The True State of the Modern Media Marketplace
It seems as if everyone is a media critic these days. Many people -including a large number of legislators and regulators – argue that America’s media marketplace is in a miserable state. Some claim that citizens lack choice in media outlets and that option are just as scarce as ever. Others believe that media “localism” is dead or that many groups or niches go underserved because of a lack of true “diversity” in media.
Others argue that the market is hopelessly over-concentrated in the hands of a few evil media barons who are hell-bent on force-feeding us corporate propaganda. And still others say that the quality of news and entertainment in our society has deteriorated because of a combination of all of the above.
It all sounds quite troubling, but is any of it true?
The problem with much of the criticism leveled at the modern media marketplace is that it is based almost entirely on emotion, not evidence. Critics are fond of using a variety of subjective barometers to gauge the health of the media.
That’s hardly surprising because many of us feel strongly about media. The media touch our lives in a variety of important ways. They inform and inspire on one hand; they shock and repulse us on the other. Unsurprisingly, therefore, everyone fancies himself or herself a bit of an armchair critic when it comes to the media.
* This special report is intended to be a living document. The Progress & Freedom Foundation will continue to publish occasional updates (available online at www.pff.org/mediametrics) to capture ongoing media developments and marketplace trends. We encourage readers to send us suggestions regarding updates or information that could be included in subsequent editions of this report. Also, this report is not primarily about the public policies governing America’s media marketplace, although it certainly has some ramifications for those laws and regulations.
Those issues were dealt with in another PFF book, Media Myths: Making Sense of the Debate over Media Ownership.1 Media Metrics: The True State of the Modern Media Marketplace 1 Adam Thierer, Media Myths: Making Sense of the Debate over Media Ownership (Washington, DC: Progress & Freedom Foundation, 2005), www.pff.org/issues-pubs/books/050610mediamyths.pdf