Dr Rajiv Desai

An Educational Blog

MEDIA

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MEDIA:

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Prologue: 

When traditional American & Indian media started blocking my comments on internet, they thought nobody would know as they control power to disseminate information via newspapers and televisions. They underestimated my resolve to disseminate truth overriding lies propagated by them. They underestimated power of internet, the new media. Information is knowledge – and knowledge is power – and power in human hands can lead to very bad and (well used) very good results.  Modern age is the age of information. Information plays an important role in each and every sphere of life. It is rightly said that Iraq War was not a war between America and Iraq, but it was a war between two parties, one equipped with information and the other deprived of all information. Hence, the result was a natural outcome. We are living in an age of information revolution. Newspapers, radio and television are all well-known resources for getting information. Never before has it been so important to have independent and honest sources of information. We are – as a society – inundated and overwhelmed with a flood of information from a wide array of sources, but these sources of information, by and large, serve the powerful interests and individuals that own them. The main sources of information, for both public and official consumption, include the mainstream media, alternative media, academia and think tanks; and out of these, only the mainstream media reaches maximum people. Mass media plays a crucial role in connecting the world of individuals.  Although mass media as a subject of study is not very old but its history is as old as the humanity itself.  Mass media is a very useful and important mean of communication in every society. In the world of today, media has become almost as necessary as food and clothing. It is true that media is playing an outstanding role in strengthening the society. Its duty is to inform, educate and entertain the people. Media helps us to know current situation around the world. The media has a strong social and cultural impact upon society. Because of its inherent ability to reach large number of public, it is widely used to convey message to build public opinion and awareness. These distinctive features of traditional media have been challenged by new media, which is changing the participation habits of the audiences. My primary and secondary education was in Guajarati language and not in English. My English teacher Mrs. D’souza who taught me English as a second language in high school told me that I must read newspaper ‘Times of India’ to improve my English. Today, my English is better thanks to ‘Times of India’….. 

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Note:

In my articles ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘internet censorship’ I have already discussed censorship issue as well as censorship of media. Accordingly media censorship will not be discussed in this article. In my article ‘terrorism’ I have shown that media is an ally of terrorists and both benefits from each other. The terrorists’ need for media publicity and media’s need for a greater audience & profits set up a symbiotic relationship between terrorism and media. Accordingly terrorism media relationship will not be discussed in this article. In my article on ‘imitation science’ I have shown that people are misled daily by imitation science masquerading as good science on TV, newspapers and magazines. Whatever nutritional study you read or see on media are observational studies which actually don’t prove anything. Consequently misleading media reports about nutritional studies will not be discussed in this article. 

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“One of the objects of a newspaper is to understand the popular feeling and give expression to it, another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments; the third is fearlessly to expose popular defects”–Mahatma Gandhi.

The foregoing statement by Gandhi explains the importance of media in upholding freedom, and in expanding education and social reforms and change. Media can inform people giving them the voice to be heard and heeded to. Democracy requires that people should have the right to know the activities of the government, especially the decision of the government that affects their life, liberty and property. Information is important for people to make choices regarding their participation in the State, the market and the civil society. Sufficient information helps people to decide rationally and take the right course of action beneficial to them. Media-both print and electronic-thus helps people to know what is happening around the world, socialize them with the values of pluralism and equip them with the elements of modernity. By publicizing information the media also make public services more responsive to the people. A responsible media equally helps in socialization of people into citizenship, democratization of the State and political society, institutionalization of civic culture through unfettered flow of information, and rationalized use of power in social relations.

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Modern Democratic theories and implementations, especially after Montesquieu’s theories, rely on the separation of powers: Executive (government and police), legislative (parliament) and judicial (court) branches of power are separated. Commonly in recent times, and especially in journalistic jargon, media are however defined as an alleged fourth power, and a difference from the others is often outlined in the fact that the power to (eventually) influence the public opinion using media is not much controlled, because media are so “ethereal”, and it would be hard to weight them. Others instead suggest that this would not be a difference, since the control over official powers is extremely hard to be verified in practice. Often it is not easy, indeed, to find out who really controls a medium and how much potential efficacy it effectively could have for such goals. It is then argued that when one of the three “canonic” Montesquieu’s powers gains an additional power on media, this would be extremely dangerous for the survival of democracy, and an eventual conflict of interests is contested. The coalition of government and media vis-à-vis my life amply proves this point.

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Media plays an extensive role in an individual’s daily life. Right from the second you wake up till you go to bed after saying goodnight to your wife, kid, parents, siblings or friends, you are surrounded in a world built just for you by the media. With the advent of advanced technology, there has been a drastic shift from the telegraph, and then the radio, newspapers, magazines and now to the most widely used- the internet. Our daily activities depend heavily on the information that is provided to each one, and the way that is communicated to them, be it entertainment, hard or soft news, personal relationships, travelling, or even healthcare. The influence of the mass media operates with the mission of providing one with more information than they might have expected. This could relate to the decisions made at the workplace which may be based on the information that come from television, newspapers, the internet, friends, family or any other related individual. The mass media works is like a pull factor- it just drags you into its world, and makes you believe that whatever you do, you see and you hear is true, and the most trustable. They come to you, not just to provide information, but also to lead you into their world, which ultimately makes you realize that most of the decisions, values and beliefs are based on what we know for a fact, our assumptions and our own experience.

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Providing knowledge, information and entertainment books, newspapers, magazines, radio, film, TV and the Internet are very popular in every part of the world. Mass media has become one of the most important means of modern communication and countless institutions and individuals are producing diverse types of contents in every moment. In general we can say that mass media deals mainly with production and distribution of symbolic content. It aims to reach the largest possible audience and wants to be accessible for everyone. However, consummation and support of mass media should be everybody’s own decision. There are various targeted groups so that for each special interest many different sources can be found. Furthermore, other characteristics of mass media are the presence of professional communicators who provide excellent interaction with society and the multiplicity of gatekeepers that filter the essential parts. There is a big responsibility in organization and management of mass media. Because mass communication doesn’t consist only of the mass media, complex and formal organizations are essential. They permit the general diffusion of knowledge about life in the world today and are responsible for society’s development. As media organizations are owned by very different kinds of representatives of society their effects diverse a lot. They are part of society. So, as they take information out of it they disseminate their content within society. Because of that these organizations have complex relationship with cultures, ideologies, recent technologies, economic systems, actual interests and, of course, political systems and government. With this big influence they can permit themselves to make a huge profit to be established and to operate.  

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Everywhere, the media flow defies national boundaries. This is one of its obvious, but at the same time amazing features. A global torrent is not, of course, the master metaphor to which we have grown accustomed. We’re more accustomed to Marshall McLuhan’s global village. Those who resort to this metaphor casually often forget that if the world is a global village, some live in mansions on the hill, others in huts. Some dispatch images and sounds around town at the touch of a button; others collect them at the touch of their buttons.  It can be beneficial to society in its influence, yet sometimes have a bad effect. It can lead or mislead people into the wrong direction or belief. There are times in history, distant and near, where it has greatly inspired, united, and motivated the masses. Let it be known, that it can also be used maliciously; to injure, or even achieve an injustice. The mass media can be a very powerful tool, and if not handled properly, with good judgment to govern, can become an enemy of society. Anywhere in the world, this media instrument greatly affects all persons indigenous and non-indigenous to where that region may be.

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C. Wright Mills defines mass media as having two important sociological characteristics: first, very few people can communicate to a great number; and, second, the audience has no effective way of answering back (The Power Elite, 1956). The introduction of the internet into mainstream mass media has changed communication into a bidirectional process. Responding to email advertisements and answering messages in a chat room change Mills’ definition of mass media. The internet reaches a broad audience but has less of an impact on shaping society. 

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Development of language and communication:

It is impossible not to communicate. Everybody communicates, everything communicates. Communication is not a process limited to human beings only. All creatures on the earth, from worms to humans, are communicating each other for their better existence. It is a universal phenomenon. The history of mass media is long and complex. It stretches back beyond the dawns of recorded history to the people that figured out that they could reach a larger audience through painting a picture on a cave wall than just by telling the story to whatever group happened to be present. While these distant mass communicators may not have been Homo sapiens, certainly they were human. Humans are many things and the definition of what it means to be human is rarely, if ever, completely agreed upon within all schools of thought, however, one characteristic that defines humanness across all such definitions is the ability to communicate through the means of symbols, whether those symbols be words, pictures, or some other form of representation.

As James Shreeve points out in The Neanderthal Enigma:

What was truly revolutionary about the Upper Paleolithic was not language, style or art, but the opening of the social conduits through which information of all such novel forms could flow.

Shreeve goes on to point out that cave art was probably designed to be a part of a ritual experience which was carefully planned and transmitted through the societies of the time. This magnificent leap may well have been the spark that lit the inferno that has led to today’s mass media. The next great leap from representational pictures and art was to be able to express words or ideas clearly with written language. The invention of hieroglyphics and alphabets allowed more complex forms of information to be passed between individuals even if the individuals never actually encountered one another. Being humans, those who were able to control and use these tools used them to control and use their fellow human beings as well. Thus, this conversation which henceforth has been concerned with the idea of humans communicating meaning; moves into the more insidious realm of human beings utilizing power within human populations.

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Ever since the human society has developed, people have been communicating with each other through gestures, sound and body language. Later on, sounds were transferred into objects and ideas to develop oral language and for the development of written language, written scripts and symbols were evolved locating ideas and objects. The amazing fact to note is the intense and deep influence of oral tradition over centuries through myths, epics, legends, sagas, folk songs etc from one generation to another. Communication needs of the society must be met for the existence of the society. Primitive society had sentinels that scanned the environment and repeated dangers. Council of elders interpreted facts and made decisions. Tribal meetings were used to transmit these decisions to the rest of the group. As society became larger and more complex, these jobs also became big and complex to be handled by single individuals. With the advent of technology, these jobs were taken over by the mass media. Speaking historically, communication developed from simple interpersonal note to globally transmitted phenomenon which is portrayed by sophisticated technology, huge capital investment, vast designed organizations, legal frameworks prepared by professionals and experts to pop up into an unstructured and formless mass of audience, consumers of capitalism. In the present information period, we have noticed a revolution in communication technology. Communication satellites, cable networks, computer systems, and their usages and ideas have become a central feature of modern life.

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Communication:

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Communication (from Latin commūnicāre, meaning “to share”) is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior. It is the meaningful exchange of information between two or more living creatures. One definition of communication is “any act by which one person gives to or receives from another person information about that person’s needs, desires, perceptions, knowledge, or affective states. Communication may be intentional or unintentional, may involve conventional or unconventional signals, may take linguistic or non-linguistic forms, and may occur through spoken or other modes.” Communication requires a sender, a message, and a recipient, although the receiver doesn’t have to be present or aware of the sender’s intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space. Communication requires that the communicating parties share an area of communicative commonality. The communication process is complete once the receiver understands the sender’s message. There are a variety of verbal and non-verbal forms of communication. These include body language, eye contact, sign language, haptic communication, and chronemics. Other examples are media content such as pictures, graphics, sound, and writing. Communication is usually described along a few major dimensions: Message (what type of things are communicated), source / emisor / sender / encoder (by whom), form (in which form), channel (through which medium), destination / receiver / target / decoder (to whom), and Receiver.  

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There is another root of the origin of the word communication. Accordingly the word communication was originated from the Latin word ‘communis’ which means ‘common’. Communion, community, communism, commonality, communalism etc. are some related words having the same linguistic roots. Similarly, newer and newer terms are being coined as the concept of communication assumes importance day by day. Communication technology, communication media, communication age, communication management are just a few. As the very term indicates, the ultimate aim of the communication process is to create commonness between communicator and receiver of the message. Through communication, both communicator and receiver enter into a mental agreement. Thus, they achieve their goal, which may be expression of an emotion or transmission of an idea.

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The basic foundation of human society is communication and it takes place at different levels – within oneself, between individuals, between individual and a group, between groups, between countries and so on. Similarly, we use verbal and non-verbal forms of messages for communication. The significance of communication for human life cannot be overestimated. This is true because beyond the physical requirement of food and shelter, man needs to communicate with his/her fellow human beings. This urge for communication is a primal one and in our contemporary civilization a necessity for survival. That is to say without communication no society can exist, much less develop and survive. For the existence as well as the organization of every society communication is a fundamental and vital process. Humans act rationally. Some people do not behave in rational ways because they generally have no access to all of the information needed to make rational decisions they could articulate. Communication is essential for development of the society. We attain cultural, social and economic prosperity by sharing out experiences. How can we share experience without better communication?  Just think of a person kept in isolation without any chance for communication with his friends and relatives. It is really a punishment, a prison life. Communication helps us interact with our surroundings, thus create positive relationships, share love, build up friendship and depend each other to enjoy life. Can you imagine a world without media? Not at all. The basic mission of mass media is to create ties in human society sharing news. In modern world, media have some more roles to play. Media defines our political system, form public opinion, support public demands and set agenda of our social life. In short, no social activity, be it marketing, business, education, politics, media profession…, is possible without communication.

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Communication is a process which includes transmission of information, ideas, emotions, skills, knowledge by using symbols, words, gestures, and visuals and so on. Thus, the act of communication is referred to as ‘transmission’. As communication being a universal phenomenon that defines all human behavior, it is important to have a clear understanding of the concepts of communication.  Communication is primarily a mechanical process, in which a message is constructed and encoded by a sender, transmitted through some channel, then received and decoded by a receiver. Distortion, represented as any differences between the original and the received messages, can and ought to be identified and reduced or eliminated. Communication is the sending and receiving of spoken or written messages between people and places. Letters are the most common means of communication. Other means are telegram, telephone, telex, fax, e-mail, radio, television, newspapers, etc.

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Noise and filters in communication:

In any communication model, noise is interference with the decoding of messages sent over a channel by an encoder. There are three types of noise, which garble a communication: semantic (i.e., speech impediments or misspelling), environmental (i.e., background noise), and tech (i.e., static). There are also three types of filters, which determine how a communication gets interpreted by the receiver: info (i.e., the message is in a language unknown to the receiver), physical (i.e., the receiver is fatigued), or psych (i.e., the receiver is prejudiced in some way toward the communicator or message).

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Types of Communication:
Types of communication are delineated in the figure below:

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Interpersonal communication is exchange of information between two or more people. It is also an area of study. Related skills are learned and can be improved. During interpersonal communication there is message sending and message receiving. This can be conducted using both direct and indirect methods. Successful interpersonal communication is when the message senders and the message receivers understand the message. Mass communication is impersonal.

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Word of mouth was the primary form of communication before print. This limited the information being transferred between people to that of immediacy and importance. This usually meant that the information only dealt with local or political issues. The advent and spread of print material like newspapers, handbills, books, and magazines accomplished many things. First it increased the demand for literacy. In fact printed mass media is probably the most significant factor in the high level of literacy in the United States. Because the country is so large and spread out information needs to be transmitted, and if it is being transmitted in print form, people have to know how to read to receive the information and they have to learn to write to transmit their acknowledge and response back.

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History of communication:

The history of communication dates back to prehistory, with significant changes in communication technologies (media and appropriate inscription tools) evolving in tandem with shifts in political and economic systems, and by extension, systems of power. Communication can range from very subtle processes of exchange, to full conversations and mass communication. Human communication was revolutionized with speech approximately 100,000 years ago. Symbols were developed about 30,000 years ago, and writing in the past few centuries. The Persian Empire (centered around present-day Iran) played an important role in the field of communication. It devised what might be described as the first real mail or postal system, which is said to have been developed by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great (c. 550 BC) after his conquest of Media. The role of the system as an intelligence gathering apparatus is well documented, and the service was (later) called angariae, a term that in time turned to indicate a tax system. The Old Testament (Esther, VIII) makes mention of this system: Ahasuerus, king of Medes, used couriers for communicating his decisions. The Roman Empire devised what might be described as a mail or postal system, in order to centralize control of the empire from Rome. This allowed for personal letters and for Rome to gather knowledge about events in its many widespread provinces. More advanced postal systems later appeared in the Islamic Caliphate and the Mongol Empire during the Middle Ages.

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Mass communication:

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The simplest definition of mass communication is “public communication transmitted electronically or mechanically.” In this way messages are transmitted or sent to large, perhaps millions or billions of people spread across the world. The term ‘mass communication’ may be considered as a 20th century development. Sending messages to a large number of people and at greater speed was what man was always looking for. There was a time when men on horseback travelled long distances to convey news about say, a war. Pigeons were used as postmen to deliver messages. The invention of paper and printing, and later newspapers, were the first steps towards mass communication. But it was only through the telegraph, invented by Samuel F. B. Morse in 1835, that messages could be sent to long distances using a code. The next step was to send messages through human voice. Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 succeeded in using wires to send the human voice across long distances. However, it was the invention of the radio by Marconi in 1901 which made sending of human voices over long distances possible. In 1947 the invention of the transistor made radio the most popular medium for sending voice messages. Today television, which can send voice as well as pictures, is found almost everywhere. This was invented by Baird in 1920.

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Mass communication is the technology means of sending information, ideas and opinions from a mass communication to a complex audience. It is also defined as comprising the institutions and techniques by which specialized groups such as broadcasters, film producers and publishers employ technological devices to disseminate symbolic content to large heterogeneous and widely disperse audience. Mass communications are impersonal. They are part of the institutions they work for and should not be blamed personally for what comes from the institutions. The credibility for the message is not for the individual communicator, but for the institution or the organization that send it. Thus, mass communication deals with collective sender. For example, a newspaper is not produced by only one person. The newspaper is the end results of collective efforts of reporters, editors, type setters, proofreaders, designers and printers.

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“Mass communication refers to the process by which we communicate with a large group of people through mass media” The source in the mass communication situation is a group of individuals who usually act within predetermined roles in an organizational setting. In other words mass communication is the end product of more than one person. Mass media is a source of communication with masses and communication through mass media is mass communication. In mass communication, society communicates with itself as an individual or a group of people convey a message to the large group of people and they use transmitter of information such as magazines, newspaper, radio, television, books and posters or combination of these.

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There are two types of mass communication:

  1. Micro-mass Communication
  2. Macro-mass communication

Micro-mass Communication: In this type of communication, we communicate with smaller number of people such as professor to his students. Usually this type of mass communication does not require any channel for conveying message to the audience.

Macro-mass communication: In this type of mass communication, we communicate with a large group of people. We communicate for conveying our messages to the large group of people through radio, TV, magazines and posters. In this way sender always uses channel for communication because communication with large group of people is not possible without any channel.

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The figure below shows how mass communication is achieved through mass media:

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A medium of communication can be usefully defined as being any system that enables the flow of messages between one or more creators of messages and one or more receivers of messages. The range of media therefore includes such simple systems as face-to-face communication, in which human modalities, light, and air provide all that is physically necessary to enable communication and such complex media as television, in which a broad range of intermediate elements (e.g. mediators) are used as a system to route messages from a small number of message creators to a large number of message consumers. Communication theory is not always focused on media. Theories of communication also focus on such issues as language (linguistics, grammar, nonverbal), communicators (meaning, information processing, perception, relationships, disclosure, attraction, and conflict), and messages (presentation, information, and persuasion). Communication theory has looked at media from a variety of perspectives. Systems theories, for instance, generally examine the constituent elements of media. Rules theories examine the constraints that we impose on ourselves when we use media. Diffusion theories look at how messages and new innovations, including media innovations, disperse through society. Mass media theories largely focus on the effects of media. Reinforcement, agenda-setting, functional, uses and gratifications, and dependency theories are all oriented on the effects of media.

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A medium is a ‘channel of communication’ – a means through which people send and receive information. The printed word, for example, is a medium; when we read a newspaper or magazine, something is communicated to us in some way. Similarly, electronic forms of communication – television, telephones, film and such like – are media (the plural of medium). Mass, as you probably realize, means ‘many’ and what we are interested is how and why different forms of media are used to transmit to – and be received by – large numbers of people (the audience). Mass media, therefore, refer to channels of communication that involve transmitting information in some way, shape or form to large numbers of people (although the question of exactly how many a “large number” has to be to qualify as a “mass” is something that’s generally left undefined). A mass medium (such as television) is generally classified as ‘one-to-many’ communication – ‘one’ person (such as the author of a book, the creators of a television program or a film director), communicates to many people (the audience) “at the same time” in a way that is largely impersonal; that is, the communication is one-way, in the sense that those communicating a message to an audience don’t receive simultaneous feedback from that audience (you can shout at a politician on the television but they can’t hear you…). Dutton et al (1998) suggest that, traditionally, the mass media has been differentiated from other types of communication (such as interpersonal communication that occurs on a one-to-one basis) in terms of four essential characteristics:

1. Distance: Communication between those who send and receive messages (media-speak for information) is:

a) impersonal,

b) lacks immediacy and is

c) one way (from the producer/creator of the information to the consumer / audience). When I watch a film, for example, no matter how emotionally involved I become in the action, I can’t directly affect what’s unfolding on the screen.

2. Technology: Mass communication requires a vehicle, such as a television receiver, a method of printing and so forth that allows messages to be sent and received.

3. Scale: One feature of a mass medium, as we’ve noted, is it involves simultaneous communication with many people; 4. Commodity: An interesting feature of mass communication is that it comes at a price. I can watch football on TV, for example, if I can afford a television, a license fee (to watch BBC) or a subscription to something like Sky Sports if it’s on satellite or cable.

