The documentary “Orwell Rolls in His Grave” reports on the media and its control in aspects from major news outlets to politics. Currently, the wealthiest one percent controls the largest corporations in America which own the majority of the media and thus control the content distributed to the American people each day. The affect of having this much control is demonstrated throughout the film. Within the film there are surprising facts about media ownership and how the media and politics often mix together.
The documentary dives into facts about the media and its control that frequently presents the media as, like they said in the film, the bad guy. This may lead some to believe that the media is being treated unfairly. It is fair to say that the media does have major control of information because of gatekeepers and have merged into just 6 networks, in turn keeping private ownership at a bare minimum. However, the film continually beats down the media giving the appearance that no good can come or has ever come from our current mainstream media. The film treats media fairly in the sense that all the evidence compiled against the media to show its flaws are factual evidence. But in doing this, no time has been left to show that the media has had any good effect on current society.
It is well known that media ownership has moved from hundreds of different networks controlling stations to just six networks controlling the hundreds of stations we have today. The most surprising fact about our current network ratio is how it has come to this point. My first thought was that over time the bigger corporations were just able to buy the smaller networks. I’m sure this did happen because as with almost anything, whoever has the most money has the most control and power. The real surprise was that there were laws enacted to prevent such mergers of networks and that these laws were reversed or just done away with. I had heard of the Telecommunications Act that passed in 1996 but did not fully understand the significance. With the Telecommunications Act there was no regulation on how many stations a network could own. This has allowed for the largest networks to take complete control over all other smaller networks and buy countless stations. Now, these remaining six stations compete against each other and we may see an even further decrease in the number of networks if more mergers occur.
A second surprise was the amount of control the owners of the media have. One example in the film was when reporters came to CNN to present an important report, but CNN just told them that they would not air their findings. That is great power when you can reject someone’s report and the reporters can do nothing about it.
“Orwell Rolls in His Grave” clearly demonstrated how media and politics mix almost daily. The most fascinating information was that the only way a politician running for election was going to be heard by the American public was through television ads. Just a decade ago several million dollars were used for ads compared to the now billion dollars during campaigns. When the media controls a person’s only outlet to share his or her message, a high price can be charged for airtime. It is also interesting to know that lobbyists pay people to hold spots for them. To me, this came off as being lazy and too prideful. The lobbyists feel too prideful to stand and wait in a line and too lazy because they only want to show up to argue their agenda and not have to wait to present their statements. The mix between media and politics is also shown during the elections. The 2000 presidential election was a great example. Nearly all of America is watching television that evening to see the results and whatever the media reports is what they have to believe. If there is one big event, every station is going to be reporting on that main story even if another story should have as much significance and relevance. With the current primaries, it seems like each station is racing against the other to report first about who has won each state even if only the minimal percentage of the vote is reporting. The news will report on a political event almost everyday and we are to take this information and decide for ourselves the validity of the report because it is our only source for the information. Thus, politics and media mix almost every day.
This documentary has brought the reality of our current media to the forefront of debate. With media owners having seemingly endless control over content it is hard to receive truly fair and balanced reports and sometimes hard to receive any reports at all about a specific event or situation. The film may have built the media up to be a bad giant, but it was done as factually as possible. Although the other side is not presented or given a chance for a rebuttal, we now have a better understanding of current practices within the media.