Media outlets are owned by these large companies

Carol Durant
Remote controlCarol Durant

There are a myriad of opportunities to receive information and the news. If you are driving in your car, you can listen to traditional radio stations, such as NPR or Fox. In a newer car, you can plug in your smartphone and listen to your playlist via bluetooth or listen to built-in amenities channels, such as SiriusXM or Pandora. If you are carrying a laptop or Ipad, you can tune into legacy television channels, such as CBS or NBC, watch paid channels, such as ESPN or Netflix or hone into social media platforms, such as Facebook, TikTok or Twitter. Information is being delivered to you whether you are moving or stationary. But who owns these media companies? Who is piloting and directing the news to you and me? The answers were found at Harvard University via The Future of Media: Truth, Privacy, and Power project hosted by the Institute of Quantitative Social Science (IQSS), also at Harvard.

Four scholars: Bharat N. Anand, Rafael Di Tella, Gary King and Heidi Legg crafted a bold partnership with the IQSS and Harvard Business School to research and discuss media related concerns and provide insight, transparency and solutions towards the betterment of our society. Their effort is monumental and staggering. They and their associates tackled the media in the United States and Canada. The category that I researched and read was the Index of Mainstream Media Ownership. There are 176 columns that provide information on the Mainstream Media outlet which is ranked by the size of their audience. The headings include: the top owners, investors and donors of each organization. The column for type of ownership was very interesting. Some of these entities are private for profit, non profit and publicly traded. Print, digital, television and radio appear in the types of medium columns. The last two columns track the reach that the particular business has and the number of monthly visitors.

I won't spoil it for you, but It was shocking to see the number one most visited site. I am very glad that I'm not a gambler. What is also very interesting is the lack of variety and diversity in the ownership of these media conglomerates. It would certainly be possible for any company to conflate points of view or choose not to enhance an ideology that differs from their board of directors, individual owners or venture capitalists. Additional indices focus on newspapers, nonprofit donors, media and political donations. There are seven large corporations that own 672 newspapers in the United States and Canada. Gannett Company Inc. is the largest owner with 250 newspapers in its roster. Please note that newspapers in your area may be owned by a smaller company that could be local or international.

Kudos to all of the students, colleagues and associates that lent their time, knowledge and efforts to assist the scholars in this project and maintaining the updates.

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Albany, NY

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