Saturday, January 26, 2008

Elite Media and Mainstream Media

Today JD and I will be talking about mainstream media. Some NBC commercials have recently shown the NBC symbol followed by all the other companies under GE. It is interesting to think that NBC a part of this major conglomerate. Noam Chomsky also points out this fact, speaking of other major media outlets, stating “what are the elite media, the agenda-setting ones? The New York Times and CBS, for example. Well, first of all, they are major, very profitable, corporations. Furthermore, most of them are either linked to, or outright owned by, much bigger corporations, like General Electric, Westinghouse, and so on.” By elite media, Chomsky is speaking about the structure of media. That media is broken up into the mainstream and elite media. Essentially, he believes that the mainstream media is used to distract the masses while the elite media is able to carry out their own agendas.

A real interesting point in his article ties into an earlier post on advertising. That is messages are constantly being sent to us. Chomsky talks specifically about the New York Times and how they are not in the business of selling newspapers, but in fact selling an audience of people to advertisers and also to those who wish to get a set of particular ideas to the public (ideas which conform to the elite media’s desires). Furthermore, the people reading the New York Times are people in positions of power. The New York Times is one of the major news outlets and is the many people go by to find out what is happening in the world. By seeing what is happening in the world, I mean that it is what the elite media believes is important for us to know. Heath Ledger’s death has been headline news this week, and one has to wonder why that is. Most of the news about Britney Spears is similar, but I think Ledger’s death has brought on a lot of attention. I was browsing the NY Times webpage and found that this was a front page story for January 23rd. Also, there were 1100+ comments for the story after less than 24 hours. There were so many comments that moderators had to stop allowing people to comment. However, an article called “The Path to Super Tuesday” had no comments even after 20+ hours of being online.

When applying this idea that our attention is being diverted from the real issues at hand, there are many examples of this, and how this theory rings true. Celebrity news, sports, even technology are all topics which can be done without. Yet people are so drawn to these topics. I subscribe to the BBC news feed, which basically shows the stories of each day. There are a surprisingly large number of sports related items on a regular basis. Chomsky often uses football as an example as a way for the elite media to get rid of those who might get in the way (not a direct quote). We have questioned the importance of celebrities already, but it seems that the elite media is attaining success in distracting the masses with reality TV, sports, and celebrities.

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