Corporate media

Written By: - Date published: 9:58 am, April 24th, 2011 - 34 comments
Categories: business, disaster, Media - Tags: , ,

How much of the “news” that we consume and the “research” that it is based on is bought, paid for, and subservient to, corporate masters? Historically tobacco and drug companies are well known cases where corporations have poured huge amounts of money and energy into manipulating the news. How much of it is still going on? What other corporations are doing the same?

I doubt that we will ever know the full extent of corporate control of the media. But one thing we can do is raise awareness of the proven cases, such as for example the multi-million dollar ExxonMobil campaign against climate change science. Recently another attempted case has come to light:

Emails expose BP’s attempts to control research into impact of Gulf oil spill

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials discussing how to influence the work of scientists

BP officials tried to take control of a $500m fund pledged by the oil company for independent research into the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, it has emerged.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials openly discussing how to influence the work of scientists supported by the fund, which was created by the oil company in May last year.

Russell Putt, a BP environmental expert, wrote in an email to colleagues on 24 June 2010: “Can we ‘direct’ GRI [Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative] funding to a specific study (as we now see the governor’s offices trying to do)? What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies vs the questions?”.

… The documents are expected to reinforce fears voiced by scientists that BP has too much leverage over studies into the impact of last year’s oil disaster. … There is no evidence in the emails that BP officials were successful in directing research. The fund has since established procedures to protect its independence.

Other documents obtained by Greenpeace suggest that the politics of oil spill science was not confined to BP. The White House clashed with officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last summer when drafting the administration’s account of what has happened to the spilled oil. …

… Kert Davies, Greenpeace US research director, said the oil company had crossed a line. “It’s outrageous to see these BP executives discussing how they might manipulate the science programme,” Davies said. “Their motivation last summer is abundantly clear. They wanted control of the science.” … A number of scientists had earlier expressed concerns that BP would attempt to point scientists to convenient areas of study – or try to suppress research that did not suit its business. …

Of course BP wants to control the “research” and the “news” relating to the spill. Greenpeace obtained these documents relating to one aspect of their efforts. But what else are they trying? Was that the tip of the iceberg? We the public will never know the extent to which BP has been successful in its attempts.

Let’s keep all this in mind as our own government continues to offer utterly meaningless reassurances on the prospect of drilling off shore from New Zealand’s “100% pure” clean and green coastline.

34 comments on “Corporate media”

  1. Afewknowthetruth 1

    Thanks for highligting this matter.

    It goes much further. We live in an empire in which control of the masses is largely achieved via control of the media. George Orwell pointed it out nearly 70 years ago: the truth was erased, the erasure was forgotten, and the lie became the truth. He also said: ‘I had realised quite early that no incident was ever reported accurately by any newspaper’ (or words to that effect). 

    Mainstream ‘newspapers’ are not newspapers at all: they are privately owned businesses  geared to making profits out of keeping the masses misinformed, and are vehicles for pro-corporate propaganda. That is more so now than in the past, now that the owners of global corporations tell editors what they can or cannot publish, and most community newspapers have no connection whatsoever with the communty they supposedly serve. At least in the past a newspaper was owned by some local person who had a vested interest in the community he lived in. Not so now. It’s all globalised corporatism. A handful of companies own more than 90% of the western mainstream media. So when problems are admitted to, they are downplayed and corporate ‘solutions’ are offered. Of course, most of the time the coprporate ‘solution’ makes matters worse: but hey, who cares? – at least someone made some money implementing it!

    Letters to the editor which challenge what is going on are not published or are heavily edited to remove crucial points (of course). 

    And while we’re on the topic of manipulation, let’s get something quite clear: elections are media-orchestrated circuses, geared to installing puppets and opportunists who won’t rock the boat. So, we are subjected to nearly nonstop mantra relating to economic growth and GDP: in reality, economic growth and GDP are at the heart of the predicament we are in, and are most certainly not the answer: they are what are causing the meltdown of the planet we live on and causing the ever lower quality of life most people are now experiencing; try getting an article that points that out on the fornt page of a ‘newspaper’.