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Mass communication refers to a message transmitted to a large audience; the means of transmission is known as mass media. The figure below depicts media communication model:

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We no-longer live in a society where it’s possible to make a clear and obvious distinction between those (mass) media that simply involve one-to-many communication and those (non-mass) media that merely involve one-to-one communication. In recent times, for example, we’ve seen the development of forms of communication (such as mobile phones and email) that don’t fit easily (if at all) into traditional definitions, mainly because they have the capacity to be both:

• interpersonal (‘one-to-one’) communication and

• mass (‘one-to-many’) communication.

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In “What is new media?” Vin Crosbie (2002) described three different kinds of communication media. He saw Interpersonal media as “one to one”, Mass media as “one to many”, and finally New Media as Individuation Media or “many to many”.

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One to many and many to many communication using Web:

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Mass communication by one individual:  

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The Medium is the Message (vide infra):

Close to 2,247,000,000 people use social media worldwide. This is a remarkable change in just a few years and easily qualifies as a new way of communicating, unprecedented in the history of the world. It is a revolution because it changes the way we communicate from face-to-face individual contact to an electronic mediation with certain advantages and disadvantages. We have all heard the saying, ‘the medium is the message’. This means the way we say something is as important as what we say, or that the medium affects the content of what is said.  

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Mass communication is the study of how individuals and entities relay information through mass media to large segments of the population at the same time. It is usually understood to relate to newspaper, magazine, and book publishing, as well as radio, television and film, as these mediums are used for disseminating information, news and advertising. Mass communication differs from the studies of other forms of communication, such as interpersonal communication or organizational communication, in that it focuses on a single source transmitting information to a large group of receivers. Mass communication study involves following:

Advertising:

Advertising, in relation to mass communication, refers to marketing a product or service in a persuasive manner that encourages the audience to buy the product or use the service. Because advertising generally takes place through some form of mass media, such as television, studying the effects and methods of advertising is relevant to the study of mass communication

Broadcasting:

Broadcasting is the act of transmitting audio and/or visual content through a communication medium, such as radio, television, or film. In the study of mass communication, broadcasting can refer to the practical study of how to produce communication content, such as how to produce a television or radio program

Journalism:

Journalism is the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media, in this sense, refers to the study of the product and production of news. The study of journalism involves looking at how news is produced, and how it is disseminated to the public through mass media outlets such as newspapers, news channel, radio station, television station, and more recently, e-readers and smartphones.

Public Relations:

Public relations is the process of providing information to the public in order to present a specific view of a product or organization. Public relations differs from advertising in that it is less obtrusive, and aimed at providing a more comprehensive opinion to a large audience in order to shape public opinion.

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Function of Mass Communication:

Mass communication is a very effective and powerful tool of government and plays an important role in the stability of government and the unity of nation. On the other hand, it plays an important role in the society. In simple words mass communication has the following functions.

  • Source of information
  • Awareness about Society
  • Cultural Promotion
  • To promote good Objectives
  • Public opinion building
  • Accountability
  • Fourth Pillar of State

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History of mass media:

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The history of mass media can be traced back to the days when dramas were performed in various ancient cultures. This was the first time when a form of media was “broadcast” to a wider audience. The first dated printed book known is the “Diamond Sutra”, printed in China in 868 AD, although it is clear that books were printed earlier. Movable clay type was invented in 1041 in China. However, due to the slow spread of literacy to the masses in China, and the relatively high cost of paper there, the earliest printed mass-medium was probably European popular prints from about 1400. Although these were produced in huge numbers, very few early examples survive, and even most known to be printed before about 1600 have not survived. The term “mass media” was coined with the creation of print media, which is notable for being the first example of mass media, as we use the term today. This form of media started in Europe in the Middle Ages. Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press allowed the mass production of books to sweep the nation. He printed the first book on a printing press with movable type in 1453. The Gutenberg Bible, one of the books he published, was translated into many different languages and printed throughout the continent. The invention of the printing press in the late 15th century gave rise to some of the first forms of mass communication, by enabling the publication of books and newspapers on a scale much larger than was previously possible. The invention also transformed the way the world received printed materials, although books remained too expensive really to be called a mass-medium for at least a century after that. As time progressed, no longer would books be produced by hand solely for the edification of the rich, privileged, and powerful. For the first time in history, printers made books — and the ideas they contained — available to citizens of more modest means. This spread of “dangerous” notions frightened rulers who depended upon a compliant and uncomplaining populace for their power and prestige. Those who dared defy these monarchs by marketing their mass wares faced burning, burial alive, and seizure of their property. Despite these harsh penalties, books continued to spread. Eventually, they contributed to Martin Luther’s “heresy” and the formation of the Protestant Church. Even today, books continue their subversive ways. Newspapers developed from about 1612, with the first example in English in 1620; but they took until the 19th century to reach a mass-audience directly. The first high-circulation newspapers arose in London in the early 1800s, such as The Times, and were made possible by the invention of high-speed rotary steam printing presses, and railroads which allowed large-scale distribution over wide geographical areas. The increase in circulation, however, led to a decline in feedback and interactivity from the readership, making newspapers a more one-way medium. For centuries, mass media were limited to books, newspapers, and magazines. The phrase “the media” began to be used in the 1920s. The notion of “mass media” was generally restricted to print media up until the post-Second World War, when radio, television and video were introduced. The dawn of the Twentieth Century saw an explosion in new ways for writers, business owners, and others to reach large numbers of people. Thomas Edison’s hand-cranked films led the way to silent movies, followed by “talkies” in 1925. From the Twenties through the Forties, families gathered around their clunky AM radios and listened to variety shows, news programs, adventure serials, and soap operas. After the introduction of TV, radio shifted its focus more towards music, news and, especially in the latter part of the Twentieth Century, so-called talk radio. Again, as with movies, distant radio programs are now available on the Internet. In the Fifties, a number of people feared that television would kill movies just as some thought it would lead to the demise of radio. Neither happened. More consumers now view films on TV than in theaters. With the advent of cable TV and satellite dishes, ever-expanding options are available to viewers. As broad band Internet connections become more commonplace, TV will also likely appear on the Internet scene. The audio-visual facilities became very popular, because they provided both information and entertainment, because the colour and sound engaged the viewers/listeners and because it was easier for the general public to passively watch TV or listen to the radio than to actively read. In recent times, the Internet becomes the latest and most popular mass medium. Information has become readily available through websites, and easily accessible through search engines. One can do many activities at the same time, such as playing games, listening to music, and social networking, irrespective of location. Whilst other forms of mass media are restricted in the type of information they can offer, the internet comprises a large percentage of the sum of human knowledge through such things as Google Books. Modern day mass media consists of the internet, mobile phones, blogs, podcasts and RSS feeds. During the 20th century, the growth of mass media was driven by technology, including that which allowed much duplication of material. Physical duplication technologies such as printing, record pressing and film duplication allowed the duplication of books, newspapers and movies at low prices to huge audiences. Radio and television allowed the electronic duplication of information for the first time. Mass media had the economics of linear replication: a single work could make money. An example of Riel and Neil’s theory: proportional to the number of copies sold, and as volumes went up, unit costs went down, increasing profit margins further. Vast fortunes were to be made in mass media.  

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Linguistic confusion about the use of words medium, media and mediums:

Science Dictionary:

Medium (Plural media):

It is a substance, such as agar, in which bacteria or other microorganisms are grown for scientific purposes. It is a substance that makes possible the transfer of energy from one location to another, especially through waves. For example, air can be a medium for sound waves, which transfer mechanical energy.

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Computing Dictionary:

Media means:

1.  Any kind of data including graphics, images, audio and video, though typically excluding raw text or executable code.

The term multimedia suggests a collection of different types of media or the ability to handle such collections.

2.  The physical object on which data is stored, as opposed to the device used to read and write it.

3.  The object at the physical layer that carries data, typically an electrical or optical cable, though, in a wireless network, the term refers to the space through which radio waves propagate. Most often used in the context of Media Access Control (MAC). 

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In communication:

There’s an ongoing confusion in deciphering the definitions of the terms “media” and “medium” as both can mean some other things besides the fact that the former is basically the plural form of the latter. The most common definition of a medium is something through which one will get information or data like the TV, printed materials, radio, and the World Wide Web. To be more specific, a medium is a concrete example of a TV channel like ABC, or a specific magazine like “Playboy” and many more. If taken altogether, however, as one general matter, then they can be regarded as the “media” which is the plural form. Hence, when you hear someone using the term “media” in this context, then he or she is referring to any or all of these sources of information. When using “media” in a sentence, it is traditionally expected to be followed by a plural verb form like “The media are gathering at the…” However, today, it has already been widely accepted that “media” is, in fact, a collective plural noun that can either be treated as singular or plural when used with subject-verb agreements. Thus, it is normal to read or hear someone saying “The media is gathering at the…”

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Medium has two plurals—media (the Latin plural) and mediums. While there is some gray area between the plurals, they are kept separate in several contexts. Media is used in reference to mass communications, where media are newspapers, radio, the internet, and so on. It’s also used in science, where medium usually means an intervening substance through which something is transmitted. Mediums is the plural when medium refers to a person who communicates with the dead. In art, where medium refers to materials used to create a piece, both plurals are commonly used.

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The term “media” in its modern application relating to communication channels is traced back to its first use as such by Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan, who stated in Counterblast (1954): “The media are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. They can be entrusted only to new artists, because they are art forms.” By the mid-1960s, the term had spread to general use in North America and the United Kingdom. “Mass media”, in contrast, was, according to H.L. Mencken, used as early as 1923 in the United States.  

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The different types of communication medium are divided into two different categories:

1. Physical media

2. Mechanical media (everything that is not No. 1)

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Physical media:

With physical media we mean channels where the person who is talking can be seen and heard by the audience. The whole point here is to be able to not only hear the messages but also to see the body language and feel the climate in the room. This does not need to be two-way channels. In certain situations the receiver expects physical communication. This is the case especially when dealing with high concern messages, e.g. organizational change or downsizing. If a message is perceived as important to the receiver they expect to hear it live from their manager.

  • Large meetings, town hall meetings
  • Department meetings (weekly meetings)
  • Up close and personal (exclusive meetings)
  • Video conferences
  • Viral communication or word of mouth

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Mechanical media:

The second of the two types of communication medium is mechanical media. With mechanical media we mean written or electronic channels. These channels can be used as archives for messages or for giving the big picture and a deeper knowledge. But they can also be very fast. Typically though, because it is written, it is always interpret by the reader based on his or her mental condition. Irony or even humor rarely travels well in mechanical channels.

  • E-mail
  • Weekly letters or newsletters
  • Personal letters
  • Billboards
  • Intranet
  • Magazines or papers
  • Sms
  • Social media

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Invention of new communication medium:

Medium of communication is a system that enables the flow of messages between one or more creators of messages and one or more receivers of messages. The range of media therefore includes such simple systems as face-to-face communication, in which human modalities, light, and air are all that is necessary to enable communication and such complex media as television, in which a broad range of intermediate elements (e.g. mediators) are used as a system to route messages from a small number of message creators to a large number of message consumers.  New communication media are invented in five interrelated “spheres” of invention as shown in the figure below: mediators, characteristics, uses, effects, and practices. The “invention” of a medium entails invention activity in all of these spheres, with changes any one sphere provoking activity in others. The most common paths for such provocations are shown in the figure below:

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Mediators:

Mediators are the fundamental building blocks of media, and include such things (using the telephone as an example) as telephones, telephone wires, telephone switches, operators, and billing systems. All media entail mediators. Even face-to-face communication depends on human modalities and the natural resources (air and light) that allow them to function. New media are built in the sphere of mediators, with resources (including technologies and people) organized (in structure and process) to support the creation and consumption of messages.

Characteristics:

Characteristics are the essential capabilities and generic attributes of a medium. The most obvious characteristics of media are the speed with which a message travels, the size of the audience, the time a message persists, and the production and sensory modalities it supports. It is possible to characterize a medium in terms of hundreds of generic characteristics, and to compare media based on those characteristics. There are hundreds of operationalizable characteristics with which media can be described and compared. Such comparisons matter, as characteristics determine the kinds of things a medium will be useful for. Media are most likely to succeed when they have a distinctive set of characteristics that either makes new uses of media possible or which allow the medium to do a better job for existing uses than other media do. The more distinctive those characteristics are, the more uses a new medium is likely to have and the more successful a medium is likely to be. Various combinations of characteristics enable a set of Uses.

Uses:

Uses are the things media are used for. Research traditions like uses and gratifications have identified highly generic uses that are associated with various media, including entertainment, gaining and sharing information, establishing personal identity, integration and social interaction, and others.  In practice, our uses of media tend to be much more specific than these generic uses suggest.  There is a huge difference between getting news and finding information; between getting local news and international news; between learning about how your children are doing and how your tax dollars are being spent; between looking up commonly sought information and finding esoteric information.  Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, journals, telephones, face-to-face interactions, web search engines, and computer conferences each have advantages relative to one or another of these variations in information finding. Use implies effect.

Effects:

Effects are the things that happen as a result of using a medium. As is the case in the other spheres, effects are social inventions whose reality is in our belief.  Effects can be very positive such that they encourage increased use of the medium. They can also be very negative such that they provoke a backlash against a medium. Most successful media experience some measure of both. The perception that effects of media use are beneficial will increase use of the medium.  The perception that effects are problematic will provoke calls for restrictions and myths of inferiority. Most successful media will be seen as both beneficial and problematic as they diffuse into the marketplace.  Indeed, a desirable effect for one person (e.g. awareness of products through television commercials) can easily be problematic for another (e.g. encouraging children to smoke, drink or act immorally).  Where there is general agreement that an effect of a medium is problematic, a solution is generally enacted in rules and enforcement mechanisms that make the problems disappear, or in structural practices that control the problem (e.g. proofreading of manuscripts before publication). Wherever value is found in the effects of a medium (whether or not there is agreement concerning that value), that value will be reinforced through the repetitive use of strategic/generic practices that appear to be effective in achieving particular effects. It should be noted here, that effects aren’t simply something that happens. They are, in a very real sense, inventions of the people who decide that a particular effect or set of effects is real and worthy of attention. Indeed, there are specific rhetoric of media effect that, when observed, allow one to conclude that a particular effect of media is real. Several of these rhetorics are enacted, or at least exposed, through media practices.

Practices:

Practices are things people do to help maximize or minimize the effects of media. People will seek to maximize what they perceive to be the good effects of media by behaving in ways that maximize a medium’s potential for a particular effect. They will also seek to minimize what is perceived to be the negative effects of media by constraining particular behaviors within media. Indeed, in some cases, the actions taken to constrain or enhance behavior will be so substantial as to require a fundamental change to the medium through the introduction of new Mediators. Even where genres transcend media (e.g. romance), generic practice will differ from one medium to another (e.g. valentine’s day cards, anniversary cards and gifts, romance novels, dating behavior, telephone use, love letters, romantic comedies, proposals and ritual ceremonies like weddings). In some cases these practices are formalized as mediators, thus completing a “cycle of media” as seen in the figure above through which media continue to evolve after the initial cycle of invention is complete.  In others effects and resulting practices result optimize use and suggest new uses in a “cycle of genre”.  These cycles play a continuing role in the evolution of all media, with successful media continuously improving existing and establishing new uses; with established media reacting to successful competitor media by focusing on niches.

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The Ambition Stairway:

Choosing the right types of communication medium is first and most about understanding your ambition with the communication. What effect is you looking for after you have communicated? Increased knowledge, better understanding, more motivation or involvement, or do you want it to lead to some sort of action or changed behavior?

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The figure above shows the Ambition Stairway that is useful tool to use when deciding what channels to use for your level of ambition. This gives you control of the different types of communication medium.

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The relationship of mass media to other forms of communication:

The interaction between media messages and interpersonal communication was first described by Elihu Katz and Paul Lazarsfeld in their two-step flow hypothesis (vide infra). They argued that media effects were moderated principally by interpersonal encounters. Community opinion leaders scan the media for information, then communicate that information to others in interpersonal contexts. It is in this second step, interpersonal interaction, that opinion leaders wield enormous power, influencing others not only by what they choose to reveal but also the slant that they use in conveying the message. The two-step model has been expanded to include multistep models most notably information diffusion models. Step models have been limited by their linear assumptions of one-way influence and causation. Media influence is undeniably linked to complex interpersonal dynamics. A shared influence likely results when people are exposed to health messages and then converge together in contexts that influence what they say to one another (and even how they say it), as well as what they selectively think.

George Gerbner describes a three-component framework. The first of these components is semiotics, the study of signs, symbols, and codes. Language comprises one such set of symbols and codes that can be further embellished by sights, sounds, and other visual and aural cues. The second aspect of the framework relates to behaviors and interactions associated with exposure to messages. Psychologists, marketers, and others attempt to predict behavior based on specially designed messages. The third element examines how communication is organized around social systems, and the extent to which history and human experience influence society’s institutions.

Designers of health messages need to consider such models and frameworks. Modern views of health behavior change acknowledge eclectic approaches and consider multiple aspects of human experience, from the individual level to the community level. Individual channels of communication (e.g., face-to-face encounters) offer personal support and may invoke trust, but are labor intensive, have limited reach, and may require ancillary materials. Mass media channels transmit information rapidly and to general or specific audiences. Mass media can set agendas, but questions have been raised concerning their impartiality and integrity. Community channels (e.g., coalitions, community action groups, and the like), have less “reach” than mass media, but they reinforce, expand, and localize media messages and offer institutional and social support. Knowledge of the complementary strengths of various channels helps to optimize penetration and effectiveness of health messages. 

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Media:

Media (singular medium) are the storage and transmission channels or tools used to store and deliver information or data. It is often referred to as synonymous with mass media or news media, but may refer to any means of information communication. In general usage, the term has been taken to refer to only “the group of corporate entities, publishers, journalists, and others who constitute the communications industry and profession.” This definition includes both the entertainment and news industries. Another common term, especially in talking about conflict, is “news media.” News media include only the news industry. It is often used interchangeably with “the press” or the group of people who write and report the news.

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News:

News is information about recent events or happenings, especially as reported by newspapers, periodicals, radio, or television. The English word “news” developed in the 14th century as a special use of the plural form of “new”. Newsworthiness is the quality of being sufficiently interesting to be reported in news bulletins. The news mass media now comes under criticism for over-emphasis on “non-news” and “gossip” such as celebrities’ personal social issues, local issues of little merit, as well as biased sensationalism of political topics such as terrorism and the economy. The dominance of celebrity and social news, the blurring of the boundary between news and reality shows and other popular culture, and the advent of citizen journalism may suggest that the nature of ‘news’ and news values are evolving and that traditional models of the news process are now only partially relevant. News values are general guidelines or criteria used by media outlets, such as newspapers or broadcast media, to determine how much prominence to give to a story. They are fundamental to understanding news production and the choices that editors and other journalists face when deciding that one piece of information is news while another is not.  

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Traditional media vs. personal media: 

Mass media characterized the last century and inspired a great portion of the sociological and psychological literature of the last twenty years. If we want to understand better what their main characteristics are, we can use the model used by Marika Lüders in “Conceptualizing Mass Media”. In her paper, she helps understanding the differences between personal and traditional media with a scheme where she draws two axis. On one she orders “more institutional” versus “less institutional” contents and on the crossing one she uses symmetrical versus asymmetrical media. [See the figure above] Marika Lüders helps us considering mass media such as the television, radio and newspapers as a form of institutional and rather asymmetrical media, while personal media stays where peer to peer, generally non institutional communication lay.  

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The content of media could be in the form of text, image, sound or video as seen in the figure below:

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Mass media:

Mass media is the means for delivering impersonal communications directed to a vast audience. Mass media consists of the various means by which information reaches large numbers of people, such as television, radio, movies, newspapers, and the Internet. Mass media can be defined as avenues for messages that are created for consumption by large numbers of people. These “message consumers” are physically separated from one another (to distinguish a mass medium audience from, for example, attendees at a pro football game). They are also diverse in terms of their interests, values, and other demographical characteristics. Since mass media has enormous effects on our attitudes and behavior, notably in regards to aggression, it contributes to the socialization process. Sociologists study mass media especially to see how it shapes people’s values, beliefs, perceptions, and behavior.

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The media is instrumental in defining what we think, how we look and our social place and issues in the society. The term mass media is defined as a means of communication that operates on a large scale, reaching and involving virtually everyone in the society to a greater or lesser degree. Mass media has been influencing the social, cultural, economic, spiritual, political and religious aspects of society as well as personal level thinking, feeling and acting. Media feed the people with the latest information and create the need for change in contemporary society. Mass media have both positive and negative role in the society. Media is all pervasive; its functioning is very subtle. Media plays a vital role in dissemination of information. It is called the fourth pillar of democratic policy. Radio, television, films and the printed word reach all of us in this age of information and each strives to perfect its modes of communications to become more effective as a medium. By gradually shaping public opinion on personal beliefs, and even people’s self-perceptions, media influences the process of socialization and shapes ideology and thinking.

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Mass media is a deceptively simple term encompassing a countless array of institutions and individuals who differ in purpose, scope, method, and cultural context. Mass media includes all forms of information communicated to large groups of people, from a handmade sign to an international news network. There is no standard for how large the audience needs to be before communication becomes “mass” communication. There are also no constraints on the type of information being presented. A car advertisement and a U.N. resolution are both examples of mass media. The distinction between news and entertainment can at times be fuzzy, but news is technically facts and interpretation of facts, including editorial opinions, expressed by journalism professionals.

