Political parties may be in stalemate over the underpinnings for a new self-regulator for the press, but Justin Schlosberg of Birkbeck, University of London and author of Power Beyond Scrutiny: Media Justice and Accountability argues that the problem policymakers should be dealing with is ownership concentration.
Is media ownsership regulated nowadays? Apparently, or in an oficial way, it is, but everybody knows that big media conglomerates have almost the power to basically do whatever they want. Politicians of all parts of the world and the European commision are trying to take regular audits of media plurality. Everybody “wants” to stop them, or cap them, but are they really being capped, or is it just a mere perception they are creating to disguise their real power?The latest scandal the press was involved in is the crazy ‘hackage’ of innocent civilians reding online newspapers, or ‘liking’ a page of Facebok. What does this come from? Aparently from the structural decline facing newspapers and the emergence of new gatekeepers online. “Far from detracting from their influence, Google, MSN, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo are in reality amplifying the voice of the national press through aggregation and personalisation” Schlosberg explains. We are being “observed” and “tracked” by the internet itself. The question Schlosberg sets out is: why is nothing being done about this overriding lesson from hackgate? Some suggest that media ownership concentration may allow for better pooling of resources, since newspapers revenues are declining. Personally, I think making profits is their main objective.
Schlosberg makes a very interesting point regarding readers ‘privacy’. He says that the privacy of individuals regardless of their status should be respected and those who have violated their privacy should be held to account. Nevertheless, he thinks this is not the biggest public interest concern to emerge out of hackgate. Unlike Schlosberg, I think if it is not the biggest concern to emerge out of hackgate, it should be. Going back to media ownsership and influence over the ‘common’ people, if they -and by they I mean thepowerful individuals, the owners of the media- have the power to hack people in order to get their personal information and make profits from that, and nothing or nobody stops them we will eventually come to a point where we have no privacy whatsoever, and we won’t even be able to complain about it.
What Schlosberg is suggesting is that these nation-wide influenece (that is also world-wide) has been intensified since the global economic collapse. He refers to it as the ‘Berlusconization’ of British political culture: an ever closer alliance between media and political centres of power.