TCS Daily


Whatever Happened to Media Consolidation?

By S.T. Karnick - September 25, 2006 12:00 AM

Numerous writers and analysts have argued that large media conglomerates' purchases of movie studios, magazines, and book publishing companies over the past four decades have had a deleterious effect on the quality of production in these media, because it forced them to bring in higher profits than were historically attainable.

But there were always two additional interesting questions regarding media conglomeration that needed to be asked and seldom were.

Question one was whether these industries would remain as appealing to corporations as they had become during the 1960s and thereafter.

Question two was whether the decline in quality and increasing sameness of product from corporatized major publishers and film studios would cause a rise in competition from independent producers and publishers. And if the latter happened, might not the answer to question one be that the big corporations might wish to unload some of these firms?

That does appear to be the case, with the well-documented rise of independent media productions, proliferation of new magazines (which has slowed only in the past few years), and increasing success of university presses, small book-publishing houses, and other such ventures.

In response, we are seeing strong signs of a reversal of the media consolidation of recent decades.

In this week's news, for example, The Wall Street Journal reports that Time-Warner is jettisoning numerous magazines "as it looks to prune its portfolio of smaller, less-profitable titles." This move is significant because it includes very popular magazines such as Popular Science, Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Skiing, Parenting, and Babytalk.

Of course, these publications will likely be sold to other big investors, because they are still worth a lot of money, but this will likely result in a more reasonable scale of organization for these publications and certainly more realistic profit expectations (note that these are "less-profitable titles" for TW) -- or nobody would buy them.

Equally significant in this week's news is the announcement by the New York Times Co. that it is selling off several television stations:

"The decision to explore the sale of our broadcast stations is a result of our ongoing analysis of our business portfolio," said Janet L. Robinson, president and CEO. "These are well-managed and profitable stations that generate substantial cash flows and are located in attractive markets. We believe a divestiture would allow us to sharpen our focus on developing our newspaper and rapidly growing digital businesses, and the synergies between them, thereby increasing the value of our Company for our shareholders."

The stations that comprise the Broadcast Media Group are:

      • WHO-TV in Des Moines, Iowa (NBC);
      • KFSM-TV in Ft. Smith, Ark. (CBS);
      • WHNT-TV in Huntsville, Ala. (CBS);
      • WREG-TV in Memphis, Tenn. (CBS);
      • WQAD-TV in Moline, Ill. (ABC);
      • WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Va. (CBS);
      • KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, Okla. (NBC);
      • KAUT-TV in Oklahoma City, Okla. (MyNetworkTV); and
      • WNEP-TV in Scranton, Penn. (ABC).

Leftist critics complained about the corporatization and consolidation of the media as an unwelcome phenomenon in the '60s and thereafter, and they were correct to point out that there would be deleterious effects. There was indeed an initial increase in sameness of movie and TV productions and a loss of creativity and vitality in the book publishing industry, especially in the fiction section.

Market-oriented analysts simply replied by saying that the consolidation was good because it was what people wanted and they wouldn't do it if it didn't make sense. That was not the correct response, however. People do stupid things, and corporations do stupid things too.

The sensible rejoinder should have been that the media consolidation that began in the 1960s was most likely part of a societal and technological transition that would ultimately work to everybody's benefit, as free markets typically do over the long term. We had already seen that happen in the past in other industries, and there was no real reason to believe that the communications area would be any different. Things would work out for the best over the long term.

And that appears to be what has happened and is happening today.

Contrary to the leftists' claims, competition among media providers actually increased during the period of consolidation, and new technologies forced significant change, as a simple glance at the current media landscape should make abundantly clear. In response to that competition, big media companies are beginning to divest themselves of some of their media holdings in order to make themselves leaner and more effective at responding to competition, as the New York Times statement makes clear.

That process will increase media competition further, and will create increased capacity for variety, efficiency, and customer satisfaction in the communications media. That is what markets do, and it is always to the good in the long term.

S. T. Karnick is Director of Publications for the Heartland Institute and an Associate Fellow of the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research. His website is http://stkarnick.com.
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41 Comments

Take a look at the locations of the stations that the Times is selling...
All of them are located in red states, with the possible exception of the station in Scranton, PA. Is the Times divesting from red states? Is there any more evidence that they are retreating from the South and the Midwest?

Even if the Times is not retreating from red states, they are certainly refocusing on the wrong business. Sales of their paper have been falling rapidly, and they are laying-off staff. Why focus on a business that is failing? If I were a stockholder at the Times, I might have to question whether this decision was financially motivated or politically motivated...