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Modern communication media now allow for intense long-distance exchanges between larger numbers of people (many-to-many communication via e-mail, Internet forums, and teleportation). On the other hand, many traditional broadcast media and mass media favor one-to-many communication (television, cinema, radio, newspaper, magazines, and also facebook). Electronic media is enjoying broader use every day with an increase in electronic devices being made. The meaning of electronic media, as it is known in various spheres, has changed with the passage of time. The term media has achieved a broader meaning nowadays as compared to that given it a decade ago. Earlier, there was multimedia, once only a piece of software (application software) used to play audio (sound) and video (visual object with or without sound). Following this, it was CD (Compact Disc) and DVD (Digital Versatile Disc), then camera of 3G (Third Generation) applications in the field. In modern terms, the media includes all the software which are used in PC or Laptop or Mobile Phone installed for normal or better performance of the system; today, hard discs (used to increase the installation capacity of data) of computer is an example of electronic media. This type of hard disc is becoming increasingly smaller in size. The latest inclusion in the field is magnetic media (magnetic stripe) whose application is common, in the fastest growing Information Technology field. Modern day IT media is commonly used in the banking sector and by the Income Tax Department for the purpose of providing the easiest and fastest possible services to the consumers. In this magnetic strip, account information linking to all the data relating to a particular consumer is stored. Credit card, Debit card, ATM card, High end travel card are comprised within the term Media as it is known today. The main features of these types of media are prepared unrecorded (blank form), and data is normally stored at a later stage as per the requirement of its user or consumer.

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Radio, television, newspaper, magazines and films play a vital role in spreading information, propagating, educating and enlightening, strengthening national integration, creating national identity etc. Mass communication essentially means dissemination of information, ideas and entertainment by the communication media. If one was to ask what is today’s most powerful vehicle in molding of beliefs, attitudes, values and lifestyles, one would say it is media. By becoming more gender aware in content and language, media can present a clearer and more accurate picture of the roles and responsibilities of both men and women in the society. The need for mass media to cover the entire population is widely admitted. Developing countries give priority to broadcast media, radio and television, even though the people’s access is not always equitable and balanced. Mass media has been influencing the social, cultural, economic and religious aspects of the society.

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In the 1960’s and 1970’s the mass media in developing countries were assigned the role of modernizing traditional societies. Allegiance to mass media was perceived as an important indicator of modernity. The mass media continuously worked and is engaged in redefinition on modernity and individuals. The influence of mass media on society is in two ways. On one hand, the mass media provide a large population of society with the dominant leisure time activity. On the other hand, the mass media in contemporary society are increasingly responsible for the construction and consumption of social knowledge and meanings which people draw on to make sense of their world and act upon their social reality.

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Media and technology:

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The table below shows important inventions in technology that led to development of mass media:

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The mass media are diversified media technologies that are intended to reach a large audience by mass communication. The technologies through which this communication takes place varies. Broadcast media such as radio, recorded music, film and television transmit their information electronically. Print media use a physical object such as a newspaper, book, pamphlet or comics, to distribute their information. Outdoor media is a form of mass media that comprises billboards, signs or placards placed inside and outside of commercial buildings, sports stadiums, shops and buses. Other outdoor media include flying billboards (signs in tow of airplanes), blimps, and skywriting.  Public speaking and event organizing can also be considered as forms of mass media. The digital media comprises both Internet and mobile mass communication. Internet media provides many mass media services, such as email, websites, blogs, and internet based radio and television. Many other mass media outlets have a presence on the web, by such things as having TV ads that link to a website, or distributing a QR Code in print or outdoor media to direct a mobile user to a website. In this way, they can utilize the easy accessibility that the Internet has, and the outreach that Internet affords, as information can easily be broadcast to many different regions of the world simultaneously and cost-efficiently.

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Mass amateurization:

Mass amateurization refers to the capabilities that new forms of media have given to non-professionals and the ways in which those non-professionals have applied those capabilities in order to create and distribute content and solve problems in ways that compete with larger, professional institutions. Mass amateurization is most often associated with Web 2.0 technologies. These technologies include the rise of blogs and citizen journalism, photo and video-sharing services such as Flickr and YouTube, user-generated wikis like Wikipedia, and distributed accommodation services such as Airbnb. While the social web is not the only technology responsible for the rise of mass amateurization, Clay Shirky claims that Web 2.0 has allowed amateurs to undertake increasingly complex tasks resulting in accomplishments that would seem daunting within the traditional institutional model. 

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Media statistics:

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Media reach is getting quicker:

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The figure below shows growth of mass media in the U.S.:

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Mass media are tools for the transfer of information, concepts, and ideas to both general and specific audiences. Marshall McLuhan calls media “extensions of man.” G. L. Kreps and B. C. Thornton believe media extend “people’s ability to communicate, to speak to others far away, to hear messages, and to see images that would be unavailable without media”. It follows that employment of mass media to disseminate news (or other matters) has, in effect, reduced the world’s size. The mass media are capable of facilitating short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term effects on audiences. Short-term objectives include exposing audiences to different concepts; creating awareness and knowledge; altering outdated or incorrect knowledge; and enhancing audience recall of particular advertisements or public service announcements (PSAs), promotions, or program names. Intermediate-term objectives include all of the above, as well as changes in attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions of social norms. Finally, long-term objectives incorporate all of the aforementioned tasks, in addition to focused restructuring of perceived social norms, and maintenance of behavior change. Evidence of achieving these three tiers of objectives is useful in evaluating the effectiveness of mass media.

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The figure below shows time spent on media per year by individual:

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Media in selected countries in 2001:

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Information bombardment:

In 2009 the average adult is exposed to more than 100,000 words a day, a phenomenon being branded “information bombardment”. This is how we consume those words in a day:

The figure above shows that the majority is through TV (44.85 per cent), followed by computer/internet (26.97 per cent) and print (8.6 per cent).   

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Mass media in India:

 Media of India consist of several different types of Indian communications media: television, radio, cinema, newspapers, magazines, and Internet-based Web sites. Many of the media are controlled by large, for-profit corporations which reap revenue from advertising, subscriptions, and sale of copyrighted material. India also has a strong music and film industry. India has more than 70,000 newspapers and over 690 satellite channels (more than 140 are news channels) and is the biggest newspaper market in the world – over 100 million copies sold each day. The French NGO Reporters Without Borders compiles and publishes an annual ranking of countries based upon the organization’s assessment of its Press Freedom Index. In 2011-12 India was ranked 131st out of 179 countries. By 2009, India had a total of 81,000,000 Internet users – comprising 7% of the country’s population, and 7,570,000 people in India also had access to broadband Internet as of 2010 – making it the 11th largest country in the world in terms of broadband Internet users. As of 2009, India is among the 4th largest television broadcast stations in the world with nearly 1,400 stations. 

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Mass media in China:

The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China guarantees citizens’ freedom of speech and information. Since the 1980s, the mass media are growing more diversified as they extend their reach throughout China through a multiplicity of transmission methods including satellite, wireless and wired systems. Today there are over 2,000 newspapers, over 9,000 magazines, 273 radio stations and 352 TV stations. By the end of 2005, there were 774 medium- and short-wave radio transmitting and relay stations, 125.69 million households with access to cable television, and 1.22 million households in 30 cities with access to cable digital television, covering 94.5 percent and 95.8 percent of the population respectively. Despite heavy government monitoring, however, the Mainland Chinese media has become an increasingly commercial market, with growing competition, diversified content, and an increase in investigative reporting. Areas such as sports, finance, and an increasingly lucrative entertainment industry face little regulation from the government. Media controls were most relaxed during the 1980s under Deng Xiaoping, until they were tightened in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests. They were relaxed again under Jiang Zemin in the late 1990s, but the growing influence of the Internet and its potential to encourage dissent led to heavier regulations again under the government of Hu Jintao. Reporters Without Borders consistently ranks China very poorly on media freedoms in their annual releases of the Press Freedom Index, labeling the Chinese government as having “the sorry distinction of leading the world in repression of the Internet”. For 2010, China ranked 168 out of 179 nations.

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Interesting to note that two largest world populations India and China ranked 131 and 168 respectively out of 179 countries in press freedom index. Despite different political systems, they do not differ much in press freedom. This also proves that Indian media is aligned with state just like china despite democracy and freedom of expression. 

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Mass media performs three key functions: educating, shaping public relations, and advocating for a particular policy or point of view. As education tools, media not only impart knowledge, but can be part of larger efforts (e.g., social marketing) to promote actions having social utility. As public relations tools, media assist organizations in achieving credibility and respect among public health opinion leaders, stakeholders, and other gatekeepers. Finally, as advocacy tools, mass media assist leaders in setting a policy agenda, shaping debates about controversial issues, and gaining support for particular viewpoints. The mass communication media are thought to satisfy a variety of needs arising from social roles and psychological dispositions. These needs, typically, take the form of (1) strengthening or weakening, (2) a connection—cognitive, affective, integrative (3) with some referent—self, friends, family and tradition, social and political institutions, others.

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Nature of media:

Nature of the medium affects the way they deliver information to the audience. It is not only the content that leads people to interpretation, the nature of the media plays equally significant role. What is communicated is equally important as how it is communicated. Regarding the nature of media, or the authority that operates mass media, they can be categorized as:
1. Government media (State owned)
2. Commercial media (Privately owned)
3. Community media
Hence, media ownership remains a significant field of study that deserves a careful consideration. One can argue whether or not, a particular type of media (like those given above) can best serve people and the nation. There are enough merits and de-merits one can discuss, of any of the media. The control of power and authority, in the sector of mass media, make them distinct in terms of their roles and functions. All three types of media are bound to function as per their own rules and obligations. Though there are differing situations and circumstances that determine their boundaries, there is, at least, a set of features that define their existence in a particular course of time.
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I classify nature of media in three groups as seen in the figure below:

As you can see, I have classified private TV channel as corporate media and not independent media as these TV channels are run by corporate houses directly or indirectly and therefore their content is affected by corporate interests.

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Government Media:
Government media are the part of a government, which function as its mouthpiece. It is also called state owned media; a media, that works for mass communication, which is ultimately controlled and funded by the state. The news outlets may be the sole media outlet or may exist in competition with privately controlled media. Some critics claim that government media are not media by themselves, only appendages of the government.
Limitations of State owned media:
It remains in contrast with privately owned media with no direct control from any political party. Critics argue that state media are not media in a true sense; it is not more than the mouthpiece of the government. Its loyalty, first to the government restricts it aim to act as the voice of the voiceless. In this regard, it serves a particular interest group, not general people. In some cases, state media can be used frequently by the autocratic government as the propaganda tools. It suffers deliberate manipulations of its contents by the ruling party, reducing its efficiency and credibility. Government may censor the content which it deems illegal, immoral, or unfavorable to government, hence, it is not independent of the governing party. Some governments also compel journalists’ affiliation with the ruling party like in Soviet Union and North Korea. Within countries with high level of government interference, it may use the state media for propaganda purpose.  State media, in many situations, may be used to promote the regime in favorable light, vilify opposition by launching smear campaigns, give skewed coverage to oppositional views or to act as a mouthpiece to advocate the regime’s ideology. On the other hand, state media may only report on legislation after it has already become law to stifle any debate. It reduces the sphere of ideological conflicts. People are led to follow an existing ideology that might not serve the needy, but certain interest groups instead.  Public Choice Theory advocates that government media distorts information in favor of ruling party and entrenches its rule, while preventing the public from informed decisions, therefore undermining democratic institutions. This discourages independent media which promotes alternative voices allowing individual to choose political parties, goods, services without fear. State owned media are also criticized for the boundary they impose in media competition. Unlike independent media, state owned media cannot ensure people’s acquisition of unbiased information. Because competition is a part of Check and Balance System of democracy, which is discouraged by state media, it fails to act as the Fourth Estate of the nation. Government media are found prominent in poor, autocratic, non-democratic societies with highly interventionist government that have some interest in controlling flow of information.
Strengths of state owned media:
According to Public Interest Theory, state ownership is desirable. Dissemination of information is public good and to withhold it would be costly, even if it is not paid for. Cost of provision and dissemination of information is high. However, once costs are incurred, marginal costs for providing information are low and therefore are subject to increasing returns. In a progressive society, state media can be less biased, more complete and accurate. State owned media are media for people. It is not an individual who holds the authority, and hence, it is not guided by an individual interest. Government media are open to all and accommodate voices of general public. In a true sense, state owned media can best act as voice of the voiceless. With due consideration of its roles and capabilities, it is treated as Fourth Estate of the Nation. State media is the only media in the nation which treats people as citizens. For state media, people are not merely the sole consumers of its products, but in fact, it has and fulfils its responsibilities towards the people and the nation. It is often used in contrast to private media, which is guided by a commercial viewpoint. Its content is usually more prescriptive, with no pressure to attract high ratings or to generate ad revenue. The contents therefore, are considerably more reliable, credible and accurate in this sense, compared to that of private media. State media legitimatize its presence by emphasizing national unity against domestic or foreign aggressions. In more open and competitive contexts, the state may control or find its own outlet. The state media bare less government control in more open societies.  State owned media may be required by law to provide free airtime to bodies like election authority and even civil societies organizations to air educational messages and contents related to Public Service Announcements.  State media have far much greater reaches than private media in terms of population and geography and therefore, are preferred by the national plans and other campaigns that require maximum public attention. More than commercially oriented media outlets, state media are preferred to reach poorer strata of population. Being a public media, it is identified for its loyalty towards people. It can best bridge the gap between the people and the government. Government frequently uses state media to convey the national plans and programs to grass root level. State media motivates people to be together for general welfare by promoting women’s empowerment or even public participation. State media like BBC are widely recognized for their diligent practice and their respect to people’s right to freedom.

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State controlled media in India:

According to the All India Radio, the AIR reaches about 200 million people. Hence, it is the most effective medium. Though the radio broadcast includes programs for family welfare, for youth, for the farmers and on education, health and hygiene, it is used mainly for listening to film songs. The media which is next in importance and popularity is the television. In India the state owned television is known as Doordarshan. It reaches about 78.7% of Indian population through 534 transmitters. It transmits news, current affairs, educational programs, dramas, films and world affairs. We not only listen to but also see what happens in any remote part of the world at the same instant. Here again it is used only as an entertainment medium.  

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Commercial broadcasting (also called private broadcasting) is the broadcasting of television programs and radio programming by privately owned corporate media, as opposed to state sponsorship. It was the United States′ first model of radio (and later television) during the 1920s, in contrast with the public television model in Europe during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s which prevailed worldwide (except in the United States) until the 1980s. Most TV channels of western world and India are private TV channels not owned or funded by state but owned or funded by private corporations. 

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Independent media centre: (IMC):

The Independent Media Center is a global participatory network of journalists that report on political and social issues. It originated during the Seattle anti-WTO protests worldwide in 1999 and remains closely associated with the global justice movement, which criticizes neo-liberalism and its associated institutions. IMC uses an open publishing and democratic media process that allows anybody to contribute. According to its homepage, “Indymedia is a collective of independent media organizations and hundreds of journalists offering grassroots, non-corporate coverage. Indymedia is a democratic media outlet for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth.” Indymedia was founded as an alternative to government and corporate media, and seeks to facilitate people being able to publish their media as directly as possible.  

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Mass vs. mainstream media:

“Mass media” is sometimes used as a synonym for “mainstream media”, which is distinguished from alternative media by the content and point of view. Alternative media are also “mass media” outlets in the sense of using technology capable of reaching many people, even if the audience is often smaller than the mainstream. In common usage, the term “mass” denotes not that a given number of individuals receives the products, but rather that the products are available in principle to a plurality of recipients.

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Mass vs. local media:

Mass media is distinguished from local media by the notion that whilst the former aims to reach a very large market such as the entire population of a country, the latter broadcasts to a much smaller population and area, and generally focuses on regional news rather than global events.

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Who is in the Audience?

Sociologists distinguish the mass media from other social institutions by the necessary presence of an audience. It can be an identifiable, finite group, such as an audience at a jazz club or a Broadway musical. Or it can be much larger and undefined, such as the viewer audience for VH-1 on television or the people who read the same issue of USA Today. The audience may be a secondary group gathered in a large auditorium, or it may be a primary group, such as a mother and her son watching the latest Disney video at home. We can look at the audience from both the level of microsociology and macrosociology. At the microlevel, we would consider how the audience members interacting among themselves would respond to the media or, in the case of live performances, would perhaps influence the performers. At the macrolevel, we would examine broader societal consequences of the media, such as early childhood education through programming like Sesame Street. Even if the audience is spread out over a wide geographic area and the members don’t know one another, we would still find that the audience is somewhat distinctive in terms of age, gender, income, political party, formal schooling, race, and ethnicity. People in the audience for a ballet, for example, would differ substantially from those who listen to alternative music.

The Segmented Audience:

Once a media outlet, such as a radio station or a magazine, has identified its audience, it targets that group. The media are increasingly marketing themselves to a particular audience. To some degree, this specialization is driven by advertising. Advertising media specialists have sharpened their ability through survey research to identify particular target audiences. As a result, Nike would be much more likely to promote a new line of golf clubs on the Golf Cable Channel, for example, than it would on an episode of Frasier. The many more choices that the growing Internet and satellite broadcast channels offer audiences also foster specialization. Members of these audiences are more likely to expect content geared to their own interests. This specialized targeting of audiences has led some scholars to ponder whether there is still a “mass” in mass media. Are viewing audiences so segmented that there are fewer and fewer large collective audiences? That is not yet clear. Even though we seem to be in an age of personal computers and personal digital assistants (or PDAs), large formal organizations still do transmit public messages that reach a sizable, heterogeneous, and scattered audience (Dominick 2002).

Audience Behavior:

Sociologists have long researched how audiences interact with one another and then how they share information after the media event is concluded. The role of audience members as opinion leaders particularly intrigues social researchers. An opinion leader is someone who, through day-to-day personal contacts and communication, influences the opinions and decisions of others. Sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld and his colleagues (1948) pioneered the study of opinion leaders in their research on voting behavior in the 1940s. They found that opinion leaders encourage their relatives, friends, and coworkers to think positively about a particular candidate, perhaps pushing them to listen to the politician’s speeches or read the campaign literature.

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Audience measurement:

Audience measurement measures how many people are in an audience, usually in relation to radio listenership and television viewership, but also in relation to newspaper and magazine readership and, increasingly, web traffic on websites. Sometimes, the term is used as pertaining to practices which help broadcasters and advertisers determine who is listening rather than just how many people are listening. The audience measurement of U.S. television has relied on sampling to obtain estimated audience sizes in which advertisers determine the value of such acquisitions. Nielsen/ NetRatings measures Internet and digital media audiences through a telephone and Internet survey.

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Rating point:

Ratings point is a measure of viewership of a particular television program. One single television ratings point (Rtg or TVR) represents 1% of viewers in the surveyed area in a given minute. As of 2004, there are an estimated 109.6 million television households in the United States. Thus, a single national household ratings point represents 1% or 1,096,000 households for the 2004–05 season. When used for the broadcast of a program, the average rating across the duration of the show is typically given. Gross rating points (GRPs) or target rating points (TRPs) are chiefly used to measure the performance of TV-based advertising campaigns, and are the sum of the TVRs of each commercial spot within the campaign. An ad campaign might require a certain number of GRPs among a particular demographic across the duration of the campaign. Gross rating point, a standard measure in advertising, measures advertising impact. It is a percent of the target market reached multiplied by the exposure frequency. Thus, a program which advertises to 30% of the target market and gives them 4 exposures will have 120 GRP.

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Television ratings in India:
Television Rating Points (TRPs) are the gross rating points delivered by a media vehicle to a specific target audience. The TRP and GRP metrics are both critical components for determining the marketing effectiveness of a particular advertisement. Television Rating Point (TRP) is a tool provided to judge which programs are viewed the most. This gives us an index of the choice of the people and also the popularity of a particular channel. Television Rating Point (TRP) is used by television advertisers to monitor the most widely watched TV programs in India based on which advertisement rates for a program is decided. Basically this is the ranking list of popular TV programs released by INTAM (Indian Television Audience Measurement) every week. INTAM is the electronic rating agency functioning in India. ‘People meter’ are installed in sample homes and these electronic gadgets continuously record data about the channel watched by the family members and the agency prepares a national data on the basis of its sample homes readings. Based on the ranking list of the last several years, programs of SUN TV and Star Plus are in the top rank at all India levels. 

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Media led by markets, not people’s causes in India: Media does everything for TRP in India:

Sensationalising issues, interfering in people’s personal lives, television rating point (TRP) and market influences on mass media, were some of the topics discussed in a session on media on the Alva’s Vishwa Nudisiri Virasat.  Executive Editor of Prajavani Padmaraja Dandavate, Editor of Kannada Prabha Vishweshwar Bhat, and writer and theatre person T.N. Seetharam participated in the discussion. Mr. Dandavate said print and television media were failing in their duty of giving real news to people. “Elders in the field made it a point to draw a line between facts and comments. Now the line has blurred. We are not allowing people to form their own opinions,” he said. Liberalisation has led to commercialisation of operations in print and television. Unethical means were being adopted to stay ahead in circulation and in TRP. “We are playing with somebody (else’s) life. It’s left to you all to correct us,” he said. Mr. Seetharam said the media had “auctioned” people’s personal lives. It was working in favour of corporate houses and not for people, and had failed in culturally binding people. It was shocking the way invisible hands were controlling the operations of the media. He said, “There is no place for problems faced by farmers or for empowerment of women.” He said whatever the media was now sensationalising would return to haunt it later.

