Thursday, November 1, 2012

Whose Media Is It, Anyway?

I had a post-Halloween conversation with a neighbor this morning (yes, we had something like 200 kids go through our neighborhood!), and he brought up Fox news and his shock at how partisan it is. Then I saw this on twitter:

It reminds me that Rupert Murdoch is a foreigner.  How so?  The conventional North American understanding of the media--TV, newspapers--is that the news outlets are supposed to be relatively non-partisan, with some columnists providing spin and biased perspectives but the news was the news.  However, in Europe and apparently Australia (I am guessing here), media outlets are tied to parties, so that they present their slant on the news, so the Guardian is known as being a left-wing paper, for instance.  Murdoch, as an Aussie with imperial aspirations, gives us a Fox News that is very much in the European and Australian tradition, tied to one party so that talking points seem to be identical, and, yes, having their talking heads campaign for Romney.  Fox pretends to be as biased or unbiased as other North American outlets.  CNN is still trying, more or less, to play it the old way as are the network TV news outlets.  The latter because they are more tied to old notions of broadcasting rather than niche-casting, I guess.  MSNBC thinks it is like Fox, I guess.

Anyhow, the challenge of all this is that we have expectations for Fox that Fox does not really care about, but Fox does pay lip service to being neutral to fit into the American tradition.  I guess Fox is here to stay, so I can only be mildly amused at the irony that the foreign way of doing media sells itself as being more American than the native forms that are truer to traditional, American media norms.  Yep, Fox News is really quite foreign.  Oh well.


Dan said...

Good points. And it is relatively infuriating that they keep calling themselves fair and balanced, because it allows for, say, the rule that they are the only news network allowed on AF tv's (not sure of if it's still in effect on the official list), and who knows how many other govt agencies.
Considering Murdoch's vast empire though, and relative separation from many of its ventures, it may be more accurate to attribute it to Ailes (see Fox News Fear Factory, I think a couple year old Rolling Stone piece).

Greg said...

I don't know, Steve. Yellow journalism--tied to party positions--was the norm from the colonial period through Hearst. And, Australian (and NZ) media is more similar to the North American model than to what we see in Europe. The editorial pages of Murdoch's own papers often take opposing positions. The Liberals complain about ABC radio and televsion, Labor thinks that the one national paper--The Australian--runs right, but also that The Age in Melbourne basically runs ads for the Greens. Nothing is so obviously one-sided as what we see on Fox and MSNBC.