Does Media and Medicine Collude to Enable Dysfunction?

Sickonomics: When health care is viewed through the lens of predatory capitalism

 

Mediaocracy: When 90% of the News and Information Received by 7 Billion People is controlled by only 10 Multi-National Corporations

Whether intentional or not, corporate media contributes crucial support to the powerful medical lobby that monopolizes health care and intentionally limits access to keep health care revenues artificially high in the U. S. Few Americans would argue that the health care system is not broken in our country. So how does media contribute to maintaining this broken system?


Broken cutters, broken saws
Broken buckles, broken laws
Broken bodies, broken bones
Broken voices on broken phones
Take a deep breath, feel like you’re chokin'
Everything is broken ~Bob Dylan

Once upon a time in America, news organizations in radio and television companies were regulated by law and required to operate independently from their marketing and administrative departments. In those days, journalists were brave and acted on principle, even to the point of risking their jobs, to present truthful and accurate reports of the events of their day.


“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and even it can inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it's nothing but wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful” ~Edward R. Murrow, CBS News Journalist, in 1955


Last year, in 2016, the ten multinational corporations which control over 90% of the news and information we receive as media took over $6 Billion from Pharmaceutical Corporations and $9.7 Billion from “Health Care” Industries and Insurance Companies. Corporate Media certainly has a financial incentive to bow to the interests of the hand that feeds it. But does Big Media collaborate with Big Business to put profits before the health and well-being of the public they are supposed to be serving? Is Mediaocracy complicit in enabling and creating a sick society. If they are intentionally complicit will they will never admit it?

 

 

How Does Media Contribute To

Our Broken Health Care System

 

Manufacturing Perception and Consent


According to Media Scholar Robert McChesney founder of  FreePress.net, “The American media system is spinning out of control in a hyper- commercialized frenzy. Fewer than ten transnational media conglomerates dominate much of our media; fewer than two dozen account for the overwhelming majority of our newspapers, magazines, films, television, radio and books."

He adds: “With every aspect of our media culture now fair game for commercial exploitation, we can look forward to the full-scale commercialization of sports, arts and education, the disappearance of notions of public service from public discourse, and the degeneration of journalism, political coverage and children’s programming under commercial pressure.”

In other words, the role of corporate media has been transformed from public service to generating sales and revenue. The “information” that media broadcasts into our living rooms is designed to sell its sponsors products rather than informing our democratic electorate which is essential to proper decision-making. Big Pharma and Big Medicine also contribute large sums of money to our elected officials. Can you connect the dots here?


The Side Effect of Media is a Sick, Dysfunctional Society


One might reasonably conclude that a side effect of corporate media is a sick society whose perception is based on misleading information that pushes mass consumption. Can we also link Big Media's new role to a rise in the number of people who suffer a lifetime of overwhelming debt, obesity and sickness?

According to one late media scholar and broadcaster, our existing corporate media ecosystem has not only helped to create a sick society, but …


“Our media is undermining democracy, and in some ways, they have displaced it with a mediaocracy - rule by the agenda-setting power of privately owned media corporations. Unfortunately, this is one headline rarely in the news.” ~Danny Schechter

The “experts” who get most of the face time in Big Media came primarily from Big Media news organizations and Washington think tanks who color the news to promote their own self-interest.

Economic news, for example, is almost entirely presented through the views of business people, investors and business journalists. Voices outside of Wall Street, university professors of economics, non-professional workers, labor representatives, consumer advocates and the general public are rarely heard. Coloring the news in this way tends to create a distorted perception of the world.

This failure of coverage actually helps the public in the dark when the coverage that is given lacks context and explanation.  This total lack of balance on the screen concealed an unreported confluence of issues behind the scenes. It is a case of collusion, even complicity, between broadcasters and the Pentagon.”

At a time when technology permits robust communication and citizen participation, big media has tended to become more hierarchal and top-down. Profit making has become its primary mission and its programming is often designed to maximize that goal and that goal alone.


News Alternatives.  Out of Chaos comes Creation.

Out of media chaos comes Opportunity: the Opportunity to create the new.  Steven Jay, Founder of Mobilized.news, believes that “while people are cutting their cable cords and walking away from corporate programming,  they are searching for the type of programming that nourishes them, that inspires and allows them to ask questions.”  Millennials, in particular, spend less time in front of the television and much more time focused on the 24/7 stream of information flowing through their smart phones.  “This also creates the opportunity for a new type of media to succeed, media that empowers the heart and touches the soul in the same fashion that artists such as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell inspired a movement during the 1960’s Civil Rights Era,” according to Jay.

The Future is in our hands


“Since we 'all' want a more responsible media, we should 'all' find ways to bring it about.” ~Carl Jensen, Founder of Media Literacy Organization, Project Censored.


“The connections between media-it’s form, content and who owns it—is inextricably tied to issues of social justice, power, and equity” ~Danny Schechter


“The inherent nature of communications means that its fullest possible exercise and potential depend on the surrounding political, social and economic conditions, the most vital of these being democracy within countries and equal, democratic relations between them. It is in this context that the democratization of communications at national and international levels, as  well as the larger role of communications in democratizing society, acquires utmost importance.” ~Sean McBride at UNESCO, 1990

“It is time for individual citizens and their organizations to take an active role in the shaping of the cultural environment and to focus on the production of information and culture.” ~The People’s Communication Charter in Holland, 1999


There are many ways communities and media-makers can work together to create a healthy society.  According to one Professor of Media Studies:

We need to intermix and cross-wire media heterogeneous elements—media reform, low power FM, high art cinema, PBS and NPR, film festivals, music samplers, archives, radical gaming, video installation, net art, long form investigative documentary, Internet cut-ups, music samplers, cable access, bloggers and beyond” ~Patricia Zimmerman, Park School at Ithaca College

Schechter adds: “We need to find better ways to work together—to synergize at the bottom the way big companies are doing at the top—and translate what we known into more effective messages that will resonate with the consumers we want to activate at citizens.”

In a conversation with a British Magazine, Positive News, Michael Møller, the director general at  he United Nations Office at Geneva  said: “The responsibility of the media, to me, is to inform, educate and to hold power to account. I think that on the educational part, a lot of media around the world has abdicated its responsibility. It needs to find its responsibility again.”


There are many Americans who believe that this is possible.  This Author is one of them.