Who Owns Your News? The Top 100 Digital News Outlets and Their Ownership
A deep analysis of America’s top 100 news sites reveals key shareholders, parent companies, and commonalities.
We set out to answer the question, “Who owns the news media online?” While many panic at the shrinking world of broadcast, print, and radio news, a rising number of people (about one in every four Americans) get their news online. We wanted to find out who owns the Internet’s top news networks, because, surely, the “wild west” of the Web would be less consolidated, right?
Well, yes and no … our research has shown us that a few of the companies that own everything have made their way into the online news scene as well. This chart of news sources shows clearly who owns what, and some of the biggest media companies also happen to own the most successful and prolific online newspapers and news websites. The wild space of digital news has produced a fairly worrying concentration of media ownership. Chart these media conglomerates and see how small the world of online news has become.
Who Owns Your News? Transcript
The Top 100 Digital News Outlets and Their Ownership
|A.H. Belo Corporation
|Alden Global Capital
|Owns more than 50 daily newspapers, including ones under the Digital First Media brand
|Owner of America’s primary search engine, Google
|Multimedia conglomerate and parent of WarnerMedia making roughly $170 billion in revenue
|Axel Springer SE
|German parent of Insider Inc., making $3.3 billion in revenue
|U.S. bank making $247 billion in revenue
|BuzzFeed Inc. (1/3rd Owned by Comcast)
|Black Press Group Ltd.
|David Holmes Black (80% share)
|Boston Globe Media Partners LLC
|Breitbart News Network LLC
|Bustle Digital Group
|The group behind Bustle, Romper, Elite Daily, and The Zoe Report
|Capitol News Company
|Owner of MSNBC, NBCUniversal, Xfinity, DreamWorks Animation, and more, earning $94 billion in revenue Roberts Family (33% share)
|Cox Enterprises Inc.
|The Economist Group
|Owned by the Cadbury, Rothschild, Schroder, Layton, and Agnelli families
|Eldridge Industries LLC
|Integrated Whale Media Investments
|Chinese investors who later were sued when portions of the initial payment to the Forbes family went missing
|Gannett Co. Inc.
|The largest U.S. newspaper publisher by daily circulation
|GateHouse Media Inc.
|Publishes 144 daily newspapers
|Good Worldwide Inc.
|Group Nine Media Inc. (35% Owned by Discovery Inc.)
|Owner of Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo, and Seeker
|Owned by the Hearst family, grandchildren of William Randolph Hearst
|Owner of numerous online entities, such as Match.com, CollegeHumor, Ask.com, HomeAdvisor, and more
|Computer company that’s one of the world’s largest employers
|J2 Global Inc.
|Publisher of 46 daily U.S. newspapers
|The McClatchy Company
|Operator of 29 daily U.S. newspapers
|National Amusements Inc. (80% Share in CBS Corporation)
|Sumner and Shari Redstone
|News Communications Inc.
|Murdoch Family (39% voting power)
|Murdoch Family (39% voting power)
|Newsweek Media Group
|Was owned by both IBT and IAC but is now an independent company
|The New York Times Company
|Penske Media Corporation
|Jay Penske (60% share)
|A community foundation, rather than a company
|Scott Trust Limited
|British company that also owns the Observer
|The Seattle Times Company
|The Slate Group
|Star Tribune Media Company
|ST Acquisition Holdings
|Times Publishing Company
|Tribune Media Company
|A massive media conglomerate owning 39 television stations and numerous newspapers
|Univision Communications Inc.
|Mega-media company with 61 TV stations as well as online properties like Lifehacker, Kotaku, Jalopnik, and io9
|U.S. News & World Report L.P.
|Japan-based investment company
|Owner of AOL, Yahoo!, a massive fiber-optic network, and numerous other major properties, making $130.86 billion in revenue
|Vox Media Inc.
|The Walt Disney Company
|A massive media company that owns Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios, Disney Parks, ESPN, FX, A&E Networks, ABC Broadcast Networks, and more
|The Walt Disney Company (73% share)
|WEHCO Media Inc.
|The Woodbridge Company Limited (59.6% share of Thomson Reuters Corporation)
Top 100 news sites were compiled using Pew Research Center’s list of newspapers by average Sunday circulation, according to the Alliance for Audited Media data, Pew Research Center’s list of digital-native news outlets by comScore categories (not including the sports category) with at lease 10 million average monthly unique visitors, and Alexa’s top sites under the category of news.
These top 100 news sites were compiled using the following:
- The top newspapers by average Sunday circulation according to the Pew Research Center, which used Alliance for Audited Media data
- The top “digital-native” news outlets by monthly unique visitors according to the Pew Research Center, which used comScore data (not including those in the sports category)
- Alexa’s top sites under the category of news (not including user-generated and/or international sites)
While diving into our online media chart, let’s talk about who owns the major news networks. Media consolidation has been a huge issue offline as well as on, so we’ll point out some key players.
Who Owns the Media in the U.S.?
About 15 billionaires and six corporations own most of the U.S. media outlets. The biggest media conglomerates in America are AT&T, Comcast, The Walt Disney Company, National Amusements (which includes Viacom Inc. and CBS), News Corp and Fox Corporation (which are both owned in part by the Murdochs), Sony, and Hearst Communications. All of them save for Sony make an appearance in our online news sources chart.
Who Owns CNN?
The ultimate owner of CNN is AT&T. The CNN parent company is Warner Media LLC, which also owns HBO, Otter Media, Warner Brothers, and Turner Broadcasting System. Warner Media is then owned by parent company AT&T.
Who Owns the Fox News Network?
Fox News is owned by the Fox Corporation, which is owned in part by the Murdoch Family (39% share). It’s also important to point out that the same person with Fox News ownership, Rupert Murdoch, owns News Corp with the same 39% share, and News Corp owns the New York Post, HarperCollins, and the Wall Street Journal.
Who Owns NBC News?
The owner of NBC and MSNBC is Comcast. NBC’s parent company is NBCUniversal, an umbrella company that also owns Fandango, Hulu, Universal Pictures, and Telemundo. NBCUniversal is then owned by parent company Comcast.
Who Owns ABC News?
ABC News is a branch of ABC, which is a branch of Walt Disney Television, which is a branch of Disney Media Networks, which is part of The Walt Disney Company. Disney owns almost too much to mention here; we’ve made a chart of what companies are owned by Disney previously.
Who Owns CBS?
CBS News, owned by the CBS Corporation, is in turn owned by National Amusements. National Amusements has an 80% voting majority and also owns the major company Viacom, the company behind Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, CMT, and VH1.
Who Owns Mainstream Media Newspapers?
According to advocacy group Free Press, these are the major publicly traded newspaper companies with the highest revenue and number of daily papers:
- Gannett Co. Inc.
- Tribune Media Company
- Digital First Media (owned by Alden Global Capital)
- New Media Investment Group
- The McClatchy Company
- Advance Publications
- Berkshire Hathaway
- Lee Enterprises
- Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.
- Black Press Group
Which Online News Sources Are Largely Unaffiliated?
The following are not owned by one of the big six, a major corporation, or any company that owns multiple newspapers on this top 100 list. They are by and large independent:
While it’s important to consider who controls the media, it’s also important to remember that many media owners are hands-off in terms of content, but some are quite invasive. Will news companies run a story that paints their umbrella corporation in a negative light? It depends on the publication, the parent company, and the ethics of their journalists.
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