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Factors influencing mass media:

The mass media are influenced by many factors: Media owners define the overall editorial policy of a medium. Economic factors determine the amount of journalistic investigation and cultural production that can be afforded. A highly competitive market with wasteful duplication of the most popular genres leaves few economic resources to spend on heightening the quality of each program. Economic considerations may force the media to deploy an attention-catching strategy by emphasizing entertainment, emotional and personalized stories, sex, violence, gossip, etc. Economy determines the influence of advertisers and sponsors on the types of programs and stories that are being published. Sponsors also have an influence through sponsored cultural events that may not take place unless they are profitable to the sponsors. The news are obtained from sources such as politicians, opinion leaders, experts, professionals, police, organizations, and ordinary people who happen to be involved in a newsworthy situation. These sources can influence the media, not only through the stories they tell, but also by rewarding or punishing certain media by providing or withholding desired information (Ericson et al. 1989). The editors and journalists who produce stories obviously have an influence through their personal engagement as well as their professional, ideological and ethical principles. Technology determines how many media channels we can have and which formats are possible and attractive. Government regulation may impose additional ethical principles such as fairness requirements and public service obligations.

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As you can see there are plenty of factors that influence the content of mass media:

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Media ecology:

The term “media ecology” can be defined as “the study of media environments, the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs.”  Media ecology theory centers on the principles that technology not only profoundly influences society, it also controls virtually all walks of life. It is a study of how media and communication processes affect human perception and understanding. To understand how media affect large structural changes in human outlook, McLuhan classified media as either hot or cool. Hot media refers to a high-definition communication that demands little involvement from audience whereas cool media describes media that demands active involvement from audience. ‘The medium is the message’ is the most famous insight from McLuhan. Instead of emphasizing the information content, McLuhan highlighted the importance of medium characteristics which can influence and even decide the content. He proposed that it is the media format that affects and changes on people and society. For example, traditional media is an extension of the human body, while the new media is the extension of the human nervous system. The emergence of new media will change the equilibrium between human sensual organs and affect human psychology and society. The extension of human senses will change our thoughts and behaviors and the ways we perceive the world. That’s why McLuhan believed when a new medium appears, no matter what the concrete content it transmits, the new form of communication brings in itself a force that causes social transformation. McLuhan’s critics state the medium is not the message. They believe that we are dealing with a mathematical equation where medium equals x and message equals y. Accordingly x = y, but really “the medium is the message” is a metaphor not an equation. His critics also believe McLuhan is denying the content altogether, when really McLuhan was just trying to show the content in its secondary role in relation to the medium.

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Misinformation vs. disinformation:

Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. It is an act of deception and false statements to convince someone of untruth. Disinformation should not be confused with misinformation, information that is unintentionally false. Unlike traditional propaganda techniques designed to engage emotional support, disinformation is designed to manipulate the audience at the rational level by either discrediting conflicting information or supporting false conclusions. A common disinformation tactic is to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies, or to reveal part of the truth while presenting it as the whole (a limited hangout). Another technique of concealing facts, or censorship, is also used if the group can affect such control. When channels of information cannot be completely closed, they can be rendered useless by filling them with disinformation, effectively lowering their signal-to-noise ratio and discrediting the opposition by association with many easily disproved false claims. A classic example of disinformation occurred during World War II, preceding the Normandy landings, in what would be known as Operation Fortitude. British intelligence convinced the German Armed Forces that a much larger invasion force was about to cross the English Channel from Kent, England. In reality, the Normandy landings were the main attempt at establishing a beachhead, made easier by the German Command’s reluctance to commit its armies. Another act of World War II–era disinformation was Operation Mincemeat, where British intelligence dressed up a corpse, equipped it with fake invasion plans, and floated it out to sea where Axis troops would eventually recover it. The Cold War made disinformation a mainstream military and political tactic. Conspiracy theorists often accuse governments of spreading disinformation in a “war for your mind” by using media.

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Misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is spread unintentionally. It is distinguished from disinformation, which is intended to mislead. When comparing misinformation to disinformation, Jurgen Habermas says that the motives play an active role in the effect the information has. Misinformation may have a less devastating effect in that readers can criticize what they have read and evaluate it as truth or fiction. Authors will also have to give reasoning for their beliefs and support their statements with facts. In an age of technological advances, social networking sites are becoming more and more popular. These sites are an easy access point for misinformation. They provide users with the capabilities to spread information quickly to other users without confirmation of its truth. This also makes things more difficult when several other users can share or change data to accommodate their own thoughts. When researching these sources, it is important to learn the extent of which the misinformation will be disseminated, to what audience, and how quickly it will spread. These important clues can help websites know what plans of action need to be taken to avoid outbreaks. According to Anne Mintz, editor of Web of Deception: Misinformation on the Internet, the best ways to find if information is factual is to use common sense. Look to see if information makes sense, if the founders or reporters of the sites are biased or have an agenda, and look at where the sites may be found. It is highly recommended to look at other sites for that information as it might be published and heavily researched, providing more concrete details.

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Journalism:

Journalism is the discipline of collecting, analyzing, verifying and presenting information regarding current events, trends, issues and people. Journalism is a discipline of gathering, writing and reporting news, and more broadly it includes the process of editing and presenting the news articles. Journalism applies to various media, including but not limited to newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. Those who practice journalism are known as journalists. News-oriented journalism is sometimes described as the “first rough draft of history” (attributed to Phil Graham), because journalists often record important events, producing news articles on short deadlines. While under pressure to be first with their stories, news media organizations usually edit and proofread their reports prior to publication, adhering to each organization’s standards of accuracy, quality and style. Many news organizations claim proud traditions of holding government officials and institutions accountable to the public, while media critics have raised questions about holding the press itself accountable.

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Journalism is a method of inquiry and literary style used in social and cultural representation. It serves the purpose of playing the role of public service machinery in the dissemination and analysis of news and information. Journalistic integrity is based on the principles of truth, accuracy and factual knowledge. Journalistic mediums can vary diversely, from print publishing to electronic broadcasting, and from newspaper to television channels, as well as to the web, and to digital technology. In modern society, the news media is the chief purveyor of information and opinion about public affairs. Journalism, however, is not always confined to the news media or to news itself, as journalistic communication may find its way into broader forms of expression, including literature and cinema. In some nations, the news media is still controlled by government intervention, and is not fully an independent body. In a democratic society, however, access to free information plays a central role in creating a system of checks and balance, and in distributing power equally between governments, businesses, individuals, and other social entities. Access to verifiable information gathered by independent media sources, which adhere to journalistic standards, can also be of service to ordinary citizens, by empowering them with the tools they need in order to participate in the political process.

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Journalism genres:

The term “journalism genres” refers to various journalism styles, fields or separate genres, in writing accounts of events. Newspapers and periodicals often contain features written by journalists, many of whom specialize in this form of in-depth journalistic writing. Feature articles are usually longer forms of writing; more attention is paid to style than in straight news reports. They are often combined with photographs, drawings or other “art.” They may also be highlighted by typographic effects or colors. Writing features can be more demanding than writing straight news stories, because while a journalist must apply the same amount of effort to accurately gather and report the facts of the story, he or she must also find a creative and interesting way to write it. The lead (or first two paragraphs of the story) must grab the reader’s attention and yet accurately embody the ideas of the article. Ambush journalism refers to aggressive tactics practiced by journalists to suddenly confront and question people who otherwise do not wish to speak to a journalist. The practice has particularly been applied by television journalists, on news shows like The O’Reilly Factor and 60 Minutes and by Geraldo Rivera and other local television reporters conducting investigations. Another area of journalism that grew in stature in the 20th Century is ‘celebrity’ or ‘people’ journalism, which focuses on the personal lives of people, primarily celebrities, including movie and stage actors, musical artists, models and photographers, other notable people in the entertainment industry, as well as people who seek attention, such as politicians, and people thrust into the attention of the public, such as people who do something newsworthy. Investigative journalism is a primary source of information. Investigative journalism often focuses on investigating and exposing unethical, immoral, and illegal behavior by individuals, businesses and government agencies, can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive—requiring teams of journalists, months of research, interviews (sometimes repeated interviews) with numerous people, long-distance travel, computers to analyze public-record databases, or use of the company’s legal staff to secure documents under freedom of information laws. Science journalists must understand and interpret very detailed, technical and sometimes jargon-laden information and render it into interesting reports that are comprehensible to consumers of news media. Scientific journalists also must choose which developments in science merit news coverage, as well as cover disputes within the scientific community with a balance of fairness to both sides but also with a devotion to the facts. Science journalism has frequently been criticized for exaggerating the degree of dissent within the scientific community on topics such as global warming, and for conveying speculation as fact. Sport covers many aspects of human athletic competition, and is an integral part of most journalism products, including newspapers, magazines, and radio and television news broadcasts. While some critics don’t consider sports journalism to be true journalism, the prominence of sports in Western culture has justified the attention of journalists to not just the competitive events in sports, but also to athletes and the business of sports.

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Mahatma Gandhi and journalism:

Gandhi was probably the greatest journalist of all time, and the weeklies he ran and edited were probably the greatest weeklies the world has known. He published no advertisement; at the same time he did not want his newspapers to run at a loss. He had gained considerable experience in South Africa, where he had taken over in1904 the editorship of the ‘Indian Opinion’ and published it in English, Tamil and Gujarati, sometimes running the press himself. ‘Young India’ and ‘Harijan’ became powerful vehicles of his views on all subjects. He wrote on all subjects. He wrote simply and clearly but forcefully, with passion and burning indignation. One of the objects of a newspaper, he said is to understand the popular feeling and give expression to it; another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments, and the third is fearlessly to expose popular defects. Gandhi looked upon journalism as a means to serve the people. He said in his autobiography: “The sole aim of journalism should be service. The newspaper is a great power, but just as an unchained torrent of water submerges whole countryside and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy. If the control is from without, it proves more poisonous than want of control. It can be profitable only when exercised from within.

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The main selective forces that shape the production of news:

1. Sources:

The sources of news may be public institutions, politicians, private companies, police, courts, interviewees, etc. These all have an interest in providing information that portray themselves in a positive light and withhold compromising information. There is a trade going on between source and journalist. For example, the media rely heavily on the police for news about crimes and often report positively about the police in exchange for this information. Sources that are unsatisfied with the way they are portrayed in a certain newspaper or TV channel may retaliate by withholding information in the future (Ericson et al. 1989, Chermak 1995, Chibnall 1977, Crandon 1992).

2. Journalists and editors:

Obviously, journalists may have political opinions that shape their selection and framing of news. They also have ethical principles about fairness and about reporting everything that is relevant, although they may depart from these principles when competition is fierce (Chermak 1995, Gans 1980). Their selection of news is mostly based on the concept of newsworthiness, i.e. what they believe the audience finds interesting (Gans 1980, Ericson et al. 1987).

3. Audience:

News media depend very much on their audience for economic reasons. They have to publish whatever makes people buy their newspapers, listen to their radio programs, or tune in to their TV shows and stay tuned through the commercial breaks. This is what newsworthiness really is about: catching the attention of the audience by presenting something spectacular, unusual, emotionally touching, and something that people can identify with. The concept of psychological buttons is really in place here. Topics like danger, food and sex make people pay attention. Keeping informed about dangers in the environment was of vital importance to our ancestors in primeval society, which is the reason why we have a surveillance instinct that make us hunger for news about possible dangers (Shoemaker 1996). News about deviance, crime, and disaster are particularly salient (Gans 1980; Graber, D. 1980; Chermak 1995). In fact, Ericson and coworkers found that stories about deviance and control constitute more than half of the news (Ericson et al. 1991). The media have often been criticized for publishing too much bad news, but the fact is that the audience actually pays more attention to stories about crime and disaster than to good news. The bad news are not always very relevant. Horrific stories about some bizarre and morbid crime that has happened in a far-away place may be more button pushing than reports about well known and trivial dangers like traffic accidents or unhealthy eating habits. The average TV viewer may pay more attention to the story about a bizarre crime although (s)he is extremely unlikely to be affected by a similar crime, at the same time ignoring warnings about the immensely higher risks of traffic accidents or unhealthy life style (Pritchard & Hughes 1997, Singer & Endreny 1993, Ericson et al. 1991). Another pervasive psychological factor in the preferences of the audience is personal identification. A story is much more touching if presented in terms of personalities than if presented as abstract principles. A political conflict is perceived as much more interesting if it is framed as a personal battle between politicians than if framed as a clash between ideologies (Chibnall 1977, Sennett 1974), and a crime story is more touching if vulnerable victims voice their anger and grief (Chermak 1995).

4. Owners:

The owners and shareholders of news media may have political opinions that shape their decisions, but with increasing professionalism they often prefer their media to be politically neutral in order to cover as large an audience as possible (Gaunt 1990). The present trend of concentration of business ownership means that many media owners also own other enterprises unrelated to news production. They may prevent their media from being too critical towards other firms that they own or towards business in general (Weis & Burke 1986). The demand for economic efficiency and short time schedules means that journalists often have to print the messages from their sources with little or no editing. The thoroughgoing investigative journalism takes place more in myth than in reality (Ericson et al. 1987).

5. Advertisers:

Newspapers get more than half of their revenues from advertisers, and most radio and TV stations get all their revenues from advertising and sponsoring (Weis & Burke 1986). Obviously, the advertisers have a strong influence on news contents. Such an influence is usually considered unethical, but is nevertheless difficult to avoid. In order to attract advertisers, the media often generate a “buying mood” by discussing topics of relevance to the advertised products and avoiding any criticism of commercial products or of consumerism in general (McManus 1995, Bagdikian 1983, Cirino 1973). The influence of advertisers may be even more direct, although clandestine. Occasionally, advertisers have imposed economic sanctions against newspapers that have criticized their products (Weis & Burke 1986, Bagdikian 1983). Discussions of the health hazards of smoking are almost absent from magazines that carry tobacco advertisements, although less important health hazards are covered extensively (Warner et al. 1992, Weis & Burke 1986). The owners of tobacco factories can influence even magazines that do not allow tobacco advertisements because the same investors also own other companies that advertise in these magazines (Weis & Burke 1986). Advertisers and sponsors are afraid of controversial programs unless this is exactly their niche. It is easy to observe that the more competition there is between the news media, the more entertaining and less serious becomes the news programs and political debates (Ericson et al. 1991, Gaunt 1990).

6. Economic selection:

Economic selection can override other factors like ideology because economic selection can kill the news-producing company. Imagine a town where there are two newspapers, A and B. A is a quality newspaper where ethical principles of fairness and relevance are held in high regard, while B is a popular newspaper indulging in sensationalism, titillating sex scandals, and slander. Journalists prefer to work for A because it endorses the principles that they consider the hallmark of their trade. Many consumers, however, buy B because it’s sensational front-pages catch their attention. The advertisers, too, place more money in B than in A because B extols their products while A often criticizes poor products and unfair business methods. Soon A gets economic problems that force it to reduce its journalistic staff, reduce the number of pages, and raise the price of the paper. The lowered quality of A now makes more readers turn to B. The vicious circle keeps turning and the economy of A keeps spiraling down until its total demise. This example is not pure fiction. It can be observed everywhere. This proves that the overall economic selection can override selection processes that take place at a lower level and force the news producers to compromise their ethical principles. A study of the selection of news in major American TV stations and newsmagazines in the 1970’es concludes that economic factors had little influence on the journalists in their selection of stories. This was in a period where the media enjoyed the benefit of a rapid economic growth (Gans 1980). Apparently, the good economy permitted the media the luxury of setting idealistic principles higher than economic considerations. Gans supports his claim about the independence of journalists by citing the example of the Saturday Evening Post: even when this magazine was going under, the editors remained free from business-department intervention (Gans 1980). Unfamiliar with selection theory, Gans has overlooked the possibility that this newsmagazine may have gone under exactly because economic considerations were ignored. Anyway, the amount of sensationalism, scandals and titillation in the media is steadily increasing (Gans 1980, Soothill & Walby 1991). The present trend is a homogenization of the news media: different media rely increasingly on the same sources, they may have the same owners, the same advertisers, and share the same market. The result is that the different news outlets often tell the same stories and in the same way, only blended with different kinds of entertainment. They avoid controversy and complicated background information and rely increasingly on the button pushing effect of sensationalism and personalizing (Gaunt 1990, McManus 1995, Soothill & Walby 1991, Chermak 1995).

7. Consequences for the quality of news:

A further consequence of the abovementioned homogenization of news is that it becomes more and more difficult for the audience to evaluate whether news stories are true or distorted, and whether important information has been left out. Truth and relevance are not strong factors in the news selection process (McManus 1995). Journalists work under a tight time schedule and have little time to verify their stories. Therefore, obviously, they sometimes make errors. These errors are seldom corrected because retractions and disclaimers are unfit. The media tend to stick to the interpretive frame originally assigned to a story, even in the face of strong contrary evidence (Ericson et al. 1989). Misquoted sources and others who may be dissatisfied with inaccurate media stories have only very ineffective means for influencing the media to correct their stories (Ericson et al. 1989, Soothill & Walby 1991).

8. Political consequences:

Politicians are very dependent on the news media because people mainly base their voting decisions on the presentation of politicians in the media. The media appeal of a politician may be more important than his/her political skills, and consequently we are seeing more and more media people and actors going into politics. The politicians have to adapt their messages to the media. The political debate becomes superficial and toothless. Political candidates resort to short slogans and entertainment and avoid controversial subjects and complicated issues. Favorite issues are the most button-pushing ones like crime and sex, and indeed these issues are among the most salient topics on the agenda of election campaigns (Sasson 1995, Soothill & Walby 1991). The need for personalization has often caused the private lives of politicians to figure more prominently on the public agenda than debates over complicated social issues. As explained above, the news media focus very much on the unusual and bizarre, and on button pushing stories. Trivial crimes like shoplifting or speedy driving are not newsworthy and therefore seldom mentioned, even by the local media. But the rare, bizarre and spectacular crimes are given massive, lengthy, and often worldwide coverage. The amount of crime reported in the newsmedia is hardly related to actual crime rates. In areas where the crime rate is low, the media tend to report on less serious crimes or crimes that have taken place far away. In addition, the media may write about some unsolved crime that has happened long ago, or about people’s fear of crimes that might happen in the future (Chermak 1995, Beckett 1994). For example, the grotesque crimes committed by Jack the Ripper in London in 1888 are still remembered and talked about today, more than a hundred years later, while countless more simple crimes committed in the meantime have been totally forgotten. In fact, the story of Jack the Ripper has had a significant effect in shaping public conception of sex criminals (Walkowitz 1982, Soothill & Walby 1991). The result of this powerful selection of discourses is that the population gets a distorted conception of crime and dangers. Many women are afraid of sex monsters like Jack the Ripper lurking in the dark, although they are much more likely to be victimized by someone in their own circle of acquaintances. In countries like USA, where economic competition between news media is fierce and there is little government regulation, the sensationalist focus on button pushing crimes in the news media have created a public sentiment that many commentators have characterized as obsession with crime (Sasson 1995, Adler 1983). Often the focus on particular types of crime has taken the shape of moral panic. In this case politicians are forced to show their commitment to the cause and “do something”. Some politicians are emotionally affected by the moral panic and honestly want to combat the perceived evil. Others may realize that the situation is just a moral panic, but they are forced to react anyway. When an eager journalist asks a politician what he is going to do about some (perceived) menace, there is no way he can stand up and say: “This is not a serious problem. There is no need to do more about it than we already do”. He has no other option than to find some laws that can be made strict, well knowing that it is wrong to make hasty legislation in a highly emotional climate. The press has more power than the politicians in this situation (Ericson et al. 1989). The framing of crime stories in the media is just as important as the selection. Personal stories are more touching than abstract principles. Crime stories are therefore framed as individual personal stories rather than thematizised as general social problems (Ericson et al. 1991, Soothill & Walby 1991, Chibnall 1977). This framing affects the way people think about crimes and their causes. The main cause of crime is perceived to be moral defects in the individual and – in the case of reoffending – an ineffective penal system. Social and structural causes of crime are seldom discussed because they do not fit into this frame and because such discussions are less newsworthy and button pushing. This consequence of personalized framing is very important because it controls how crime-fighting resources are allocated (Sasson 1995, Brownstein 1991, Iyengar 1991). In USA, people’s attitudes towards crime have become more punitive despite an increased liberalism in other matters, and this change of attitude cannot be adequately accounted for by increased crime rates or increased fear of crime (Stinchcombe et.al. 1980). Budgets for law enforcement and prisons have grown exponentially since World War II and the incarceration rate has risen to extreme levels (Sasson 1995). The crime rate has hardly been affected by this dramatic increase in crime-fighting efforts because the structural causes of crime have largely been ignored. In many cases, the money spent on law enforcement and prisons have been taken from social programs targeted at the social causes of crime (Herman 1991, Brownstein 1991). In conclusion, the selection and framing of crime news has caused an ever increasing allocation of resources to ineffective and perhaps even harmful measures and away from measures that target the criminogenic environment. Criminologists have often criticized this prioritizing, but their messages are not favored by the powerful selection mechanisms that control mass media.

