Tag Archives: Monopoly

The Ethical Implications of Monopoly Media Ownership

Accessing the Media, Freedom of Expression and Participating in Society

Patricia Lancia, Wilfred Laurier University

At the end of World War II, 80 percent of daily newspapers in the United States were independently owned,1 yet even then The Commission on Freedom of the Press, also known as the Hutchins Commission, perceived the significant threats to freedom of expression posed by the scope and power of “the great agency of mass communication.”2 Over 50 years later, the North American communications environment is characterized by near monopolistic control of every facet of the media by only six firms3 – down from just 50 corporations in the early 1980s when Ben Bagdikian wrote his groundbreaking book The Media Monopoly. With their intertwining boards of directors and uncountable synergistic partnerships, these six media behemoths exercise significant control over the dominant, public modes of communication in society and the communication agenda in general. They also represent quite possibly the greatest challenge to individual free expression in contemporary times. It seems that not much has changed since the Hutchins Commission formed in 1943.

Insofar as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, movies, music and the Internet constitute the dominant, public modes of communication in society, access to the media as tools of communication has significant ethical implications. If only some people are given the opportunity to express themselves in society, if some people are denied access to tools for self-expression and, therefore, denied the ability to actually exercise their rights as citizens and as human beings, then the groups that allow that to happen are acting unethically. It is the intention of this paper to show that the current media monopoly environment interferes with the right to free expression of the vast majority of people in society – by eliminating viable alternative sites of communication, by limiting direct access to media outlets as tools of communication, and by preventing the creation of independent media outlets – and is, therefore, unethical.


Freedom of expression goes beyond merely having the right to say what you want to your friends or to stand on a street corner and yell in the hopes that people will listen. Personal expression is an essential part of what it means to be human and it is a crucial part of any social or democratic process. The central importance of this right is reflected in the fact that both the Bill of Rights in the United States and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee the rights to free association, assembly and expression and the right to publish and disseminate opinion. On the international level, the United Nations recognizes these rights in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.4

Expressing oneself is worth nothing, however, if one is not heard. Several authors and governing bodies, including members of the United States Supreme Court, have recognized that freedom of speech means nothing without the possibility that people will hear you. U.S. Supreme Court justice Brennan, best summed up this position in 1973 when he wrote:

[F]reedom of speech does not exist in the abstract. On the contrary, the right to speak can flourish only if it is allowed to operate in an effective forum … For in the absence of an effective means of communications, the right to speak would ring hollow indeed. And, in recognition of these principles, we have consistently held that the First Amendment embodies, not only the abstract right to be free from censorship, but also the right of an individual to utilize an appropriate and effective medium for the expression of his views.5

Stephen Holmes also touches on this point in an article on liberal constraints on private power. Holmes uses the example of broadcast-industry regulation to show that just as property rights require government enforcement of trespass laws, free speech and free press rights require state action aimed at securing the preconditions for effective freedom of expression.6 He goes on to say, “the First Amendment does not merely have the negative purpose of liberating individuals from government censorship. It also has the positive purpose of creating an informed public capable of self-government.”7 Owen supports the need for regulation of private concentrations of power when they interfere with the ability of individuals to exercise their rights. He writes: “the spirit of the First Amendment will be taken to mean not merely a negative constraint on the power of government, but a positive obligation to intervene in various carefully defined ways when freedom of expression is threatened by private agglomerations of power.”8 According to Herbert Schiller, it is the shift from government to private corporate power as the main threat to free expression that distinguishes our era.9 So, even though freedom of expression laws are often thought to prevent government suppression of individual rights, they can just as easily be interpreted to prevent suppression by private groups, in this case by media conglomerates and the people and corporations associated with them.

The point is, expression rights must be weighed against other rights in determining which acts need to be regulated. In the case of media ownership, the expression rights of the vast majority of people in society must be weighed against the property rights of the few people and corporations that control the media. A similar argument is made for the existence of regulations against hate speech, in which case the expression rights of some are limited in the interest of securing the rights of many to live in a safe, nonviolent environment.

