It is impossible to underestimate the impact of Modern Mass Media on every single person, and a society as a whole. For many centuries, starting with the invention of first printing machine, public opinion was extensively exposed to the influence of mass media. But who influences mass media? Ideally, mass media should be an independent body, whose main function is to reflect the reality, and provide people with new information, concerning economical, political and cultural aspects of life. However, as everything in the world is influenced by something, mass media is also being influenced, which makes it lose the main purpose which it serves. It is well-known that by means of mass media people’s behavior and beliefs can be adapted to the goals of certain individuals or organizations. However, the dramatic effect of mass media may seem small at the first sight, because it is a long slow process of adding up necessary information in order to modify public opinion. With the invention of the Internet the interaction between public opinion and mass media has become even stronger; hence, the influence on public opinion has also become more intense.
We all know that news programs on TV provide us with the current events going on worldwide; however, it is already a fact that the same events are interpreted and shown differently in different countries. Before the news can be shown on TV they are altered in order to satisfy somebody’s needs. Thus, it is possible to say, that a process of “inventing reality” does really exists.
Who and what influences modern mass media and takes part in the process of “inventing of reality” will be discussed further in the study.
Does mass media influence or is it influenced?
In the book Inventing Reality by Michael Parenti, the author gives the definition of mass media as “weapon” that can be used to protect people and against them . He exposes the dissimulation of the absence of censorship of mass communication media, and the prevalence of right forces in the creation of news today. Parenti convinces the readers that the entire mass media is serving the interests of political and corporate leaders, rather than the interests of average people, whom it should have served indeed. The author is convinced that modern mass media is misleading public opinion and shifts it in the necessary direction.
Actually, mass media should be a mirror of reality, reflecting objectively and independently the given information. Obviously it is not so, and there are multiple factors influencing the process of reflecting information, and the rate of influence of certain factors varies in accordance with the alteration of information. Mass media tries to control people’s mind, thus it doesn’t need independent people. In “Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky”, the authors of the book write that mass media together with educational system “weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on – because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions” . According to Chomsky, people cannot use their brains while working for mass media, because they should be submissive, rather than independent.
There are a lot of political and economic factors that exert corrupt influence on mass media. Money as a source of power has a great impact on mass media. When a certain TV company is profit-oriented and is paid money to attract as much people as possible, it will do its best to attract the audience by fair means of foul. The owners and top mangers of mass media companies may be then referred as an authoritative body, which is equal to higher political or economic bodies. It is also considered that press lords, such as Rupert Merdock in Great Britain or Conrad Black in Canada have a full control over the content of the news, and show in their press mainly the conservative views.
Mass media is influenced by commercial activities of some of the corporations and businesses. Commercially-oriented mass media is to attract as large audience as possible to gain profits for advertising account. Thus, the information given in the news should be interesting for the audience. The presence of such commercial restrictions evidences that the market can bring in rather effective censorship into mass media. As a result, commercial mass media is characterized by certain obstacles faced while reflecting some radical or progressive opinions. However, other researchers believe that mass media reflects not all variety of views, but only the views of the representatives of institutional authority: politicians, governmental officials, economic leaders and etc. This concept assumes that the authorities determine general set of matters, which should be discussed by the media, outlines the main principles of perceiving the reality and determines the rate of possible digressions in views.
Another important view on what might influence mass media is the influence of ideology on the reflection of reality. As many researchers believe, ideology determines all standards of the production of news: professional criteria, the value of information, and especially the rate of “objectiveness”.
According to the authors of the book “Mass Communication in Canada” Rowland Lorimer and Mike Gasher the nature of mass media has changed due to the growing popularity of the Internet and its applications. The Internet is now used in all spheres of life; however, its usage in mass communication is probably most extensive. By means of the Internet people are able to receive and distribute information, which of course has a dramatic effect on mass media as well as society in a whole. To prove this Lorimer and Gasher write “transmission of messages made by many is far surpassing the production and distribution of a limited set of products made by a few …” . Thus, it is necessary to emphasize, that the advent of the Internet into Canadian mass communication has changed the roles and functions performed by all mass media organization and the public.
