Introduction to Media

We often hear the term fourth estate being applied to the media. The term refers to the four pillars of democracy and the media is the fourth pillar and an important one at that. Ever since many countries adopted democratic norms of governance, a vibrant and a free media were thought to be the necessary conditions for a healthy democracy. This is because in any democracy, there needs to be a medium wherein the authorities and their actions are commented upon and analyzed critically.

Without self-reflection and self-debate, no democracy can hope to actualize the noble principles behind the conception of freedom and equality. Further, the media is vital to the countries because of its inherent nature of questioning and criticism that is directed at the ruling dispensations. This means that without a free and fair press, no country in the world can hope to aspire to democratic norms of governance.

In the days before the advent of the television and the internet, the print media were the only source of information for the people.

With the advent of television, the ground rules changed since people could view the actions and the statements of their fellow citizens and the elected representatives live and hence, could form their opinions about them. Further, as the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words, and hence the moving images that are beamed into the living rooms on the Television did spark a revolution of sorts among the countries of the world. Moreover, as the legendary media theorist, Marshall McLuhan put it, the medium is the message and hence, TV radically altered the way in which countries and their systems of governance functioned. This has had a cascading effect on all forms of the body polity.

Next, the advent of the internet was another game changer. With the rapid spread of information technologies and the easy availability of information about hitherto closed countries, people finally had a chance to communicate and articulate their concerns and needs as well as their aspirations and dreams along with their anxieties and fears to others in faraway lands. This meant that internet went one-step ahead with the interactive format allowing for rapid dissemination of events and happenings across the world to anyone who had access to a computer and an internet connection. In addition, the advents of social media like Facebook and Twitter provided fresh impetus to the notion that media are a tool of revolutionaries as well as reactionaries. In the recent past, the Arab Spring was an example of a successful protest that was wholly driven by social media.

We have discussed how media should be unshackled and unrestrained to ensure a representative democracy. In addition to that, the media themselves have to introspect and analyze whether they are doing their job in accordance with the noble intentions that underpin the media industry. Only when there is critical, self-analysis and effective regulation of the media by the government can there be a symbiotic relationship between the various pillars of democracy that is healthy and productive.

In conclusion, we are living in extraordinary times and the challenges of the future call for extensive changes to be made in all aspects of our lives. The media has a preeminent role to play in this future and hence, there is a need more than ever for the media to perform their assigned roles professionally.


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