In an era of gross inequality, total surveillance, global war and rampant lawlessness of state powers, the role of the media in this escalating tragedy has come under increasing scrutiny, with media ownership by giant, interlocking conglomerates now concentrated to an extreme degree. A Wikipedia diagram from 2004 presents a clear picture of the conflicts of interest that cannot fail to arise.
To illustrate: on this list alone, with only four media companies represented, board members of major arms manufacturers Boeing and Northrop Grumman can be found. [Note: a more recent diagram was not available, but nothing has changed in 2015 aside from a re-shuffling of personnel]
A clear understanding of the role and methods of the corporate media is therefore essential for interpreting the (often confusing and conflicting) narratives put forward 24/7 for mass consumption.