As it has been mentioned above, mass media influences vast mass people, while it is influenced by a certain group of people who own some sort of power. Politicians, owners of corporations, millionaires influence the quantity and quality of reality that if been reflected by mass media, thus making the latter “invent the reality”. What is the purpose of doing that? This purpose is well-described in the book by George Ritzer “The McDonaldization of Society”. The author treats McDonald’s as the result of bureaucracy influencing the society – the same bureaucracy, which effects mass communication worldwide. From the viewpoint of Ritzer, managers of McDonald’s aim at gaining full control of their employees, and for this reason they hire young people, who maybe more easily influenced and controlled than adults .
Having spoken about modern mass media, and the factors which influence the process of reflecting the reality it is necessary to make a conclusion. From my point of view, the main function of mass media should be just the reflection of reality, without any interpretations, adaptations and other means of misleading the people. With the development of such sciences as psychology and political science, politicians and other authoritative individuals have learned how to control people’s minds by means of mass media.
Though, a lot of states claim to be democratic and have the freedom of speech, censorship is still being exercised there. That’s why the same events are reflected differently in different countries. This is done in order to satisfy the interests of governmental officials, who strive to gain as much power over people as possible. And it seems natural, because it is what government was created for – to rule the people. However, it’s not politically correct, when a country is democratic, but implements undemocratic measures. All of this is done in order to create new reality, to “invent” the correct reality for people.
1. Fan, David P. “Predictions of Public Opinion from the Mass Media: Computer Analysis and Mathematical Modelling. Greenwood Press, 1988
2. Lorimer, Rowland and Gasher, Mike, Mass Communication in Canada, 4th ed. (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2001)
3. Mitchell, Peter R. Schoeffel, John Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky
4. Parenti, Michael. 1986. Inventing Reality: The Politics of the Mass Media. New York: St. Martin Press
5. Ritzer, George, The McDonaldization of Society, Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 1996
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Bismillah Hirr Rahman Nirraheem
“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” ―
James MadisonRespected president and my dear audience, Assalamo Alykum! The topic under debate today is that "Media Misleads Masses." and as media, which is the advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty. When harnessed by the righteous minds, it provides truth and nothing but the truth for our minds to ponder upon. In the world of today, many have taken the responsibility to do good for their society, and in doing so have used media as a source of communication. Programs like Sar-e-Aam on ARY-TV channel expose different crimes and criminals that have been overlooked since a very long time. A few examples are the re-selling of disposable medical syringes for recycling; fake Aalims and Mediums; common sale of shoes mad e of pig leather, forbidden to Muslims etc. After attaining a full report of the crime, it is forwarded to the Police department so that they may take appropriate action against it. Several animated videos have also been serving the purpose of creating awareness not only about basic human rights, but about issues like child abuse and safety precautions after a rainy weather too. Mr. President, in what way are these programs misleading? How and to whom? No, Mr. President, they are not misleading! Instead they are enlightening the minds of common people. Educating them for a better life standard. Promoting ethics and morals! Given the right amount of freedom, media can do wonders. A great example of this is our Pakistani media, who does not back down from revealing the darkest secrets of all celebrities, be him a politician, or an artist. Mr. President, I ask you, was it not the media which exposed the culprits behind the hajj scandal? Is it not the media who has also exposed the name of each person along with their official ranks, who are involved in deteriorating standard of PIA? Even though, internet which has made this world a global village exposed another aspect of Dr. Amir Liaqat through a compiled video of extra shots, some people still choose to believe in his former character. Mr. President, had media been misleading masses, then all the people who saw that video would have merely believed Mr. Amir, to be a culprit. However this is not the case. Media put forward both sides of him, the good n the bad and then left it for the public to form an opinion. This is the role of free media. Media has been helping us in our daily lives in various forms, from the basic news broadcasted through the radio regarding the blockage of such and such road due to rain or traffic; to informing our ladies about the best time to shop by advertising about discount offers and sales at different stores. Not only does it inform the general public of place and time of funeral prayers of a loved one so that their mourners are able to pay their respects in due time, but it also keeps us well in touch with either the celebration or God forbid lamentation following a sports event such as a Cricket match. Mr. President media does not mislead masses, instead, it provides an opportunity for people to unite against evil. Mr. President, was it not the media through which Mr. Ansar Barni appealed to the public to aid those navy officers held hostage by the Somalian pirates? The people of Pakistan were approached by the repeated appeals from Lailah Wasi and Mr. Barni through a morning show again on ARY-tv and the public responded by donating huge amounts of money. Eventually through the efforts of Mr. Ishratul Ibad,