As an afterthought, is anybody else surprised that the Times is even vaguely interested in owning these radio stations? WHO is a perfect example of a radio station that I cannot imagine Pinch wanting to touch with a ten-foot pole. Ronald Reagen used to do sports commentary at WHO. Currently, it plays Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura and Ronaldus Magnus's adopted son, Michael Reagan.

Do not blam to corporations for declining quality of books[fiction]
Yes, quality of books declining, only because speed to life by new techonology, man have no time for thinking, man spend all his time for earning money, money got tremendous important in new age, without money man is completly begger, so all are runnig today to earn money.All are working for entertain to public.From this people how you expect quality of books.

conspiracy theory
Thats pretty funny Publius, the Times is abandoning red states. I think your ideology is getting ahead of your rationality.

Thats just pie in the sky stuff, you're real mistake is in the second paragraph.

"Even if the Times is not retreating from red states, they are certainly refocusing on the wrong business."

Actually, television audiences are shrinking faster than newspaper. And wouldn't you know, its the television businesses they're getting rid of. As to the NY Times newspaper specifically, their circulation has been increasing the last 3 years, not falling rapidly. They're still down from 5 or 10 years ago, but not failing, as you suggest.

I'm not surprised the Times would own those radio stations. They're a business, in business to make money. This whole "liberal media" conspiracy is another delusion of the foggy-minded. By this logic, every media is a "liberal media", unless it spins news to favor a conservative view. Its a myth. The real reason our media is poor is because it doesn't investigate and confirm stories enough before publishing. Media is too concerned with sensationalism and profits, ahead of its role as watchdog of authorities. The media is a tool being used by the government and corporations to manipulate and control our behavior.

Intellectual self-defense
Time to go back and get deprogrammed.

Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media
http://www.amazon.com/Manufacturing-Consent-Noam-Chomsky-Media/dp/B00005Y726/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b/102-4621718-1812148?ie=UTF8
and of course http://www.thecorporation.com/

and speaking of having your mind programmed
anyone looking to Chomsky for wisdom, is doomed for an awfull long search.

Is the decision to re-focus on the newspaper rational?
The Times is laying-off large numbers of employees because of DECLINING circulation. This is from their own mouths. So are several other newspapers.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,169954,00.html

Advertising revenue is declining everywhere except Ask.com. The ONLY PART of their business that is experienceing growth rather than decline in ad sales is Ask.com. This means, necessarily, that the paper is experienceing a drop in revenue.

http://www.thestreet.com/_tscs/stocks/sandybrown/10243573.html

The Times has also responded to a dropping stock price by implementing a hiring freeze, layoffs of 700 people in 2005, reduction in expense accounts and the elimination of a 15% discount on the purchase of stock by employees.

http://www.observer.com/printpage.asp?iid=12156&ic=Off+the+Record

The popularity of newspapers is on a clear, obvious and substantial downward trend.

http://www.stateofthenewsmedia.org/narrative_newspapers_audience.asp?cat=3&media=2


I ask: Is this business or politics? The Times is clinging to a business model that is failing in general, that is failing in their case in particular, and that is dragging down successful operation in other areas. If I were a stockholder, I would demand that the Times Company sell the NYT, and keep Ask.com rather than the other way around. The Times is a losing prospect from any angle, and the figures I just cited above prove that beyond any reasonable doubt. TV ad revenue may be declining, but it is not about to go extinct. The newspaper, and in particular, the Grey Lady, are about to go the way of the Wooly Mammoth so many of their female reporters resemble.

Where is the conspiracy?
We agree that the media does not spend enough time working as either a watchdog or confirming stories as they should. The modern media is a disgrace, as anybody who watched the hysterical coverage of Hurricane Katrina knows.

However, where did I suggest that anybody was involved in a cospiracy?

I certainly never said anything like: "The media is a tool being used by the government and corporations to manipulate and control our behavior."

Mind control and manipulation by the government and the big corporations, eh? You suggest that I am crazy for even noting in a joking fashion that the New York Times is evacuating red states, while at the same time claiming that Nabisco and the CIA are trying to beam thoughts in to your head?

I do not believe in a liberal conspiracy to run the media, I think it is an uncoscious bias that arises because almost everybody in media is a liberal. They live in liberal parts of liberal cities. They read the same liberal newspapers. This sort of left-wing echo chamber produces a situation where they never hear anything but their own, properly liberal opinions repeated back to them. Thus, Pauline Kael said about the election of Richard Nixon: "How can Nixon get elected? I don't know anybody who voted for him." Groupthink is the key idea here, not conspiracy.