9. Personalization:

The fact that the political debate has become entertainment has had the consequence that attention is concentrated on the personality of the politician rather than his message. These tendencies are characteristic of the kind of society that sociologist Richard Sennett calls the intimate society (Sennett 1974). Humans have become isolated from one another due to urbanization and division of labor in modern society, and consequently they have created an illusion of fellowship by attributing to other people the same feelings as they have themselves in order to satisfy the frustrated need for intimacy. People do not talk to one another on the street, but nevertheless they feel that they have something in common. This feeling of a group identity or a collective personality is created by a common fantasy, not by common actions. Society has become so impersonal, complex, and difficult to grasp, that it appears meaningless unless you interpret it as personal. People thereby become more interested in the personality of the politician than in his policy. The politician takes advantage of this situation and diverts attention away from controversial matters by exposing his private life and make people interested in his wife or his dog. Exposing the private personality of the politicians has become a hidden agenda in political life. Politicians began to compare their public performance with that of actors as early as the mid nineteenth century. The politician becomes a credible leader by simulating spontaneity and human feelings, but also self-control. People will rather be moved by a charismatic leader than take a stance for or against his policy, just like they go to a theater to be moved by the actors (Way & Masters 1996, Sennett 1974). Sennett does not think that this situation is created by the electronic media, because the tendency to make public life personal began before these instruments were invented. They are just tools invented for covering a psychological need to retract from public life and feel more like a person (Sennett 1974). The sharpened competition between the mass media has contributed significantly to the transformation of political debate into a superficial play. Symptomatic of this situation is that politicians in their election campaigns sometimes concentrate on disclosing scandalous details about the private lives of their opponents, while the ideological messages are reduced to short clichés so general that nobody can disagree with them. Democratic election thereby becomes a competition about who can present the most exemplary private life, and the politicians have to put a conservative family policy on their program. An obvious example is the USA. During the economic depression around 1980, the population felt a need for a confidence inspiring leader who could solve the complicated social problems that people could not themselves comprehend. It was no accident that it was a former actor and movie hero, Ronald Reagan, who was elected for US president at that time (McCann 1991). The outcome of the election is determined more by acting talent than by political talent in such a situation.

10. Regalization:

The fact that crime and disaster are favorite topics of the media has the effect that people overestimate the dangers in their environment. They come to perceive the world as more dangerous and evil than it really is and demand ever stricter measures to fight the deviance (Brownstein 1991, Gerbner et al. 1980). This has a clear regalizing effect. The enemy may be internal to the society, but the perceived danger is a danger to society as a whole rather than to the individual, and therefore has a regalizing effect.  In the period where competition between news media in the USA has been most fierce, i.e. after the Second World War, tolerance for crime has decreased while tolerance in other matters has increased (Stinchcombe et.al. 1980). Peace and improved economy has a kalyptic effect that counterbalances the regal effect of the mass media so that the net effect is near zero. Old scapegoats have disappeared and new scapegoats have been constructed. The competition between news media has a considerable effect as part of the cultural selection process, but it would be an exaggeration to regard this as an autonomous process able to push social evolution in any arbitrary direction. The producers, as well as the audience, have personal preferences which are highly influenced by the general social situation, and these personal preferences find expression in the selection of news. Jorgenson (1975) has shown that TV programs become more authoritarian in contents in times of economic crisis.

11. The competition for attention:

Organizations, firms, politicians, and advocacy groups of all kinds are constantly engaged in a fierce battle to win the attention of the population. Mass media lure with sensations and scandals to make people buy their stories. Politicians expose their private lives and engage in humorous media stunts to win the public’s attention and confidence. Advertisers use emotional and arousing images for capturing the consumers’ attention and make them remember the name of their product (Lang 1990). Advocacy groups use demonstrations and dramatic actions to make their cause interesting for the media to write about and thereby communicating their message to the public. Charity organizations use button-pushing images of starving children for soliciting donations. Religious groups campaign for winning new proselytes. Government and official organizations campaign to inform the public about certain important topics. Terrorists even go as far as to commit the most shocking crimes just to make the news media write about them and their political cause, and the journalists obey (Weimann & Winn 1994). Several sociologists have studied how different topics compete for the attention of the mass media in what has been called the social problems marketplace (Best 1990) or the public attention market (McManus 1995). The abilities of different campaigners to dramatize their cause have crucial importance for their success in getting access to the mass media and the public’s attention. Who take the lead in this competition? Obviously the ones that are able to dramatize their cause in the most newsworthy and button-pushing way, rather than the ones that have the most important message to tell. Charity organizations, for example, may need to use more money for campaigning than for their charitable cause in order to survive in this darwinistic competition (Brodie 1996). The conclusion is that it is not always the most important topics that win in the competition for the attention of the media and the population.

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Editor in Chief’s Responsibilities:

The general responsibilities of an editor in chief are listed below.

1. Cross checking the facts, spellings, grammar, writing style, design pages, photos etc. is the final responsibility of an editor in chief. The article that comes to him for approval is generally one that has already gone through initial editing processes, but still, should something be wrong with it, the final accountability being that of an editor in chief, he is also required to go through it again.

2. It is the responsibility of the editor in chief to reject a piece of writing that appears to be plagiarized or ghost written by another sub-editor. He should check that a particular piece is neither self-plagiarized, nor has been published before elsewhere.

3. He is required to make light as well as heavy edits to the content in question. Light edits involve light editing work, i.e., work that does not require making substantial theme changes, structure changes and writing style changes. When all of these require some heavy attention, the editing is called heavy editing.

4. He may be required to contribute editorial pieces in the publication industry. He is also responsible for all the content that is approved for publishing and is often accountable for it, if he is working for any of the types of print media. The publication’s standards of performance depend heavily on its editor in chief.

5. He is required to motivate and develop the staff under him on an occasional basis. Whatever is written in the article should be up to the mark, readable, and matching to the mission and scope of the institution. He also sets various guidelines and policies for his/her subordinates. Often, the responsibilities are seen to expand to the operational and strategic planning of the organization as well.

6. It is necessary for him to conduct team meetings on a regular basis, which will keep the team members updated. Assigning responsibilities to all team members and ensuring that they are completed on time is one of the major responsibilities.

7. If it is a magazine we are looking at, it is the editor in chief’s responsibility to see that the issue is full of content and no area is left empty. They are also required to handle reader’s complaints and explain and account for them.

8. An editor in chief of a book or journal oversees all the stages of the book, from the manuscript form, all to the published book stage. He performs all the aforementioned editing tasks on the entire book.

9. It is his responsibility to cross-check all citations and examine all the references provided in the content. In case of journals, it’s the editor in chief who sets and tries to implement the ethical standards.

10. A technical editor in chief has the added responsibility to check the technical soundness and technical quality of the content. For this, he is required to have the technical skills in the related field or product. For technical editing, he should know how to use tools such as Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) and DocBooks.

11. He requires skills of proofreading, copy editing, developmental editing, line editing and editing for search engine optimization. 

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Echo chamber:

In media, an echo chamber is a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an “enclosed” system, often drowning out different or competing views. Observers of journalism in the mass media describe an echo chamber effect in media discourse. One purveyor of information will make a claim, which many like-minded people then repeat, overhear, and repeat again (often in an exaggerated or otherwise distorted form) until most people assume that some extreme variation of the story is true. A media conglomerate that owns multiple media outlets can produce the same story among “different” outlets, creating an illusion that a media consumer is getting information from different sources. Similarly, the term also refers to the media effect whereby an incorrect story (often a “smear” that first appears in a new-media domain) is reported through a biased channel, creating a media controversy that is subsequently reported in more reputable mainstream media outlets. These mainstream reports often use intermediary sources or commentary for reference and emphasize the controversy surrounding the original story rather than its factual merits. The overall effect often is to legitimize false claims in the public eye through sheer volume of reporting and media references, even if the majority of these reports acknowledges the factual inaccuracy of the original story.  

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Different types and forms of media:

Mass media refers to communication devices, which can be used to communicate and interact with a large number of audiences in different languages. Be it the pictorial messages of the early ages, or the  high-technology media that are available today, one thing that we all agree  upon, is that mass media are an inseparable part of our lives. Entertainment and  media always go hand in hand, but in addition to the entertainment, mass media  also remain to be an effective medium for communication, dissemination of  information, advertising, marketing, and in general, for expressing and sharing  views, opinions, and ideas. Mass media is a double-edged sword which means that there are positive as well as negative influences of media as discussed later on.

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Types of media:

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There are different types of mass media that we are accustomed to in this day and age. Whether it’s children, young people, or adults, we’ve all had our share of media-related exposure every day. Learn more about what comprises the media in our modern-day world. Print media encompasses mass communication through printed material. It includes newspapers, magazines, booklets and brochures, house magazines, periodicals or newsletters, direct mailers, handbills or flyers, billboards, press releases, and books. Electronic media is the kind of media which requires the user to utilize an electric connection to access it. It includes television, radio, and new-age media like Internet, computers, telephones, etc. With the advent of Internet, we are now enjoying the benefits of high technology mass media, which is not only faster than the old school mass media, but also has a widespread range. Mobile phones, computers, and Internet are often referred to as the new-age media. Internet has opened up several new opportunities for mass communication which include email, websites, podcasts, e-forums, e-books, blogging, Internet TV, and many others which are booming today. Internet has also started social networking sites which have redefined mass communication all together. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have made communication to the masses all the more entertaining, interesting, and easier.

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Different Types of Media are :
Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement for advertising
Electronic media, communications delivered via electronic or electromechanical energy
Digital media, electronic media used to store, transmit, and receive digitized information
Electronic Business Media, digital media for electronic business
Hypermedia, media with hyperlinks
Multimedia, communications that incorporate multiple forms of information content and processing
Print media, communications delivered via paper or canvas
Published media, any media made available to the public
Mass media, all means of mass communication
Broadcast media, communications delivered over mass electronic communication networks
News media, mass media focused on communicating news
New media, media that can only be created or used with the aid of modern computer processing power
Recording media, devices used to store information
Social media, media disseminated through social interaction

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Concept of 7 media:

Today, mass media is generally categorised into 7 branches. These “seven mass media”, in order of their introduction are:

1. Print (books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, etc.) from the late 15th century

2. Recordings (gramophone records, magnetic tapes, cassettes, cartridges, CDs, DVDs) from the late 19th century

3. Cinema from about 1900

4. Radio from about 1910

5. Television from about 1950

6. Internet from about 1990

7. Mobile phones from about 2000

Each mass medium has its own content types, its own creative artists and technicians, and its own business model. For example, the Internet includes web sites, blogs, podcasts, and various other technologies built on top of the general distribution network. The sixth and seventh media, internet and mobile, are often called collectively as digital media; and the fourth and fifth, radio and TV, as broadcast media. Some argue that video games have developed into a distinct mass form of media.  

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Mainstream media (MSM):

Mainstream media is a catchall term referring to television networks (especially broadcast), newspapers, magazines, radio, and often the movie industry. It is so named because it is designed to appeal to as large an audience as possible, hence “mainstream.”  Mainstream media (MSM) are those media disseminated via the largest distribution channels, which therefore represent what the majority of media consumers are likely to encounter. The term also denotes those media generally reflective of the prevailing currents of thought, influence, or activity. Conservatives, particularly Fox News, like to accuse the mainstream media of having a liberal bias, not realizing that they themselves are a part of the mainstream media. In reality, the mainstream media is probably more conservative (in relation to its audience) than ever. Despite common opinion, the Internet has had only a minimal impact on the power of the mainstream media; it still far outmuscles the Internet in terms of creating awareness. For example, in 2006, Congressman Mark Foley was discovered to have texted creepy messages to sixteen-year-old Congressional pages. The resulting mainstream media frenzy rocketed his national name recognition from effectively no one outside the 720,000 people in his district to a whopping 86% of the nation’s population in only two weeks. The mainstream media will probably remain a major force in our society for some time to come. This is especially true when one considers that the mainstream media is dominated by large corporations on all of its fronts. Large news conglomerates, including newspapers and broadcast media, which underwent successive mergers in the U.S. and elsewhere at an increasing rate beginning in the 1990s, are often referenced by the term MSM. However, this concentration of media ownership has raised concerns of a homogenization of viewpoints presented to news consumers. Consequently, the term mainstream media has been widely used in conversation and the blogosphere, often in oppositional, pejorative, or dismissive senses, in discussion of the mass media and media bias.

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Alternative media:    

Alternative media are media (newspapers, radio, television, magazines, movies, Internet, etc.) which provide alternative information to the mainstream media in a given context, whether the mainstream media are commercial, publicly supported, or government-owned. Alternative media differ from mainstream media along one or more of the following dimensions: their content, aesthetic, modes of production, modes of distribution, and audience relations.  Alternative media often aim to challenge existing powers, to represent marginalized groups, and to foster horizontal linkages among communities of interest. Proponents of alternative media argue that the mainstream media are biased in the selection and framing of news and information. While sources of alternative media can also be biased (sometimes proudly so), proponents claim that the bias is significantly different than that of the mainstream media because they have a different set of values, objectives, and frameworks. Hence these media provide an “alternative” viewpoint, different information and interpretations of the world that cannot be found in the mainstream. The alternative press consists of printed publications that provide a different or dissident viewpoint than that provided by major mainstream and corporate newspapers, magazines, and other print media.  An alternative media institution…doesn’t try to maximize profits, doesn’t primarily sell audience to advertisers for revenues (and so seeks broad and non-elite audience), is structured to subvert society’s defining hierarchical social relationships, and is structurally profoundly different from and as independent of other major social institutions, particularly corporations, as it can be. An alternative media institution sees itself as part of a project to establish new ways of organizing media and social activity and it is committed to furthering these as a whole, and not just its own preservation. In many countries around the world, specific categories of radio stations are licensed to provided targeted broadcasts to specific communities, including community radio and low-power FM (LPFM). Such stations typically broadcast with less wattage than commercial or public/state-run broadcasters, and are often non-commercial and non-profit in nature. Ethnic media and racial media outlets, including ethnic newspapers, radio stations and television programs, typically target specific ethnic and racial groups instead of the general population, such as immigrant audience groups. In many cases, ethnic media are regarded as media which are entirely created by and for ethnic groups within their respective host countries, with content in their native languages, though many ethnic media outlets are in fact operated by transnational organizations or even by mainstream corporations, while others are commercial operations, even if they still arguably fulfill a role as an ethnic/racial representative for their respective communities within the larger media landscape.  With the increasing importance attributed to digital technologies, questions have arisen about where digital media fit in the dichotomy between alternative and mainstream media. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other similar sites, while not necessarily created to be information media, increasingly are being used to spread news and information, potentially acting as alternative media as they allow ordinary citizens to bypass the gatekeepers of traditional, mainstream media and share the information and perspectives these citizens deem important. Additionally, digital media provide an alternative space for deviant, dissident or non-traditional views, and allow for the creation of new, alternative communities that can provide a voice for those normally marginalized by the mainstream media.  However, some have criticized the weaknesses of the Web. First, for its ability to act as both “alternative and a mass medium brings with it the tension of in-group and out-group communication.” Second, the Web “rarely lives up to its potential” with constraints to access.  Essentially, media resources have become monopolized by corporate conglomerates, which leave the public sphere in a permanent “ghetto” condition. In order to overcome such problems, Atton noted that producers of alternative media can rely on the audience to generate content, which comes at little or no cost.

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Corporate media:

Corporate media is a term which refers to a system of mass media production, distribution, ownership, and funding which is dominated by corporations and their CEOs. It is sometimes used as a pejorative term in place of mainstream media, which tends to also be used as a derisive term, to indicate a media system that does not serve the public interest. Media critics such as Robert McChesney, Ben Bagdikian, Ralph Nader, Jim Hightower, Noam Chomsky, Edward S. Herman, and Amy Goodman suggest that such a media system, especially when allowed to dominate the mainstream media, inevitably will be manipulated by these same corporations to suit their own interests. These critics point out that the main national networks, NBC, CBS, and ABC, as well as most if not all of the smaller cable channels, are owned, funded, and controlled by an interconnected network of large corporate conglomerates and international banking interests, which may manipulate and filter out news that does not fit their corporate agenda. In my view, the distinction between mainstream media and corporate media is already blurred and it would not be wrong to use these terms synonymously. 

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Citizen journalism:

The concept of citizen journalism (also known as “public”, “participatory”, “democratic”), “guerrilla” or “street” journalism is based upon public citizens “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information.”  Similarly, Courtney C. Radsch defines citizen journalism “as an alternative and activist form of newsgathering and reporting that functions outside mainstream media institutions, often as a repose to shortcoming in the professional journalistic field, that uses similar journalistic practices but is driven by different objectives and ideals and relies on alternative sources of legitimacy than traditional or mainstream journalism.” Jay Rosen proposes a simpler definition: “When the people formerly known as the audience employs the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another.” Citizen journalism should not be confused with community journalism or civic journalism, both of which are practiced by professional journalists. New media technology, such as social networking and media-sharing websites, in addition to the increasing prevalence of cellular telephones, has made citizen journalism more accessible to people worldwide. Due to the availability of technology, citizens often can report breaking news more quickly than traditional media reporters. Notable examples of citizen journalism reporting from major world events are, the Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the 2013 protests in Turkey, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Citizen journalism, as a form of alternative media, presents a “radical challenge to the professionalized and institutionalized practices of the mainstream media”. The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others. For example, you might write about a city council meeting on your blog or in an online forum. Or you could fact-check a newspaper article from the mainstream media and point out factual errors or bias on your blog. Or you might snap a digital photo of a newsworthy event happening in your town and post it online. Or you might videotape a similar event and post it on a site such as YouTube. Without addressing the failures of professional journalism that often have led to the rise of citizen journalism, critics of the phenomenon, including professional journalists, claim that citizen journalism is unregulated, too subjective, amateurish, and haphazard in quality and coverage.

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Citizen media:

The term citizen media refers to forms of content produced by private citizens who are otherwise not professional journalists. Citizen journalism, participatory media and democratic media are related principles. There are many forms of citizen-produced media including blogs, vlogs, podcasts, digital storytelling, community radio, participatory video and more, and may be distributed via television, radio, internet, email, movie theatre, DVD and many other forms. Many organizations and institutions exist to facilitate the production of media by private citizens including, but not limited to, Public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable TV channels, Independent Media Centers and community technology centers.

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Democratic media:

Democratic Media is the concept of organizing media along democratic lines rather that strictly commercial and/or ideological line. Like the idea of democracy itself, democratic media looks to transparency, inclusiveness, one-person-one-vote and other key concepts of democracy as principals of operation, “This is a media whose primary objectives are to inform, be open, independent and be accountable.”  This is in contrast to the idea that media should be run by commercial operations and with an agenda to make profit from providing media and where the media reflects the opinions and values of the owner and /or advertisers.  It is also in contrast to state-run operations where the media reflects the value system of the state itself. Edward S Herman lays out what he thought the form that democratic media would take “A democratic media can be identified by its structure and functions. In terms of structure, it would be organized and controlled by ordinary citizens or their grass roots organisations….As regards function, a democratic media will aim first and foremost at serving the informational, cultural and other communications needs of members of the public which the media institutions comprise or represent”.

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Forms of mass media:

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Print media: Publishing Media:

The publishing media is the oldest form of mass media. This media includes books, news papers and magazine. The concept of books is not new.  It is believed that the first ever book in the world was printed in 863 AD in China. Though it was the first book to be officially published, many historians claim that books has been released way before this time.  News papers are also not new. They were developed during the 17th century in England and by the 19th century were common mass media.

Newspaper:

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A newspaper is a publication containing news and information and advertising, usually printed on low-cost paper called newsprint. It may be general or special interest, most often published daily or weekly. The first printed newspaper was published in 1605, and the form has thrived even in the face of competition from technologies such as radio and television. Recent developments on the Internet are posing major threats to its business model, however. Paid circulation is declining in most countries, and advertising revenue, which makes up the bulk of a newspaper’s income, is shifting from print to online; some commentators, nevertheless, point out that historically new media such as radio and television did not entirely supplant existing.

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Book:

A book is a collection of sheets of paper, parchment or other material with a piece of text written on them, bound together along one edge within covers. A book is also a literary work or a main division of such a work. A book produced in electronic format is known as an e-book.

Magazine:

A magazine is a periodical publication containing a variety of articles, generally financed by advertising and/or purchase by readers. Magazines are typically published weekly, biweekly, monthly, bimonthly or quarterly, with a date on the cover that is in advance of the date it is actually published. They are often printed in color on coated paper, and are bound with a soft cover. Magazines fall into two broad categories: consumer magazines and business magazines. In practice, magazines are a subset of periodicals, distinct from those periodicals produced by scientific, artistic, academic or special interest publishers which are subscription-only, more expensive, narrowly limited in circulation, and often have little or no advertising.

Magazines can be classified as:

General interest magazines (e.g. Frontline, India Today, The Week, The Sunday Times etc.)

Special interest magazines (women’s, sports, business, scuba diving, etc.)

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Tabloid media:

Tabloid journalism tends to emphasize topics such as sensational crime stories, astrology, gossip columns about the personal lives of celebrities and sports stars, and junk food news. Such journalism is commonly associated with tabloid sized newspapers like the National Enquirer, Globe or the The Sun and the former News of the World. Not all newspapers associated with such journalism are in tabloid size; for example, the format of Apple Daily is broadsheet, while the style is tabloid. The terms tabloids, supermarket tabloids, gutter press and rag refer to the journalistic approach of such newspapers rather than their size. Often, tabloid newspaper allegations about the sexual practices, drug use, or private conduct of celebrities is borderline defamatory; in many cases, celebrities have successfully sued for libel, demonstrating that tabloid stories have defamed them. It is this sense of the word that led to some entertainment news programs to be called tabloid television.

