Examine the view that, ‘Ownership and control of the media affect media content".  

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Media, which is the plural of the word "medium", or "way", entails precisely that: any way that can be used to profess information. The problem with this word is that its meaning is suffering as a result of, both, a digital divide and generational gap among those who use the term. 

For example, 30 years ago, the word "media" encompassed mainly three conduits to get information: a) newspapers, b) radio, c) television. 

At that time, those who owned any of these three forms of media were essentially in charge of many things, such as how news were to be disseminated, what would take center stage, what would be considered "first page news", and what would have been considered "newsworthy".

Being in charge of any of those channels of information meant having the right to use personal judgement to decide what is to be put out there for society to know, and what is not. The reason why so many newspapers would send out undercover "snopes" to check on what the other paper was reporting was, back in the day, some of the ways in which publications selected their most important news. 

Journalism vs. TV

While journalism is meant to be impartial and objective, radio and TV do not have to abide by the same ethical principles. If radio and TV are broadcasting a journalism show, then the rules of ethics apply. Once the show is over, TV and radio are entirely dependent (most of the time) on commercial sponsoring. This need for sponsors may put those in charge of the medium in a predicament of sorts where they may have to compromise impartiality and report news or announcements that benefit the sponsor. 

Media now

Since it is established that media can be "any" method to profess information, we can also conclude that it does not have to be an official method, nor one that needs to be condoned by any governmental agency.

In our free country, "media" is now everything from blogs, to webpages, memes, YouTube channels, and even micro-blogging in the form of movie excerpts that attempt to explain a current event using other media to make comparisons. An example is when a new policy hits, and someone on the internet posts a clip of (for example) a famous basketball player missing a slam dunk. The clip is an illustration of the common view of the policy as something that will not make a slam dunk, either.

Who is in charge?

Since anybody can nowadays "claim" media, the ownership can literally fall in the hands of anybody who can afford the maintenance and the time consuming task of constant reporting online. 

Media now comes in so many forms, and is so ubiquitously available, that an entire group of people who wish to send out a message can overhaul the entire Internet media and promote what they want, if so they wish to do. 

The only way to control such overhauling is by the establishment of ethical guidelines for Internet usage. Whether the guidelines are followed or not, is a different story. Also, whether people who do not follow the ethical guidelines get consequences for their actions, is something else to wonder. 

Meanwhile, as the "rules of the game" continue to be contoured for a world in which the use of media is proliferating at great speed, suffice to say that media outlets are, indeed, influential on the minds, emotions, and decision-making processes of those who read the news through different outlets. 

The 2016 elections

Take a look at the current Republican Presidential Election Candidates, as well as the Democratic Presidential Candidates. If this campaign does not show the influence of ownership control in the media or the influence of those who are more "visible", nothing else does. 

In the Democratic party, Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton are clearly very close in terms of public preference. However, Clinton has much more media influence than Sanders, not because she has purchased ownership to it, but because she has been long enough in the eye of the media as a former 1st lady-turned-senator-turned-presidential candidate, to have plenty of groups rooting for her, at a more consistent rate than Sanders. This does not mean that she has more followers; it simply means that she has more online presence and media coverage. However, those who own the media that sponsors Clinton take full advantage of their medium to promote their candidate.

While the polls show that Sanders has clearly more followers in hot election venues than Clinton, the media outlets of blogs, webpages, online support groups, and other media of the kind, push really hard for Clinton to look like a universal favorite. All is fair in competition, but those who are undecided may falsely believe that Clinton is "it" and has no contenders that could challenge her. 

Similarly, in the Republican Party, a man who has never been a politician, Donald Trump, is presumably the number one choice as presidential candidate for the GOP, according to current media. It is clear that he has a strong following. In fact, he even downplayed senator Marco Rubio by saying that, since he (Trump) sponsors himself as a candidate, he has no need to run webpages or buy any media ads. These are very telling words which embody what this question is about.

The media still prefers Trump, whether the voters do or do not. He is boisterous, brutally honest, and (to some) he is charming and funny. Regardless of that, he is definitely someone whom media owners would rather publish instead of an uber traditional, soft-spoken candidate. The proof is in the debates: Why did Trump get more center stage time than the other candidates, who were senators and governors of states? Simply because the media outlet preferred to keep him at a center stage. He generates more views and comments than any of the other 10 politicians standing in the same podium.

Does that mean that he is, in fact, the preferred candidate, or is that merely what some media outlets are showing based on their own surveying tools?

Conclusion 

The conclusion to all of this definitely points at the fact that ownership of a media outlet affects the public view of things, because people who own the media outlet can post and campaign for whatever they want. There are no set regulations as to what people can post online or not (with the exception of imagery and information already considered to be criminally punishable, such as child pornography etc.). 

Therefore, yes; media ownership affects content and, as a result, it will affect those who are undecided about current events, or political candidates, or the future of this nation. It is a scary prospect, but nevertheless, it is where we are now, as a country. 

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