If you do not believe that there is, in fact, a liberal bias on the three major networks and CNN, as well as most of the major newspapers throughtout the country, you are a fool. This is not even a matter of opinion, this is a matter of unquestionable fact based on comparisons of positive vs. negative stories for various candidates/officeholders, column inches given to liberals vs. column inches to conservatives, etc. There is simply no doubt. Read Bias by Bernard Goldberg, a former liberal. Read Slander by Ann Coulter. Take a look at the Media Research Center website (http://www.mediaresearch.org/).

If you can look at all of this evidence and still maintain that there is no liberal bias in the "mainstream" news media, you are a lunatic, and there is no helping you.

No Accident Them
His work was being waved about by the Devil a week or so ago.

Hey Publius
Don't interrupt his hyperbolic little dreams and paranoid delusions with reasoned facts.

Happening in FM Broadcasting too
I read where Clear Channel, the major holder of FM broadcast licenses in the US is divesting itself of a number of stations.

Not mentioned in the article as a motivation for consolidation in the first place was attempts to obtain a monopoly on local media. Own the local newspaper, the local FM and TV stations, and you can charge the local car dealers pretty much whatever you want.

With the rise of alternative media, it is increasingly difficult to lock in those monopoly rents by owning limited government licenses.

more paranoia
Given the fact that even minor markets have 10 to 20 radio stations, and that major ones can have close to 100, just how was this supposed attempt to garner a monopoly on radio supposed to work?

you're right- groupthink is key
But when a group is highly organized and exclusive, and funded like conservatives are, conspiracy lurks.

You didn't suggest a conspiracy per se, thats just how I read this whole "liberal media" crap that gets pounded into our heads constantly. I think its bogus, its right wing propaganda, its a good talking point. I say its a good talking point because its been wildly successful. Its common knowledge, its in our culture now, to think the media is liberally biased, even if one doesn't know what that means. Which, I'd say most people do not.

Hey Publius, do you agree "The media is a tool being used by the government and corporations to manipulate and control our behavior."? Damn right Nabisco is beaming thoughts into our heads. Its called the 30 second spot. And it works.


"I do not believe in a liberal conspiracy to run the media, I think it is an uncoscious bias that arises because almost everybody in media is a liberal."

Thats about the only sensible argument I've seen to support the "liberal media" tag, but I think its not a valid connection. Journalists are liberals because they are liberal in the sense of personality, they are slobs, they are cynics, they question everything. They're not entrepeneurs. They're not ambitious to become millionaires, they really do love their job, whats natural about them is that they are sooooo cynical.

I've seen liberal bias on CNN, and in newspapers. It makes me gag as much as when I see Brit Hume on Fox. I venture to estimate that it constitutes less than 10% of their content. Fox is probably a little higher, maybe 20% of their content is biased.

If you're using books by Bernard Goldberg and Ann Coulter to understand the media environment it is no wonder you have an opinion that the media is so overly liberally biased. Those are 2 of the biggest bias producers for the right that exist! If you believe anything Coulter says, you need your head examined. I checked out the Media Research Center. Are you kidding me? All that website talks about is liberal media bias from the right-wing point of view. There is not 1 example of conservative bias given on that website. They're trying to nail the liberal yoke on: Charles Gibson? George Stephanopolous? How balanced are you when you talk about left-bias and you cite right-biased sources to support your pov?

For example, MRC cites criticism in the media for the illegal wiretapping program, the Patriot Act and Guantanamo Bay prison, as liberal bias. If the media can't publish critical viewpoints about 3 programs that are very obviously controversial, without being labelled "liberal bias", how are they supposed to do their job? The majority of Americans agree there are reasons to be critical of these issues, whether they support the President or not. Its not black and white, but good Lord the right is trying to frame everything that way.

BTW, I injected a little liberal bias in the first sentence of that last paragraph. The word "illegal". I mean, I think its obvious that the program is illegal, there is a law that says no wiretapping without a warrant, and our government is wiretapping without warrants. But I recognize some choose to believe otherwise, so I'm being biased by putting the word illegal in there. It can be that subtle.

I'm happy to hear I'm not a lunatic. I concur there is liberal bias in news media, but it is very small. And the evidence you provided does nothing to prove it. Your sources would label liberal bias of anything critical or negative related to anything right-wing. Guess what! The right controls all 3 branches of government, yet the media is liberally biased for printing anything critical of the government. Thats ridiculous. Its certain commentators that do it mostly. You can be a liberal personally and still present news in an unbalanced fashion, and most do. You don't have to be a liberal to be critical of our government, just be awake.

