Early last century, industrial technology allowed business interests to produce mass media at a cost that outclassed the capacity of non-corporate media to compete. As a result, radical publishers were marginalised and media diversity rapidly narrowed.

To counter claims that society was being, in effect, brainwashed by this media monopoly, corporate publishers promoted the idea of “professional journalism”. For the first time, reporters would be trained in special “schools of journalism” to master the arts of objective, balanced reporting. Big business moguls would be in control but, as good democrats, they would see to it that their journalists were scrupulously fair.

In reality, powerful biases were built into this new media “professionalism” – key among them a presumption about who should be the primary source of news.

American media analyst Robert McChesney explains that the new, professional press, “regarded anything done by official sources, for example, government officials and prominent public figures, as the basis for legitimate news”. (McChesney, in Kristina Borjesson ed., Into The Buzzsaw, Prometheus Books, 2002, p.367)

This reliance on official sources naturally “gave those in political office (and to a lesser extent, business) considerable power to set the news agenda by what they spoke about and what they kept quiet about”.

Full Story: MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media. Part 2 will follow shortly…