Media as an Instrument of Control vs. Media as an Agent of Change

Media as an Instrument of Control

In many countries, the media is used by the government as an instrument of control and for propaganda purposes. For instance, the Chinese media is heavily controlled and censorship is direct and deep. In countries like the United States, though there is no explicit control, the media is expected to follow the line set by the corporates and the establishment. Of course, this does not mean to say that the media in the US is biased. Just that the forms of control are different and with corporate media houses ruling the roost, sponsors, and advertisers determine the agenda. This is the case in India largely thanks to the tradition of the press being an agent of change in the country.

The other aspect here is that all governments irrespective of whether they are democratically elected or authoritarian realize the importance of the media in the agenda setting function and hence use the media to their advantage. It is common to find media houses aligned to one political party or the other. This is the case in many countries around the world. The difference is the degree of manipulation that the establishment resorts to in each country.

Media as an Agent of Change

The previous section might have touched upon the negative aspects of the media and hence, this section is intended to bring out the other side of the story (no pun intended). Despite restrictions and censorship, mediapersons in many countries work tirelessly and courageously to report and publish according to their conscience and not according to the dictates of the establishment. With the advent of the internet and social media, it has become easy for journalists with a conscientious bent of mind to pursue their passion and ideals. Because of the fluid nature of the medium, the internet is harder to control and manipulate though there are cases where the establishment resorts to control over websites and the publications.

The Bottom Line Imperative

Considering the fact that mediapersons have to walk a tightrope between the establishment and their duty to the citizenry, the bottom line imperative ought to be fairness, truthfulness, and objectivity in their reporting. This can be done by ensuring that stories that are controversial are not killed or buried in the maze but instead, they are given the importance they deserve. Further, media houses ought to shun the temptations of power and perks and be neutral and unbiased in their reporting. This can be achieved if the mediapersons do not fall into the habit of receiving favors from the establishment and the corporates beyond a point.

Finally, it is simply not possible to have objectivity all the time as sponsorship and advertising revenue is the backbone of the media. Therefore, the aim should be to be as objective as possible and as independent as possible within the constraints. This is not a tall order and can be achieved with experience and a deep-rooted commitment to values instead of being driven by profits alone.


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