Manufactured Consent vs Filter Bubble

Media ownership is heavily debated as it holds the media conglomerates accountable for disseminating censored and filtered information preventing the audience from objective information. Consistently, the literature points that media ownership types have insignificant impact on the news agenda when comparing for example family and state owned agencies. One major difference though is the quality of news production where the large corporations have the funding and thus the comparative advantage in contrast to small local stations. These are no surprise since in general media companies are profit oriented. Determined to please their consumers, tailor-made stories reach the audience instead of objectivity, leading to the formation of biased mis-perceptions such as the story of the Iraqi nuclear weapons possession among the US population.

When referring to media ownership nowadays, new technology and the Internet instantly come to mind. Besides professional journalists, anyone can write an article, post in a blog, comment on news, tweet an event or post other information, making news ownership harder to define. The digital transformation of information dissemination channels has in a way increased the number of players in the media arena. It is finally possible to have many voices but this is not necessarily translated to pluralism. The current abundance of available information sources – especially those online – make it tough to distinguish reliable from unreliable contributions to the wealth of human knowledge. Inevitably, the question rising is whether the modern media challenge lays in the absolute or no control of information.

By absolute control and conforming media agendas the audience is building common perceptions and is either deprived from objectivity, or a variety of news agendas to select. News consensus is threatened by the “no control” policies that apply over the Internet platform. Absence of regulation led to information outbursts such as Wikileaks. The award wining organization brought the truth to the public; but at the same time put government security at stake. Neither option is panacea but it is certain that the existence of both regulated and deregulated forces, raises the competition bar and improves the end-news content that reaches the audience.

If competition were to continue as is between traditional and new media, then „the invisible hand“ would eventually result to news neutrality. However, if we take into account the major Internet players such as Google, Facebook and the like, combined with the growing mind-controlling power of the filter bubble, then deregulation fosters neither objectivity nor neutrality. The digital future of news remains to be revealed and hopefully it will not end up being another manufactured consent, this time propagating the interests of the Internet giants, establishing another kind of media ownership monopoly.

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