    I recognised how corrupt and manipulative maintream ‘newspapers’ are many years ago when the NZH refused to publish what I had wriiten pointing out irrefutable facts about gobal warming, but the following week published an article denying global warming was a problem at all, written by an NZH business editor. And the community ‘nrewspaper’ for the district I lived in refused to publish the letter I wrote pointing out we needed sustainability, not business as usual. And several years ago I recognised that National Radio is part of the ‘keep the proles misinformed’ system, when Chris Laidlaw held a ‘debate’ on our energy future which never mentioned peak oil in the entire programme. What a joke!  But people still seem to think NR is independent and trustworthy. And if anyone thinks the real issues will be highlighted by TVNZ etc. they are severely deluded. They put so much emphasis on ‘The news you need to know’ -because it isn’t.  
    So here we are, with environmental catastrophes occuring on a daily basis (most of them unreported),  the world falling off the oil extraction ‘bumpy plateau’ and headed for economic collapse as extraction goes into severe decline, wars for oil being ramped up all over the place, the ice metling in the Arctic and causing climate instability, the CO2 level in the atmosphere rising out of control and likely to trigger positive feedbacks (if it hasn’t already done so, 392ppm and counting) …. and most people carry on complacently detroying their own futures and their children’s futures  because they are being fed b/s by the government and the media, and do not recognise it.
    The future of the world will be determined by ignorance, complacency, denial and corporate control..

    • Unless its determined  by knowledge, responsibility, mobilisation and collective control.
      Havnt you noticed that the Arab Spring has nothing to do with what you call corporate media which is still lagging behind in putting its usual spin on events. They are falling over themselves to blog, tweet and have instant talkbacks to catch up. They are even using irony to bridge the generation gap.
      lol profit is a great driver.
      Its the social media and sort-or-weird-semifeudal-medium new kid Al Jazeera that is setting the pace and which has given some voice to the people?
      Emails are a resource for leaking not a social change agent.
      Stop bleating and start tweeting.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    The Left need its own mainstream media channels in NZ.

    • Jimbo 2.2

      ? really? TVNZ / TV3 not enough! 🙂

    • terryg 2.3

      CV, ignoring the tautology, I dont think thats going to help. The real problem is ignorance, leading to apathy. A LFGBW (yes its derogatory, but the really funny thing is it nicely summarises most of what is really important) media channel wont help there.
      I cant really see a solution, other than waiting for our own Tahrir square-style movement – not that that has really achieved a damn thing so far.
      IOW IMO things have to deteriorate to the point that even the most willfully ignorant can no longer fail to see what is so obvious to those of us with AFKTT’s level of comprehension.
      At which point we can finally respond to the oligarchs a-la RATM – fuck them we wont do what they tell us. whereupon the full force of oppression wll befall us.
      Any blacksmith will agree that you cant work cold metal. People have to be prepared to die, because that is what it will take.
      To those who think I am being overly dramatic – GROW UP! There is NO WAY the oligarchs are going to relinquish control without bloodshed, and it mostly wont be theirs.
      And that is what is required, for humanity to finally throw off the shackles of feudalism/fascism/corporatism (pick an -ism, any -ism).

      • Colonial Viper 2.3.1

        Hi terryg, in my mind I think that our current MSM is adding to the ignorance and misinformation in the general populace. A lot of people watch 3-4 hours of TV a day so why not make it good stuff?
        Decent interviews and news, historical/social documentaries, good political and investigative current affairs shows could do a lot to push back some of that ignorance you talk about.
        I agree, not all the oligarchs and upper elite will let go of their status willingly.
        Nevertheless I have no doubt that some will happily make the sacrifice of going from $30,000 p.w. in the pocket income to $26,000 p.w. if they see it is for good reasons.
        Yeah the tautology, nice spotting 🙂

        • terryg

          Hi CV,
          sorry, couldnt resist. to be a good engineer, one must be a fucking pedant.
          (hint: to tell if someone truly is a pedant, accuse them of being “pendantic” – if they correct you, they’re a pedant)
          Agree [10^10^10]!
          MSM seems to do little more than make people stupider, and its not necessary. You can literally count the number of tv shows I watch on one hand, and NONE are fiction (does Bombers work count if I only ever watch it online?)
          Jersey Shore is a microcosm of all that is wrong not just with television, but western society. without exception they are all brainless fucking morons, who’s life expectency could be measured in days sans electricity and petrol.
          My wife complains about me hiding in the laboratory all the time – the real reason is she loves watching that shit, and I hate it. I also hate having ads shouting at me.
          I truly despair, and know not what to do.
          Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage 🙁
          One bright spot – the right must absolutely HATE how those dirty fucking hippies have proven absolutely right in every matter of substance.
          captcha: prepared

