Sign post featuring various media formats, for example Magazines, Newspapers, Television, Internet.
Creative Commons

In the months leading up to the United States presidential election in 2016, false stories circulated widely on social media. Media scholars and journalists cautioned Americans to get their news from trusted media networks and newspapers rather than from unvetted online publishers.

Learning to identify false stories by disreputable online publishers is an important skill to develop.

How markets, regulations shape media

However, it’s also important to learn how markets and regulations shape our traditional media landscape. Reputable news organizations in the U.S. also need to generate revenue through ads. They have an incentive to share news that catches people’s attention. There is a delicate balance between the incentive to make money on the news and providing accurate and authoritative information.

The large companies that have purchased many local news stations and newspapers may also have ideological agendas that they promote. The recent viral video about Sinclair Broadcast Group shows how a large organization can use its power as a business to require their employees to relay opinions at a broad scale  Without regulations in place, it is difficult to prevent large companies from spreading opinion and propaganda in this way.

Libraries’ view on information literacy

In engaging with news organizations and your local media you might encounter it is important to recall the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Framework for Information Literacy that reminds researchers that “Authority Is Constructed and Contextual” when engaging with articles and posts to ensure that sources are reputable and reliable and to decipher potential agendas or preferences.

Our media landscape is complicated. It is a for-profit industry that is also subject to laws and regulations overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). We’ve compiled some articles, databases, and government resources below to help our readers understand the behind-the-scenes forces that help shape the news.

News articles to frame the issue

Local news company ownership

Databases like  Reference USA  or  Hoovers can help you discover who owns your local media. Search by company name and look for the corporate hierarchy symbol to determine ownership for these local news organizations: 

  • KSTP TV 
  • KARE 11 
  • WCCO TV 
  • Star Tribune Media Co. 
  • St. Paul Pioneer Press 
  • Minnesota Public Radio 

Freely available government and nonprofit sources

University of Minnesota research and expertise

The University of Minnesota’s Experts@Minnesota website shows that the following faculty and staff have conducted research related to this issue:

University of Minnesota librarians with media expertise

—Lindsay Matts-Benson, Alicia Kubas, Caroline Lilyard, and Karen Carmody-McIntosh

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here