Modern media has made it possible to distribute information around the world in the matter of seconds. Information can now reach almost any person in this world, which is in many way a positive thing. On the other hand it is also quite dangerous since one would be able to spread misinformation, propaganda or just generally manipulate with information so serve a certain purpose.
90% of the world media is owned by five different corporations; Time Warner, VIACOM, Vivendi Universal, Walt Disney and News Corp. With such a concentration of the media the result is that it lacks diversity, its biased and only work in interest of the corporate power.
The owner of news corp Rupert Murdoch, is especially infamous for controlling his media empire so that it disseminate his views and serves his interests. One of his channels in the US called “FOX News” is advertising itself as a channel that are “Fair and balanced”, but in reality, it is the most biased station in the landscape. Than the sad fact is that, it is also the most watched and trusted news channel in the US.
Since the world media is owned by corporations, Almost all the media is commercialised. This suggests that the sole purpose of media is to make a profit. A tv-stations mission is to create programming that get the best viewer rating, so it can attract the best paid commercials. Therefore the media’s content is really not geared towards spreading meaningful information, usually such stories does not sell as well as the sensational reporting. It is rather set on content which attracts the greatest amount of people, which in turn will provide the greatest profit.
Media effects kids psychological development. Many studies show that kids who spends a lot of hours in front of the tv everyday is more prone to show aggression in their behavior. This is caused by the high number of violent television programming. It makes children’s perception of violence more distorted, they may react in the same way not matter if it’s fiction or reality they are watching. This implies that these type of kids becomes more distant towards the serious issues happening around the world. Furthermore in this context one of the problems with kids high amount of tv time, is they are introduced to products at a very early stage. They learn through Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon or Disney that they should purchase different items so that they can be happy and even accepted by other kids. In result tv can be seen as a very unhealthy influence for children and young adults.
With the invention of the internet, the distribution of information has become instant and immense. Now it is possible to choose the information one prefers, instead of being limited to newspapers, radio and tv. Though at this point in time the stream of information is so vast and colossal that the consumer is bombarded with all kinds of different material. In many ways this contributes to the sensational reporting, where the stories is more about an events which is now and here, and not the long term problems which humans is up against. Sometimes the media actually uses hot topics or sensational reporting to cover up other more important issues. An example could be the reporting on gay-marriage in America. This topic stirred up a lot of debate and controversy in the media. But then at that time there was a bill going through congress which attempted to remove the principle of net-neutrality. If this bill would be passed it would have very negative consequences for new and upcoming net media outlets.
There are many negative consequences of media, but there are also a lot of positive ones. Today the world are experiences a greater amount of online education than ever before. Its is now possible to live in Peru and participate in a bachelor program coming from Mozambique, just by using the internet. One could also acquire any skill just by using youtube, where there are tutorials on anything. This something there cannot be underestimated, it gives people the freedom and opportunity to educate themselves instead of being dependent on others to provide that service.
Media shapes opinion. Its a fact that peoples opinion stems from what they know about a certain subject. So in this matter the media has the ultimate power, for every broadcast made about a certain topic, will have an affect on the viewer. This is not to say that people will believe anything, but the influence is there. For example the media is the single biggest influence on elections. They can either make a president or take one down depending on the narrative. To combat this huge influence media has, a set of ethical principles have been around since the first newspaper. It encourages journalist to be as objective and unbiased as possible. It can be debated if this is the norm in the landscape of media. This is also why media usually referred to as the fourth power in society.
There is a growing interest in short and breaking news amongst people. It is a sad fact that more and more people respond better toward news stories which are short and spectacular. It makes the stream of news superficial and without any real substance. people only use a few minutes here and there to catch up on the stories for that day. It becomes a problem since less people really knows about in depth details about an issue, which again affects their perception of that issue.
Media manifests stereotypes and role models. Ever since 9/11 the portrayal of muslims in the media have been filled with stereotypical assumptions about the muslim faith and culture. In any segment which is related to islam, many reporters speak of muslims as they belong to the same group of people. But it so happens that there are 1 billion different muslims around the world belonging to vary different cultures. When reporters make such a simplification of people, it causes there viewers to adopt certain stereotypes about muslims, which does not fit reality.
Media make humans less social. Before we had tv and internet people had to entertain themselves, like being social. But in our contemporary society we can just turn on our smartphone and be entertained right then and there. It happens more often that we don’t take part in random conversation with stranger or even friends when we are out and about. We are more interested in what is going on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, we don’t really acknowledge the world around us, which in turn makes us less social and distant from strangers.
How can media disseminate more real information about the world
We need more independent media which does not need to make profit. Democracy Now and freespeach.org is good example of how its possible to create media which is not controlled by money. Democracy Now is only surviving of donations made by their users. Though not all stations could have such a scheme as DN! but there a ways
Community based talk radio could be a possibility. If a town could organize some locals to manage a radio stations, they could then have debates and report about topics that only had impact on that town, which would strengthen their community.
The use podcast has become a great source of independent news, the only thing you need is a microphone and listeners.
The last and maybe most important way to get more real information is to begin regulate media. First of all the practice of corporations buying all the media has to stop. Furthermore it should be easier for new and independent news outlets to enter the market. last media who is knowingly doing bad journalism should have consequences and even be prosecuted if the practice continues. Though this idea is maybe far fetched.
Thomas – FWTP October Team
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