Kevin Brick 1223700
March 31st, 2015
Dr. Ward The structure of Canadian media industry is ever changing due to constant mergers, acquisitions and the creation of new companies. Information is now considered to be a power commodity, like money and wealth. Mass media companies that exercise control over the information that is relayed to the masses are now seen as a threatening force in binding or shaping public opinion. Press ownership not only holds a theoretical power to greatly influence what the public knows, but to what is to be considered of importance. It is argued that owners have an awesome opportunity to influence the way Canadians think about pertinent issues and their governance. The question remains how frequently, if at all, do owners utilize their enormous power to mould the public’s mind? In August 2000, CanWest Global Communications
Corp. purchased the largest newspaper chain in Canada, Southam Inc, from Hollinger
International Inc. By examining newspaper articles under Black and its transition to Asper ownership, this paper argues that this change in ownership resulted in media coverage that was much less antiliberal which suggests that the personal opinions of the owner directly impacts how political content is covered.
The mass media is more than just a medium for someone to find out simple facts about the world they live in. It also sets context for the facts that are gathered, determines how such
facts should be viewed and debated and offers in depth analysis and positions on significant events and issues. Given this, the news media has the theoretical power to shape how events are presented as well as how they are relevant to the public. Dean Alger, a political scientist and media analyst at the University of Minnesota, suggests that a democracy is a marketplace of ideas, where a wide range of people and organizations have the opportunity to express information and ideas for the population to consider1. Along with this is the popular western concept of the free press, which is based on the idea of free and open exchange of ideas and expressions. The “marketplace of ideas” metaphor originated with the writings of 17th century poet John Milton, and was more formally developed in the works of 19th century philosopher John Stuart Mill .2 Both writers developed notions whereby an understanding of truth could be achieved through the free exchange of ideas. While the use of the “marketplace of ideas” metaphor has clearly entailed both economic and democratic considerations, there appears to be broad agreement that a competitive market is necessary for the exchange of ideas ; that consumers in the market are rational and are able to make informed decisions .3
In order to maintain a productive marketplace, media outlets must include both the choice of outlets and diversity in content. One of the major concerns of media ownership is that it will not serve the ideals of democracy because a small number of owners may provide a very limited choice in terms of where consumers can get their information from. This is largely due to the fact that newspapers,
Alger, D. 1998. Megamedia: How Giant Corporations Dominate Mass Media,
Distort Competition, and Endanger Democracy, p 1.
Gordon, J. 1997. John Stuart Mill and the ‘Marketplace of Ideas, p 235.
Napoli, P. M. 1999. The Marketplace of Ideas Metaphor in Communications, p 135.
in our modern era, are now considered as a business rather than a basis for democracy. The specific interests of the media owners may not intersect with that of the consumers. As an example of this viewpoint, James Squires, former editor of the Chicago Tribune, has referred to the modern press “as an