In 1983 close to 50 companies owned the bulk of media around the world. That meant we had film and book reviews we could trust, and thoroughly researched news stories. It meant that the news departments of different outlets were independent of the advertising departments and took pride in that.
Not so much today. I recently watched my morning news program, an affiliate of ABC, and cringed at three to five minutes spent on an account of the previous evening's Dancing With The Stars, as if it was actually newsworthy. Then my news channel spent the rest of the program featuring stories from outside our state, basically picking up video of car chases and crashes.
Later in the day I read book and movie reviews in Entertainment Weekly, a magazine owned by Time Warner, who owns Warner Brothers, HBO, Cinemax, Cartoon Network, TBS, CNN, Warner
etc...and wondered how I could trust EW's glossy reporting and reviews. How could I trust the majority of critics when they worked for a magazine owned by the people who made the entertainment product?
Does it matter? Why should we care? Maybe because without an independent voice we lose something as a society. Maybe because I value independent thought and worry that when so much power is concentrated in the hands of so few that abuse of such power is only a matter of time.
Maybe for now it's a starting point spreading the awareness and keeping in mind the chart provided by NPR, although don't blink, because in the business world of mergers and acquisitions ownership can be hard to follow.