Role of Media: The Double-Edged Sword
In this modern time, the role of media in the society has greatly changed both in form and function. Newspapers has been seldom read by the public, and even television platforms has used the digital space to reach as many as they could to deliver their intented purpose. These so-called purpose has derived its basis on the media's third party role in the society to countercheck the interaction and the actions of both the government and the people they serve. Theoretically speaking, they could be a change agent to promote the welfare of the society they belong to. However, in the age of Facebook and other social media platforms, many individuals have difficulty dealing with their dependence in using digital technology in their lives, particularly with information. Many believe right away what they see, hear and read as a result of this digital addiction, further making the role of the media surprisingly more influential in the society.
In short, today media organizations have difficulty earning from their traditional products, like newspapers and advertisements due to intense competition with those in the digital space. However, since the public has been more dependent, and less critical to what information they get, the media's role has been accentuated as before. Although this phenomenon maybe transitory as the time passes by, the public will discern better and decide better in which platform or information source is better and more credible. Nonetheless, the media's role is double-edged, such that it has its advantages and disadvantages. This is the focus of this blogpost.
Media's contribution to sensationalism.
The lifeblood of the media is their audience, readers and listeners. If no one cares on what they say, media organizations will cease to exist. Therefore, it is the every media practitioners' job to catch the attention of the public. Headlines are made more dramatic or louder. Moreover, media creates a string of interesting feeds or articles to sustain the interest of the public. It is like running a soap opera on television where the plot is not revealed at once to maintain the interest of their intended consumers. However, by staggering the release of information or making a plot to sustain interest, the consumers' perception and understanding of the content has been mixed with emotions brought about the media's practice to sustain interest. Curiosity is easily transformed to hate, sadness and extreme elation, without properly considering the truth of the matter. This is not good in a way because the media is capitalizing on the reaction of their readers, rather on how their consumers will think critically and logically afterwards.
Media's attempt to build an information monopoly in the digital space.
News orgnaization is considered a credible source of information. In fact, academic writers could use news articles as reference in school papers. However, interestingly Wikipedia, a comprehensive data gathering tool is considered improper to use as reference. This reflects the expectation of the media's truthfulness and credibility in the information they provide. As a result, people will generally trust the media more than anyone else. The convenience of getting information in the media, rather than reading thick books to confirm the validity of data provides the media a means to create a so-called information monopoly. The media on the other hand capitalizes on this. They earn due to the trust of their consumers. This trust is not necessarily gained over time, but a result of a the public expectation that media is trustworthy than any other source.
Media's role may not be congruent with their intentions.
Media is preferred to be owned and managed by private institutions. This is because historically the government is considered biased to defend their own policies and actions through state-owned media. It is therefore a better idea that a commercial company or entity runs the media, thinking that the consumers would decide which media organization remains through a market. So if the public thinks, a particular media entity is not doing what they are supposed to do, the entity would vanish. However, this is not entirely happening in reality. Media organizations are owned by oligarchs and influential people. The media has become the owner's trumpet and microphone. As long as the owner supports the organization even without sufficient trust from the consumers, media stays. It is therefore a dilemma when the public no longer can influence the what the media should do and how they act, instead the private owner could manipulate whatever the media entity could do based om personal intentions and entrepreneural goals.
The world must be thankful for the media. It is a means for check and balance, and an effective ways to examine and reevaluate continuously the values the society upholds. It is an important part of the identity of the society it serves. However, the media should consider the power in shaping and informing the public is more of a privilege, than a right. It is everyone's right to talk and express whatever they want. But when this right for freedom of speech is coupled with the opportunity of influencing other's thoughts and beliefs, this right is reduced to a mere privilege.
The dilemma exists when the media earns for what they do, feed the populace of what they think is proper and not, and defend their manipulative actions on the basis of freedom of speech. Media therefore should be criticized just like any other, even much harder. Their intentions must be clearly interpreted and biases within themselves should scrutinized, as well. The problem exists when media checks the public and the authorities, but who then checks the media? Yes, the public must do their share, but luckily for the media, the public has no influencing power like they have. Ofcourse, the media will fire back to the government if the authorities will censor them. Therefore, the media should not be allowed to become the "untouchables" in the society.