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Film

‘Film’ encompasses motion pictures as individual projects, as well as the field in general. The name comes from the photographic film (also called filmstock), historically the primary medium for recording and displaying motion pictures. Many other terms exist—motion pictures (or just pictures and “picture”), the silver screen, photoplays, the cinema, picture shows, flicks—and commonly movies. Films are produced by recording people and objects with cameras, or by creating them using animation techniques and/or special effects. They comprise a series of individual frames, but when these images are shown rapidly in succession, the illusion of motion is given to the viewer. Flickering between frames is not seen due to an effect known as persistence of vision—whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed. Also of relevance is what causes the perception of motion; a psychological effect identified as beta movement. Film is considered by many to be an important art form; films entertain, educate, enlighten and inspire audiences. Any film can become a worldwide attraction, especially with the addition of dubbing or subtitles that translate the film message. Films are also artifacts created by specific cultures, which reflect those cultures, and, in turn, affect them.

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Photography:

Photography has raised a number of concerns about its impact on society. There are lots of questions. For instance, what about the objectivity of photography? Photographers decide what to photograph, which elements of a subject to exclude and how to frame the subject. Some have said photography is subjective, rather than objective. The act of photographing certainly is more than just passive observation. Photography changes perception of society. The camera may presume, intrude, trespass, distort or exploit from a distance with detachment. It can capture images of pain and anguish. Photographic images can desensitize. Photos of war, violence, crime and sex cause a stir. Adults fret over disturbing images that are accessible to children. A discussion of desensitization often ends with calls for censorship of images.

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Broadcast media:

Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio or visual mass communications medium, but usually one using electromagnetic radiation (radio waves). The receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively large subset thereof. The sequencing of content in a broadcast is called a schedule. With all technological endeavors a number of technical terms and slang are developed. Broadcasting has been used for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication such as amateur (ham) radio and amateur television (ATV) in addition to commercial purposes like popular radio or TV stations with advertisements. Television and radio programs are distributed through radio broadcasting over frequency bands that are highly regulated. Such regulation includes determination of the width of the bands, range, licensing, types of receivers and transmitters used, and acceptable content. Cable programs are often broadcast simultaneously with radio and television programs, but have a more limited audience. By coding signals and having a cable converter box in homes, cable also enables subscription-based channels and pay-per-view services. 

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Historically, there have been several methods used for broadcasting electronic media:

1. Telephone broadcasting (1881–1932): the earliest form of electronic broadcasting (not counting data services offered by stock telegraph companies from 1867, if ticker-tapes are excluded from the definition). Telephone broadcasting began with the advent of Théâtrophone (“Theatre Phone”) systems, which were telephone-based distribution systems allowing subscribers to listen to live opera and theatre performances over telephone lines, created by French inventor Clément Ader in 1881. Telephone broadcasting also grew to include telephone newspaper services for news and entertainment programming which were introduced in the 1890s, primarily located in large European cities. These telephone-based subscription services were the first examples of electrical/electronic broadcasting and offered a wide variety of programming.

2. Radio broadcasting (experimentally from 1906, commercially from 1920); audio signals sent through the air as radio waves from a transmitter, picked up by an antenna and sent to a receiver. Stations can be linked in radio networks to broadcast common radio programs, either in broadcast syndication, simulcast or subchannels.

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3. Television broadcasting (telecast), experimentally from 1925, commercially from the 1930s: an extension of radio to include video signals.

4. Cable radio (also called “cable FM”, from 1928) and cable television (from 1932): both via coaxial cable, serving principally as transmission mediums for programming produced at either radio or television stations, with limited production of cable-dedicated programming.

5. Direct-broadcast satellite (DBS) (from circa 1974) and satellite radio (from circa 1990): meant for direct-to-home broadcast programming (as opposed to studio network uplinks and downlinks), provides a mix of traditional radio or television broadcast programming, or both, with dedicated satellite radio programming.

Direct-to-Home (DTH):

DTH service is a technology that broadcasts one’s choice of programs directly to one’s homes via satellite. To access DTH, one requires a set-top box and a dish antenna. The media agency TAM has discovered that the Direct-To-Home (DTH) technology has found itself more takers in the rural areas than in the urban areas in India. Almost 88% of the DTH connections are found in the rural market, which is a surprising figure. The main reason for DTH penetrating deeply into the rural market is because the remote rural areas have no cable accessibility. Hence, by putting up a dish they can watch multiple channels at a monthly tariff. Thanks to DTH, the rural folks can now watch more than 2 channels, avail good transmission quality, 24 hour news channels etc. In the rural areas, DTH has become almost like a status symbol.

6. Webcasting of video/television (from circa 1993) and audio/radio (from circa 1994) streams: offers a mix of traditional radio and television station broadcast programming with dedicated internet radio–webcast programming.

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Electronic media:

Electronic media means any media that uses electromagnetic waves for transmission and/or use electronic circuits in the transmitter or receiver. In the last century, a revolution in telecommunications has greatly altered communication by providing new media for long distance communication. The first transatlantic two-way radio broadcast occurred in 1906 and led to common communication via analogue and digital media:

Analog telecommunications include some radio systems, historical telephony systems, and historical TV broadcasts.

Digital telecommunications allow for computer-mediated communication, telegraphy, and computer networks.

Electronic media includes broadcast media and digital media with lot of overlapping between them.

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Digital media:

Digital media is a form of electronic media where data are stored in digital (as opposed to analog) form. It can refer to the technical aspect of storage and transmission (e.g. hard disk drives or computer networking) of information or to the “end product”, such as digital video, augmented reality, digital signage, digital audio, or digital art. The transformation of data to digital data via an analog-to-digital converter is called “digitizing” for either static or dynamic data, or “sampling” specifically when converting analog signal to digital signal. Most digital media are based on translating analog data into digital data and vice-versa. It is estimated that in the year 1986 less than 1% of the world’s technological capacity to store information was digital and in 2007 it was already 94%. The year 2002 is assumed to be the year when human kind was able to store more information in digital than in analog format (the “beginning of the digital age”).

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Digital broadcasting:

Digital broadcasting is the practice of using digital data rather than analogue waveforms to carry broadcasts over television channels or assigned radio frequency bands. It is becoming increasingly popular for television usage (especially satellite television) but is having a slower adoption rate for radio. Digital links, thanks to the use of data compression, generally have more efficient bandwidth usage than analog links, which allows a content provider more room to provide services, or to provide a higher-quality signal than had been previously available. It is estimated that the share of digital broadcasting increased from 7% of the total amount of broadcast information in 2000, to 25% in 2007.

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Internet [please read my article on ‘internet censorship’ to know more about internet]:

The Internet (also known simply as “the Net” or less precisely as “the Web”) is a more interactive medium of mass media, and can be briefly described as “a network of networks”. Specifically, it is the worldwide, publicly accessible network of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP). It consists of millions of smaller domestic, academic, business, and governmental networks, which together carry various information and services, such as email, online chat, file transfer, and the interlinked web pages and other documents of the World Wide Web. Contrary to some common usage, the Internet and the World Wide Web are not synonymous: the Internet is the system of interconnected computer networks, linked by copper wires, fiber-optic cables, wireless connections etc.; the Web is the contents, or the interconnected documents, linked by hyperlinks and URLs. The World Wide Web is accessible through the Internet, along with many other services including e-mail, file sharing and others. The internet is a media tool almost worth talking about in an entirely separate forum, yet it is comparable to most media exposure. The World Wide Web is probably the most unified and far reaching media channel to date. You can converse with someone in Kamchatka in the eastern hemisphere while viewing an advertisement in a foreign language on the same page. Then if you enter some of your personal information online, forgetting later that you did so; and then wondering why you get so much junk mail in your E-mail box. The mass media finds its way into almost every aspect of people’s lives. Over time, this technological media entity has become mammoth and omnipresent. It is everywhere you go, finds its way into most of what you do, and even provides you sometimes, with what you need; almost becoming a cybernetic surrogate mother we all readily accept without much question.

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Network media:

Network media (sometimes referred to as networked media) refers to media mainly used in computer networks such as the Internet. Network media is essentially driven by technological development, emerging from the internet as a non-centralized medium in the late nineties; the term has more recently begun to be applied to both the arts and industry. The following features distinguish Network Media from classical media, such as broadcast media and the printed press:

•Network Media is typically democratic and decentralized. The audience can also be the contributors. Media tells about the right information to the city.

•Network Media often requires the involvement of computers as an input/output device.

•Network media requires a community to participate and consume.

With the rapidly increasing digital era, new aspects of digital networking are becoming more important. Essentially, network media is about co-operative/collaborative practice in which many can contribute to the production of “media”.

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New media:

Broad term covering the different forms of electronic communication made possible through computer technology. There are three aspects of new media:

1. On-Demand access to content anytime, anywhere, on any digital device.

2. Content production can be done in real time.

3. Interactive user feedback, creative participation and community formation around the media content.

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New media deals with the issue of things being new, many argue that new media technology such as mobile phones is actually just a regeneration of old media and so therefore isn’t new. Most technologies described as “new media” are digital, often having characteristics of being manipulated, networkable, dense, compressible, and interactive. Some examples may be the Internet, websites, computer multimedia, video games, CD-ROMS, and DVDs. New media does not include television programs, feature films, magazines, books, or paper-based publications – unless they contain technologies that enable digital interactivity.  Andrew L. Shapiro (1999) argues that the “emergence of new, digital technologies signals a potentially radical shift of who is in control of information, experience and resources” (Shapiro cited in Croteau and Hoynes 2003: 322). W. Russell Neuman (1991) suggests that whilst the “new media” have technical capabilities to pull in one direction, economic and social forces pull back in the opposite direction. According to Neuman, “We are witnessing the evolution of a universal interconnected network of audio, video, and electronic text communications that will blur the distinction between interpersonal and mass communication and between public and private communication” (Neuman cited in Croteau and Hoynes 2003: 322).  Neuman argues that new media will:

1. Alter the meaning of geographic distance.

2. Allow for a huge increase in the volume of communication.

3. Provide the possibility of increasing the speed of communication.

4. Provide opportunities for interactive communication.

5. Allow forms of communication that were previously separate to overlap and interconnect.

Consequently it has been the contention of scholars such as Douglas Kellner and James Bohman that new media, and particularly the Internet, provide the potential for a democratic postmodern public sphere, in which citizens can participate in well informed, non-hierarchical debate pertaining to their social structures. Contradicting these positive appraisals of the potential social impacts of new media are scholars such as Ed Herman and Robert McChesney who have suggested that the transition to new media has seen a handful of powerful transnational telecommunications corporations who achieve a level of global influence which was hitherto unimaginable. 

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Note:

Please do not confuse between news media and new media.

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New media is essentially a cyber culture with modern computer technology, digital data controlled by software and the latest fast developing communication technology. Most technologies described as “new media” are digital, and often have characteristics of being networkable, dense, compressible, interactive and impartial. Young people are attracted to the easy means of getting information with internet based terminals or hand phones which provide them information of their choice anytime, anywhere. They need not have to wait for any broadcasting schedule to be connected to get the information. Internet blogs, news portals and online news, Facebook, You Tube, podcast and webcast, and even the short messaging system (SMS), are all new media. The modern revolution enables everybody to become a journalist at little cost and with global reach. Nothing like this has ever been possible before.

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Interactivity and new media:

Rice defined new media as communication technologies that enable or facilitate user-to-user interactivity and interactivity between user and information.  Such a definition replaces the “one-to-many” model of traditional mass communication with the possibility of a “many-to-many” web of communication. Any individual with the appropriate technology can now produce his or her online media and include images, text, and sound about whatever he or she chooses.  Thus the convergence of new methods of communication with new technologies shifts the model of mass communication, and radically reshapes the ways we interact and communicate with one another. Interactivity can be considered a central concept in understanding new media, but different media forms possess different degrees of interactivity, and some forms of digitized and converged media are not in fact interactive at all. Tony Feldman considers digital satellite television as an example of a new media technology that uses digital compression to dramatically increase the number of television channels that can be delivered, and which changes the nature of what can be offered through the service, but does not transform the experience of television from the user’s point of view, and thus lacks a more fully interactive dimension. It remains the case that interactivity is not an inherent characteristic of all new media technologies, unlike digitization and convergence.

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Globalization and new media:

The rise of new media has increased communication between people all over the world and the Internet. It has allowed people to express themselves through blogs, websites, pictures, and other user-generated media. Flew (2002) stated that, “as a result of the evolution of new media technologies, globalization occurs.” Globalization is generally stated as “more than expansion of activities beyond the boundaries of particular nation states”. Globalization shortens the distance between people all over the world by the electronic communication (Carely 1992 in Flew 2002), and Cairncross (1998) expresses this great development as the “death of distance”. New media “radically break the connection between physical place and social place, making physical location much less significant for our social relationships” (Croteau and Hoynes 2003: 311). However, the changes in the new media environment create a series of tensions in the concept of “public sphere”. According to Ingrid Volkmer, “public sphere” is defined as a process through which public communication becomes restructured and partly disembedded from national political and cultural institutions. This trend of the globalized public sphere is not only as a geographical expansion form a nation to worldwide, but also changes the relationship between the public, the media and state (Volkmer, 1999:123).  “Virtual communities” are being established online and transcend geographical boundaries, eliminating social restrictions.  Howard Rheingold (2000) describes these globalised societies as self-defined networks, which resemble what we do in real life. “People in virtual communities use words on screens to exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, create a little high art and a lot of idle talk” (Rheingold cited in Slevin 2000: 91). For Sherry Turkle “making the computer into a second self, finding a soul in the machine, can substitute for human relationships” (Holmes 2005: 184).  New media has the ability to connect like-minded others worldwide. While this perspective suggests that the technology drives – and therefore is a determining factor – in the process of globalization, arguments involving technological determinism are generally frowned upon by mainstream media studies.  Instead academics focus on the multiplicity of processes by which technology is funded, researched and produced, forming a feedback loop when the technologies are used and often transformed by their users, which then feeds into the process of guiding their future development. While commentators such as Castells espouse a “soft determinism” whereby they contend that ‘Technology does not determine society. Nor does society script the course of technological change, since many factors, including individual inventiveness and entrepreneurialism, intervene in the process of scientific discovery, technical innovation and social applications, so the final outcome depends on a complex pattern of interaction. Indeed the dilemma of technological determinism is probably a false problem, since technology is society and society cannot be understood without its technological tools.’ (Castells 1996:5) This, however, is still distinct from stating that societal changes are instigated by technological development, which recalls the theses of Marshall McLuhan. Manovich and Castells have argued that whereas mass media “corresponded to the logic of industrial mass society, which values conformity over individuality,” (Manovich 2001:41) new media follows the logic of the postindustrial or globalized society whereby “every citizen can construct her own custom lifestyle and select her ideology from a large number of choices. Rather than pushing the same objects to a mass audience, marketing now tries to target each individual separately.” (Manovich 2001:42).

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The comparison between new media and old media [old media = traditional media = radio + TV + newspapers]:

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Social media:

Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information, ideas and user-generated content in virtual communities and networks. Social media depends on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. It introduces substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities and individuals. Social media differs from traditional media in many aspects such as quality, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy and permanence. Communication is in the form of interactive dialogue. There is an element of community and group, not just two-way dialogue, but multi-step flow, and the blurring of lines between producers and consumers. Not all types of New Media started as Social Media, but they all have the potential to convert to Social Media. New media, social media and social networking are not synonymous as seen in the figure below: 

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New media is any form of media that is not in “old media” format that existed before the internet.  As listed in the definition of media, old media consists of newspapers, magazines, television, film and radio.  Old media was about passive consumption of content.  When new media came along, it leveled the playing field between the large media conglomerates and consumers because it made it possible to create professional quality content on a limited budget while potentially reaching the same number of audience participants. Not all media is social.  Media becomes social when you can interact with the content via comments or conversation.  While old media was a passive form of entertainment, new media is interactive entertainment or edutainment.  Social media, on the other hand requires a conversation between the content creator/s and the audience.  Social media is about the people who engage on the platform.  If people are connecting through the media, then it is social. Basically, social media is a subset of new media, but not all new media is social. In order for new media to be considered social, it needs to have an element of interactivity where the audience can contribute, connect or collaborate with the content.  On Twitter, the audience can share your content or talk with the content producer.  Instagram allows followers to comment on, share and like photos.  Blogs can be social and invite conversation in the comments or they can turn comments off and just create new media.  Comments, likes and the ability to share content make media social. Other phrases for social media or new media are digital media, interactive media and user generated media. New media includes CDs and DVDs which are not social media as content is not user generated and it is not interactive. Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, is an example of new media, combining Internet accessible digital text, images and video with web-links, creative participation of contributors, interactive feedback of users and formation of a participant community of editors and donors for the benefit of non-community readers. Facebook is an example of the social media model, in which most users are also participants.   

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Social Media is ‘Not The Same’ as Social Networking:
Although most of us use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference between social media and social networking. To develop a comprehensive and effective digital marketing strategy, it is helpful (even crucial) to understand the differences. 

Social media is the media (content) that you upload — whether that’s a blog, video, slideshow, podcast, newsletter or an eBook. Consider social media as a one-to-many communication method. Although people can respond and comment, you own the content and have to produce (write/record/create) the media yourself.

Social Networking is defined as peer to peer interaction using Social Media. Once you decide what media you are going to use, begin with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to engage with your audience. Having a Facebook business page for you and your brand is essential because, as you know, people on Facebook read books and will tell their friends and colleagues about your book. Facebook and Twitter also provide you with numerous opportunities to connect with your prospective audience through web links, posts, news stories, notes, photo sharing, blog posts, direct messages, questions and comments. Eventually you may want to branch out with other social networking platforms like LinkedIn and Pinterest. Social networking is all about engagement — creating relationships, communicating with your readers, building your following and connecting with your online audience. If you treat social networking like social media, you will come off as someone using a bullhorn. It’s important to listen as much as talk with social networking. Social networking platforms may allow organizations to improve communication and productivity by disseminating information among different groups of employees in a more efficient manner.

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Comparison between traditional media and social networking are delineated in the table below:

Traditional media Social networking
One-way conversation Two-way conversation
Closed system Open system
Opaque Transparent
Mass marketing One-on-one marketing
About me About you
Professional content Brand and User-generated Content
Polished content Authentic content
Paid platform Free platform
Metric: Reach/ frequency Metric: Engagement
Actors/ Celebrities Actors: Users/ Influencers
Economic decision-making Community decision-making
Controlled communication Unstructured communication
Pre-produced/ scheduled Real time creation
Top-down strategy Bottom-up strategy
Formal language Informal language
Passive involvement Active involvement

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Who coined the term “Social Media?”

In 2007, Danah M. Boyd of the School of Information at the University of California-Berkeley and Nicole B. Ellison of the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media at Michigan State University, published the paper “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship.” In it, the first mention of “social media” was in this sentence: Furthermore, as the social media and user-generated content phenomena grew, websites focused on media sharing began implementing SNS features and becoming SNSs themselves. Examples include Flickr (photo sharing), Last.FM (music listening habits), and YouTube (video sharing). By their definition in this paper, social media was focused initially and primarily on social networks.

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Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”  Furthermore, social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities, and individuals.  According to Nielsen, internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site. At the same time, the total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PC and mobile devices increased by 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 88 billion minutes in July 2011.  For content contributors, the benefits of participating in social media have gone beyond simply social sharing to building reputation and bringing in career opportunities and monetary income, as discussed in Tang, Gu, and Whinston (2012). Most people associate social media with positive outcomes, yet this is not always the case. Due to the increase in social media websites, there seems to be a positive correlation between the usage of such media with cyber-bullying, online sexual predators, and the decrease in face-to-face interactions. Social media may expose children to images of alcohol, tobacco, and sexual behaviors.  

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The figure below shows social media tools:

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Any media that uses two-way communication as opposed to one-way communication is social media rather than mass media, such as TV, radio, and print which deliver a message to a mass audience. Mass media is not personal like the telephone, or letter writing; it is directed to the crowd or to a particular niche in the crowd that does not allow for the audience to talk back, with some exceptions. Mass media is not social because it does not permit a conversation with its audience. Social media, such as social websites like Facebook, Twitter, and the new Youtoo Social TV website, allows for dialogue and two-way communication between speaker and audience. It is dialogue rather than monologue. Social media use is not limited to just the popular websites. Any form of electronic communication involving computers and cell phones is part of the social media revolution because these technologies offer the individual the ability to respond.It is estimated that one-third of the world is now connected to the internet. If you have an email address you are involved in social media. This sizeable amount constitutes a revolution in communication because it changes the way we communicate and it changes what we communicate. In calling social media a revolution we simply mean this is a new way of communicating. It does not mean mass media will be abolished. Media, along with most technological progress, operates in a layering system where a new layer or technology builds on the old one rather than abolishing it. Mass media begins with the printing press. The telephone, radio, and TV come later. Television remains the most prominent mass medium; while the printed word has not disappeared, it is certainly not as central as it was in the nineteenth century. The computer adds another layer to our media and brings them all together. It will overshadow them all, but not abolish them.

