Yesterday the latest JOUR1111 lecture was on commercial media, and it explored it's role, function and purpose in Australia. Bruce kicked things off by saying that all the commercial media conglomerate's goal is to make money and more money. This is, of course, nothing new to me and not that interesting to learn. The way in which they make profits - or lack thereof - is what sparked my interest, though. The most surprising piece of information I learned was that major news outlets cater more to the advertisers rather than the readers, viewers or listeners. The more you think about it, though, the more it makes sense.
It was also interesting to learn about all the big players in Australia's commercial media and their respective subsidiary groups. For instance, I didn't know that many of the media conglomerates such as Fairfax Media and News Corp. have their hands in more than just one medium. Television, print, radio and the world wide web are their primary domains. Some of these mediums are more profitable than others. In fact, News Corps.'s involvement in newspapers is rumored to be not a money making scheme, but rather a platform for the partisan agenda of the Murdoch empire. If you ever watched Fox news, this is not hard to believe.
The social role of commercial media has always been at odds with their profit-orientated mission. Unethical media practices such as distortion, miscommunication and sensationalism of the news will always attract more eyes and ears - and more ad revenue - but is counterintuitive to correctly informing the masses, unfortunately spawning an unworldly public-sphere. This, of course, defeats the purpose of news, which is to communicate an accurate recounting of the important stories of the day.