The continuance of corporate dominance of media over the last century despite so many vibrant attempts to challenge that structure is as equally inspiring as it is despair-filling. As blogging and the rise of citizen journalism emerged as the most recent attempt to challenge the corporate structure, there was some discussion as to whether is was a fundamental disruption to the existent business model, or a technological change which was causing a shake-up, and would cause media companies to shift course. It was so easy to be nothing but optimistic just ten years ago, before ownership had become so consolidated. As we’ve seen net-neutrality diminished, we’ve seen corporate dominance of the internet itself, and, to some extent, the online media. Independent bloggers still thrive and build followings, but it seems more and more of them sign contracts to put their blog on a larger media company’s site, and under a larger brand-name. Glen Greenwald did it while still maintaining independent control of his work, but its easy to see a trend developing in which independent bloggers receiving advertising from certain sources, or operating under the header of a certain company, either begin to self-censor or are prone to manipulation.
This isn’t a new tactic from corporations: there have been countless examples of the mainstream media attempting to co-opt alternative media and use them to advance their corporate agenda by reducing that alternative streak to a bland resemblance of what was formerly an ideological backbone.
Some argue that Rockefeller and others effectively ended the muckraking era by buying up many of the magazines that published exposés against them.
It happened to the Village Voice, and the Hartford Courant did it to the Advocate. By buying up alternative competitors or submitting to corporate ownership media companies effectively tamper any viewpoint that is excessively independent.
Many people believe that the Huffington Post became much more profit-oriented and far less ideologically-independent after the 2011 deal with AOL.
At the same time, these companies try to limit the voice of staunchly independent outlets that refuse to sell out by making it hard for them to do their work––by limiting their access and defining what a “real” journalist is, or making the distribution of their content too expensive.