Media’s Influence on Society

- Rozesh Gautam, Kathmandu

Mar 14, 2018-Media, in the simplest form, can be defined as a medium that helps to transfer from one source to another rudimentary ideas, information in  a variety  of field ranging from economics to sports, politics to science, literature to global issues or any other topics the human mind could ever engage in. Media, no doubt, has highly influenced the shaping of contemporary society, evolving and nurturing both its positive and negative aspects.

Firstly, the media has been very successful to carry out its reason for existing: communication. People living in the extreme situations—through the media, be it television, newspaper, book, internet, magazine—can easily exchange their thoughts, feelings, and the depredations of daily life. Through media, we know the ongoing processes of political activities, climate changes, crime and punishment, local jobs, rise and fall in share market, and the diversity of events taking place. Such things have constructed a hopeful bonds between  members of societies as well strengthened existing one. The accessibility of the media to the general public makes it easier for an individual to enhance her creativity, seize diverse opportunities, and satisfy the thirst for knowledge in any topic they are interested in. Similarly, in the processes, general awareness can be uplifted among people regarding the health issues, civil rights, civic consciousness, and other indispensable facets that a person must possess. Consequently, the world has shrunk into a ‘global village’ and the vast numbers of so-called villagers using the media to reach out to the rest of the world increases by the day. For instance, according to the survey conducted by the PEW Research Center, the number of American adults using Facebook has climbed from 58 percent to 68 percent in just four years. However, since the advent of the internet, the use of television and newspapers have declined.

 Secondly, private media has become a business hub to accumulate and circulate money. The earnings from different entertainment sources like movies, magazines, books, news channels, advertising and social media is feeding the industry and keeping it alive and secure. Such revenues from media stimulate local as well as international business and marketing, resulting in stronger economic growth.

On the other hand, the media could be considered the strings of information that control the movements of a puppet society. Nowadays, media institutions are run by governments, individuals, political parties, or private organisations; so there is variance in the ideology by which they operate and a difference in the norm that is conveyed through the news. No media is the ultimate source of truth and every source grapples with biases—ideological differences are easily perceived as attacks on the sentiment of some group or the other, therefore such situations have granted opportunities for any individual or group to cultivate hatred en masse. The same distraught and dissatisfied people can further publish, podcast, and publicise their hatred in social media, thus, the proxy war continues. Nowadays, the culture of egoism has blossomed, as media institutions are well known for injecting their own slants into existing facts, thus failing to convey the truth of the matter. Is the media controlling society or is society controlling the media? Either way, media that are truly accountable to its readership serves not as arbiters of truth but as a fallible yet invaluable mechanism in society, (ie its self-consciousness). As such, the media should operate independently and without censorship.

As the co-founder of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly said, “The major new challenge in reporting news is the new shape of truth. Truth is no longer dictated by authorities, but is networked by peers. For every fact there is a counter fact and all these counter facts and facts look identical online, which is confusing to most people.” The information arriving from the media to an individual can be compared to running water. As the water sets off from the source it is liable to take many divergent paths. On the way, the water can be turbid and can carry a number of impurities with it; however, a person might wrongly assume the water to have arrived from a clean/authentic source and thus drink from it being unaware of the actual path of the water as well as the dubious credibility of the original source. Same is the case with media: some of the news portrayed by the media lack credibility, but the laymen are treating it as truth, this can be dangerous as tensions among the societies can unfold because of falsely validated news as well as truthful news that is casuistically falsified. Sadly, day by day, it has become harder to pinpoint which information is accurate and which isn’t.

Furthermore, the hegemony of corporate media can exert a nefarious influence on societies. Information fed by the media are immediately circulated through the veins and arteries of society without scrutinising it’s factuality (ie the poison in its content)—such a thing can be disastrous to the body politic. The existence of powerful media organisations facilitates cultural diffusion, for better and for worse. A powerful western media is largely responsible for conveying western cultures, trends in fashion, and trends in policies, to the rest of the world. As Jim Morrison once famously said, “Whoever controls the media controls the mind.” In this perspective, the media becomes an instrument for governments and/or powerful private interests to promote and legitimise their own politics and ideas, often provoking a clash between introduced and existing beliefs for political ends.

In conclusion, obviously, the media has tremendously helped to frame modern society, however, at the same time it has also served to distort the picture of the world that we collectively subscribe to. The media is an indispensible facet of society and yet what it deals with for the most part is the selling of a commercial reality, occasionally correlating to the truth.

Gautam is an  A-levels student at Bridgewater Inernational Academy

Published: 14-03-2018 08:59

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