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There are 6 types of social media:

•Social Networks – Services that allow you to connect with other people of similar interests and background.  Usually they consist of a profile, various ways to interact with other users, ability to setup groups, etc. The most popular are Facebook and LinkedIn.

•Bookmarking Sites – Services that allow you to save, organize and manage links to various websites and resources around the internet.  Most allow you to “tag” your links to make them easy to search and share.  The most popular are Delicious and StumbleUpon.

•Social News – Services that allow people to post various news items or links to outside articles and then allows its users to ”vote” on the items.  The voting is the core social aspect as the items that get the most votes are displayed the most prominently.  The community decides which news items get seen by more people. The most popular are Digg and Reddit.

•Media Sharing – Services that allow you to upload and share various media such as pictures and video.  Most services have additional social features such as profiles, commenting, etc.  The most popular are YouTube and Flickr.

•Microblogging – Services that focus on short updates that are pushed out to anyone subscribed to receive the updates. The most popular is Twitter.

•Blog Comments and Forums – Online forums allow members to hold conversations by posting messages.  Blog comments are similar except they are attached to blogs and usually the discussion centers around the topic of the blog post.  There are many popular blogs and forums.

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Keep in mind that, while these are the 6 different types of social media, there can be overlap among the various services.  For instance, Facebook has microblogging features with their “status update”.  Also, Flickr and YouTube have comment systems similar to that of blogs.

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Social media is learning media:

 

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Must-know Advantages of Social Media:

1. When using social media for marketing products, social media could be easily utilized to create cost effective strategies and campaigns that can create viral results.

2. Social media has the power to drive traffic to your website, blog, articles, etc.

3. Social media is able to bring people together, especially when promoting global products or cause-related campaigns and ideas since it allows people from the different geographical location to meet at a single point and express their views.

4. Social media could be the spark you are looking for to attract attention to your site, product or service. It could also be used to further build loyalty and long-term relations with your audience.

5. Social media marketing could always be a fun and creative method of doing business.

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Must-know Disadvantages of Social Media:

1. The wrong online brand strategy could put you at a viral social disadvantage and may even damage your reputation, i.e., when you make a mistake offline, a few will know but when you make a mistake in front of hundreds or thousands of you online audience, most of them will know!

2. Using social media for marketing and advertising could be more time consuming than companies expect.

3. In order to get social media’s full effect, you need to understand how it works, when and how to use it and which channels to focus on depending on your end goal of using social media.

4. Social media can have a negative influence on worker productivity. Employees may waste valuable time using social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. They can also use social media to attack the company’s reputation!

5. When social media is used excessively or in the wrong way, it could have serious detrimental outcomes on both mental and even physical health of individuals.

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Blogging in mass communication:

Blogs (web logs):

The communication medium commonly known as a blog (which was derived from the word weblog or web log), was created through the contributions of web programmers and writers who wanted to share their experiences with others remotely in real time. Over the past decade, using the World Wide Web for blogging has become a common way for individuals and businesses to communicate with and receive responses from their audiences. Blogs are a rising medium, gaining in popularity by both experts and amateur writers alike. By definition, a blog is “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) Blogging, a verb used to describe the act of posting information on a website in a chronological format, is becoming both a form of advertising and a form of self-expression. Online applications and user-friendly interfaces make blogging a relatively simple way for individuals and businesses to “speak” to the world. In the book, Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters, author Scott Rosenberg attests, “Blogs…have put the power of personal publishing into everyone’s hands and created a new kind of public sphere — one in which we can think out loud together. And now that we have begun, it is impossible to imagine us stopping.”  When compared to the effort and time it takes to write and publish a story, blogging is far less expensive and time consuming. There is no limit to how often one can post and produce content for the masses to read.

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Blogging, too, has become a pervasive form of media. A blog is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or interactive media such as images or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order, with most recent posts shown on top. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images and other graphics, and links to other blogs, web pages, and related media. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) are part of a wider network of social media. Microblogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts.

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There seems to be controversy regarding blogging. Is it is a positive or negative means of communicating with the global community? Should blog authors be able to write anything they want on the Internet? Should readers be made aware that the information contained is the opinion of the author and meant strictly for enjoyment, or should readers be allowed to draw their own conclusions? Is blogging more beneficial for the writers or the readers? Do the increasing number of blogs and the fact that anyone can start a blog minimize the creditability of the medium?

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Technorati Media, parent company of Technorati.com, the world’s first and largest blog search engine and a robust community blogging platform, has tracked and monitored blog statistics since October 2004. In the State of the Blogosphere for 2011, it classifies blog statistics into five types of bloggers: 1) Hobbyists, 2-3) Professionals, Full- and Part-Time, 4) Corporate, and 5) Entrepreneurs. Figure below summarizes these categories and purposes according to Technorati’s 2011 poll (Technorati Media):

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Benefits of Blogs (for Writers and Readers):

Blogs make it possible for business owners and skilled trades-people to use their blog for various types of promotion and interaction, including marketing to the global community. According to Tom Pick, Digital Marketing Consultant for Webbiquity, there are five benefits for blogging:

1) Establish expertise and credibility.

2) Become a resource.

3) Create a dialogue.

4) Develop new relationships.

5) Search engine visibility.

Blogs can be beneficial for writers and readers. For authors in all of these categories, what they post on their blogs is not “meaningless babble”. They have an idea, some skill, years of industry experience, or a deep personal perspective to express; or they might have a product, service, or company to market; a brand identity that they wish to build. How can readers benefit from reading blogs? What the authors of blogs write in their posts can be helpful to others in learning something new, seeing things from a different perspective, and having the ability to ask questions or leave comments on the subject. What a blogger writes about does not ensure acceptance or appreciation from every reader; but they are willing to share with the world, regardless. Although not true journalism, it is not unlike a novel or self-help book—it is simply a way of revealing a passion or a subject matter what they know that may be interesting for others. Frequently, bloggers do not expect direct financial gain by sharing the information. However, they may experience indirect financial gain by building brand loyalty or by taking advantage of affiliate marketing, such as pay-per-click ads placed on the site. Alexandra Neuman, author of The Death of Journalism, The Birth of Blogging on StudentLife.com for Washington University, expressed the advantage of blogging over journalism quite well. “Readers gain from blogs, as well, as they have a constant awareness while browsing through the blogosphere that the author is just another human being. When reading the newspaper, we are not as likely to read with the eyes of a skeptic as the articles have gone through rounds of editing to make them seem as believable and scholarly as possible, making us more likely to accept them as truth. Blogging, on the other hand, is raw human opinion. We know when we read it that it is someone’s unaltered viewpoint, and, by perusing through multiple blogs on the same subject, we can formulate opinions of our own. Blogs can therefore stimulate and satisfy intellectual curiosity. Readers have to find their own answers by compiling multiple and diverse opinions rather than having finished answers from the same journalists delivered to their front doors week after week.” (Neuman) After highlighting these benefits of blogs for readers, Neuman concluded: “Although professional bloggers can make money from advertisements and book deals, the great thing about blogs is that their creation stems primarily from the passion of the bloggers rather than a monetary incentive. The bloggers genuinely want their opinions to be heard, and the readers genuinely want to hear what the bloggers have to say. Bloggers also build off of one another, and readers’ comments influence the blogs themselves, making the whole dissemination process of news more personal and trustworthy without the existence of official regulation.”

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Credibility: Blogging vs. Journalism:

Like other forms of communication, the blog evolved from a need: the need for a medium that encompasses a more human element to the information readers absorb than journalism. Not all forms of the written word are journalism, and journalism is definitely not always a form of blogging. However, blogging can be mistaken for journalism, and it can be difficult for the general public to tell the difference. However, most often, if there is an element of passion and self-expression, it is not journalism. “At first glance, it may seem that blogging and journalism cannot be considered as belonging to the same category. After all, anyone can blog about anything. There are no editors involved, no guarantee of the content’s validity, and no shiny well-constructed prose to make readers feel that their new news source is worthwhile. This lack of regulation, however, is exactly what makes blogging so special for everyone involved.” (Neuman) Blogging is a positive means of communicating with the global community. The blogosphere brings the points of view of thousands (potentially millions) people to the masses, rather than allowing traditional media sources serve as the only sources of information and ideals for our society. Blog authors, regardless of crudeness or inappropriateness, should be permitted to write and express themselves freely on the Internet, whether it is agreed upon by readers. Readers, of course, will draw their own conclusions from what they read and have the freedom to agree with or oppose the message. Blogging can be beneficial for both the writers and the readers, and there is no gauge for measuring who benefits more. It is really a win-win situation. As the number of blogs increases, even the fact that anyone can start a blog does not minimize the creditability of the blog medium because the “creditability” is left up to the reader. As the saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and the same principle applies for self-expression on the World Wide Web.

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Podcast:

A podcast is a series of digital-media files which are distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and computers. The term podcast, like broadcast, can refer either to the series of content itself or to the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also called podcasting. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster.

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What are viral videos?

A viral video is one that becomes popular through internet sharing, particularly via websites and email. It’s a video passed electronically from person to person regardless of its content. Sometimes viral videos are funny, especially when they rip off televised comedy sketches, such as Saturday Night Live video clips. Others are not funny, but are eyewitness records of events. With the proliferation of camera phones, many videos are being shot by ordinary people. The availability of inexpensive and easy-to-use video editing and publishing tools allows video shot on mobile phones to be packaged and distributed virally — by email or website and between phones by Bluetooth or texting. Typically, such videos are intended initially for viewing by family and friends. Viral video advertising is like television advertising. The videos entertain and inform the viewer. In fact, humor plays an important role in attracting an audience. An example was the Office Max ad campaign in 2008 entitled “Penny Pranks” in which a man went around NYC purchasing things with pennies. The successful viral videos highlighted the chain store’s back-to-school message. Viral video has become a way for people to air grievances against alleged abuses by authority. Viral videos are popular tools for teachers. TeacherTube is a website sharing more than 54,000 educational videos among teachers. Some college professors use viral videos in their classrooms. The improper use of copyrighted material has caused problems for the entertainment industry, especially when users have uploaded music and TV clips to viral websites like YouTube. Viral videos can violate copyright laws when its content has not been produced as original material by the video’s producer. However, as viral videos have become popular, clever entertainment companies have found ways to profit from the them. For example, one-click buying of products seen in the viral videos has allowed companies to profit. Viral videos appeared during the 2008 United States presidential election season. In June 2007, the “I Got a Crush…on Obama” music video starred a girl expressing her affection for Barack Obama. Millions of people went to YouTube to see the video. For the first time, YouTube hosted the CNN-YouTube presidential debates. YouTube users also posed questions.

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Internet and traditional media:

 Naturally, the Internet is also an excellent platform for media criticism by journalists and other members of the media industry. Blogs have emerged as the most popular new instrument of online media accountability.

Following Domingo and Heinonen (2008), media-related blogs can be classified into four different categories:

• Citizen Blogs: journalistic weblogs written by the public outside the media,

• Audience Blogs: journalistic weblogs written by the public within the media,

• Journalist Blogs: journalistic weblogs written by journalists outside media institutions, and

• Media Blogs: journalistic weblogs written by journalists within media institutions.

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The figure below shows various newspapers having their digital editions:

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Online journalism:

Online journalism is reporting and other journalism produced or distributed via the Internet. The Internet has allowed the formal and informal publication of news stories through mainstream media outlets as well as blogs and other self-published news stories. Journalists working on the Internet have been referred to as J-Bloggers, a term coined by Australian Media Academic Dr Nicola Goc to describe journalists who [blog] and [blog]gers who produce journalism. “J-Bloggers: Internet bloggers acting in the role of journalists disseminating newsworthy information, who subscribe to the journalistic ideals of an obligation to the truth and the public’s right to know”. An early leader was The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Many news organizations based in other media also distribute news online. How much they take advantage of the medium varies. Some news organizations, such as the Gongwer News Service, use the web only or primarily. The Internet challenges traditional news organizations in several ways. They may be losing classified ads to Web sites, which are often targeted by interest instead of geography. The advertising on news web sites is sometimes insufficient to support the investment. Even before the Internet, technology and perhaps other factors were dividing people’s attention, leading to more but narrower media outlets. Online journalism also leads to the spread of independent online media such as openDemocracy and the UK, Wikinews as well as allowing smaller news organizations to publish to a broad audience, such as mediastrike.

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Is internet mainstream or alternate media?

There is no true “mainstream” on the Internet, and hence, no way for it to disseminate information effectively across a large population. And unlike the Internet, which at this point still requires special equipment and a regular fee to access, the mainstream media saturates every medium for free (i.e. broadcast television and radio) or is readily accessible at any time (i.e. newspapers and magazines). The Internet and social media have changed the way people and businesses communicate. This communication evolution has created additional media outlets in both alternative and mainstream media channels. Businesses must decide how to reach their target customers through various media channels; some target customers are reached easier through mainstream media outlets, while others tend to prefer alternative media. Lanier has coined some pretty controversial terms for three aspects of the behavior unleashed by online life, and which imperils the supposed benefits of New Media as a more democratic space for the exchange of information and ideas.

First, Digital Maoism, which he puts forward an opposite view to the currently fashionable “wisdom of crowds.” It warns of the Hive Mind, where like-minded fanatics swarm the Internet engaging in the online equivalent of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

Second, Cybernetic totalism takes off from this, and says there is a great danger in viewing technology as a kind of Great Revelation, operating on principles eerily similar to –and as dangerous as- the Scientific.

And third, a Culture of Sadism, which he ties to the anonymous, spiteful commenters – the trolls in many an online comment thread- to technology which confuses online freedom with licentiousness.

All of which edges out New Media as the liberal, democratic, cooperative open society untainted by hierarchy we all hoped it would be. Instead Lanier suggests we are witnessing the Killing Fields –or land of the Lord of the Flies- of media as paladin of democratic exchange and discourse.

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Emergence of mobile (cell phone) as a media channel:

While mobile telecommunication networks started out as communication networks from 1979 using voice and 1993 using SMS text messaging, mobile became a media delivery and consumption platform in 1998 when Radiolinja in Finland offered the first downloadable content, ringing tones. Three years later, in Japan, J-Phone expanded the media experience by adding the ability for users to create media content, when they launched camera-phones. Today many leading mobile media providers such as SeeMeTV, Itsmy, Cyworld and Blyk, rely on user-generated content forming part of the content. In 2006, author Tomi Ahonen coined the term “Seventh of the Mass Media” to explain why services on mobile need not be copies of internet or TV content. He initially identified four unique benefits of mobile. In 2007 the UK based engagement advertising company SMLXL released the first White Paper to discuss the seventh mass media channel and identified six distinct benefits unique to mobile as a medium. Today seven unique benefits of mobile have been identified.

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Unique benefits of mobile as a media channel:

Mobile offers benefits that cannot be replicated by the six legacy mass media. They are:

1. Mobile is the first personal mass media

2. Mobile is permanently carried

3. Mobile is always on

4. Mobile has a built-in payment mechanism

5. Mobile is available at the point of creative inspiration

6. Mobile has the most accurate audience measurement

7. Mobile captures the social context of media consumption

8. Mobile offers a digital interface to the real world

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While a telephone is a two way communication device, mass media refers to medium which can communicate a message to a large group, often simultaneously. However, modern cell phones are no longer a single use device. Most cell phones are equipped with internet access and capable of connecting to the web which itself is a mass medium. A question arises of whether this makes cell phones a mass medium or simply a device used to access a mass medium (the internet). There is currently a system where marketers and advertisers are able to tap into satellites, and broadcast commercials and advertisements directly to cell phones, unsolicited by the phone’s user. This transmission of mass advertising to millions of people is a form of mass communication.

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Similar to the internet, mobile is also an interactive media, but has far wider reach, with 3.3 billion mobile phone users at the end of 2007 to 1.3 billion internet users (source ITU). Like email on the internet, the top application on mobile is also a personal messaging service, but SMS text messaging is used by over 2.4 billion people. Practically all internet services and applications exist or have similar cousins on mobile, from search to multiplayer games to virtual worlds to blogs. Mobile has several unique benefits which many mobile media pundits claim make mobile a more powerful media than either TV or the internet, starting with mobile being permanently carried and always connected. Mobile has the best audience accuracy and is the only mass media with a built-in payment channel available to every user without any credit cards or PayPal accounts or even an age limit. Mobile is often called the 7th Mass Medium and the fourth screen (if counting Cinema, TV and PC screens).

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Fourth screen:

The seventh mass media channel (mobile) is often also called the fourth screen with Cinema the first, TV second and PC the third screens of life. There is strong synergy with the four screens concept but these look only at multimedia/moving image video content. The seven mass media taxonomy allows comparisons and contrasts also with mass media that do not feature moving images, i.e. radio, (many) recordings and print. The four screens concept is for example strongly promoted by Nokia in explaining the unique abilities of mobile compares with personal computers, television and the movies.

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Mobile social media:

Social media used in combination with mobile devices are called mobile social media. This is a group of mobile marketing applications that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Due to the fact that mobile social media run on mobile devices, they differ from traditional social media by incorporating new factors such as the current location of the user (location-sensitivity) or the time delay between sending and receiving messages(time-sensitivity).

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Video games:

A video game is a computer-controlled game where a video display such as a monitor or television is the primary feedback device. The term “computer game” also includes games which display only text (and which can therefore theoretically be played on a teletypewriter) or which use other methods, such as sound or vibration, as their primary feedback device, but there are very few new games in these categories. There always must also be some sort of input device, usually in the form of button/joystick combinations (on arcade games), a keyboard & mouse/trackball combination (computer games), or a controller (console games), or a combination of any of the above. Also, more esoteric devices have been used for input. Usually there are rules and goals, but in more open-ended games the player may be free to do whatever they like within the confines of the virtual universe. In common usage, a “computer game” or a “PC game” refers to a game that is played on a personal computer. “Console game” refers to one that is played on a device specifically designed for the use of such, while interfacing with a standard television set. “Arcade game” refers to a game designed to be played in an establishment in which patrons pay to play on a per-use basis. “Video game” (or “videogame”) has evolved into a catchall phrase that encompasses the aforementioned along with any game made for any other device, including, but not limited to, mobile phones, PDAs, advanced calculators, etc.

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Video games may also be evolving into a mass medium. Video games convey the same messages and ideologies to all their users. Users sometimes share the experience with each other by playing online. Excluding the internet however, it is questionable whether players of video games are sharing a common experience when they play the game separately. It is possible to discuss in great detail the events of a video game with a friend you have never played with because the experience was identical to you both. The question is if this is then a form of mass communication. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as Runescape provide a common gaming experience to millions of users throughout the globe. It is arguable that the users are receiving the same message, i.e., the game is mass communicating the same messages to the various players.

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The internet has played a crucial part in the rise of video games, enabling developers to get their products into their customers’ hands without the need for traditional shops or publishers. That has allowed small, independent developers to compete with the big firms who might spend tens of millions of dollars on developing a single title and as much again on marketing it. As a result the industry is becoming increasingly fragmented as its markets become more differentiated. The internet has also become a games platform in its own right, making the hobby truly sociable by electronically linking gamers the world over. Millions of people spend many hours each week playing and working (sometimes the distinction is not clear) in virtual places such as “World of Warcraft” and “EVE Online”. Hundreds of millions more play free, simple, sociable games on Facebook, such as “Lexulous”, which is a bit like Scrabble, and “FarmVille”, a game with an agricultural setting. Increasingly the games themselves are free, but the virtual goods available in these online worlds—a stable for one’s electronic horses, say, or a particularly pretty shirt for one’s digital alter ego to wear—cost real money. The video-games industry has long been dogged by accusations that violent games breed violent behaviour and that its products can cause addiction. The evidence was never strong in the first place, but the shady reputation has proved hard to shake off. In fact many games do not feature any violence. With the new emphasis on more casual games, some of the most popular titles involve inoffensive pastimes such as constructing electronic cities, completing abstract logic puzzles or managing a virtual football team. Like all media businesses, the games industry is changing fast. What makes it different from the rest is that it has welcomed change and innovation and thrived on it. It is now growing in all sorts of unexpected ways. For example, the best players can earn money (sometimes a lot of it) from “e-sports”—that is, video games played professionally, in front of a crowd. And after years of talk about an imminent “virtual reality” revolution, it is the games industry that has perfected cheap, convincing simulations of the real world. Technology pioneered by games is now being put to use in fields from military training programs to molecular biology and virtual showrooms for cars. The industry has even spawned a management technique, “gamification” that applies the psychological principles of game design to motivating workers and engaging customers. The biggest market is America, whose consumers this year are expected to spend $14.1 billion on games, mostly on the console variety written for Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3 or Nintendo’s Wii. Consoles also dominate in Britain, the fifth-largest gaming market. In other parts of Europe, and particularly Germany, PC games are more popular. German parents tend to see console games as childish, but they think PCs have some education value. China is already the second-biggest market and one of the fastest-growing, with sales rising by 20% last year. The high price of consoles and rampant piracy has encouraged the development of online games, mostly played on PCs, which are easier to protect from pirates. Japan is a law unto itself. It was the second-biggest market until China overtook it earlier this year, but the Japanese idea of fun is different from other people. Western games that sell well elsewhere tend to struggle there, and the same is true of Japanese games in the West. Nobody really knows why. In high-tech South Korea, the fourth-largest market, PCs and online games are also popular, not least because of lingering resentment of Japanese products.

