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The Role of Media

The Role of Media

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Authored by PRATHEEK PRAVEEN KUMAR. Comments welcome at prytheek@yahoo.com.
Authored by PRATHEEK PRAVEEN KUMAR. Comments welcome at prytheek@yahoo.com.

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Published by: Pratheek Praveen Kumar on Mar 10, 2011
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03/10/2011

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1
THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN OUR SOCIETY
“The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocentguilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of themasses” said Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, an American black militant leader who articulatedconcepts of race pride and black nationalism in the early 1960s; considered by many to have beenone of the most influential and charismatic African-Americans the world has ever seen. But thatwas before Obama of course.“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We canvulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level” said WilliamBernbach, an American advertising executive. What these individuals have said perfectly sums upwhat power the media has in its hands these days.The Fourth Estate holds in its ever-capricious hands the ability to move hoi polloi in a waynever dreamed of before. “With great power comes great responsibility” said uncle Ben of Spiderman fame. While our world is quite a different one from the web-filled one of the ever-famous Marvel Comics superhero, the media would do well to keep this sentence in their mindswhile they go about their duty, as did our athletic hero. The media, television especially,containsthe ability to produce multimedia content and thus has the immense power to change anindividual's perception of reality. It has long been thought that the raison d’etre of the media is to bring to the knowledge of the masses events which took place around the world. Steven Stark, author of Glued to the Set hasbeen quoted as saying, "the local newscast has replaced the network news and the newspaper alikeas the average American's main source of news." However, this feeling has now become passé. Wenow look for more from the media. We look to the media to educate us on various aspects of life.The media has become a weapon to be used by people to force the government to follow the rightpath, the democratic path.
 
2Several examples can be given. Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost and perestroika may haveresulted in the fall of the Soviet Union government, but it certainly helped the upliftment of thestandards of living in Russia. Remembering that a democracy is, in the words of that giant of American politics, Abraham Lincoln, “of the people, by the people, for the people” we can be surethat the press indeed can do quite a lot of good.Closer home, it was the media that shed light on the case of poor Ruchika Girhotra andwrecked up a storm to bring a semblance of justice to the whole proceedings; some thing thatmight have proved impossible without the intervention of the media. If the media could bringabout such a change in just one case, one can imagine what the media can do if it puts its mind toit.Another important use of the media, mainly of television, is of course to bringentertainment to the lives of India’s millions. Be it cricket or Bollywood, the media provideshappiness and joy to people after their long, and often tough day. The pleasure that the media givesto people cannot be measured by conventional methods, but is certainly both substantial andimportant. The words “light at the end of the tunnel” can be ascribed to the media in some ways.The long and often vilified ‘idiot box’ does have benefits after all.These days criticism has often been directed towards the media for the phenomenon whichgoes by the name of “sensationalism”. People feel that they have no respect for the sentiments andethics of the people and land whom they serve to, with their immense power to influence themasses they just make judgment like a true dictator rather than a good advice of a true friend asthey previously used to do. This is some thing that has itself been brought to light by the media.The media thus acts as a self-healing body as this shows.In other words, the media spares no one who has done wrong from its grasp. It is a many-armed, ever-growing conglomerate of people who at their best can bring down unlawfulgovernments and enterprises. International journalism can bring about changes in policies of governments and question acts of commission and omission by entities all around the world. Thetrue potential of the media I believe has not yet been seen.
 
3When globalization reaches higher levels than has been reached now, the media maybecome nearly omniscient and omnipresent. An extremely powerful, ineradicable ‘force’ one cansay. And such a large organisation cannot be fully made corrupt. As a wise man once said, “onecan fool some people all the time, or all the people some of the time, but not all the people all thetime”. With the growing interconnections in the world, I believe that the media will have to play anever-expanding role uncovering the truth and proclaiming it to the world.With technological advancements taking place every day, the media will certainly becomemore and more powerful and will certainly control every part of our future. The media maybecome as strong as to be the suprema lex of the world. In India especially, the media holds all thecards. They are able to praise and vilify people at their own discretion. This is mainly becauseIndia’s millions (or rather billions I must say!) are some of the poorest people in the world. Themedia is able to run riot on the minds of the people of India and able to thus influence publicopinion in a way that propaganda experts like Herr Hitler’s Joseph Goebbels can only which at.Well, talking about Hitler and his Third Reich, this is one of the biggest examples of howpowerful the media can be if given a free rein on the minds of the people in a country. JosephGoebbels, his propaganda minister moulded the opinion of the Germans so that the Germansbelieved every thing that Hitler threw at that them. This was possible due to Hitler’s undoubtedand unrivalled oratorical skills in no small measure, but nevertheless, Goebbels was responsible tomake the Germans fight another World War only a few decades after devastatingly lose a hugeWorld War.The impact of media over the last few years has been enormous indeed. The flow of information from one geographical location to another has increased in speed considerably withthe advent in digitally enabled communication devices. Different network channels over cable orsatellite TV, newspapers and radio channels are emerging at a very rapid pace providing the peoplewith a medium to connect themselves with the outside world. Print media has always been adominant medium throughout the decades in the western civilization, but it is the emergence of thetelevision which has become the backbone of the global commercial development. Pictures affect

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