You're right of course, but I still suffer from the delusion that I can change minds.
I am a fool, and intellectually I know it. I still keep trying out of the faint hope that I will convert a few of these delusional fools to the side of reason and facts.

I think I am going to die disappointed.

"Monolithic Conservatism" vs. the Left
Is the conservative movement monolithic? Is conservatism more monolithic than the left?

I will argue that the answers to both questions are a resounding "no."

1) Is the conservative movement monolithic?

Take a look at John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Olympia Snowe, and the rest of the seven "moderates" (read "Democrats,") who are members of the GOP. They vote with the Democrats far more often than they vote with the Republicans. They form a substantial chunk of GOP votes in the Senate.

If the presence of moderates alone is not enough to demonstrate the fact that conservatism is not monolithic, consider the divisions over the issue of illegal immigration. The conservative movement is split betweeen those who demand a border enforcement, those who demand amnesty and guest worker programs for those who are here, and those who demand a shutdown of immigration entirely. I happen to be one of the border enforcement believers, and I vehemently disagree with people like the President and Pat Buchannan. Speaking of the President, how about his spending habits? How about Harriet Miers? How about the Libertarians versus the conservatives on issues like drugs and porn and gay marriage?

The conservative tent is HUGE, and not all of the people under it agree with each other by a long shot. The only fundamentals we can really agree on are that individuals should be responsible for their actions, that the government should be no larger than it needs to be and that we need a strong military and the will to use it.

2) Is conservatism more monolithic than liberalism?

Consider Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. These are PREACHERS who come out in favor of abortion, (Be fruitful and multiply? Thou shalt not kill?) gay rights (Soddom and Gomorrah? Man shall not lie down with man?) They go meet with and support atheist, communist dictators like Manuel Ortega. Why? Why does the NAACP trash every black man who is not a Democrat? What the hell has that got to do with civil rights?

Consider Joe Lieberman. He has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate, with one exception: Iraq. Because of his failure to unquestioningly tow the line on this one issue, he is kicked out of the party. Why do I see representatives from Greenpeace, NOW, the NAACP, gay-rights groups and PETA out protesting the war in Iraq with ANSWR?

The answer is simple: The left IS monolithic, and they punish dissent harshly.

Saying my sources are conservatives does not make them wrong or unreliable.
That is called an ad hominem attack. You have assaulted the motives of the author rather than attacking their facts or arguments.

Slander and Bias both contain great statistical comparisons of pro-and anti-Republican stories in the MSM, and the results are clear: The media is overwhelmingly left-biased. Unfortunately, I am in the process of moving and all of my books are packed, otherwise I would dig out my copies and quote from some of the choicer statistics. If this issue comes up again once I am done moving, I will do so.

conversions
There is no chance that you will change the minds of the delusional fools, but I've read studies that found that for every person who participates, there are ten who read but never get up the nerve to post. (This was back in the old usenet days, so the ratios may be different today.)

By refuting the delusional, you do help prevent the delusional from confounding the minds of the innocent.

Many times we don't know the good we do in this life, until after we reach heaven.

you have to remember
that bob has confessed to being stalinist in his political preferences.

that's funny coming from bob
Conservatives are organized? in what universe?

liberal media bias has been proven so many times that it isn't worth discussing anymore.

It's just that you are so far out in left field, that everybody looks conservative to you.

I'll pray you are right.
As an additional thought, I think the usenet studies might still be correct. There are still a large number of websites that will let you join for free, but then will fill your inbox with spam. I have seen websites where I would love to join in the fun, but I have refrained from doing so because I was pretty sure that my inbox would become more crowded than it is already. A ratio of 10 readers to one poster does not seem too far from a realistic number.

I would imagine that allowing people to join and post without any accompanying spam will become SOP for most websites. After all, when I am actively engaged in a debate with somebody, I will check in to this website two or three times a day. Additionally, I keep coming back because the discussion is interesting. Even when the articles are not particularly engaging or noteworthy, I check in for the discussions. A discussion board has to add to the number of people who view a website, and return to view it again...

Sorry, it is real bob
Go to a J-School almost anywhere in the country; go poll a newsroom anywhere. It is very difficult to find anything remotely resembling a "conservative" news outlet; including Fox.

Durring 20 years in the news business I have worked at 6 different newspapers, with 30 more, at 1 TV station, with 4 others; at 2 radio stations and with 10 others. I have never met a conservative Newspaper editor at a paper, weekly or daily, with a circulation of over 10,000. I never met a conservative news director at a radio or TV station in a base market of more than 20,000. Nope, not one; not even a RINO.