On this point, John Stuart Mill argues that society has an obligation to interfere in the rights of individuals when their actions threaten injury to others, when freedom of expression will do more harm than good. In “On Liberty” he writes:

the fact of living in society renders it indispensable that each [person] should be bound to observe a certain line of conduct towards the rest. This conduct consists first, in not injuring the interests of one another; or rather certain interests, which, either by express legal provision or by tacit understanding, ought to be considered as rights.10

In her work “Burning Crosses, Political Expression, and the First Amendment,” Amy Ihlan also argues in favor of limiting hate speech by arguing against the protection of burning crosses as a political act. She bases her argument on the fact that “a burning cross is not so much the expression of a political ‘idea,’ or a set of ideas collected into a ‘viewpoint’ as it is a blunt, brutal act of power and dominance, an act of hatred and violence, a potent threat of more violence to come.”11 Such acts threaten to destroy the kind of open and democratic participation the First Amendment ought to protect,12 so they should be limited in the interest of the public good and personal freedom.

Weighing free expression rights against property rights is much more problematic, however. Holmes reaches back to Lockean theory to show that a person’s right to deny access to their property is rescinded in case of dire necessity of that property by others.13 Since few other viable options exist for or are available to the vast majority of people to express themselves in, access to media outlets in the current communication environment can be deemed a “dire necessity” (this point will be elaborated on in more detail in the third section of this paper). Judith Lichtenberg also argues for the superiority of free expression rights over property rights, citing the qualified nature of property rights. Lichtenberg points out that in cases where no comparable alternative exists for the exercise of free expression rights, property rights are overruled. On this point, Lichtenberg cites the case of Marsh v. Alabama (1948) in which the right of a Jehovah’s Witness to distribute religious literature on the sidewalk of a company-owned town was upheld because no public alternatives existed for the exercise of free speech.14How these issues apply to the current media environment will be explored in more detail later in this essay.

The important idea to note in these cases is that the right to free expression must be weighed against the rights of others to live in a safe environment and to determine how their property is used. In the first case, the rights of people to live in a safe environment outweigh free expression rights. Even though censorship in these cases hinders free expression, it is justified on the basis of minimizing harms against others and because hate speech contributes little, if anything, to public discourse. In the second case, property rights are valued less than the right to free expression and will be overruled when they interfere with or hinder expression and public discourse.

Both of these cases speak to the purpose of free expression laws. Not only do they guarantee an individual’s right to self-determination, they are also designed to encourage a wider variety of ideas in the public sphere. Many authors talk about “the marketplace of ideas” and about ensuring diversity in the information that is available for discussion,15 but free expression is about more than having a variety of ideas to listen to. Free expression is about more than passively taking in what other people have to say. Free expression is about active participation. Free expression is about being able to participate in social discourse, so we can learn and grow as individuals and so we can help shape and direct the community we live in. However, our community is no longer simply the local neighborhood or even the city we live in. Given the fact that laws and policies are created and instituted on national levels, and given the realities of globalization, the public sphere in which social discourse occurs is broader than ever before.


Jurgen Habermas defines the public sphere as “a realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed.”16 All people are guaranteed access to it, and it is participation in the public sphere that defines people as citizens.17 All people are guaranteed the right to participate, but they become citizens when they exercise their right. Every conversation in which private individuals assemble to form a public body, every act of participation in public discourse, constitutes part of the public sphere. The public sphere is founded on the idea of citizens as participants, as members of a public body, not just as people who assemble to form a group.

One’s public sphere can no longer be limited to the neighborhood or town that one lives in, it can no longer be limited to the people that can be communicated with face-to-face, since life as we now experience it can and must take into account people around the globe.18 Free expression is a necessary part of being able to participate in the discourse on these kinds of issues, and it is these kinds of transnational issues that force us to expand the idea of the public sphere to the global level.