          • Colonial Viper


            Cripes that is a big number 😯

            • terryg

              you missed the factorial outside the brackets 🙂

              • Colonial Viper

                You pedant 😀

                • terryg

                  And proudly so. MATLAB only allows numbers up to 1.77*10^308, which isnt even enough to do (10^10)! or 10^(10^10).
                  I need more bits! 64-bit floating point just doesnt cut the mustard. Roll on 256-bit GPUs

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Ah, I see now, you’re one of those double precision GPGPU boys.

                    • terryg

                      modern GPUs easily beat a teraflop. I dont write software anymore though, I just push electrons.
                      Saw a fun picture the other day – a PS3 beside a 1995 supercomputer – the PS3 GPU and the supercomputer both do 1.8Teraflops. But the PS3 CPU adds another 0.2Teraflops.
                      The supercomputer was somewhat bigger, and unlike the PS3 filled the entire room.
                      Thanks mr Moore 🙂
                      CV – proof I really am a pendant: it should be (10^(10^10))! woth with BEDMAS et al. There aint no F in BEDMAS either?!

                    • Colonial Viper

                      PS3’s are great for this work – until Sony pushes out a firmware update which kills everything 🙁
                      I never buy Sony any more, for the kind of stuff they do.

                      BEDMAS haha, reminds me of primary school.

                    • terryg

                      46 DC EA D3 17 FE 45 D8 09 23 EB 97 E4 95 64 10 D4 CD B2 C2 (or words to that effect).
                      Apparently that is ASCII for SHITTYSONYENCRYPTION
                      And no, I dont buy any sony (or apple) products for that reason too. I want to BUY things not RENT them.
                      Besides, I long ago used up my lifetime supply of videogaming – I gave my PS2 away years ago.
                      would you believe I do most of my maths with a pen and a 1E5 schoolbook? including actual calculations. BEDMAS and SOHCAHTOA turned out to be two of the most useful things I have ever learned, and I use them both, daily.
                      I LOVE MY JOB. just as well really, cos (har har) I dont know how to do anything else.

                    • lprent

                      Strayed completely off the topic… Whilst I love talking tech, move it to OpenMike (and thank yourself that I’m relaxed this easter because I have other things to do).

          • Rex Widerstrom

            My wife complains about me hiding in the laboratory all the time – the real reason is she loves watching that shit

            And right there is a larger problem than the occasional attempt by big business to seed the media with a specific set of facts. That’s much, much harder to do – all you need is one leak, or one whistleblower and, as BP have found out in the story quoted in this post, you just end up with the opposite of what you intended.

            Nah, far easier than trying to tell the plebs something you want them to hear is to tell them nothing at all. And you don’t need to apply any pressure to the media to make this happen, you just have to ensure a large pile of reeking manure is available to them and they’ll start shovelling it.

            But the bottom line is, that wouldn’t work without people like Mrs g (sorry, I don’t mean to pick on her but since you’ve raised it. If it’s any consolation, my partner is distraught now “Neighbours” have moved to digital TV and she has only an analogue set).

            So long as enough people are prepared to wallow in the manure, the media will keep shovelling it. It’s kind of a conspiracy, but not of BP oil spill kind, because it wouldn’t have a hope of success without the complicity ot a majority of our fellow citizens.

            So before we expend our energy railing against the evil corpporate oligarchies, perhaps we need to turn our attention to their co-conspirators sitting beside us on the couch.

            But how…?

