How much trust should we really place in the news?

Credit: Amca.gov

The media in Australia is highly concentrated, with a small number of companies accounting for the majority of the news Australians receive. Lidberg (2019) supports this understanding by mentioning that in the 2015-16 financial year, News Corp Australia, Fairfax Media, Seven West Media, and APN News and Media – the four major players in the industry – accounted for over 90% of revenue in the commercial media industry. Therefore, it can be understood that these few major corporations control the majority of the print news Australia consumes. The question raised by this revelation is how much trust can we truly have in the media?

Credit: Giphy

Media is “driven as much by their social and societal responsibilities as by their profit motives.” (Bruns and Highfield, 2015) As well as this, media outlets are influenced by politics, more specifically, by the owner of said company’s view on politics. This means that ‘spin’ or perspective they give any story is inherently biased towards that viewpoint. It then becomes essential that one acknowledge this fact, and at least has some knowledge of the potential bias occurring in many news articles they take for granted.

Since the relationship between media and democracy is closely intertwined, it is essential that the power the media holds is policed, governed correctly so that one political agenda is not put above another. However, in Australia this is not the case – with the media being given more power as time goes by. Recent laws have allowed a merger between Nine and Fairfax, allowing the company even more power.

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However, in this new age, accessing the news online is becoming increasingly popular. While online News sites are flourishing, people are now choosing to turn to platforms like Facebook, or Twitter to consume their newsfeed. This leads to an even more biased consumption of news, as what one sees on Facebook is controlled by an array of algorithms that the consumer knows little about, and has little say in. While Twitter allows for more customisability, this does provide the drawback that any news seen is that shared by those a person follows. This means if a person follows those with certain political leanings, and relies on their perspective of what is ‘important news’ their view will be even more skewed than if they were relying on a single physical paper.

Credit: Giphy

The growing media age has also led to the phenomena of ‘fake news’. The idea of fake news in itself is also biased, with differing groups putting their own spin on exactly what it means – usually at the expense of an opposing party. Fake news is generally seen as news that is just as the title implies, fake. It can be completely fabricated, or only in part, and due to the ability almost everyone now has to hit that ‘share’ or ‘retweet’ button it can be spread faster than ever.

Thus, it is essential that in this modern media environment, people are aware of just what – and who – influences their media consumption, lest they end up viewing the world from a wholly biased perspective.

References
Bruns, A. and Highfield, T. ‘Is Habermas on Twitter? Social Media and the Public Sphere’. In Enli, Gunn Bruns, Axel Christensen, Christian Larsson, Anders Olof Skogerbo, Eli. The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics. : Taylor and Francis, 2015. Available at: https://eprints.qut.edu.au/91810/
Lidberg, Johan (2019) ‘The distortion of the Australian Public Sphere: Media ownership concentration in Australia’. AQ: Australian Quarterly, vol. 90, no. 1 (Jan-Mar 2019), pp. 12-20.

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