The Sell-Out Story

The point of independent media is, clearly, to be independent.

Most independent media are voices that aren’t really heard anywhere else – ones that offer platforms for the underrepresented, the underreported, the stories that aren’t being told. And because of that, “selling out,” or merging with larger corporate media outlets, is very looked-down upon.

When Arianna Huffington’s originally independent The Huffington Post was bought by AOL for $315 million, controversy sparked. Huffington was accused of “being a political sellout” and making “a personal fortune from the labour of thousands of bloggers who write for no pay.” And with a common lashback from dedicated fans, why would independent outlets ever merge with bigger corporations?

Well, some think it can be for the greater good, and shouldn’t carry the stereotype of consistently being looked at as a negative thing for a media outlet, both for the independent outlet and the larger one. If the outlet is struggling and gets swallowed, it often allows for more exposure and support for independent media outlets that (at least initially) can continue to publish much of the same content. There are some (such as WSJ, unsurprisingly), who see it as an economic benefit for the entities involved.

But of course, there are much larger issues with media mergers, as they have monopolized much news consumption; less than 20 percent of papers are independently owned, causing quality to be diminished and less checking and balancing of opposing outlets, as all the content essentially comes from the same source. With less sources, there is not as much diversity in perspective, resulting in more biased and limited stories.

While there is strength in numbers and collaboration, selling out to larger companies (who then sell out to even larger companies) results in a mass of media only coming from a few sources. We need the smaller voices, even if they have to be sought out and pushed up by larger outlets, to gain a different perspective and hear the stories that are purposefully ignored by big media.

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