As an 18 year old university student majoring in digital media, it would be a very rare occurrence for me to receive my news from legacy media sources such as newspapers and television. Yeah every once in awhile I may catch the evening news on TV but often I would have already seen the top stories posted on social media, and that’s just the way the world is going, legacy media is slowly dying.
The media industry is often disrespected by the general community due to perceptions of things such as media bias and misleading headlines. Something that was prominently highlighted during the 2016 U.S presidential election, where Donald Trump often criticised the media for being extremely against him during his campaign while concurrently ignoring the actions of other politicians involved in the election. Trump often coining the phrase “fake news” when discussing media reports that regarded him, and his supporters referring to popular news network CNN as the “Clinton News Network” further solidified the general distaste for the media during this significant event.
And whilst these issues surrounding the media are still current for online news sources, they are still becoming the preferred method to access news for the generation of regular internet users. I mainly engage in news sources in the form of articles on Facebook, and through videos via YouTube.
Now who owns these platforms?
- Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, who is also the CEO of the company. However Facebook is a publicly owned company, therefore it’s shares are held by many different investors, whether they be individuals or business corporations. The site whoownsfacebook.com shows that Zuckerberg is Facebook’s leading owner with 28.2% of the shares valued at 24 billion USD are owned by him.
- YouTube is owned by Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc., a company that was founded in 2015 by the original Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Does all this even matter?
When you consider the fact that many owners of media corporations are often accused of controlling the content their companies put out, it may very matter significantly in this day and age.
fortune.com’s 2016 article by Mathew Ingram discusses a change made to Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg that allows him to maintain control of the company even if he doesn’t have shares in the company anymore. This eventually turned into a lawsuit where Zuckerberg was sued for this by a select few fellow shareholders. The article also cited that this practice was also undertaken by Alphabet inc. owners Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
If these owners are able to exercise absolute control over the ownership of their companies, surely they’re able to control every little bit of content we see on their sites if they wanted to. But do I still trust these sites to receive my news and information? absolutely, because they are internet based and once posted they are permanently available online for analysation and critique by anyone and everyone, allowing for dialogue between people and further opportunity for more information to be cited and posted.
Ingram M 2016, ‘Mark Zuckerberg’s Absolute Control Over Facebook Is Not New’, Fortune, December, viewed 24 March 2017, <http://fortune.com/2016/12/13/zuckerberg-facebook-lawsuit/>.
Phuong M, Stern M 2012, http://www.whoownsfacebook.com, Massinvestor Inc., 2012, viewed 24 March 2017, .