Role of media in our society

The word ‘media’ is derived from the word medium, signifying mode or carrier. Media is intended to reach and address a large target group or audience. The word was first used in respect of books and newspapers i.e. print media and with the advent of technology, media now encompasses television, movies, radio and internet. In today’s world, media becomes as essential as our daily needs. Media of today is playing an outstanding role in creating and shaping of public opinion and strengthening of society.
Media is the sword arm of democracy. Media acts as watchdog to protect public interest against malpractice and create public awareness. Today when politicians are taking full advantage of their positions, an evil nexus of mafia and crime syndicate is making the life of the common man miserable, taxpayer’s money is siphoned out for the personal gain of the influential and ordinary people are a mere spectator-media has a grater responsibility As the fourth pillar of democracy along with judiciary, executive and legislature, media of today has an all embracing role to act against the injustice, oppression, misdeeds and partiality of our society.
From the days abode, media has remained an integral part of human civilization. From the days of Vedas and Upanishads to edicts of kings and emperors like Chandragupta, Asoka to the medieval Indian mass gatherings to the modern day’s audio video and print media, media has always taken a pivotal role in shaping our society. During the days of freedom struggle newspapers like Tilak’s Maratha, Mahatmaji’s young India acted as a platform to place the demands of common Indian and to express solitude with freedom fighters. Indian media in post independence era has grown up phenomenally and today comprises of more than 50,000 newspapers, hundreds of television and radio channels.
In this era of liberalistion, privatisation and globalisation(LPG) the world has reached our drawing room thanks to media. Since the introduction of television in our country in late 70’s visual media becomes a very potential tool in informing the current news to the society, entertaining the people and shaping up of public opinion. The World Wide Web and web 2.0 technologies have given rise to electronic media where even a common man can express views through blogs, website posts, facebook and twitter like social media. Coupled with traditional print media all these audio video and social media caters to a richly diversified media industry in India.
Media helps in fighting against corruption, nepotism, cronyism of institutional machinery and carrying out relentless campaign against them. Way back in independent India from the Mundra case to the jeep scandal to the hawala case to the kickbacks received in different defense deals- Indian media performs commendably in exposing the corrupted highly placed statesman. In recent scams from commonwealth to 2G, exposed thanks to television and print media, media acted as a catalyst to government action compelling government to swing into action including suspending ministers and putting ministers into jail. Who can forget the crusade taken by Indian media in the Nirbhaya rape case and shaping the public opinion in one of the most heinous crimes the world has ever witnessed. Without media, the news of government schemes and benefits would have never reached the target audience.
Media is the cheapest means of mass education. In a remote village a single radio set can spread the words of education. Through the V-Sat initiative education can be spread out to the remotest corner of India. To reach the Millennium Development Goal in respect of literacy, role of media is very significant.
The power of mass media, particularly the visual media is so powerful that nobody, however powerful he may be, can escape from its iron grips. The comment of famous singer Michel Jackson, humiliated in the child molestation case aptly asserted the media as ‘the incredible, terrible mass media’. The effect of television is so far reaching in mobilising public opinion that it can cause reversal of policy of government and can tilt the power equation in favour of someone little known with its power of image making.
But roses have thrones too and the media is no excerption. Media can cause national and international strife and jeopardise the harmony and social balance with its biased and motivational coverage. This is because media houses are controlled by media barons, industrial powerhouses, corporate giants and government dictators. In order to effectively cater to their interests and policies they spread news and information fueling to hatred and anarchy. Media men seek to have name and fame and in the process forget the duty of neutral journalism. In the words of Gary Acerman-“The media has changed. We now give broadcast licenses to philosophies instead of people. People get confused and think there is no difference between news and entertainment. People who project themselves as journalists on television don’t know the first thing about journalism. They are just there stirring up a hockey game.” In quest of power and opportunity an evil nexus is formed between media men, corporate houses, the influential statesman and sometimes the criminals
In a developing country like India, there are crores of issues like malnutrition, gender gap, education, poverty and unemployment, sanitation that needs to be addressed doesn’t appeal to Indian middle class. So these issues are given a complete go by the countless24*7 media channels that are mushrooming every day. In a bid to improve their TRP, almost all the channels are after a rat race of making sensational news. Thus non issues become issues and without any proper homework programmes are broadcasted. There are widespread manipulation and distortion of facts. Several instances of yellow journalism in recent past have focused to paid news and a collusion of politicians and journalists.
Various television shows and cinemas are projecting lifestyles of the rich and the famous are exciting our young generation to follow suite. The stunning lifestyle of villains depicted in silver screen encourages our youth to resort to the same evil methods that these villains follow at the lure of easy money and ending up at the blind lane. In their quest for such a glamorous life they often comes in contact with anti national and anti human elements, who gleefully accepts these ‘sleeping cells’ to act against society and nations. Thus instead of being an asset to society they themselves are lost in darkness, causing loss of human resource to our nation. The kids tend to follow their super heroes often end up in causing permanent deformities to their body. Can anybody count the number of children who tried to imitate the way Shaktiman jumps or the way Krish somersaults?
The portrayal of woman in mainstream cinemas and some commercial serials is a subject of great concern! They are atrociously projected as items of desire that just has to sing, dance and expose. Scenes of torture against women are rampant in visual media causing a soaring graph of domestic crimes and crimes against women! Scenes of indecency, gruesome killing and vulgar dialogues are mandatory in our mainstream cinema causing a serous degradation of ethical and moral values of our society.
In order to effectively combat the trend, India should set up a public broadcasting organaisation in the line of BBC of U.K or Public broadcasting service in the U.S.A free press doesn’t mean unregulated press.
The new age social media have helped organise people and also enable interaction with people. Even the government has realised its potentiality and set up twitter and facebook accounts, presenting in imitative like MyGov web portal which can help in citizen state interaction. It can receive instant feedback and suggestion from people and inform people. The portals help in transparency of state matters and effectively redress grievances. Social media sites are virtually becoming a cross platform of exchanging ideas. But as the other side of the coin, in the virtual world nothing is secured. People are getting addicted to this virtual world and forgetting the real world causing a mental trauma and often leading to inferiority complex thanks to these social networking sites. In the words of Amy Jo Martin –‘“Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.”
In order to build up a nation free of hunger, disease, illiteracy and unemployment, media has a very strong role to play. Often media is engaged in trivial matters that appeals to masses forgetting the real issues that haunts nation. There are several good things happening in this nation of a billion. It is important for media to expose the corrupt and the evil and it is equally important to highlight the achievement and success. It is only positivism that can install a spirit of optimism in India. Then only the society as a whole will be able to face challenges more successfully to build up a developed nation.

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