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Module 2: Issues in Caribbean Development

Roles and Function of the Mass Media

Provision of Information
Construction of National, Regional and Diasporic Identity
Promotion of Cultural experience and exchange
Responding to cultural imperialism
Promotion and defense of rights and citizens

Mass Media
Any channel through which messages are sent simultaneously to large audiences.
There are 2 Channels identified:
The print media Newspapers (The Daily Nation, The Advocate [Barbados]
The Gleaner [Jamaica 1834] The Chronicle [Grenada] The News Day [Trinidad]
Nassau Guardian [Bahamas]), magazines, pamphlets.
The electronic media Television, Radio, internet
NB: The media is called the Fourth Estate/ the Fourth Branch of Government
because it monitors the political process in order to ensure that political players
dont abuse the democratic process. (The first second and third are the executive,
legislature and judiciary which called the Three Arms of Government. They are
responsible for the day to day running of the country.)
Provision of Information
The core function of the journalist is to give correct information which will help
citizens to be knowledgeable about various areas of concern in their country. They
disseminate through the television, radio and internet. They give information about
politics, natural disasters, financial matters, terrorism, education, health, climate
change and sports. This information stimulates intellectual discussion and debate
which create awareness among citizens. While journalists have responsibility to
disseminate information, they must not sensationalize stories. Sensationalism is a
style of reporting news to the public which involves the use of fear, anger,
excitement and crude thrill to increase viewership, ratings and profits. Some ways
journalists use sensationalism are appealing to emotions, being controversial,
exaggerating trivial events and intentionally omitting facts and information. On the
other hand, the media/press should not be censored. Censorship refers to the
suppression of speech, public communication or other information which is deemed
harmful, objectionable, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient and
determined by governments or other groups. NB: There should be freedom of the
press which is the rights to publish knowledge without fear or intimidation.

Persons are entertained through music, movies/music videos, celebrity interviews

and sporting events. People benefit from the contribution of entertainment because
they provide laughter and fun and relieve stress.
Construction of National, Regional and Diasporic Identity
National The newly independent governments of the 1960s and 1970s
nationalized the electronic media which allowed them to keep the public well
informed about government activities and issues of national importance. This
allowed them to broadcast national cultural events which helped to build a sense of
belonging and collective destiny. E.g The National Television Channel of Barbados
shows programs which provide information about national culture. (NIFCA, Bust Yuh
Regional & Diasporic The setting up of ethnic mass media among the diasporic
communities in North America and Europe has become a powerful means of shaping
or reshaping identities. In areas of large West Indian population, radio stations have
emerged, catering almost exclusively to this group. They give information of what is
happening back home in the region and play Caribbean sings and music. They also
give information to the West Indian public about upcoming events such as Caribana
and Labour Day festivals. Our local radio stations are now on the World Wide Web.
Promotion of Cultural Experience and Exchange
Musicians, actors, storytellers and singers can showcase their talent through the
media and gain fame. Through copyright agreements, they are also able to earn
royalties. This is a platform to help the development of the cultural industry.
Responding to Cultural Imperialism
Cultural Imperialism is the intention or unintentional imposition of a particular
societys values, norms and practices. Caribbean countries are heavily influenced by
the American mass media through the increased number of cabled television
stations and access to the internet. This has certainly intensified the impact of
foreign cultural images and lifestyle on Caribbean people. To help minimize the
heavy US impact, Caribbean media can go on an educational drive to sensitize
citizens about their cultural heritage, putting information in school systems. They
can also develop local programs to aid across the region (e.g Royal Palm Estate).
Local programs are however very expensive to produce.
Promotion and Defense of Rights & Citizens
The media acts as a watchdog for any government move towards dictatorship
especially if there is the attempt to remove important freedoms accessible to
citizens. The media is there to inform people of their legislative rights, for example,
the availability of the fair trading rights for persons who are unfaired by big
businesses. The media brings awareness of the plight of an individual or a group
even if it goes against the interest of powerful groups in the society.