Saturday, April 9, 2011


     The consolidation of media corporations resulted in rather sad state of affairs for women and minorities. Industry that used to be compromised of more than 50 different companies is now consolidated into 5 or 6 at most. What this results in is “company wide” hiring processes that span different media outlets owned by the same company. This can result in gender based discriminatory practices that could span many news outlets and exclude minorities and women from having a fairer representation in the industry. (Reel Grrls)
     In the mid 1960s, the FCC has included women in the affirmative action program encouraging the hiring of women in the news media. As a result more and more women were being hired by the news outlets. While this has steadily grown throughout the 70s and 80s, it still hasn't penetrated the managerial positions. Women mostly are employed in the lower tier level of workforce of the news outlets. They are stuck in position with no real power. It they are advanced, only their title changes and no real changes in responsibilities occurs. Interestingly enough, only “one in four communications/media jobs created between 1990 and 2005 were filled by women” in addition to the fact that the pay was about 30% less than that of White males.( NOW factsheet) (WMC Media Owenership)
     The consolidation has also created an industry where it's very hard to break into. Anytime a new news outlet tries to enter the industry, it's being pushed out or bought out by the big conglomerates. This is all done for the purpose of keeping the power within few hands and perpetuating the status quo. Women and minorities have also harder time in succeeding in such small media outlets. This is a result of the lack of relevant experience in working in the higher level of the industry, since men still dominate high ranking positions in the mainstream media.

Fortunately, the advance of the Internet has helped to alleviate some of this. It has never been easier to have access to wide audience, without the necessity of overhead expenses that a regular media organizations need to face. This has brought on the sprout of a multitude of news websites and blogs that fill in the vacuum left by the mainstream conglomerates. They cater to those invisible part of society that the mainstream just fails to bring into the news spot light. These Internet based news organizations become the very fabric of alternative media. One of such organizations is Women's eNews, a news website dedicated to women's issues.

     In 1999, Legal Momentum or NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund as it was known in the past, founded Women's eNews. It was created with a purpose of being a news outlet for women's issues specifically. Journalist Rita Henley Jensen, who happened to also win the Hunter College Presidential Grant for Innovative Uses of Technology in Teaching amongst many others, became the editor in chief. In 2002, the organization became independent. Over the years the news site affiliated itself with various programs such as the Fund for the City for New York's Incubator/Partner Project Program, which it left in 2008. (WeNews)
     WeNews doesn't have big overhead expenses that traditional news media outlets have, which allows it to be still in business. Moreover, it is supported by various individual donors as well as humanitarian foundations. It has won in addition various grants from the Ford Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Having the business model of WeNews being based on donations allows it to be free of any obligations/ “strings attached” relationships that the mainstream media conglomerates are plagued with. There are no corporate sponsors nor any special interests that could skew the nature of journalism of the people working at WeNews.(Philanthropy Journal)
     WeNews is aimed at international audience, mainly women, but it's prerogative aim is to bring women's issues to the public's knowledge, something that the mainstream media just fail to do. In 2003, it has launched an Arabic version of its website to cater to the women of the Middle East.
     WeNews is important alternative media outlet, because it caters to women's issues. Moreover, its international scope helps to shed some light on the lives of women not only in the First world but in the Third world as well. It's board of directors are mainly composed of women. It's editor in chief is a woman as well. That's very important if one is to compare other news outlets, where men dominate these positions of power. There's no other similar news organizations such as WeNews. It's role is paramount to providing a source of news for women by women. (WeNews)

     Another alternative news media especially for Hunter students, is the Envoy. It's a student run newspaper based in Hunter College. The paper covers student related issues and other major events happening at Hunter college or the CUNY system. The editorial board as well as the staff writers are composed of Hunter students. It's a newspaper aimed for the student audience, written by students themselves. You can not have a more alternative media outlet than this.

Media consolidation has also far more reaching consequences. Independent media is an important aspect of a healthy democracy. It's purpose is to safeguard the public against the government misinformation and be a an open and independent outlet for the criticism against the government by the public. This is purpose and special position within a democratic country such as US, is put into question, when the news industry is compromised of only a few conglomerates full of special interests. The voices of women and minorities are being silenced due to the fact that the conglomerate businesses of the news media industry are all to busy in selling out to the white majority. While it maybe a good business decision to cater to the most wealthy segment of the population, i.e. the Anglo Americans, by having not covering the issues of women and minorities in the same proportion as the Anglo Americans, it's is bad for our society. (Common Cause)
     It is up to us to put pressure on the government to start regulation of the news media industry again. Monopolies are the worst thing that could happen to a consumer. Price control, and future market direction is decided by the business suits, of course in this case it's the type of news coverage and the direction of the type of news format that we watch. It's time to fight back!


Media Ownership: Impact on Minority Ownership and Localism

NOW Women in the Media Factsheet

Common Cause- Media Consolidation

Meet the staff
Meet the Board of Directors

Philanthropy journal

The Envoy

1 comment:

  1. Sorry for the shamless plug about the Envoy. I am on the editorial board there. We always need new passionate writers, so if you are interested give me a shout. I encourage all of you to check out our little college newspaper, who knows maybe you will actually like it