Media Industries & Ownership: Who owns my news sources?

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.

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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.

References:

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/&gt;.

Phuong M, Stern M 2012, http://www.whoownsfacebook.com, Massinvestor Inc., 2012, viewed 24 March 2017, .

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4 thoughts on “Media Industries & Ownership: Who owns my news sources?

  1. Even though online sources can be a good source for news stories which allows for active participation, do you find the filtering of news by sources such as Facebook concerning? How do we decide who gets to filter our news sources and how they do it? An interesting concept about online news and its implications is the ‘filter bubble’, where we are restricted to the news we have previously liked and shared, creating a one-dimensional view of certain topics and news stories. This was a really good blog post, I especially liked the layout. It was clear and easy to follow. I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Alex!
    I really like your comment about trusting online sources because they allow for dialogue and critique, and I completely agree. I also enjoy that I can use the Internet to access a more varied range of news sources.
    It really shocked me, though, that Zuckerberg has so much control over Facebook! That article you linked was incredibly eye-opening. Do you think that Zuckerberg will ever have as much control over Facebook as Murdoch has over the mass-media companies he owns? It’s such a terrifying concept that I’d never thought possible before now!
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Emma, thanks for commenting! From what I’ve gauged from my research, Zuckerberg is very committed to staying independent and maintain as much control over Facebook as possible, hence his decision to insert the clause into the Facebook shares allowing for him to stay in power regardless of whether he has majority ownership or not. So it’s very possible in the future Zuckerberg could take on that media tycoon type role that Murdoch is known for.

      Like

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