Role Of Media
While the world may be beautiful, as it is made out to be, our physical limitations do not allow us to see it. But we enjoy the wonderfully designed television broadcasts that recommend places we must see or visit before we die.
People may not know anything about what is going on in the next village or town, but they can probably tell you when the next cine or music awards distribution in Hollywood, France or India would broadcast live. This is the great power of using broadcast media. It converts our world of reality into a world of fantasy.
Why do the poor, even those living in remote and dark interiors of agricultural spreads prefer to have a television and not a vehicle? Why do the leaders love to see their face on it; until the media slaps investigations on them?
Media is a beast that people love.
Social media too has become a powerful platform for communications. As these modes of communications proliferate, they are also becoming available alternates to each other in times of breakdown, inadvertent or intentional.
It will be stupid on our part, if we did not use the power of media to our advantage, in areas other than entertainment like education, counseling, health advice and ecology.
Media – A Baby in the Family:
It would be reasonable to call media as the baby in the family of the four (legislative, executive, judiciary, and media). And we already know that tradition holds; each of these trying to impose on the other three.
Media is no exception in spite of its being an infant. Media should not take much time to come to the position of equal strength since we expect technology to make all its hurdles.
People do not know who owns a particular channel. It may not even appear significant. The reality is otherwise. Ownership of a chain makes all the difference in how a news item is treated. How frequently it is broadcast, its length and timings of broadcast and above all what views, opinions or comments are attached to this transmission.
If you pay attention, you cannot miss a subtle, suggestive question attached to almost every news item when it is advertised on the BBC television.
The question itself, of what is a news item and who decides its eligibility for a broadcast, is answered by the ownership of a channel. Stories produced and directed by the sub-contractors of a television channel too are intensively vetted, before being aired on the channel.
Media Driven by Business Considerations
The irony of the situation is that the media itself is unaware of the power that it wields.
Instead of using this power to shape human life and destiny of the country, media companies are viewing it only as a potential source of returns on investments. This infant under baby blues stays cuddled up in financial overtures.
The direction that a broadcast channel takes is determined by how its owner assesses its popularity.
TRP, Television Rating Point, is the name of the sensor that determines how popular a channel is in the eyes of the audiences. Much can be debated on whether TRP is a reliable indicator or not, given that it is based on sampled data.
In countries where set-top boxes are mandatory because of digital transmission, there is a reasonable chance that TRP findings may be realistic, but in emerging economies or underdeveloped countries operating without set-top boxes, this tool can be grossly misleading. The motivation for the use of TRP is the hope that advertising revenue would be in proportion to TRP.
Sadly; it is a business orientation and not a philanthropic one.
Political Influence on Media
Some channels are owned by wealthy tycoons or corporations, like the paper newspapers of the past were. Indirectly, these channels promote business interests of their owners and political interests of their political partners.
In many cases, friends, relatives or cronies of politicians are surreptitiously placed as anchors or chief editors, to ensure that a particular ideology would be promoted, and others vehemently opposed.
This is obviously a part of the mission of sustaining empires, regimes, dynasties, and power.
This trend may be granted to some extent, as it appears like a legitimate justification, but it does not stop there. It slithers into a prohibited zone of coercion or prevention; a situation where politicians in power, block the views of their opponents entirely.
We are not looking at it from the freedom of speech angle, but from the aspect that those who do not toe the line would be thrown into the den of tutored law enforcement agencies, or even presented to a gang of criminals.
Channels that do not have the backing of people in power are relegated to back seats in press conferences or are denied direct answers to their questions.
A kind of fear psychosis is created that exposing the erring political parties may be met with bullying that finally would lead to the closure of the business. It has happened; it is going on and will continue to happen.
Also, wings are clipped of enthusiastic journalists who go against the will of the empire, pushing them into oblivion.
Media is not neutral, though its being neutral would have been bliss. Channels are not inclined to stand up to any ideas such as newspapers of the past went out of the way to build. Channel ownership leaves them with no chance for image building. Viewers continue to be served with the bitter pills of the following biases, and this might continue even when the media matures.
• Political –
The underlying ownership or sponsorship of the channel ensures that live debates and discussion include designated representatives of the owner. Others too are those who have a soft corner for the proprietor or his cronies. This is why the same participants repeatedly appear on discussion forums. Discussions here are always attractive to the contradictions that they support.
• Corporations –
use advertising campaigns on entertainment channels and talks on the financial channels, to kill two birds with one stone. Product branding or trending is the main aim that helps selling and discreet messages to the politicians prompt for favorable policies.
• Mainstream –
this is referred to the trend of all channels to start reporting the same news, the entire media is focused only on one news item.
• Sensationalism –
this is refers to the bias that promotes concepts like breaking news, hot buttons, and other such titles.
• Parochialism –
Other forms of bias including reporting that favors or attacks a particular race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation or ethnic group.
Today’s media is a successor to the erstwhile paper media, but as most new generations do, it has surpassed the relevance of paper media because of its real time offering; live coverage as we say.
Politicians and celebrities, who were visible only as inanimate puppets or caricatures in the newspapers, are now seen live, walking and talking on the screen. And they enjoy the camera.
But media will commit a major blunder if it does not take lessons from its predecessor.
Firstly, editing and formatting of stories using the vintage printing technology were a nightmare, more so because the newspapers were expected to be present at the breakfast table.
In the video world, this is an even more painstaking task. Secondly, in the absence of live coverage, newspapers used the above line photographs that had the risk of being doctored.
The disparate city of news between eyewitness’s account and the story in the press was not appreciated by readers.
Reliability of information is what the viewers are looking for, and if media fails to adhere to this requirement, it too will lose its sheen.
Media Growing Up (Conclusion)
If business and political orientation of media continue, the child would be brought up as a twisted and distorted personality, as someone or something that is psychologically incapable of handling situations where we need it the most.
In the times of conflict like terrorism, wars, natural calamities of large magnitude or even drastic changes in the political system of the country, media should help stabilize the scenario.
It is a question of reputation too. If masses perceive media as something useless except the entertainment blitz, media will degenerate into an unnecessary overhead on the economy.
But if this is mended, we will have a convenient handle to move the masses towards education and prosperity.
Just as every younger generation provides new visions and horizons to the social media too should find tools and instruments for breaching that impregnable wall, which stands solid, between rulers and the ruled.
Social media allows you to develop relationships with your tribe so that no other platform will work. You can make a connection with people who like what you do and galvanize them as gospel evangelists of your brand through cyber space.
Talk to them, listen to them, and ask for their help.