            • terryg

              Hi Rex,
              yup, you’ve nailed it. Soma + Circuses = pliant plebs.
              I have tried to interest her in geopolitics and current events, to no avail. She is the Yang to my Yin, wo suoyi ai ta hen duo (therefore I love her very much (apologies for grammatical errors (and nested parentheses (which are indicative of geekiness (OK I’ll stop now))))).
              its the paparazzo thing again – that exists because people keep buying their shit (and it really is shit).
              Personally I try to avoid reading/watching/listening to anything that will make me stupider than I already am.
              My compromise is to lie with my head in her lap, eyes closed, and ignore the acoustic excreta – bliss, when she runs her fingers through my hair. Hmm, earplugs would help – thanks Rex, I hadn’t thought of them before!
              As to how? hopefully minds far in excess of my feeble abilities will solve that one. let me know when you do 🙂

  3. ak 3

    The near total lack of media scrutiny of Mediaworksgate tells us all we never really needed to know r0b – compare both the seriousness of the issues and players, with the treatment, column inches and airtime given to Winnie’s alleged fib: say what you like about NACT, they know how to invest.  

    • PeteG 3.1

      The near total lack of media scrutiny of Mediaworksgate

      Not true, some of the opposition media tried to do a bit on this story but it fizzled because there was bugger all to it. For the conspiracy theorists it was Wishfulthinkinggate.
      Rex, hard to know what can be done about media appealing to the moron masses, there is something similar in my household, I get very bored with most TV on here. I just find something else to do that interests me more and save my credits for when there’s something I really want to watch. At least we are in unison on ignoring commercialism.

      • freedom 3.1.1

        Please educate us all as to which media outlets you are referring to,
        I for one am intrigued as to what you, PeteG, would class as opposition media

        • PeteG

          There is competition between Mediaworks, Radio NZ, TVNZ, Fairfax and APN, plus other smaller media outlets. I saw multiple items on the Mediaworks payment arrangement from TVNZ, the Herald and Stuff.

          • Colonial Viper

            There is competition between Mediaworks, Radio NZ, TVNZ, Fairfax and APN, plus other smaller media outlets.

            You gotta be joking. The appearance of competition is not the same thing as actual competition.
            Neither is a race to the bottom where both RNZ and TVNZ have been hamstrung by this loser Government.

            At the end of the day competition is not what the mass media market requires, it is a strong public broadcasting option which sets the baseline standard that everyone else has to work to.

          • freedom

            too funny Pete, boy you got some great material, do you do kid’s parties?

            you do realize they are the same Hydra

            • PeteG

              When you think the whole world is against you and won’t buy into your crap you might see it that way. There are some on the right who also think the media is all stacked against them. If they aren’t buying your stories there is a chance your stories are too trite.
              “The media” is everyone’s worst friend and best enemy.

              • Colonial Viper

                There are some on the right who also think the media is all stacked against them.

                Don’t make me laugh, any editor or journalist that billionaire Murdoch doesn’t like doesn’t make it back into work the next morning.
                You are so full of shit.

                • PeteG

                  Ah, Murdoch doesn’t employ every journalist. You’re a bit like a blocked bovine bum yourself.

                  • RedLogix

                    The man at the top sets the tone in any organisation. Murdoch does not have to personally vet every line written by every one of his flunkies to keep them in line. That’s what his corporate hierarchy is for.

                    The fact that you might imagine differently, that you think for an instant that any of his employees could for any length of time, in any meaningful way, say anything that offends Murdoch ….tells me how little experience of real life you have.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Companies like News Corp and Fairfax hold dominating control over the news industry.
                    You get a bad name for not towing the line – even if you are not working directly for them – and your career prospects quickly get curtailed.
                    Which is one reason why Al Jazeera does so well recruiting top notch journalists who refuse to put up with that shit any more.

                    Further the copy that the big media conglomerates put out is reported ad nauseum through the rest of the media.

                    • terryg

                      oddly enough RT has some really good stuff too. I haven’t seen any good stuff about Russia, but wont be surprised if I do – or dont (hows that for cynicism)

                    • Smoko Joe

                      REally?  Al-Jazeera seems pretty mainstream to me, most of the time. I suspect it’s the fantastic salaries in the UAE that attract those top notch journos to the channel, along with a bit of faux jihadist street cred for some.

  4. Smoko Joe 4

    The Sunday Star-Times published the result of a poll by Colmar Brunton for WWF-NZ which asked whether people preferred oil and gas exploration be prioritised over pursuing renewable energy options. Surprise, surprise, the majority said no to this twisted question – from an NGO.  Too easy just to say the news and research is manufactured by corporate interests.  A hell of a lot of equally questionable spin comes from NGOs, which are generally far more trusted organisations than corporates.

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