There are a few scattered moderate Republicans in the room, but the liberal bias in everything from what they are going to cover to how they are going to cover it is palatable.

Rabid lefty wackos outnumber moderates and very left leaning registeed Democrats dominate.

And I won't even get into the J-schools. Let's jsut say I know two kids who quit because of the demand for a liberal bent on the stories they worked on. One quit after a single semester and went into engineering; the other stuck it out for three semesters before throwing up her hands and switching over to broadcast communications.

I spent most of my time at small newspapers which were decidely more moderate. I even worked for a conservative editor once. I find it interesting that the Red states are those with few publications over 100,000 circulation and many under 10,000.

Still think the newspapers don't matter?

My question exactly
Add to that the fact that many of these will also have a couple of TV stations and more than one newspaper.

A note on newspapers and circulation
One of the biggest reasons circulation is down at large newspapers is competition. It is so easy to set up and print these days that the competition from niche publications, small, more local publications, etc. is overwhelming. For $2,000 in computer equipment and software and $500 an issue in print costs you too can have a 5,000 circulation weekly, ad flyer or classified cirrcular.

I know, I've done it. A friend started up from scratch two years ago and now has 5 employees and a $400,000 a year gross sales business.

Pick your location, pick a market, pick your base readership then cater to it and your off! (I will note that the percentage of new start up publications that don't last two years is almost as high, or higher, than it is with restaurants)

Too true PJ...
I am often confronted by those of liberal bent who claim that Coulter and Goldberg, or any other conservative/Republican pundit, speaks nothing but lies. The fact of the matter is that they can say such things but can't prove it. While I am not a fan of some Coulter's opinions, her facts are nigh-untouchable.

As in most cases, truth and reality are the cure for the liberal mind.

Oh yeah!
Then read some Howard Zinn to compliment the lies and then wash it all down with a Michael Moore schlockumentary.

Yum. Indoctrina... um... "deprogramming" never tasted so good!

dealing with spam
there are a lot of services that provide free e-mail boxes.
Sign up for one, and give that address when signing in.
If the box gets filled with spam, so what, it's not your real box. If the box doesn't, just occassional messages that you are interested in, then change your login info to your real box.

just to correct the record

"The Times is laying-off large numbers of employees because of DECLINING circulation. This is from their own mouths. So are several other newspapers."

Actually, there is no mention in the link you provided where the Times says they are laying people off because of circulation declines. Look at their circulation reports, for the last 3 years their circ. has increased.

One more little nitpick, its not Ask.com, its About.com.

The Times is laying people off, etc. because of declining revenue, caused primarily by a decline in ad revenue, as the article explains, and as you say too. Although you started off incorrectly by saying "The Times is laying-off large numbers of employees because of DECLINING circulation.". Media companies are under a lot of pressure from stock holders to improve their profits. Media is traditionally a strong investment with good returns, but thats changed with the proliferation of new outlets, the fracturing of the media environment.

Sure, About.com is having increased ad revenue, not too long ago it probably had zero revenue. The internet as an advertising medium is still young, its evolving. Its still a very, very small piece of the advertising pie. There are very few websites that show profitability solely from ad revenue, if any.

"The popularity of newspapers is on a clear, obvious and substantial downward trend."

You're right that its a clear and obvious downward trend. The newspaper industry in general is experiencing it. The trend is not substantial, at least not yet. This trend is why newspapers are focusing on online, they're trying all kinds of new things with their content to attract young people, attract influentials, organizing the paper to be a quicker read. But what your links don't discuss, is the fact that every media is experiencing the same thing. The audiences for television stations are declining even faster. And the fact remains, no other medium reaches as many people as newspapers.

"If I were a stockholder, I would demand that the Times Company sell the NYT, and keep Ask.com rather than the other way around."

Thank goodness you're not a stockholder, that would be about the stupidest thing they could do. I'll chalk this up to ignorance. If you were a stockholder you would read their financial reports, you would change your tune. You would tell them to do what they're doing, cut expenses.

"The newspaper, and in particular, the Grey Lady, are about to go the way of the Wooly Mammoth..."

People have been saying that since the invention of television. How funny to still say it, while newspapers still reach more people than any other media.

But here we can post, on Liberal media we are ignored.
Big difference here on the Web whereas each person has a voice and opinion versus these liberal media conglomerates that only posts with what agrees with their view.

Like any other business. They are tailored to their audience.

And why I like the web. Here the audience is vast and the speech is open to all good or bad.

without a doubt
There is without a doubt a liberal bias from the big media, and anyone telling you otherwise is purposely being ignorant.

