The famous quote by William J. Federer summarizes so well the role and power of media in today’s world which says: “The country is controlled by the laws, laws are controlled by the politicians, politicians are controlled by the vote, the vote is controlled by the public opinion and public opinion is controlled by the media.” From political opinion-making to governance, from the dispensation of justice to reshaping the societal attitude; media has its due role to play in almost all humanly matters.
Before discussing the role and power of media in detail, there’s a need to go through what exactly media is and what are different kinds of media. According to the information available with Marium Webster Dictionary, the word media and its plural ”medias’ seem to have originated in the field of advertising several decades ago. It describes media as a medium of cultivation, conveyance, or expression. Media is a term that is used for communication outlets or tools used to store and deliver information.
There exist various types of media including print media, broadcast media as well as social media. Perhaps, various social networking sites provide a mix of different types of media making it difficult to differentiate one type of media from the other. The very first among the types of media is print media.
The term ‘print media is used to describe the traditional or “old-fashioned” print-based media including newspapers, magazines, books, and comics or graphic novels. The only limitation of print media was perhaps its limited access or a certain number of audience who could afford this luxury.
As of now with the advancements in the telecommunication industry even print media is just a single click away in not all but most of the cases. Second in the row is broadcast media that entails broadcasting services like television, radio, movies. Last but not least is social media.
Social media is described by social networking sites including Facebook, Linked In, Google, Microblogging sites (Twitter, Tumblr), photo sharing (Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest), and video sharing sites including YouTube, Facebook Live, Periscope, Vimeo, etc.
As far as the role and power of media are concerned, it performs three functions. It keeps the people informed, it influences the people as well as entertains. The power of the media can be ascertained from the fact that it is media that is central to breaking or making a government.
Media has altogether altered the way that government institutions operate, the way that political leaders communicate, the manner in which elections are contested. Even social media companies alone seem to hold the power to change public opinion at large by the free flow of information and opinions across their networks.
Attack by the violent mob on the Capitol Building at the beck and call of former US President Donald Trump and the ban that Facebook and Twitter hurled at Mr.President thereafter is a rare case indication of the power of media in the capital of the superpower. Despite having significant military prowess and absolute authority in almost all significant matters US couldn’t avert the storm that breached the sanctity of the Capitol Building.
Moreover, the power of media is evident from the role that media plays in shaping public opinion. Mass media utilizes a wide variety of advertising techniques to get their message out and change the minds of people. Also, the news channels air special discussion sessions for making the public opinion. The journalists, as well as other field experts, are invited to these programs so that people could get relevant information and awareness.
Yet another indication of the role and power of media is the fast spread of health awareness at the time when various countries have closed their physical borders due to the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is media outlets that ensured the dispensation of health awareness guidelines by the World Health Organization to almost each and every resident of the house. So much rapid delivery of information and awareness would have not been possible without the due role that media has played so far.
Another very pertinent role that media is playing is in the field of education especially in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the closure of physical classrooms, online education is the only mean of education nowadays and students sitting in far-flung areas can access the education without traveling hundreds of miles. All these things are possible due to prospects that the media owns.
Even the judicial proceedings are very much under the influence of media. Social media trends grab the attention of a large number of people towards an issue pertaining to social injustice. When a considerably large number of people voice their concerns about an issue, the issue automatically gets the prime importance.
Everything comes with its consequences as well and so is the media. Media, apart from its multi-dimensional features, is associated with some flaws. For instance, the more rapid influx of information makes it difficult for the masses as to what piece of information they should trust more.
Another terrifying feature is fake news and propaganda. Media outlets are aptly utilized in promoting the propaganda sometimes. This propaganda can be targeting an institution and its repudiation, a public figure, or a country or its government. These are not all but a few of the cons that go side by side with various prospects associated with the media.
In short, media has tremendous power to alter the status quo due to its large-scale penetration and utility. A person can become an overnight star and a well-reputed organization can be brought down to its knees just at the clemency of media. Turkey’s 2016 military coup attempt was made unsuccessful just because of social media. It was through the social media platforms that Recep Tayyip Erdogan got instant and widespread public support in his favor.
It is next to impossible to summarize the role of media in a single piece of writing. In essence, there’s nothing wrong in saying that media is the most powerful entity on earth that can transform people, their opinions, and their behaviors for good.
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