There’s Nothing Mainstream About Corporate Media

Many people refer to the corporate media as the mainstream media. Mainstream implies a majority perspective.
Corporate Media
Photo by Dina Boyer via Flickr

Many people refer to the corporate media as the mainstream media.  Mainstream implies a majority perspective.  There’s nothing mainstream about the corporate media. The corporate media presents their “news” from a corporate perspective with the goal of molding your thoughts to fit their perspective.  Most Americans get their news from TV.  CNN, MSNBC, Fox, CBS, and ABC dominate the airwaves, airwaves owned by the American people.  While most Americans want to take significant action on climate change and have GMOs labeled, the corporate news works hard at making these dominate views appear as minority, special interest views, if they appear at all, for censorship in America primarily takes the form of omission. You’ll never hear a story denouncing capitalism or militarism. The phrase fundamentalist terrorist is never applied to Christians or Jews.  Every corporate news organization covers the stock market, yet few of us own stocks. The corporate news is first and foremost a corporation whose goal is to turn a quarterly profit, whose widgets happen to be “the news”.

One rule of corporate media is not to bite the hand that feeds. You’ll never see an article critical of automobiles in a small town newspaper dependent on car lot ads. The corporate media works hard at creating a culture where your role as a consumer is much more important than your role as a citizen.

Reporters are taught to go to the experts for the facts. These experts spout the corporate line.  Thus when CIA torture report was released NPR brought in two experts; one was a CIA spokesperson, the other a retired Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) fighters. In 2003 Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) examined coverage of the war in Iraq by CNN, MSNBC, FOX, NBC, and ABC during the first three weeks of the war. 64% of their sources were pro-war while 10% were pro-peace.  68% of their sources were from the military, 4% were from academia, think tanks (including the Heritage Foundation), and NGOs.  840 former or current government officials were asked their opinions of the war. 4 pro-peace sources were interviewed. We always see the missiles launch, we never see them land.

These experts recite their statements only after they’ve been spun by Public Relations (PR) specialists whose job it is to sell stories from a corporate perspective. More journalism students these days are deciding to become PR spinners than reporters. The corporate media camouflages actions with double speak.  Consequently, the government never engages in illegal activities, just extrajudicial ones. They don’t lie, they’re just being disingenuous. The military never kills women and children, no; they just encounter a certain amount of collateral damage. Corporate media repeats sound bites to drive simple, emotionally potent messages home.

By mid-December, NBC, ABC, and CBS had spent 234 minutes on Donald Trump and only 10 minutes on Bernie Sanders.  Both candidates are drawing similar sized crowds and a recent poll shows that if the election had been held on December 15, 2015, Sanders would’ve won. The corporate media does its best to bury his campaign.

Major corporate media is owned by small elite who share similar values and hire management teams who reflect their values.  If a young reporter unearths a story that may rock the business round table, he or she will be called in by the editor for a little chat that goes something like this:

“Kid, I’m glad you brought this to me first. If the old man had seen it you’d be gone before lunch. You’ve a lot to learn about being professional. Until then I want you to cover the dog show at the Senior Center.”

Our reporter fearfully covers the dog show and next time he or she comes up with a dangerous idea, they don’t even bother to write it down. This reporter is becoming a professional.

The competition for news consumers is fierce. Dan Rather reported how he and others would face ratings reviews following broadcasts and be judged against others on the merits of how many people watched the show. “Fear permeates ever newsroom in America,” said Rather.

Corporate news seduces us with stories designed to distract us from significant information.  Last year they focused on ‘deflategate’ rather than Obama’s illegal drone strikes in Yemen which resulted in at least 639 deaths, over a hundred of which were civilians including children.

Corporate “news” is not news I can use.  It is fear-based and disempowering. Like many of you I have discovered a plethora of reliable, alternative news sources, mostly on line, that reflect the world around me. A mainstream of America you might say.

Sources: The Chomsky Reader © 1987, Fear and Favor in the Newsroom © 1996 Northwest Passage, Censored 2016 © Huff & Roth, Project Censored the Movie © 2013 Oscar & Hecker, Extra! May/June 2003, Democracy Now 12/21/15

Rebel Fagin writes for the Sonoma County Peace Press &

Email Rebel Fagin at

Corporate Media Issues

Rebel Fagin is a writer who has been politically active in Sonoma County since the 1970’s. He writes regularly for the Sonoma County Peace Press and the Global Critical Media Literacy Project ( He has a book documenting nearly forty years of street activism in Sonoma County called Tales from the Perpetual Oppositional Culture – a Journey into Resistance. He lives in Santa Rosa, California and is active with many activists’ organizations.
Image Slider
Image Slider