Given the global scale of many social issues, people must conceive of themselves as transnational citizens. To accommodate this, Mark Kingwell, in The World We Want: Virtue, Vice and the Good Citizen, argues for a conception of citizenship based on global participation. In our developing transnational world, ideas of citizenship that are based on blood (the tribe you are born into), belief (the adherence to a body of ideologies) or law (groups formed through constitutional procedures and access to a body of rights) no longer apply. Instead, Kingwell argues that we need a new model of citizenship “based on the act of participation itself, not on some quality or thought or right enjoyed by its possessor. This participatory citizenship doesn’t simply demand action from existing citizens; it makes action at once the condition and the task of citizenship.”19

The expansion in our conception of the public sphere and the participatory nature of transnational citizenship has several implications for the media. First, as the distance between people grows and the number of people in one’s community increases, the media are needed as tools to disseminate information and opinion. Second, as society grows and becomes more complex, it is the broader, institutionalized discourse found in the media, not small-scale communication such as face-to-face conversations, that shapes society and affects social, political and economic policy. Third, in the current media environment, entirely “public” spaces are dwindling in number and size and are no longer viable alternative sites of communication. The media have supplanted “public” sites of discourse and, therefore, play a more central role in participation in the public sphere. Issues of free expression in the public sphere, then, are intimately linked with access to the media.

As far as participation in the public sphere is concerned, face-to-face interaction is the most accessible method of communication. However, as societies grow, face-to-face communication with everyone in the public sphere is no longer feasible. The media must be used as tools of communication in the public sphere and Habermas explicitly recognizes this fact. He writes, “in a large public body, this kind of communication requires specific means for transmitting information and influencing those who receive it. Today, newspapers and magazines, radio and television are the media of the public sphere.”20 They facilitate participation in the public sphere – which at the very least means the communication of basic information – by carrying human expression across greater distances to a greater number of people. At the most basic level then, media outlets are conduits of information and opinion – be it news, entertainment, opinion, sports coverage or any other category.

As part of their responsibility to disseminate information about the world, the media also have a responsibility to publicize information and views from as wide a variety of sources as possible. This means recognizing that objectivity, while it is an admirable news value, is impossible. No reporter or information gatherer is entirely objective and they should not assume that the information they collect and provide is the only interpretation. A more appropriate news value would be balance – providing information from several sides of the same story while acknowledging that the story can never be written or produced in a completely detached manner. In a way, the issue of diversity of information sources is related to access to the media. If access to the media is limited to a select group of newsmakers or officials, then it is only those people who will be the sources of information.

Access to the media is also important because it is in the media that the vast majority of public debate occurs. This is not to say that town hall meetings and debates among friends do not shape opinion in some sense, but the discourse that influences the majority of society and that shapes policy occurs in the media. The debate happens in opposing newspaper editorials, opposing letters to the editor, opposing books on the same subject, opposing magazine articles in opposing publications. Public discourse occurs in a story on television that contradicts or expands on a story in a newspaper. Public discourse is, for the most part, what is disseminated in the media. University professors, for example, are required to publish their research because debates happen between academic publications and much less through face-to-face conversation. Federal elections and political debates are waged through competing advertisements and news stories, not so much through face-to-face debates.21 And while the Internet is touted as a tool that makes one-to-one conversation possible no matter what the distance, media coverage of the protests outside the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle in 1999 probably did more to get the counter-corporate, leftist, world governance message out there than protestors speaking to one person at a time ever could.

This is not to say that small-scale, grassroots communication isn’t valuable in smaller environments. Grassroots movements are still politically important in the sense that they prepare people for debate on the larger stage. But grassroots activists often do not affect policy until they are allowed to voice their views in the larger public sphere (i.e. through some form of media). Without access to the media as a tool of communication, then, the vast majority of citizens are denied the opportunity to participate in discussions that affect the policies of the environment in which the larger public sphere exists and in which they live. The current media monopoly environment reduces access in a number of ways, all of which will be addressed in the third section of this paper.

