I've been thinking a lot about the state of reasoned debate in the US. Someone I know who works at CNN has always been fond of pointing out that all the major US media outlets are owned by entertainment companies, and that is one of the reasons news reports have devolved into lurid sideshows. Here is a brief rundown of who owns what:
- CBS is now a stand-alone company after having gone through acquisition first by Westinghouse then Viacom. Currently they also own Showtime, The Movie Channel, UPN (now known as CW after a merger with WB), Paramount theme parks, and Simon & Schuster publishing.
- NBC is owned by Universal Studios.
- ABC is owned by Disney.
- Fox is owned by News Corp. It's got news in the name, but that's about as far as it goes. News Corp is a huge media conglomerate, owning a total of 37 TV stations, 13 magazines, over 120 newspapers (including New York Post) and a a vast number of Internet companies (including Myspace.com).
- CNN is a subsidiary of Time Warner.
Where do you go to get news from a source that isn't driven by the entertainment industry? When a handful of companies control the media, and their primary focus is entertainment rather than intelligent discussion, you end up with the mess we have now. I'd be willing to bet that if I mention the name of Paris Hilton anyone can tell me who she is. How many people have heard of Albert Fert or Peter