Media Monopoly – 

Bagdikian, H.B. (1997). The media monopoly: Afterword. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.  

The notion of “Media Monopoly” as addressed in this book and its impacts in shaping up people’s thinking and beliefs, is clearly absurd to us; people who have lived the majority of our lives in a free speech/democratic environments. But I’d rather provide an outsider’s perspective as media monopoly is certainly an interesting notion, and one that I have come to firmly believe in just a couple of months ago. The author may sound too paranoid or dramatic now, but I personally do see a bit of where he comes from.

Let me take you on a journey to my world where Media Monopoly is literally the norm. On March 25th 2011, the world was shocked to have witnessed revolution fever reach Syria, against all odds and against all bets. Thousands of brave Syrians took to the streets calling for what have been righteously theirs for over 4 decades; freedom and democracy for all Syrians. To counter act, and I will stay on topic by only focusing on the role of media rather than going into how the murderous administration recruited armed and security forces in oppressing its own citizens, the ridiculously embarrassing Syrian TV launched what I’ve been calling a sabotage campaign aiming to discredit the bravery and courage put forth by the thousands of peaceful protestors and to mislead the public in believing those protestors are in fact armed gangs, Islamic extremists, foreign conspirers, etc.

At first, the media’s false reporting didn’t faze me nor did it surprise me at all. Why should it? Surely, everyone in their right mind know not to buy into this bias coverage when all media outlets in a country are owned by one of the ruling family members or when access to foreign media is completely blocked! But apparently, this scheme worked. We’ve been in touch with several families who reside in the Damascus, the Syrian capital, who have the littlest clue as to what’s going on in terms of killing and mass murder in cities outside of Damascus and it has been clear that up until a couple of weeks ago, life in Damascus was business as usual! How could that be?

To ensure the plot is properly tangled, the Syrian government jammed Internet connection and mobile telephone waves across the country.  In some cities, power was cut off for days so electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops, and cameras would run out of battery preventing people from uploading footage to You Tube or report the tragic events.  Unfortunately, this method seemed to have worked overwhelmingly among middle to upper class families residing in the city. Childhood friends and even relatives living in Damascus or Aleppo (the two largest cities in the country) are convinced that the whole world has conspired against Syria to overthrow the Assad regime! The list conspiring countries include U.S. and Israel among others, both of which have expressed and demonstrated in many occasions and on multiple levels their concern should the Syrian regime fall!  

I couldn’t help, as I was reading these pages, but to compare the findings with the impact Syrian TV has had in recent weeks over people’s perceptions and beliefs.  Do not under-estimate the power of media and its messages, certainly in non-democratic countries. To some, right or wrong may be clear as day and night, but that’s not the case with the easily influenced majority. Profound implications are reflected in the masses; meaning as long as the two largest cities in this case continue to buy into the lies of the Syrian regime and its fabricated media, the Syrian revolution will most likely and very unfortunately die down. 

This example isn’t the only one of its kind. Growing up in the Middle East provides many similar examples such as Future TV which is owned by Lebanese Prime minister Saad Hariri, and Al-Manaar TV which is run and owned by Hezbollah, and finally Al-Dunya TV which is owned by a member of the Assad ruling family

One thing we must keep in mind is the timing of this reading – which was written 14 years ago. While I do not at all discount the reality and clear danger in the presence of media monopoly even in these days, I do believe that the rise of satellite television and access to Social Media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube does provide alternate and credible sources for people to check the facts and obtain accurate read on any event in the world, including in Syria. I do believe that the trend has effectively weakened the hold traditional media used to have over its audiences and their opinions and all I can say in conclusion is Thank God for technology.


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