The reason access to the media is needed is not just a matter of the size of the public sphere or the location of the debate, however. For the most part, viable alternatives to the media are no longer available. This is true in terms of the availability of non-commercialized space as well as the ability of people to create their own alternatives to the established media. In No Logo, Naomi Klein discusses at length the trend of attaching brands to anything and everything. Advertising has become so pervasive that “nearly every major city has seen some variation of the 3-D ad takeover, if not on entire buildings, then on buses, streetcars or taxis.”22 Fully-privatized, branded towns and neighborhoods now exist23 and public spaces in which to discuss community issues have been replaced with privately-owned spaces that appear to be public. Lichtenberg uses the example of the downtown core being replaced by the shopping mall to illustrate how small, independent media are no longer viable alternative forums for public discussion. She writes:

There are obvious analogies between the modern American shopping center and the mass media. Both mass media organizations and shopping centers consist of large private organizations that serve (one as an essential part of its role, the other accidentally) as forums for discussion and debate; both have largely driven out smaller competitors. Each has assumed an essentially different function from those of the institutions out of which it has evolved. The shopping center is more than a collection of private stores; it includes the spaces between and around them, and so replicates not just the businesses of Main Street but the municipality as well. Analogously, the mass news organization is not simply a larger version of its predecessor … it has become not only an actor but the stage as well. Alternative channels of communication to the mass media are not comparable to it, and so not satisfactory.24

Since completely public, advertising-free spaces are dwindling to the point of non-existence, or have been for the most part replaced by privately-owned spaces like shopping malls, and since the number of people with direct access to the media has been reduced by the monopoly-ownership environment, the alternative to using existing media as tools of communication is for people to create their own newspapers and magazines, Internet sites and recording studios, radio programs, television shows and movies. Given the current media environment, these alternatives are not always possible.


The existence of a media monopoly, or at least an intricately connected media oligopoly, is well documented. Apart from Bagdikian’s work, Edward Herman and Robert McChesney have documented the global corporate media consolidation trend in The Global Media: The New Missionaries of Corporate Capitalism. It is not so much the existence of a media monopoly as the ethical implications of such a monopoly that is of interest here, however.

Monopolistic media ownership interferes with or restricts the exercise of free expression in a number of ways, mostly through restricting access to media outlets. In the most concrete terms, as media outlets are consolidated and ownership is concentrated, staff are cut and the real number of people working on or contributing to a given media outlet is reduced. More indirectly, the cost of using the media prevents or discourages people outside the media industry from accessing the media as tools of communication. Finally, the current media environment stifles freedom of expression by making it extremely difficult for new, independent media outlets to be created and to survive. The end result is a situation in which public discourse is dominated by the voices of corporations and those individuals who have the resources to access a profit-motivated media system.

The whole point of monopolistic media ownership is to increase profit. As Bagdikian points out, “short-term profits are now imperative in the major media almost without regard for the future of media institutions.”25 Maximizing profit can be done in a few ways: by vertically integrating companies to control input costs and reduce expenses, by increasing revenue through increasing the cost and amount of advertising, and by taking advantage of economies of scale (in both advertising and distribution). Regardless of how it’s done, Bagdikian writes:

Newspapers and other media bought by large corporations as investments come under new pressure for maximizing profits. The parent firm competing in world markets must attract shareholders with high dividends and gross revenues, and distant owners remain insulated from local objections to changes made in order to extract maximum profits.26

