Today, we are living in a world dominated by media. The mass media is increasingly occupying the central stage in our lives. The mass media has an iron grip on the imagination as well as thinking faculties of the society. The programmes and features served by the mass media which instruct people not only what they should eat, drink and wear and groom them but also at times misguide them to commit heinous crimes. Mass media acts as an effective catalyst of change in society.
Mass media which is also called the sword-arm of democracy, commands awe and respect of nation as well as individuals it is the most effective instrument which has the potential to bring about the downfall of the despot rulers of the world. It is the most powerful investigative machinery that exposes the injustice, oppression, partiality and misdeeds of society. In a materialist world of today in which everybody is hankering after power and prosperity and indulging in every kind of malpractices, it is media which brings all these things to notice and make public opinion against them.
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It creates public awareness. Today, when politicians are abusing their power and privileges and looting their countries, the evil nexus of mafia and crime syndicates is adding to human misery and where ordinary human beings have been reduced to such helplessness that they can do nothing except being silent spectators, the role of mass media assumes greater significance. It is when the media champions the cause of have-nots and acts as the supervisor of their rights and privileges. It is due to these roles of media that it has been called the fourth pillar of democracy.
In a country like India where the percentage of poverty and illiteracy is high radio serves as the best means of mass media. It has unparalleled potential to educate, inform and condition people’s mind. Through this even the uneducated can have access to the world of knowledge and information. It is one of the means of mass media that is useful for both literate and illiterate. Being the cheapest means as well even a man of low income group can afford it. It has been found in remote areas of the country that a single radio set serves the entire village.
The mass media serves the society by highlighting the prevalence of such’ ills as nepotism, cronyism and corruption in institutions and by carrying on relentless campaign against them. It has been instrumental in bringing an end to the oppressive regimes of cruel rulers. It has unearthed political scandals, kickbacks received by highly placed men. In India from Hawala to Nether case, role of mass media has been highly commendable. The heinous crimes of Nether could be exposed due to active role of media. It was the media which exposed the cruel face of the police in fake counter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Rukhsana.
Moreover, editors and writers of articles expose the excessive of men and power. Thus, they serve the society by ensuring justice to those victimised by the government machinery. In the course of ensuring the fairness and solemnity of their job, the upholders of justice and humanitarian causes have to bear the brunt of humiliation, torture and imprisonment. Often they have to sacrifice their lucrative jobs to uphold certain cherished principles. The power of mass media, particularly the visual media is awful. No one, howsoever powerful he may be, can effectively combat it.
This comment of renowned singer Michael Jackson aptly asserts the power of media “the incredible, terrible mass media” who after undergoing the humiliating ordeal of child molestation charges against him. Nobody can deny the power of media. Mass media, specially TV is a media so powerful that it can instantly mould public opinion, bring far-reaching policy reversals of governments and even push into seats of power little known personalities after boosting their election prospects with the most effective use of its image-making.
But there is no denying the fact that media sometimes does much harm to international relations and harmony with its biased and motivated coverage. This potential for mischief of media is attributed to the fact that media is controlled by media barons, corporate giants, industrial houses and government wielding dictatorial powers. Often the media lords use the power of media to serve their own ends which are always at odds with humanitarian considerations, at times leading to fuel fires of hatred, strife and anarchy, instead of spreading the message of love and brotherhood.
Those media men seeking short-cut to name and fame act for them, neglecting the sanctity of their profession. Sometimes media persons work hand in glove with political leadership, bureaucrats and other influential persons. Naturally, their write-ups and editorials are motivated. They through their write-ups justify all acts of mission and commission of their patrons and proteges. This is particularly discernible in the editorials of several newspapers. The media men, in fact, try to please their patrons and lords.
The glamorous lifestyle of celebrities and pomp and show served by media, to name, TV and cinema, are causing great erosion in social norms and moral values. The younger generations being encouraged by the stunning luxuries of film villains and their varied methods of collecting wealth, resort to some evil methods, often fall prey to criminal tendencies and get increasingly brutalized. In their quest for such life they sometimes come into contact with anti-social and anti-national elements, thus, instead of doing well to society, they themselves are lost in darkness.
In a way it causes loss of human resources to society as well. Furthermore, the portrayal of women in media, to some extent is responsible for increasing violence against them. The scenes of atrocities and torture against women are very common in film and TV. Here, the woman is atrociously portrayed as an object of entertainment, required to dance, sing, expose and vanish. Scenes of indecency on the part of women are almost mandatory in films and this is pictures in such a manner that instead of generating pathos, they arouse the excitement in the viewers.
Besides, scenes of gruesome killing and vulgar dialogues are integral part of fumes. All these are contributing to the moral downfall of society. In an age of commercialisation and consumerism, the media to some extent, has deviated from its path of avowed impartiality and clean journalism. They often indulge in petty means to gain material benefits, i. e. to boost their sales. At times, what most papers give their readers is simply sensation-creating stuff. They publish stories about the private life of celebrities and obscene photographs.
There is a circulation war among various newspapers. To emerge as winner they involve in mean activities. Indeed media has lost its sense of moral responsibility. In the past, media was considered champion of the rights of the oppressed-of principles of morality and justice. They worked for some noble causes. Now newspapers give doctored news analysis to influence the minds of the readers. The1 editorials have so strong influence on the readers that they can make or mar the prospects of politicians.
Thus, it is the need of the hour to provide fair judgement on issues covered in the newspapers. They should maintain their sanctity and social responsibility. The role of media is very significant in a democracy. It is the guardian of public interest. Thus, media should focus on performing the noble role of enlightening people, broadening their vision and making them vigilant towards the larger goal of creating a civilized and prosperous society.