Reading: Types of Media

Learning Objective

  • Evaluate the claim that press freedom is compromised by increasing consolidation in the media industry


Media in the United States comprises several different types of widespread communication: television, radio, cinema, newspapers, magazines, and Internet-based websites (especially blogs). Many of these networks are controlled by large, for-profit corporations that reap revenue from advertising, subscriptions, and the sale of copyrighted material. American media conglomerates tend to be leading global players, generating substantial revenue, not to mention fierce opposition in many parts of the world. Further deregulation and convergence are under way, suggesting more mega-mergers, greater concentration of media ownership, and the emergence of multinational media conglomerates. Critics allege that localism (local news and other content at the community level), media spending and coverage of news, and diversity of ownership and represented views have suffered as a result of such processes.

Theories on the success of such companies note a reliance on certain policies of the American federal government as well as a natural tendency to produce monopolies in the industry. Many prominent news organizations such as CBS, ABC, and Fox News are often criticized for creating political and corporate monopolies to boost popularity.

The organization Reporters Without Borders compiles and publishes an annual ranking of countries based on its assessment of their press freedom records. A smaller score on the index corresponds to greater freedom of press. Reporters Without Borders is careful to note that the index only addresses press freedom and does not measure the quality of journalism. In 2011–12, the United States was ranked 47 out of 179 countries, which was a setback from the preceding year.

2010 Press Freedom Index Scores. These countries have been ranked on their freedom-of-press laws. A smaller score on the index corresponds to great freedom of press. The United States has a score of 47.

Key Takeaways

  • Media in the United States has taken several forms, including television, film, radio and blogs.
  • Media frequently gains power through its support from large corporations, and is often criticized by the public for such alliances.
  • Reporters Without Borders publishes a yearly ranking on the level of free media in each country.


Key Term

  • Blog: A website that allows users to reflect, share opinions, and discuss various topics in the form of an online journal while readers may comment on posts. Most blogs are written in a slightly informal tone (personal journals, news, businesses, etc. ) Entries typically appear in reverse chronological order.


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