Lying Media Bastards

July 10, 2005

Media Economics

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I meant to link to this article weeks ago.

It’s a study of the boardrooms of the top ten largest media companies in the US. It finds that a grand total of 118 people control what you see and hear in the media every day. And those 118 people sit on the boards of 288 corporations. For example, the article points out that the members of the board of the Washington Post also sit on the boards of Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola, Dun & Bradstreet, Gillette, G.E. Investments, J.P. Morgan, and Moody’s. If you were on the board of Coca-Cola and also on the board of the Washington Post, don’t you think you would try to influence the newspapers’ policies so as to maximize Coke’s profits? And vice versa? Yeah, you’d probably have to be a little subtle, or maybe you wouldn’t even be able to get such an agenda on the books. But still, seems like conflict of interests to me.

On top of that, the article shows that 8 of these 10 media conglomerates have common memberships on other boards. For example, newspaper companies the Washington Post and Gannett both have members on the board of Lockheed Martin. Does this lead to less competition and more collusion?

Moving to a slightly different tangent, Billmon has posted an interesting essay which examines journalism and punditry via the lens of free market theory. Either you can come away from it with the idea that pundits don’t care about being right because they get more benefit (ie get to keep their jobs) in following the crowd, or that the “marketplace of ideas” is a completely fucking stupid idea that your average 10-year old could pick apart in a matter of minutes.

Posted by Jake on July 10, 2005 10:10 pm

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