Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jay Rosen on News Corp's "Culture of Denial"

Fresh off the latest study that Fox viewers are somehow even less informed about current events than people who don't watch the news at all, journalism professor & media critic Jay Rosen takes a closer look at why coverage is so biased at another of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp outlets, The Australian:
News Corp is a huge company, but it is not a normal company. However, it does not know that it's not a normal company. In fact, it denies this observation. In this sense denial is constitutive of the company and its culture. To work there, you have to share in this pervasive atmosphere of denial. [...]

For example: The Australian is a force for climate change denialism. But it does not know this about itself. Outsiders do know it, and they regularly point it out. The Australian reacts not by defending its actual stance on climate change but by trying to destroy those who accurately perceive it. The attempt at destruction is typically rhetorical but sometimes other methods are used, like threatening a lawsuit. The impression given is of a bully or thug. But that's really an after-effect of denial. Denial, I think, is the key to understanding the company.
Jay then offers his "brief theory of News Corp":
News Corp is not a news company at all but a global media empire that employs its newspapers - and in the United States, Fox News - as a lobbying arm and intimidation machine. The logic of holding these "press" properties is to wield influence on behalf of the (much bigger and more profitable) media business and also to satisfy Murdoch's own power urges or, in the case of Australia, his patrimonial legends.

But this fact, which is fairly obvious to outside observers ... is actually concealed from the company by its own culture. This, then, is the source of the river of denial that runs through News Corp. Fox News and newspapers like The Australian are understood by most who work there as "normal" news organisations. But they are not. What makes them different is not that they have a more conservative take on the world - that's the fiction in which opponents and supporters join - but rather: news is not their first business. Wielding influence and intimidating people is. Scaring politicians into going along. Building up an atmosphere of fear and paranoia, which then admits Rupert in through the back door of 10 Downing Street.
Or in the back door of the Bush-Cheney White House.

Read more of Jay Rosen at PressThink or follow him on Twitter.
Post a Comment