I’ve been wondering about possible conflicts of interest within the news media. Over the past year or two, instances of collusion and other suspicious behaviors have caught my eye. So I decided to dig into who owns what. In some cases, the ownership of a company might reflect bias in the news put forth by that company.
In 1983, 90% of US media was controlled by fifty companies; today, 90% is controlled by just seven companies. (Wikipedia)
US distrust in the media remains high, and we may have good reasons for that. 60% of Americans “have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.” (Gallup 2012) (Gallup 2015) Confidence in newspapers has continued to drop, now with only 20% of Americans “who are confident in newspapers as a U.S. institution.”
“Americans’ orientation to news is changing, with a growing emphasis on identifying more closely with a favorite media organization.” (Gallup 2016) People are turning more to social media and specific sources to get news. This could lead to widespread echo chambers, where other opinions are not considered or even tolerated. Getting your news from a variety of sources can be very important.
Comcast – Owns 24 tv stations.
- New England Cable News
- The Weather Channel (25% stake)
- MSNBC (50% stake)
Gannett Company – Owns 23 tv stations plus “over 600 magazines and other non-daily print publications.”
- USA Today
- Clipper Magazine
- Mint Magazine
Hearst Corporation – Owns 31 tv stations, 2 radio stations, and 20 magazines.
- Buzzfeed (minority stake)
- Popular Mechanics
- Vice Media (partial stake via A&E Networks)
National Amusements – Owns 29 tv stations and 130 radio stations through CBS, plus 160+ cable channels through Viacom.
- CBS News
- The CW
- Smithsonian Networks
- Comedy Central
News Corp – Owns 27 tv stations.
- FOX News
- National Geographic
- The New York Post
- The Daily News
- The Times
- The Sun
- The Wall Street Journal
- The Weekly Standard
- Dow Jones Newswires
- News Limited (146 newspapers in Australia)
Time Warner – Owns 1 tv station and 22 magazines.
- Sports Illustrated
- Entertainment Weekly
Tribune Media – Owns 23 tv stations, 1 radio station, and 12 daily newspapers.
- The Los Angeles Times (LA Times)
- The Chicago Tribune
- The Baltimore Sun
- Chicago Magazine
Walt Disney Company – Owns 8 tv stations and 2 radio stations.
- Vice Media (partial stake via A&E Networks)
- The Washington Post
- The Herald
- Post-Newsweek Media (Graham Media Group)
- The Root
- Foreign Policy
- El Tiempo Latino
- Express Publications
Advance Publications – Owns The New Yorker, Ars Technica, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wired, Pitchfork, and a lot more (including Reddit.com). Has a 31% stake in Discovery Communications (The Discovery Channel, etc) and a smaller stake in Charter Communications.
Al Jazeera Media Network – Owns Al Jazeera and its related networks. The chairman, Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, is a member of the ruling family of Qatar (House of Thani).
Atlantic Media – Owns The Atlantic, National Journal, and more.
Axel Springer SE – Owns Business Insider, Bild, and others. Responsible for the German edition of Rolling Stone. Has a deal with Politico for their European editions.
Daily Mail and General Trust – Owns The Daily Mail and The Metro.
Forbes Media LLC – Owns Forbes and has a partial stake in RealClearPolitics.
The New York Times Company – Owns the New York Times, among others. Owned The Boston Globe from 1993 to 2013. Carlos Slim is the largest shareholder (~17% of the shares).
News Communications, Inc. – Owns The Hill (Capitol Hill Publishing Corporation), Dan’s Papers, and Montauk Pioneer.
Salem Media Group – Owns Townhall, RedState, Hot Air, and Twitchy. Also owns 117 radio stations.
Scott Trust Limited – Owns The Guardian, The Guardian Weekly, and The Observer.
Sinclair Broadcast Group – Owns 193 tv stations. Many are affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, or other television networks.
Thomson Reuters Corporation – Owns Reuters and West Publishing Company.
Times Publishing Company – Owns The Tampa Bay Times, The Tampa Tribune, and Politifact.
Univision Communications – Owns Fusion Media Group (The Onion, AV Club, and others) plus Nick Denton’s Gawker Media Group (Gawker, Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, and Lifehacker) and other properties.
Verizon Communications Inc – Owns The Huffington Post, Engadget, and TechCrunch (all through AOL).
Vox Media – Owns The Verge, Polygon, Vox News, and more.
Wenner Media LLC – Owns Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, Us Weekly.
Companies of nonprofits, individuals, etc.
ABC Media Ltd (Daniel Ivandjiiski) – Owns the “controversial financial blog” Zero Hedge. Unrelated to the ABC owned by Walt Disney.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) – A government-chartered public corporation, but is officially a commercial business independent of the French government. (It’s a little complicated compared to some other news sources.)
The Associated Press (AP) – Not for profit cooperative. One of the 3 largest news agencies in the world.
BBC – Public broadcasting company who owns BBC News. (About 80% of BBC income is from the UK government and taxpayers.)
Bloomberg L.P. – Owns Bloomberg News and related outlets. (Owned by billionaire Michael Bloomberg.)
The Daily Caller Inc (Tucker Carlson, Neil Patel) – Owns The Daily Caller.
Foundation For National Progress – A 501(c)(3) nonprofit who publishes Mother Jones magazine. It’s illegal for them to make specific political endorsements (the Johnson Amendment). However, as a whole they clearly favor one political party over others, and this undermines their credibility.
Lebedev Holdings Ltd (Alexander Lebedev, Evgeny Lebedev) – Owns The Independent and the London Evening Standard.
Mercury Radio Arts (Glenn Beck) – Owns The Blaze.
The Nation Company (Victor Navasky, Katrina vanden Heuvel) – Owns The Nation. “For 150 years, The Nation has uniquely chronicled the breadth of American political and cultural life and is often considered the ‘flagship’ of the political Left. We don’t just talk about progress, we instigate it.” (TheNation.com)
National Public Radio Inc – Owns NPR News. “National Public Radio is an American privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations.” (Wikipedia)
Newsmax Media (Christopher Ruddy) – Owns Newsmax.
Russia – The government funds RT News (aka Russia Today)
Win McCormack, Hamilton Fish – Run The New Republic.
Miscellaneous examples of collusion
- Politico-Media Complex
- JournoList (2007-2010) was a secret group for journalists, bloggers, academics, and others. In some cases they discussed what to write, and when, and how to coordinate their efforts in the media. Similar groups have been created over time, including GameJournoPros (2014) and Groundswell Group (2013).
- The media attack on Palmer Luckey (2016) showed how multiple organizations can coordinate to release similar articles within a short period.
- DNC officials worked with media groups and individual journalists (DNC email scandal). During the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, several emails released by Wikileaks and other sources proved how the Clinton campaign worked closely with journalists. There are multiple examples of the campaign coordinating to push or suppress narratives via “friendly sources.” The Trump campaign also had a close connection with Breitbart.
- Unusually close ties between the Clinton campaign and Democratic party, as illustrated by articles on Politico, Counterpunch, and more.
- Sinclair Broadcast Group had various local news anchors read a script to deliver a coordinated message. (2018)
Analyzing neutrality, bias, affiliations, etc.
- Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman
- The Knife
- Columbia Journalism Review
(Latest edit was made in April 2018. Above information on media ownership is current as of August 2016 and may be outdated.)