The U.S. is known for her thriving media industry, across print, TV, radio, movie and Internet digital network with enormous amount of quantities and topical content. The U.S. is very proud of her ‘Freedom of Speech’ environment and her legal protection system. Thus the world could use the phrases ‘thousands of flowers blooming’ and ‘millions of colors shinning’ to describe the U.S. media. This description is a positive one if the media industry maintains a good reputation. Unfortunately in the recent years, under the principle of capitalism and freedom of speech, the media industry through acquisition and merger formed a few gigantic media conglomerates, controlling all above mentioned media elements as well as digital media, including chain/syndication of community newspaper and movie theaters. This consolidation of media industry into a few power houses created an undesirable phenomenon - their enormous power dominates mass media with the protection of freedom of speech. The mass or citizens have very limited time to gather news and obtain validated information, hence they fall at the mercy of the media giants how they spoon feed (headline grabbing) them. So our citizens are easily mesmerized or brainwashed by the media giant with its corporate agenda and pre-accepted doctrine. Sadly, a competing media giant would only engage in a media war to divide the mass (citizens) into a different faction mesmerized by its corporate agenda. This is the reason, now the U.S. has very polarized view (many with a shallow view fed by mass media) on various domestic and international issues.
The above phenomenon is certainly not a healthy one. A monopolizing media has a tendency to create a single authoritative voice (一言堂） which can manipulate mass opinion. Any competing media corporation seems to be motivated by profit more than honest journalism, therefore, they will take a position to capture a fraction of the mass to maintain its monopolizing position holding an opposing view. The mass may have access and preference to different media such as print, TV, radio or Internet, but they are knowingly or unknowingly subject to receiving the same messages coming from a single giant corporation. So the mass can easily be convinced and reinforced by the same messages delivered by different channels they exposed to, thus becoming deeply alienated towards the opposite media outlets. This is how the U.S. is polarized and divided into a 'two parties' population even though the large part of her citizens do not belong to a political party. The U.S. has always charged the communist countries being authoritative with no freedom of speech and their citizens exposed to media all funded by government. This is quite true in most developing countries, since media industry can not self support until the country has a prosperous economy with businesses capable of supporting a significant size of media industry which can support itself by commercial advertising income.
However, with the advance of Internet, the capital requirement of entering into media industry is significantly lowered and the citizens have easy access to digital and social media (organic media). For example, China has the largest netizen population and the most thriving E commerce in the world. This created a tremendous opportunity for Chinese media industry to bloom, both in traditional media and digital media which were very surprisingly and vigorously fueled by individual entrepreneurship. The Chinese movie (box office $6B, 2015 to $70B projected for 2020) and publishing ($24.7B in 2020, averaging 6.3% annual growth over the past five years) industry have grown significantly. The new digital media companies developed by civilian capital, such as TikTok and WeChat, have reached hundreds of millions of users. It is no surprise that the U.S. is trying to force TikTok to sell its US operation and ban WeChat. However, one should realize that it is the existence of these new media corporations that have given the Chinese citizens tremendous supervising (accountability) power to voice their displeasure about any government misdeeds. The fact an individual can overnight become a celebrity with millions of followers on the new media gives public officials pressure to deliver positive results. This is the reason that the CCP government is so concerned with 'the people’s voice’. From government efficacy and accountability point of view, the Chinese media industry is moving in the right direction from a controlled (partly capital deprived) system to a blooming environment.
The current U.S. media industry is digging its own grave by monopolizing its output to the extent that honorable journalism is giving way to fake news and profitability. The continuing division of left versus right, black versus white, conservative versus liberal, rich versus poor etc. is creating huge ridge gaps in the American society and the nation. To a large extent, the media industry was responsible for it. (over production and poor regulation do not yield quality) Why only half of our population watches one TV station and read one newspaper and the other half does the rival ones? Why does our President call mass media creating fake news? The COVID-19 pandemic revealed one thing by the international and global internet social media: The U.S. did not have her acts together. Both the government and the media should bear the responsibility. When 169 to 2 nations (U.S. and Israel opposed) in the UN passed resolution to work together to combat the pandemic and reject unilateralism, the U.S. mass media have little reporting on self-reflection and positive suggestions to correct the lies about the pandemic. When a monopolizing media clams up or produces only one voice, it is not a good phenomenon. That phenomenon was characterized as communist media behavior.
The U.S. has a two party system, instead of competing fairly and take turn by election result to build our nation, the two parties behave like a third world country gangs bickering for power. An impeachment plan was plotted before the elected President taking the White House and the House Speaker had torn the President’s State of the Union speech in front of public TV camera are clear indication that our political system is failing. Our media has neither intention nor ability to hold justice to correct our leaders' misbehavior and lies both sides uttered. The relationship between the media and government should be guided along between supporting and opposing or correcting the government’s policies based on people’s interest and justice. The U.S. media does have one common belief that is ‘Democracy’. The entire media accept such a value system. However, this pre-accepted position does not negate the responsibility of the media being fair and honest about facts especially in exposing the faults of democracy. Today, besides mass media, we fortunately do have organic media though they are often overwhelmed by the mass media. Comparing the riots in Hong Kong and that in the U.S. since the BLM movement, we can see a different picture from mass media and organic media, the former has been reporting (biased by its pre-accepted ‘Democracy’ value) condemning a much gentler Hong Kong government for its handling of the violent riots but siding with the U.S. government for its brutal crashing of the riots. It is this kind of bias, double standard and blind eye to justice that make our media reputation declining.
This column is published in an organic medium and would never be accepted by the mass media. But with the advancement in Internet technology, we believe, the value of organic media will be gradually more accepted by the mass. We hope applications like TikTok and WeChat will give citizens a meaningful channel to voice their opinion, eventually correct the behavior of mass media otherwise replace them.