Economics/Class Relations

How a Company Called BlackRock Shapes Your News, Your Life, Our Future

By Jeannette Cooperman Common Reader

Lou Grant’s death (okay, Ed Asner’s) left me nostalgic for those Chuckles the Clown days when newsrooms buzzed with idiosyncratic idealism. Five giant corporations now control most of what we see and read. The smallest number of media companies are now reaching the largest number of people in U.S. history, and the strongest critical analysis I can find is not in mainstream media, but in the student newspaper at Vassar. Which gives you some idea of the pickle we are in.

Who controls the corporations who control our news? A helpful index was just compiled—not by mainstream media, but by Harvard researchers exploring media’s future. Skimming the list, I see two names again and again: BlackRock Fund Advisors and Vanguard Group.

BlackRock and Vanguard are two of the Big Three (every industry is clumping) passive fund asset management firms. The third, State Street, is owned by BlackRock. Whose largest shareholder is Vanguard.

Together, BlackRock and Vanguard own:

• Eighteen percent of Fox.

• Sixteen percent of CBS, and therefore also of Sixty Minutes.

• Thirteen percent of Comcast, which owns NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, and the Sky media group.

• Twelve percent of CNN.

• Twelve percent of Disney, which owns ABC and FiveThirtyEight.

• Between ten and fourteen percent of Gannett, which owns more than 250 Gannett daily newspapers plus USA Today.

• Ten percent of the Sinclair local television news, which controls seventy-two percent of U.S. households’ local TV.

• A large unspecified chunk of Graham Media Group, which owns Slate and Foreign Policy.

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