columbia Southern University studying business. Married and father of three children. I blog about mental health, business, social media and how all three intersect.
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