To believe businesses do not try to impact politics is ridiculous. They do for future gain. Just like oil companies, media companies have their own stake in the game for their own personal gains.

Whether it is the CEOs and shareholders that influence the media's directives and like oil, the comparisons can be easily made.

its real, but its not widespread

I don't dispute that journalists tend to be liberal in their personal views. Why does that matter? Is it not ad hominen to say because journalists are liberals that their news reporting is too? Why can't a conservative or liberal jouranlist report news in a balanced way?

I'm saying they can, and they do for the most part.


How do you define liberal bias? I get the feeling from all these comments that if it doesn't promote a conservative view, then it must be liberal bias.
Does a story have liberal bias automatically if it is critical of a Republican? Thats what I get from what you guys are saying so far. Thats exactly the case at the Media Research Center. You're applying a standard that if a story doesn't speak positively about a conservative pov then it is liberal bias.

All the news Fox produces is not conservatively biased. I said in the beginning, I'd guess 20% of their content is. Thats a pretty good record, but Fox is widely viewed as the conservative news channel. If we go with that, is the other 80% of their news liberally biased in your view? Why not?

I'm just trying to understand this. Pauled, you made the same points Publius did, that journalists are liberal people so their news reporting is too. I make similar points and I'm accused of being ad hominen. Come on right wingers, lets set a standard and stick with it. I almost think we need to look at examples of news stories to analyze and discuss whether its biased, to truly understand how our perceptions have been shaped.

Look to effective radiated power
Not all FM stations are equal. Pick up the big ones with market reach, own the major metropolitan newspaper and the big TV station and you change the ad rate structure in your favor.

The point of the article was how this business model was passing. I agreed and offered another datum in support of the argument - the Clear Channel sell off of FM stations.

I will admit I used "monopoly" because I was too lazy to look up the correct spelling of "OLIGOPOLY."

liberal bias
reporting only stories that fit the liberal agenda.
IE, any story about good stuff happening in Iraq is buried, if it's covered at all. Any story about bad stuff in Iraq is prominently displayed on page one, regardless of how meaningless the story is.

Any picture that makes Isreal or a Republican look bad is put on page one, regardless of how obviously the picture has been faked.

Only reporting on homelessness, when a Republican is in the White House.

When a Republican is in the White House, only print stories about how bad the economy is, regardless of how the economy is doing.
When a Democrat is in the White House, only print stories about how well the economy is doing, regardless of how the economy is doing.

The facts are legion. Your ability to ignore the facts is legendary.

still too lazy
There is no way a market with 40 to 50 players, is an oligopoly.

but those particular conservatives are unreliable

"You have assaulted the motives of the author rather than attacking their facts or arguments."

I'm aware of that, beside the fact that the authors have very questionable motives. Coulter and Goldberg for example, it is their job to sling mud at liberals. Thats all they do, its how they make their living. They are hardly people who would be expected to present a balanced analysis. They write to make people like you feel good. They're not known for their factual presentation, except to their audience, the people who will believe them because they agree with the overall message.
I presented just one attack of the MRC for their facts or arguments.

"For example, MRC cites criticism in the media for the illegal wiretapping program, the Patriot Act and Guantanamo Bay prison, as liberal bias." ...

Considering that those policies are very controversial, how can they be reported on without presenting the fact of the controversy? The MRC labels it liberal bias just for the fact it reports there is criticism of the policies, even if both sides are presented.

I would need to read through every story on MRC and independently determine if its truly liberal bias or not. Given that every single story on there is about liberal bias, I'll presume some actually are good examples, but most are just conservative pov support.


"Slander and Bias both contain great statistical comparisons of pro-and anti-Republican stories in the MSM, and the results are clear: The media is overwhelmingly left-biased."

First, when was the study done? If all the stories they analyzed are after 2000, well, no duh. Republicans control all 3 branches of government, who else would they criticize than the people in power? Go back to times when Democrats controlled all 3 branches and compare the statistics. Did Coulter and Goldberg do that? And I really wonder if Democrats whined about it like you guys are. I'm sure they did whine about it, but Republicans are taking the cry baby act to new heights.

please clarify
You're confusing ideas here. Sorry to pick on you, but this is a good example of how people confuse things to a point they don't understand clearly. Thats how sound bytes and talking points are most effective. Sound bytes give rise this confusion, and then hammer home the message in a simple way to cut through the confusion.


"Big difference here on the Web whereas each person has a voice and opinion versus these liberal media conglomerates that only posts with what agrees with their view."

So the web is not a liberal media?
You can't go into a liberal website discussion board and present whatever views you want?