Vertically integrating a company and cutting costs is the main thrust behind consolidating media ownership. By controlling everything from content production to marketing and distribution, media companies can control what they pay for each service and can cut costs by eliminating duplicate staff.27 As Herman and McChesney point out, “the profit whole for the vertically integrated firm can be significantly greater than the profit potential of the individual parts in isolation. Firms without this cross-selling and cross-promotional potential are at a serious disadvantage in competing in the global marketplace.”28 Take the case of BCE Inc.’s purchase of CTV and The Globe and Mail this year. Jean Monty, chairman and chief executive of BCE Inc., stressed that “cross-pollination will take place between the new enterprise’s different parts and that content created on one platform will be refitted and used again on another.”29 Media corporations benefit from the cost savings of combining overlapping services, but reducing the number of staff at a given newspaper or television station also reduces the number of reporters and content providers who have direct access to the media. This is turn reduces the number of different voices and opinions that are or can be heard. Currently, a person’s best chance at being heard in the media comes from working at a media outlet. As the number of employment positions dwindle, so too do the opportunities to work there.

Making the media inaccessible can also include reducing the amount of space dedicated to reader-supplied opinion and setting the price for print space or air time out of reach for the vast majority of people. This is done through increases in advertising prices, increases in the amount of time and space dedicated to advertising and a reduction in the amount of time and space dedicated to factual information and discourse. Since media outlets are staffed by professional content providers, the most likely options for regular citizens to guarantee their view will be heard is by submitting opinion pieces or purchasing advertising time. But submitting an opinion piece may be difficult since the amount of space or time dedicated to non-advertising content has been consistently decreasing over the last 60 years. Take the newspaper industry, for example. In 1940, daily newspapers in the United States averaged 31 pages with 40 percent dedicated to advertising. By 1980, daily newspapers averaged 66 pages with 65 percent advertising.30 Since submitting an opinion piece does not guarantee that it will be printed or broadcast, purchasing advertising is the only guarantee people really have that they will be heard. And the cost of purchasing advertising can be prohibitive for many people. The reality of this situation is apparent to anyone who studies the media industry. As Schiller points out, “what American voices, other than corporate ones, can afford to pay half a million dollars or more for a thirty-second commercial on national television?”31 Not all media advertising costs as much as Schiller suggests, but the fact that media time needs to be purchased at all means that many, if not most, people are denied access to the media.

The cost of advertising is part and parcel of the desire by media conglomerates to take advantage of economies of scale. In terms of advertising, media chains have an advantage in attracting advertisers because they can offer a wider circulation or audience reach through multiple media outlets. A business advertising on the CTV network, for instance, won’t get only one television station – it can get 18 stations across Canada.32 Such advertising strategies often cost less to the advertiser than it would to advertise with multiple, independent media outlets. Owen notes two other types of economies of scale – economies in transmission and economies in competitive advantage – and both are closely related. Economies of scale in transmission are derived from reducing the average copy cost. The first copy of a newspaper may cost tens of thousands of dollars, but every copy after the first costs less because the “first copy” cost is divided among the distribution size.33 By merging two newspapers in nearby markets, for example, the overall cost of the combined distribution can be reduced by having only one newspaper and eliminating the other “first copy” costs. Economies of scale are also found in the competitive advantage created by wider distribution. The larger the scale of the operation, the wider the profit margin, the more competitive a media outlet can be when it comes to undercutting or outperforming other media outlets. This affects the ability of a media outlet to attract advertisers, as has already been noted, and it often determines which media outlets are able to survive. Owen writes:

The larger the audience, the greater the competitive advantage. Large newspapers will tend to drive out smaller ones; two smaller newspapers can both gain by merger; a new motion picture distributor must have great difficulty obtaining a viable foothold in the industry; a UHF station that can only reach some of the homes in its market will do poorly compared to a VHF station that can reach all homes.34

