The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Democratising The Fourth Estate

In 1787 the House of Commons of Great Britain was opened up to the Press for the first time.  Edmund Burke is reputed to have remarked that, although there were three Estates in Parliament, “…in the Reporters gallery yonder, there sits a Fourth Estate more important by far than they all.”

Since Burke’s time the media (now commonly referred to as the Fourth Estate) has indeed become all pervasive and all powerful.  Until recently the media was viewed as the means by which parliament and politicians were kept accountable.  The Fourth Estate was the checks and balances of democracy.

But the world has changed dramatically since Burke’s time.  Less and less are our public decisions being made by parliaments.  Much of private life and public life have become dominated by big business and economic globalisation.  And the Fourth Estate has joined in.  Not to act as public watchdog, but rather as one of the dogs we need to be wary of.

For example; the market value of Time Warner is $53 billion, of News Corp $70.6 billion and that of Walt Disney over $100 billion.  Through takeovers, mergers and acquisitions media corporations are now amongst some of the largest transnational corporations (TNCs) in the world.  In 1983 there were 50 media companies that controlled 90% of the US media market.  Today (just 30 years later) just six corporations have captured over 90% of the market.  The Big Six: Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, News Corp, CBS and NBC Universal.

The media TNCs are controlling more and more of what we view, read and hear on our televisions, in our newspapers and on the radio.  Furthermore, fewer and fewer individuals control the news.  Just 232 media executives run the Big Six media TNCs – they’re not called “media moguls” for nothing.
Nor is it just media moguls influencing the news.  Increasingly, big business is taking an interest in the media.  In Australia, for instance, the mining magnate, Gina Rinehart (the worlds 2nd richest woman) is now the largest shareholder (at 19%) in Fairfax Media.1

The Fourth Estate today is part of big business and the domination that is economic globalisation.  Far from being the watchdog on governments and keeping the populace informed, today the Fourth Estate tells and shows us what to think, do and believe.

It’s not all bad news though.  Perhaps ordinary citizens and local communities are taking back control of information.  The Internet has provided us all with the opportunity to share stories that give alternative takes to those provided by the media TNCs.  We can now get local stories via YouTube, alternative analyses from independent bloggers and from networks such as Indy Media.  Then there are the myriads of small, local newspapers being produced in communities world-wide.  The Fourth Estate may be giving way to a democratised media.

What of the other three Estates?  In Burke’s time they were all contained within Parliament:  the Lords Spiritual, the Lords Temporal and the Commons.

The next democratising step on the ladder towards true democracy must be parliaments and governments themselves.

1. Fairfax Media own two of the largest daily newspapers in Australia: the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (Melbourne) along with a number of radio stations.  Gina Rinehart has notoriously used her media status to imply that Australians could work for $2 a day.

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