Or do you mean to say you like the web better because you can post, versus a newspaper you can write a letter to the editor but theres no guarantee it would print? Or versus television where you really have no ability to participate.

Most newspapers I've read do a pretty good job presenting opposing views on their opinion pages.

Because I've worked there!??
Yeah, it is widespread. It is sometimes subtle, sometimes blantant, but it is always there. One of the reason's I remain a moderate, non-party affiliated, apolotical animal is to avoid the bias as much as possible. But, it is impossible to avoid completely. You are who you are and, as a reporter or journalist, that will come out in the slant of your writing, the people you used as sources and counter-sources and the way to chase or cover a story.

This wouldn't matter all that much, except editors are also very liberal as a group. Now the decision of what to cover, how much time and effort is put into covering it, what runs and what doesn't and where it runs is all brought into play.

Ditto with headline writers and the rest.

Do they try to be fair? Some do and some don't. It also depends on what the story is. A lot of general news, car wrecks, daily fluff and general court news and cops news is often pretty good and accurate. But, when you get into stories on politics, and agenda issues (abortion, environment, gay rights, etc) the bias becomes obvious, openly left and, all to often, very shrill.

When I write a news story I want just the verifiable facts; when I write a feature piece I want to add a bit of color, some opinions of experts or witnesses; on an op-ed it is all about me and my opinion based on my reading of the facts. Unfortunately, too many stories are very hard to decipher; are they news, features or opinion? I find that especially true the bigger the newspaper and almost always in electronic media. And that is because, all too many these days, contain bits of all three.

A good, hard news story doesn't contain any opinion. I don't want the cops opinion of why the murder occurred; the attorney's opinion of why the jury gave the verdict it did. A feature story may contain some of this, but it should be kept to a minimum. Instead, look for little facts and background that add interest and make it more of a "story" than a "report". "It was a bright, sunny day when the body was found on 111th street, but evidence shows the victim died during the big rain storm two days beforeā€¦ blah, blah, blah".

Am I helping you understand where I'm coming from or just confusing the matter more?

A link for circulation numbers, and a response to the rest...
"At The New York Times, analysts found that its overall circulation would not have grown -- up 0.5% in March 2006 -- were it not for other-paid copies. Stripping out the category would result in an overall circulation decline of about 1.1%." (Other-paid copies = "hotel, employee, Newspapers In Education (NIE), and third-party sponsored copies.")

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003123601

The increases in circulation that the Times reported were based on other-paid copies, not actual sales. While the number of home subscriptions increased marginally, overall circulation is still down. I actually pasted the link for the wrong article in my post above, and I apologize for any confusion.

The rest of your post entirely fails to address my central argument: The Times was irrational to focus their efforts on newspapers when they are in a clear decline.

If we ignore the revenue that About.com brought in, precisely because it is a web-business and is currently growing at an unsustainable rate, then revenues for the Times dropped by 1.2%

Declining revenues and declining circulation indicate that a business is in decline. If you factor in the industry-wide decline, the fact is that there is no denying that newspapers are in trouble, and that the Times is having particular difficulties.

The "they said the same thing about television argument" is totally irrelevant. Television is a form of news that is extremely effective for providing brief glimpses at news, but not any good at providing depth. We live in an age where we can reach much more in-depth news and information with the click of a mouse than could ever be packed in to a newspaper. Now, we no longer even need a mouse. We can access the internet via a PDA, and many other digital devices. As these devices become more common, why would people bother to read newspapers on the subway when they could get more recent and in-depth information from their PDA?

The one smart thing the Times did was to keep its digital services. I do not know much about the prospects for About.com, but the Times online edition is a good idea. This is the only way they can survive in the long-term. Furthermore, younger audiences do not read newspapers, they get their information from the internet. As connectivity increases, expect newspaper sales to decline.

I stand by my statement that focusing on the newspaper aspect of the business is a disaster. They will have to refocus their efforts on digital media, or they will fail. I will not cry when they do.

Straight from the MRC website:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/biasbasics/biasbasics3.asp

For starters, in 1992, the ratio of Beltway journalists who voted for Clinton over Bush was 12-to-1. In 2004, the same people voted 12-to-1 for Kerry. Bias? Not a chance...

In 2004, 33% of reporters identified themselves as Democrats, compared to only 10% identifying themselves as Republicans. The rest claimed to be "moderates." However, of those surveyed, 52% said they voted for John Kerry. Only 19% said they voted for George Bush. Nader accounted for 1%, and the rest refused to answer.

I could keep going all day, with statistics going back to 1964. Read the page before you post anything here, and if you still claim that there is not an OVERWHELMING number of Democrats in the press, then you are a deluded fool.

