Mainstream Media’s Money Motive

“The news organizations covering Trump, particularly television news, are reaping incredible amounts of money from their election coverage. Cable news organizations are expected to make a record-breaking $2.5 billion this election season. The news media’s obsession with Trump is symptomatic of a highly commercialized system. Profit-seeking is in the media’s very DNA and the always-controversial Trump is money in the bank for ratings-driven news media. Known as the ‘Big Six,’ these media conglomerates control 90% of the news media in the United States: Comcast Corporation, Walt Disney Company, Time Warner, 21st Century Fox, CBS Corporation, and Viacom. Profit-driven media in the United States began on a wide scale in the mid-19th century when technological changes and a growing readership produced the ‘penny press.’ As these cheap, mass-circulation newspapers commercialized and began to rely heavily on advertising revenue, sensationalistic reporting became more pronounced. What came to be called ‘yellow journalism’ in the late 19th century featured salaciousness, dishonest reporting, and sensationalism as a way to sell papers. Commercial radio developed in the 1920s. American radio was quickly subsumed by the oligopoly of large networks. By the mid-1940s, the broadcast industry was dominated by four networks: the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), the Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS), and the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). Most broadcasters viewed their primary role as selling airtime to advertisers who developed programs and promoted their products. Shows like soap operas, the term given to 1940s radio serials due to their frequent soap company sponsorship, gave sponsors free rein to air numerous commercials and even to influence actual programming.” The Bible says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).

“Media and Politics in the Age of Trump,” Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, Nov. 2016, Ohio State University and Miami University