A very long time ago in Ireland (Thankfully), religion and the Catholic Church were very much in a position of absolute power, more powerful than our own government at the time. The Pope was the real ruler of Ireland, and as evidenced by the huge number of child abuse scandals, the Magdelene Laundries and now the Tuam mass grave incidents now coming to light, it is clear that the church very much owned the people of Ireland, even to the extent of owning the people through the ‘Sunday service’. Unfortunately, it is now the mass media which has taken this empty position, left vacant by the Chruch in recent years, becoming an establishment in and of itself.
In this regard, mass media outlets are now the most powerful opinion shapers and influencers on the planet and in many cases, the media has replaced the original establishments that once held power in years gone by. Like the church in Ireland, trust in the Policing system in America has fallen apart due to the wave of incidents involving members of the Black community and charges of racism and Police brutality. The media is now the ‘establishment’ per se, that people look to for answers and normality, instead of these classic establishments mentioned. It is here where elements of Marxism and Marxism in relation to the mass media comes into play, most notably Chomsky’s work on the propaganda model and McLuhan’s seminal work on the medium becoming the message.
A common phrase associated with Marxism and Communism and one that is commonly touted as a meme on the internet – “Seize the means of production”. This, of course, refers to the idea of the labourer fighting the imbalance of power between him/her and the capitalist regime in place. In this sense, seizing the means of production would now entail fighting against the agendas which many mass media outlets have set for us to decode in the stories that they mass produce for us. Of course, we can either accept, reject or negotiate with these stories. Often, however, the average viewer is too lazy to accept anything else other than what is spoon fed to them i.e: the dominant ideology, refusing to seek alternative soruces, this granting the mass media its power.
Just like in Marxist theory, there is a delicate balance of power at play between the media outlet and the viewer; for if no one watched the news, it would lose all of its meaning and subsequently, power. The media needs its viewers, as much as the viewer needs his or her media content (for whatever reason). To this end, media outlets often fabricate or at least partially fabricate stories in order to garner more viewers, thus resulting in the viewer forming opinions around statements and content that are not necessarily related to what actually happened. Such is the power of the media…
Neo-Marxist view of media owners. 2017. sociologytwynham.com. Available from: https://sociologytwynham.com/2013/07/16/neo-marxist-view-of-media-owners/ [Accessed April 22, 2017].
Chandler, D. Marxist Media Theory. 1st ed. Available from: http://www.cym.ie/documents/chandler.pdf. [Accessed April 22, 2017].