The competitive advantage created by economies of scale contributes to the third way in which the current media environment infringes on the rights of individuals to free expression – it creates an environment in which it is extremely difficult for people to create and distribute their own alternative, independent media. If people do not have access to the established media as tools of communication and purchasing advertising space or time is too prohibitive, then the other option is for them to produce their own media communication tools. A person can start their own magazine, create a website, distribute leaflets or publish a community newspaper. With the advent of digital cameras and the availability of rental equipment, it’s even possible for a person to make their own short film. And in principle there is nothing preventing anyone from exercising their right to publish their views outside of existing media, which makes those who take a negative liberty approach to freedom of expression quite happy. In principle there are no barriers. In practice it costs money to have flyers or small magazines copied and distributed. In practice it takes a computer to create a website and, even if a person uses a public library computer to get free internet access and gets free space on the web, it takes resources to draw any sort of attention to one website in a sea of millions of web pages. In practice most people need to rely on some form of advertising revenue to produce a community newspaper or magazine, at least in the start-up phase when readers may not be willing to pay full subscription prices. The reality of independent media outlets having to compete with outlets owned by large media corporations is that the corporate-owned outlets can afford to charge less for advertising, they can afford to undercut independents in order to put them out of business, and they can also offer a wider range of services because of the economies of scale and competitive advantages associated with being part of a media conglomerate.

Radio and television have not been included in the do-it-yourself category because both generally require licenses from national regulatory agencies, such as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Apart from the cost of applying for CRTC approval for a radio or television station, independent media competitors can also expect opposition to their applications from existing media conglomerates. In the case of Jan Pachul’s application for a low-powered television (LPTV) station in the Toronto area, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, CTV, CHUM, the Canadian Television Association and Rogers Cable appeared before CRTC hearings to speak against his Star Ray TV proposal.35 Granted, they spoke up because the CRTC does not currently have a policy on urban LPTV stations, which broadcast in very localized regions using UHF or VHF bands. Still, the opposition to Pachul’s proposal seems excessive considering the mission of Star Ray TV is to “fill a current gap in broadcastings’ efforts” by “providing a platform for the local community to express, on an ongoing basis, local civic issues, and to portray the narratives of local residents.”36 More than 40 groups and private individuals made submissions to the CRTC on Pachul’s behalf, but his application was denied by a vote of 3-2.37 While Pachul intended to provide a media outlet that the public in the Riverdale and Beaches neighborhoods of Toronto could easily access, corporations with media outlets in the Toronto area used their entrenched power to speak against the project. As of October, Pachul was still illegally broadcasting for the sake of “diversity in programming” and “giving the average person a voice.”38

Jan Pachul isn’t the first person to break the law for the sake of personal expression. Graffiti art, and its equally illegal culture-jamming cousins, are often-cited examples of communication that occurs outside conventional channels. If anything, such acts are a testament to how difficult it is to communicate, to be HEARD, in the current media environment. They are also evidence of the fact that to be heard in one’s community, to communicate in the public sphere, one must use more than face-to-face, one-to-one communication – one must access the media. Whether it’s using a billboard, a community newspaper, a record label, a city radio station, a local magazine, a public-access cable channel or an alternative film movie theatre, people have a need to communicate and they need to be heard by more than just themselves. While not everyone wants to communicate on the regional, national or international level, the opportunity does not even exist for the vast majority of people to take advantage of. By denying access to the tools of communication – through the prohibitive costs of inserting content, through the hostile environment in which independent media outlets must operate, through limiting the number of people who work in the media – the current monopolized media environment infringes on the rights of individuals to express themselves freely. It is for that reason that such a monopoly is unethical.


