Difference between revisions of "Mainstream media"

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Revision as of 07:35, 24 June 2009

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Controversy exists over the meaning and definition of the terms mainstream media (MSM)[1]. Some consider the mainstream media to consist primarily of those media organs that existed in the United States of America prior to 1987, and especially any of those media organs that continue to exist today. Others take a view that the term 'mainstream', no matter the context, simply refers to 'that which is most popular'. Among conservatives, the term usually refers to the overwhelming majority of news reporting and commentary as consisting of liberal media, while presenting themselves as objective reporting mediums.

Fairness Doctrine

In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission voted 4-0 to revoke, and cancel their enforcement of, the Fairness Doctrine. That doctrine mandated that if any opinion considered "controversial" were ever discussed on the public airwaves, the station over which that opinion aired was required to give equal time to any person wishing to reply. However, the FCC never set a standard about interpretations of current events that might be disputable, nor even examined that issue.

With the revocation of the Fairness Doctrine, radio and television stations were now permitted to air any opinion or interpretation of the news, no matter how "controversial," without regard to the giving of "equal time."

On August 1, 1988, a new radio commentator named Rush Limbaugh began broadcasting in national syndication.

List of mainstream media organs

Some consider the mainstream media to consist of the following outlets:


News Syndication Agencies


Some conservatives consider Fox News to not be "mainstream media", because they frequently present a different, often more fair and balanced viewpoint to the above news outlets. One example given is that in 2007, the Democratic presidential candidates have declared they will not appear on presidential debates hosted by Fox News, due to their own bias, but they will appear on other supposed MSM news outlets.

Most Americans consider Fox News very much part of the Mainstream Media, as, according to ratings organisation Nielsen:

  • Fox News has 9 of the 10 most viewed shows on Cable TV News (as of Dec 2006)
  • Fox News mean prime-time viewing figures are triple that of MSNBC, and double that of CNN, and exceed the total ratings of CNN, MSNBC and CNBC combined.
  • "In 2006, more than half the people watching cable news were watching Fox News" [3]


In 2006 CNN.com has an article from columnist R. Emmett Tyrell Jr. entitled "Tyrell: Goodbye MSM... and good riddance!" [4] The article talks about the alternative press vs the MSM:

So we hear this week that President George W. Bush is taking delight in the spread of the "alternative press" (read conservatives on the Internet, in talk radio, in print, and at Fox) and the gentle detumesence of "mainstream media" (read liberal media, or more precisely, Democratic media). Well I join him in his satisfaction.

'Alternative Media'

Differing opinions also exist over the definition of a similar term - Alternative Media. Although some consider, for example, Rush Limbaugh's launch to be the birth of 'alternative media', so too do the left consider publications like The Nation to be 'alternative media.'[5] In fact, many would view the Village Voice group to be the most widely published 'alternative media' outlet in the United States.

By whatever definition, most media watchers would classify as "alternative media" any media organ that is primarily hosted on the Internet rather than printed and delivered or mailed to subscribers. The alternative media is not exclusively conservative. It includes liberal organs as well. Some writers on these organs have suggested that the mainstream media has a conservative bias--by which they actually mean that mainstream-media organs are not as revolutionary, or as radical, in their thinking as are the writers themselves.[6][7][8]

At least one MSM organ, CBS News, attempted in 2006[9] to describe what a particular alternative-media segment (i.e., blogs) thinks of the MSM:

They don't believe that you are unbiased, objective, fair a lot of times. And so what they want is they want to read a lot of different sources themselves. because they don't trust the mainstream media..that would be [you].

It is worth noting that liberal blog activity on the internet is declining after the election of Barack Hussein Obama [10]. This shows that the distaste for bias in the liberal MSM is spreading to the alternative media.

See Also


  1. Both conservatives and liberals use the acronym MSM to describe the mainstream media
  2. The inclusion of The Wall Street Journal might strike some media observers as strange, until one remembers that, though its editorial board is conservative on most issues (except for immigration), its city room is definitely liberal in orientation and coverage of the news.
  3. Authors unknown. "The State of the News Media 2007." Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2007.
  4. Tyrell, R. Emmet. "Goodbye MSM... and good riddance!" Creators' Syndicate, 2006. Retrieved August 2, 2007, from CNN.
  5. Albert, Michael. "Alternative Media: What Makes Alternative Media Alternative?" Z Magazine. Retrieved August 2, 2007.
  6. Dreier, Peter. "For a Brief Moment, The Media Rediscover Poverty." AlterNet.org, July 26, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2007.
  7. O'Connor, Rory. "The Future of Citizen Journalism. AlterNet.org, July 3, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2007.
  8. Rampton, Sheldon. "Has the Internet Changed the Propaganda Model?" AlterNet.org, June 22, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2007.
  9. Pogue, David. "[http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/07/09/sunday/main1786520.shtml?source=search_story Brave New Blogging World: David Pogue Ventures Into The Blogosphere]." CBSNews.com, July 9, 2006. Retrieved August 2, 2007.
  10. http://bloggasm.com/blog-traffic-for-liberal-blogs-down-58-in-three-months-following-election-conservative-blogs-down-36

External Links