As to the question of motive, I have to ask this: Who cares? I listen to what Democrats say as well as to what Republicans say, and then I try to find out the FACTS. Coulter and Goldberg are both reporting facts, and unless you have some facts to counter theirs, your argument is worthless.

Whoa! Look to market shares!
An oligopoly is defined by concentration, not by number of players. For media, if one company had the reach in terms of reads/listens per $ that was far higher than the minor players, then they still could set the price for ads.

In the SF Bay FM radio market, I get 42 stations from my home in Silicon Valley. 15 are non-profits, 10 are Spanish, leaving 17 commercial English-language stations. Of these, maybe 5 are low power/short range or of limited fidelity. Of the remaining 12 commercial stations, Clear Channel must own 5 of the the most powerful. That's market concentration.

For newspapers, we have the San Jose Mercury News. One can get delivery of the Wall Street Journal, the SF Chronicle, or the NY Times but why? They have little local info. We also have a slew of freebies but what sort of ad rates can they charge?

In smaller markets, there are plenty of monopoly newspapers that share ownership with local TV and radio stations.

In any case, thank goodness for the Internet. I get almost all my news and weather via the net. I cancelled my subscription to the Merc over a year ago and listen to non-profit FM radio for the music.

I no longer have any need for MSM and certainly do not contribute to their revenues.

one of the reason's why the theory of oligopoly never held water
As long as there are competitors, there can never be an oligopoly. The fact that you can receive 45 radio stations is all the proof that is needed that there is no oligopoly in radio. Regardless of whether one of those stations has more power than the others.

good argument, bad conclusion
You're like Bush trying to sell me an Iraq invasion. You have your position now you're just going to look at the evidence that supports it.

"The increases in circulation that the Times reported were based on other-paid copies, not actual sales. While the number of home subscriptions increased marginally, overall circulation is still down."

True, other-paid copies increased the most (19,445). Home delivery copies increased almost as much (17,638), not marginally as you say. NYT had a big drop in single copy sales (31,052), looking at March 2005 to March 2006.

http://nytco.com/investors-nyt-circulation.html


"Declining revenues and declining circulation indicate that a business is in decline. If you factor in the industry-wide decline, the fact is that there is no denying that newspapers are in trouble, and that the Times is having particular difficulties."

Newspapers have been on a downward trend, true. The NYT specificially has been on that same trend, but seems to have stabilized their circulation in the last 3 years. Newspapers are still the top media for reaching a lot of people, even though they've been on a decline. If Walmart goes on a downward trend for a few years, would you think they should just close down? The NYT has seen declining revenue, but they're still making a profit. Just not enough profit to keep stockholders happy.

"The "they said the same thing about television argument" is totally irrelevant. Television is a form of news that is extremely effective for providing brief glimpses at news, but not any good at providing depth."

Its not totally irrelevant. Because, and you're right about the form of news that is television, except you miss one huge point- local news. Newspaper and tv are still the dominant players for local news. The websites that have local news are newspaper websites.

"We live in an age where we can reach much more in-depth news and information with the click of a mouse than could ever be packed in to a newspaper."

True. Newspapers realize that, thats why they're diving head first into developing an internet presence. They already have the news gathering departments, its pretty easy to put it on the web. But it costs money to do it, thats where the challenge is, to get enough revenue to make it self-sufficient, or even better, profitable. PDA's, etc. are still pretty rare, they're not even close to reaching critical mass yet. But you're right, thats a concern, except, you can go to a newspaper website to get that more recent and in-depth information. Thats the newspaper strategy. The real question is still about how to make revenue from it. Advertising isn't enough, which is why some papers charge for content.

I agree with most of your arguments, just not the conclusion. Newspapers, the print product, may go away someday, but it won't be anytime soon.


"The rest of your post entirely fails to address my central argument: The Times was irrational to focus their efforts on newspapers when they are in a clear decline."

Newspaper is still the #1 media for reaching a large audience. There is no TIVO to avoid newspaper ads, its always been an opt-in media, you can look at the ads or not, its your choice. It is not irrational to focus on improving the print product when its still #1, even if its been on a downward trend. Quite the contrary, it would be irrational to abandon the print product right now, while it still brings in monster revenue. Besides, I would guess the NYT is like every other paper and giving a hard focus on developing its online presence. You're correct they have to focus on digital media or they will fail (eventually), but print is nowhere near dead yet.

It's pretty obvious that either you have never read most of their work,
or that you have such a skewed view of reality, that you wouldn't recognize solid, logical thinking when you see it.

Given your history, either option is equally likely.

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