Doing marxist analysis – Essay Example

Doing Marxist Analysis of the Mass Media The purpose of this essay is to apply Marxist analysis to modern examples of mass media and explore thepatterns of ownership and profit-motive within these examples. For the purpose of this, two Time Warner publications have been chosen; Entertainment Weekly and Time. These are both national publications that available throughout the US and are fairly easily obtained outside the country. Entertainment Weekly is a publication with a circulation of almost two million which has been continually published since 1990 (Singleton, 2011). The primary topics covered here are aspects of popular culture, such as film, television, music and theater, and the focus is on critical reviews rather than general celebrity gossip. Time magazine has a circulation of over three million and has been published for almost a century (King, 2011). Time focuses on general news and publishes many special editions throughout the year dedicated to various things, one being “Person of the Year”. There are many different editions of Time, including a European and an Asian version, but this analysis focuses on the United States edition. Time is published on a fortnightly basis, whilst Entertainment Weekly is published weekly. It is worth noting that both these publications are owned by the Time division of the Time Warner corporation. The function of this essay is to illustrate that both publications share patterns of ownership due to belonging to this division. Both publications also show a clear profit motive by having a distinct focus on advertising revenue, and both appeal to specific socio-economic groups which helps to shape the advertising within the magazine and reveal the underlying ideologies of the magazines.
Marxist analysis is particularly useful in showing the political and economic focus of the mass media and shows that there are distinct social inequalities within the field (Singleton, 2011). It is evident that there is a profit motive within both these publications from the outset. 60-70% of the profit of the magazines in the Time Warner group comes from advertising revenue, which includes the two magazines in question (Time and Entertainment Weekly). Advertisements within this area of the company accounts for around 8% of the entire company worth (King, 2011), ensuring that any change in advertising revenue will have a direct impact on the company share price. To apply a Marxist analysis to this, it is clear that there is a profit-motive here, because advertisements do not add anything to the reading experience for the consumer. A publication with too many advertisements is usually considered to lead to a negative reading experience, because it leaves less room for the features for which the customer originally purchased the magazine. Trying to avoid this detrimental factor of advertising, the Time Warner group has to ensure that the advertisements found within these publications are relevant to the readership at which the publication is aimed, or circulation (and subsequently advertising revenue) will be reduced. This helps to place the mass media within the general economic sphere of capitalism, in which the ultimate aim is maximum profit.
Taking this into account, these two magazines must ensure that there is a balance between increasing circulation and increasing advertising profit. In this case, a clear pattern of ownership is evident in that both magazines belong to the same corporation and therefore follow similar patterns of profit maximization, because both revenues ultimately contribute to the same share price. Another interesting aspect of analysis is concerned with the style of advertising within the magazine and a clue as to the socio-economic group of the readership. The majority of the advertisements in Entertainment Weekly seem to be for upcoming television shows, movies and popular music albums, which links in directly with the content of the magazine. Time, as a news magazine, does not have this luxury. Time magazine also features adverts for upcoming popular culture events such as those mentioned above, but can cite Unilever, Toyota Motors and Fidelity Investors amongst its primary advertisers. Toyota is a mid-price motor company with some focus on hybrid cars, whilst Fidelity Investors is focused on mutual funds and wealth management (CNN, 2005). In combination, the fact that Time employs these two as primary advertising investors suggests that readers of Time are middle-class or upper middle-class, one of the most important economic social groups in the United States.
To conclude, we can see from the above that Marxist analysis of the mass media can help a reader to understand how the journalism industry is centered around profit which is highly dictated by the socio-economic group of the readership. It is also interesting that both Time and Entertainment Weekly seem to be aimed at the middle classes, who are very important in the economic and political worlds as having a large amount of voting and purchasing power. Both these magazines, then, aim to capitalize on the profit from marketing the publications to the right audience for maximum profit.
Works Cited
CNN. (2005). Johnson still Fidelity successor? CNN. Retrieved from
King, S. E. (2011). A Time magazine as it might appear in the year 2001 AD:[an] honors thesis [(HONRS 499)].
Singleton, S. (2011). Will the Real Giant Please Stand Up? Transportation.