  1. Ben Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, page 4.
  2. The Commission on Freedom of the Press, A Free and Responsible Press: A General Report on Mass Communication: Newspapers, Radio, Motion Pictures, Magazines, and Books, page 3.
  3. Bagdikian, page viii.The International Declaration of Human Rights, page 7, states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to see, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
  4. This quote is taken from Bruce Owen’s book Economics and Freedom of Expression: Media Structure and the First Amendment, page 1.
  5. Steven Holmes, “Liberal constraints on private power?: reflections on the origins and rationale of access regulation,” page 44.
  6. Ibid, page 47.
  7. Owen, page 2.
  8. Herbert Schiller, “Information Deprivation in an Information-Rich Society,” page 16.
  9. John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty,” page 253.
  10. Amy Ihlan, “Burning Crosses, Political Expression, and the First Amendment,” page 270.
  11. Ibid, page 264.
  12. Holmes, page 24.
  13. Judith Licthenberg, “Foundations and limits of freedom of the press,” page 117-118. In this case, Gulf Shipbuilding owned the streets and sidewalks of Chickasaw, Alabama. The company also provided police protection, sewerage and other services normally undertaken by municipalities. The court found that insofar as the private corporation adopted the functions of a municipality, it assumed the obligations of a municipality with respect to free speech.
  14. In its non-economic form, “the marketplace of ideas” can be attributed to Milton and suggests that ideas compete for intellectual domination, with the presumption that truth will eventually win out. Owen takes the marketplace metaphor more literally, discussing the market in which ideas are bought and sold. The marketplace metaphor is a common one, however. For instance, the report of the Hutchins Commission (A Free and Responsible Press) uses as one of its founding principles the idea that civilized society is a working system of ideas that lives and changes by their consumption. Free speech is often defended insofar as it contributes to a wider variety of ideas in the marketplace. People are given the opportunity to shop among the ideas that most appeal to them or are supported the best. As Lichtenberg puts it, “much of the value of a person’s contribution to the ‘marketplace of ideas’ is its role in stimulating others to defend or reformulate or refute” (page 111).
  15. Jurgen Habermas, “The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article,” page 136.
  16. In this context, citizenship is not limited to a person’s country or nationality. Citizenship is based on participation in a public body, and that public body can be as small as a person’s local neighborhood or as big as the planet (as in the idea of global citizenship). As such, membership in a public body is not predetermined by birth or where one lives, it is determined by the act of participating in public discourse.
  17. Naomi Klein’s No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies provides an excellent account of many of the most prevalent and high-profile international issues being confronted right now. The book includes many stories of people acting as global citizens, taking into account how their actions in North America and Europe affect the rest of the planet. While Klein focuses on the backlash against the perceived corporatization of everything from elementary schools to public spaces, her work shows how people have become aware of what goes on around the world and how they are responding to it. Whether it is a city council passing a resolution not to do business with companies operating in countries that violate human rights (see page 410-411. Klein says the move by Berkeley set off a domino effect across the United States and that at last count “twenty-two cities, one county and two states had selective purchasing agreements relating to companies in Burma, and a handful of cities had disqualified purchases from companies with investments in Nigeria.”) or university students refusing to have their school clothing manufactured in sweatshops.
  18. Mark Kingwell, The World We Want: Virtue, Vice, and the Good Citizen, page 12.
  19. Habermas, page 136.
  20. Even when political debates rarely do occur (maybe once or twice in a federal election), they are highly orchestrated and structured media events that allow for little real discussion between candidates.
  21. Klein, page 37.
  22. Ibid, page 154-156. Celebration, Florida is a town completely owned by Disney. The planned development arrives complete with picket fences, a Disney-appointed homeowners’ association and a phony water tower. It is “an idealized re-ation of the livable America that existed before malls, big-box sprawl, freeways, amusement parks and mass commercialization.”
  23. Lichtenberg, page 124.
  24. Bagdikian, page 201.
  25. Ibid, page 199.
  26. Owen, page 16.
  27. Edward Herman and Robert McChesney, The Global Media: The New Missionaries of Corporate Capitalism, page 54.
  28. Katherine Macklem, “The Media Colossus,” page 34.
  29. Bagdikian, page 135.
  30. Schiller, page 17.
  31. Macklem, page 36.
  32. Owen, page 16.
  33. Ibid, page 17.
  34. Scott Simmie, “Do-it-yourself TV,” page D10.
  35. Star Ray TV Mission Statement, http://www.srtv.on.ca/msst.html
  36. Simmie, page D10.
  37. Simmie, page D1.


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  • Klein, Naomi. No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies. Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2000.
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