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Are there any Visual media?

‘Visual media’ is a colloquial expression used to designate things such as television, film, photography and painting, etc. But it is highly inexact and misleading. On closer inspection, all the so-called visual media turn out to involve the other senses (especially touch and hearing). All media are, from the standpoint of sensory modality, ‘mixed media’. The obviousness of this raises two questions: (1) why do we persist in talking about some media as if they were exclusively visual? Is this just a shorthand for talking about visual predominance? And if so, what does ‘predominance’ mean? Is it a quantitative issue (more visual information than aural or tactile?) or a question of qualitative perception, the sense of things reported by a beholder, audience, viewer or listener? (2) Why does it matter what we call ‘visual media’? Why should we care about straightening out this confusion? What is at stake?     

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Outdoor media:

Outdoor media is a form of mass media which comprises billboards, signs, placards placed inside and outside of commercial buildings/objects like shops/buses, flying billboards (signs in tow of airplanes), blimps, and skywriting. Many commercial advertisers use this form of mass media when advertising in sports stadiums. Tobacco and alcohol manufacturers used billboards and other outdoor media extensively. However, in 1998, the Master Settlement Agreement between the US and the tobacco industries prohibited the billboard advertising of cigarettes. In a 1994 Chicago-based study, Diana Hackbarth and her colleagues revealed how tobacco- and alcohol-based billboards were concentrated in poor neighbourhoods. In other urban centers, alcohol and tobacco billboards were much more concentrated in African-American neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods.

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Pros and cons of different media forms over each other:

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Print media vs. electronic media:

Print Media’s Advantages: Content Quality:

Amid growing competition from online websites and other electronic media, analysts argue that print media holds an edge through its content quality, which a professional editorial staff can produce. Newspapers have emphasized this feature in their digital subscription offerings, with a certain level of success. For example, Audit Bureau of Circulation figures showed that “The New York Times” boosted overall circulation by 73 percent from Monday through Friday–and 50 percent on Sunday–over March 2011, when it first launched digital subscriptions, according to “Politico.”

Print Media’s Disadvantages: Shrinking Audiences:

By any measure, traditional print media’s audience is shrinking. As content becomes increasingly digitized–and free–readers are turning away from print publications. Peaking at just over $60 billion in 1950, total print media revenues fell to $20 billion by 2011, according to an analysis posted on The Verge website. Sharper declines occurred in 2008 and 2009, with revenues decreasing by 17.7 and 28.6 percent, respectively. The trend has forced print media outlets to make major budget cuts as they struggle to remain relevant for smaller audiences.

Electronic Media’s Advantages: Immediacy:

Electronic media’s chief advantage is its immediacy, as autocratic Middle Eastern rulers learned too late during the “Arab Spring” of 2010. Reports from satellite networks like Al Jazeera made it impossible for authoritarian regimes in Egypt and Tunisia to silence the truth, author-journalist Lawrence Pintak stated in a speech covered by Washington State University’s student newspaper “The Columbian.” Using mediums beyond government control, like social media networks, the younger, technically literate opposition was able to plot strategy and coordinate mass protests.

Electronic Media’s Disadvantages: Superficiality:

The relentless stimulation of electronic media has inspired studies to determine how it affects learning. In an article for “Psychology Today,” David Walsh cites a British study that found frequent Internet users only needed two seconds to decide on visiting a particular Web site. The most popular sites featured highly relevant search terms, suggesting that our brains can evaluate information at faster and faster speeds, Walsh says. However, developing these rapid fire processing skills may leave fewer resources for comprehension and retention.
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How well do students retain knowledge from the internet?

More than one in four students gathering information from the internet forgets the knowledge gleaned afterwards, according to a pilot study to be published in the International Journal of Education Economics and Development. The study hoped to investigate just how well students retain knowledge gleaned from the internet and revealed that almost 73% of participants had low to moderate knowledge retention. The results confirmed earlier studies regarding the ease of use of the internet as an information source. However, researcher was more concerned with the way in which internet use affects knowledge retention among students. He found that overall use was high, at more than 1 in 10 of participants, but that for almost three-quarters of the students knowledge retention of information obtained via the internet was low to moderate. Graduate students were better at retaining such information than undergraduates, although graduate students tend to be more dedicated to learning and are often selected as being among the brighter students on a course.

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Information overload affects memory on internet:

Memory problems may be more likely. Even a rather typical session of social media browsing can lead to information overload and make it harder to file away information in your memory, according to Dr. Erik Fransén, professor of computer science at Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology. A 2009 study from Stanford University suggests that the brains of people who are constantly bombarded with several streams of electronic information — from instant messaging to blogs — may find it difficult to pay attention and switch from one job to another efficiently. “When they’re in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they’re not able to filter out what’s not relevant to their current goal,” Dr. Anthony Wagner, an associate professor of psychology at Stanford, said in a written statement. “That failure to filter means they’re slowed down by that irrelevant information.”  

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Moderate internet use may enhance brain function:

In moderation, the Internet can actually boost brain function. An article from Discovery Science has found that those who use the Internet frequently use their brains more than those who just read a book as seen in the figure below. A 2008 study suggests that use of Internet search engines can stimulate neural activation patterns and potentially enhance brain function in older adults. The study results are encouraging, that emerging computerized technologies may have physiological effects and potential benefits for middle-aged and older adults. Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function.

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Mainstream and social media share an increasingly uneasy relationship:

The Abhishek Manu Singhvi CD scandal brought into focus the increasingly confrontational relationship between social media and mainstream media. When a court order kept the mainstream from broadcasting the CD, social media took centre stage in spreading it online and keeping a buzz about the scandal for days. Many termed it as a “victory” for social media. Others slammed social media users as “eternal voyeurs” and wondered why they seemed to be above the court order. In return, blogs went as far as to title a post, “Why the Indian MSM (mainstream media) Wants Social Media Dead”.

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These days there was a little war on the Internet in Spain when the leading TV chain in Spain, TVE, ran a show in which they showed how easy it was to vandalize Wikipedia. And what´s worse, after vandalizing some articles, the producers of the show did not even bother to correct the changes. Traditional media´s attack on the Internet generally centers around proving that the Internet is not a trustworthy source of information. In the meantime the value of “reliable” traditional media companies keeps shrinking.  The world needs both, professional journalists with great integrity and the user generated content of blogs and Wikipedia. But nobody thought that journalists who felt that their jobs are being taken by bloggers who compete with their readers’ attention and do not demand payment other than the occasional Google Ad, would react violently and attack the Internet. In the end, this is a foolish strategy. The internet is more reliable than traditional media not because it can´t be wrong (it frequently is) but because it is self correcting. Needless to say the articles that were vandalized have by now been fixed. 

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Internet vs. traditional media:

In an essay on how social media influenced Obama’s 2008 election, Alex Budak notes that “for each additional hour spent on the Internet, there [is] a reduction in up to 65% in time spent using ‘traditional’ media”. Moreover, the Women in Social Media Study done in 2009 found that women online are now more than ever spending less time engaging in traditional media activities like watching TV, listening to the radio, and reading magazines or the newspaper. Results found that “of the 42 million women engaged in social media weekly, 55 percent of women participate in some form of blogging activity, 75 percent participate in social networks such as Facebook or MySpace and 20 percent use Twitter” (BlogHer). These numbers are most likely much higher now than when the study was conducted in 2009, considering social media has become increasingly popular over the years. These changes are noteworthy, especially because a study by Nie et. al found that the nature of information that is spread via the Internet is significantly different than that which is conveyed through traditional media. Though they acknowledge that people were more likely to watch different television networks based on their ideological preferences, they argued that the Internet enabled polarization to become even more prevalent. They write, “The Internet allows consumers to fit their news exposure to their own political preferences” (Nie et al. 429). As with traditional media sources, Internet sources allows consumers to confine themselves just as much, if not more, to opinions that mirror and validate their own. Furthermore, the Internet, as opposed to traditional media, is restricting as it is particularly appealing to those with (relatively more) extreme views and to those who are interested in specific topics. According to Nie et. al, this is because traditional media, such as television, is more resource expensive; not only is cost production higher, but traditional media also is more time limited than the Internet. Since news producers for traditional media sources must be more conscious of money and time, traditional media becomes more confined to stories and events that appeal to larger audiences. As a result, traditional media sources are often more centrist and focus on broader topics. In contrast, “Internet news providers [can] profitably provide news content to consumers with more diverse and less centrist political views,” and therefore news on the Internet can overall reflect a wider range of political opinions and issues, but in each article can be more one-sided and specific. Hence, users that are interested in a particular array of issues and/or that have more polarized views are more likely to use the Internet and to limit the information they view when using it (Nie et. al 429).

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Traditional /old media (newspapers, TV, radio etc) positives:
1. It is the best form of credible and creditable Third Party Endorsement.
2. To appear in a top notch publication immediately ups or reinforces the profile of your Brand in the minds of the significant publics.
3. To be written about by the renowned reviewers / writers of these publications is a major achievement in media presence. 
4. Mention in traditional media has a sense of permanence to it. The news report can be filed and archived and can easily be dug into when it needs to be referenced again.
5. It is easier to control what is being written about you (either through your Press Release or on account of your established relationship with the media representative) and form opinions in the traditional media as compared to the new media. 

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Traditional/ old media negatives:
1. It faces the danger of getting dated and being lost in the annals of time.
2. The negative review hits the Brand hard, going by the same logic of appearing in a top notch publication and written by the high profile reviewer.
3. In today’s times of excessive information being delivered to your desktop, laptop or palmtop every second, it may face the risk of getting lost in the deluge.
4. With new information coming up every second, your article in traditional media can become old news sooner than you think.
5. Because of the timelines it adheres to and the inherent gap that exists between sending of your press release or a journalist reviewing your product and the actual appearance of the story on account of a backlog of stories in hand with the media or something of more importance coming up at short notice, many a times your news report gets printed as a post event publicity and that is half the battle lost.

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New/social media positives:
1. You can control what is being said about you through your blog, pages, updates and tweets.
2. You have a direct access to your guests and reach them with ease in relation to your news, offers and promotions.
3. Instead of just one media platform, you have the ability to turn your news into a viral phenomenon and see it appear in several media planks simultaneously.
4. You have the opportunity to send out more information about yourself. There is no restriction on how much you want to or can share.
5. The power publications and the publicists that pack a punch are also on the New Media and can not only continue to write about you in the online editions but can also do so in their personal spaces of blogs, twitter page etc. which also enjoy additionally huge following.

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New/ social media negatives:
1. You have less control on what people say about your product through their blogs, pages, updates and tweets.
2. In the New Media, just about anybody can turn a writer or opinion maker and send their comment into the Social Media whirlpool. This can and does include your guests who can make direct comments on their experience. The realm of news does not just belong to the journalists any more.
3. You must ensure that your news is meaningful and useful to the guest for it to be lapped up and for it to be something that your guests look forward to. Otherwise, it is very easy for you to become an irritant and face the risk of being unfriended, unfaned or unfollowed.
4. It is difficult for you to control the vehicles where you wish to appear, keeping in mind your Brand personality and profile. Through the channels of New Media, your brand can find presence even in those media outlets in which you do not wish to appear.
5. It is hugely difficult to grab the attention and enjoy readership penetration as the window of appearance and presence has been sizably shortened in the flux of all that information that floats in the world of Social Media World be it Blogosphere, Twitterdom, Facebook zone, LinkedIn Groups, YouTube or innumerable others.

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Issues Traditional media New media
Lead time Specific printing times Instant
Reach Local area Worldwide and/or local
Longevity One time Cumulative-continues to build over time
Flexibility for charges None Anywhere
Commitment level Contracts None
Restricted air space Yes No restrictions
Convenience Not convenient Computer, phone, tablet

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The table below shows differences between traditional and social media outlets:

Yet, there are distinct qualities that set one apart from the other and enjoy brownie points over the second when brought to comparisons. One of the best arguments in favour of the old media is that it provides credible Third Party endorsement. To be endorsed by media such as eHotelier, Hotels, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Washington Post, The Guardian, National Geographic, BBC, CNN, Travel & Living, Condé Nast and several others – all giants in their own genré – is a prominent yardstick that assesses your level of success, your quotient of acceptance or degree of aspiration amidst your consumer and is also a scale that measures a PR person’s effectiveness and deliverability in performance. To appear in such publications means you have arrived, are worthy of being talked about in these pages and are sought after as a Brand. To get coverage in such publications proves that the PR person knows his or her job and is a performer.  The second important point is that sizeable coverage in the traditional Press-of-prestige immediately ups the profile of the Brand featured. Isn’t it a fact that hotels frame recognition from high profile publications (especially awards & certifications) or share such information with their guests via vehicles such as the Hotel newsletter? The third point of significance is that coverage in the old world media-of-might ensures that the Brand manages to reach its target audience effectively. It is a given that your current and potential guests read such publications and it brings in guest loyalty by being featured in these publications.

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Why a Good Website is better than a Social Media Page:

Facebook is all the rage these days. It’s constantly in the news, and brands are pushing it more and more. Look at any advertisement on the side of a bus, in a subway car, or in a shop window, and you’ll see that little Facebook “f” and Twitter bird with the name of their page beside it. The top two social networks have a combined audience of around 1.5 billion accounts. On top of that, more and more we hear about social media addiction becoming a real problem. Just a simple Google searching for “social media addiction” returns almost 100 million results! The societal ramifications of this are debatable, but what this means for online marketers is social media is a very valuable tool for reaching an audience. But it’s still not as valuable as a good website! Why is a Good Website such a Big Deal? Look at it this way. We already mentioned the 1.5 billion accounts signed up on Facebook and Twitter. That’s a lot of people to be sure, but consider the fact that only Facebook users can visit your Facebook page. Then consider the fact that there are nearly twice as many internet users in general as there are Facebook users! It’s true. In Canada, where more people use social media per capita than any other country, the number only hovers just above 50% of the population. Meanwhile, nearly 85% of Canadians have internet access. Do you really want to cut yourself off from 35% of your target market?  Social media pages have some other problems as well which a good website won’t. For example, you aren’t able to control which ads are shown on your page. It’s possible that even ads for your competition will appear on your own page! They will also be distracted with the endless number of other pages, friend requests, news feed updates, instant messages, game requests, pictures of cats, and all the myriad other things competing for a user’s attention. How can your brand possibly compete with all of that?

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Comparative media statistics:

Printed Media and Electronic Media:

Because of innovation and changes in technology, business and society, the demand for information via printed media and electronic media is clearly increasing world-wide. But, the ratio between the market shares of print media and electronic media is becoming more balanced. There is now a strong move towards electronic media, and long term predictions point to a 50:50 ratio between print media and electronic media.

 

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However, it is appropriate to look at few statements made in the past, which spoke against the spread of print:

•Around 1920: Radio will replace print

•Around 1950: TV will replace print

•Around 1980: The computer will replace print

•Around 1990: The Internet will replace print 

As we know today, these predictions soon turned out to be glaringly incorrect. Each of these statements was based on a fascination with new technologies, which eventually led to speculative, one-sided predictions that new media would replace the old.

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Trust in Mainstream Media almost Nil:

Only 8 percent of Americans say they have a “great deal” of trust in the news media, according to a new Gallup poll of 2012. That is down from 11 percent a year ago and is a record low for the 40 years that Gallup has been polling on the question. Since 1972, Gallup has periodically asked respondents: “In general, how much trust and confidence do you have in the mass media–such as newspapers, T.V. and radio–when it comes to reporting the news fully, accurately, and fairly–a great deal, a fair amount, not very much, or none at all? In the survey of 2012, in addition to the 8 percent who said they had a “great deal” of trust and confidence in the media another 32 percent said they had a “fair amount” of trust. This combined 40 percent who were generally trustful of the media was also the lowest percentage ever. A year ago, in Sept. 2011, 11 percent told Gallup they had a “great deal” of trust and confidence in the media and 33 percent said they had a fair amount–for a combined 44 percent who generally trusted the media. Meanwhile, in the poll released in 2012, 39 percent said they had “not very much” trust and confidence in the media and 21 percent said they had “none at all”–making a combined all-time high of 60 percent who were generally distrustful of the media. That was up from a combined 55 percent (36 percent “not very much” and 19 percent “none at all”) in the Gallup survey done a year ago. The majority of Americans still do not have confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly. Gallup concluded in its analysis of the new poll.

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It is well known that journalists especially newspaper reporters, come pretty low in the public’s estimation. A survey conducted by the market research company Mori in February 2003 rated them even lower than government ministers, finding that “75% of adults would not trust a journalist to tell them the truth”. Little wonder that the press is thus excoriated if people hold it responsible for one of the most harrowing events in recent public life, the death of Diana, princess of Wales, following a traffic accident in 1997. Describing it as a ‘defining moment in British Journalism’, the journalist Ian Hargreaves, in his recent book Journalism: Truth or Dare?, notes that her car had been chased through a Paris underpass by freelance photographers working for British and other newspapers, leading the princess’s brother at her funeral, to accuse publishers of having ‘blood on their hands’. This is the level at which the press can stoop in order to sell a few extra copies of its edition!
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Shift from traditional media to social media:

Is Social Media the new Mass Media?

Here are some U.S. statistics of 2009:

· 19% of everyone on the Internet uses Twitter to update status, median age of Twitter user is 31
· 35% of all adults online have social media profiles
· 83% of all adults 30-49 use Internet, 77% 50-64
· Median age of Facebook user is 33, up from 26 in 2008; 50% of users check-in daily
· 81% of CMOs plan to a lot at least 10% of marketing budget to Social Media
· 64% of CMOs plan to increase spending in social media this year

Then consider:

· The average weekday circulation at 379 U.S. newspapers fell 10.6% during the six months ending in Sept. 2009, according to published reports.

· The number of households subscribing to magazines dropped two percentage points while subscriptions for home video and smartphone services increased
· DVR households have tripled in the last three years

While measurement among most social media applications is still the exception rather than the rule, marketers continue to site the few very successful case studies that exist. These typically also have mass appeal and follow more of a mass media. Yes, Dell has had success with Twitter, but note that its success, and most others who have made Twitter work, wrapped their marketing around the core of great direct marketing: “Make them an offer they can’t refuse.” One recent study claims that 10 minutes spent on Facebook can expose the user to as many as 90 different media messages. That’s a sure fire recipe for advertising ineffectiveness at best and user abandonment/immunity at least. Can and should social media be more niche specific? Yes and no. You can’t blame the sites for trying to drive as much revenue as possible with the least amount of effort; hence the mass media mindset seems to be prevailing in a world that is infinitely customizable. Yet, long term, this will make advertising on these portals more meaningless. So, What Does This All Mean? It means that the media landscape is shifting and will continue to shift at unprecedented speed. It also implies that mass marketing is not limited to traditional channels and more measurement must accompany all media spends, regardless of media used.

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Decline of mass media audience and rise of social media:

Stats released in November 2008 confirm that the influence of Mass Media is declining steadily due to the Internet in general and social media is accelerating the pace. Peer-to-peer authority is replacing mass media on all fronts. As information sources, family and friends’ advice rose from 44% to 47% as an information source, while coworker advice went from 23% to 30%. From 2006 to 2008 the mass media numbers are eroding steadily while social media is rising rapidly.  This is a classic pattern.  Think ‘buggy whips’. Magazines down from 23% ro 18%. TV done from 71% to 65%. The only traditional media category that rose is Cable TV News – up from 47% to 49%. But Social Networking site interaction grew by 98% during the same period. This is the continuation of a trend that started with the advent of the Web.  Newspaper readership dropped from 58% in 1998 to 52% in 2005.  That decline is accelerating.  Young people now prefer to read news online and never acquire the newspaper habit.

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The figure below shows fall in print newspaper readership:

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73% of online adults now use social networking sites:

Some 73% of online adults now use a social networking site of some kind. Facebook is the dominant social networking platform in the number of users, but a striking number of users are now diversifying onto other platforms. Some 42% of online adults now use multiple social networking sites. In addition, Instagram users are nearly as likely as Facebook users to check in to the site on a daily basis. These are among the key findings on social networking site usage and adoption from a new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project in 2013.

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Social media as mass media:

In the recent years, one-way communications have become one of the main characteristics of mass media compared to so-called social media. But with audiences big enough, social media behave like mass media. The figure below shows transformation of social media into mass media and as number of users increase, interactivity falls resulting in one-way communication typical of traditional mass media.

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The current estimates say there are about 450 million “active” English language blogs right now, but that number varies according to the source. Technorati estimated over 200 million blogs at the start of 2009, with exponential growth since then. As of November 30, 2013, Tumblr hosts over 152.2 million blogs. Netcraft has been tracking the number of web sites on the internet for many years. As of May 2012, their chart shows close to 700 million. The total number of web sites seems to follow Moore’s Law and double every 18-24 months. If WordPress continues on its current trajectory, there will be 300-500 million WordPress sites by 2015. Facebook is the largest online social network founded in February 2004. In 2008 Facebook had 100 million users and as of March 2013 has 1.11 Billion. Facebook filed for a $5 billion IPO in 2012 and valued the company at $104 billion. The total number of registered Twitter accounts is currently 883 million, according to a company that monitors Twitter. All these statistics suggest that new media has indeed become mass media. 

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Convergence of media:

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Convergence is the window of opportunity for traditional media to align itself with technologies of the 21st century. The digitization of media and information technology and the ensuing transformation of communication media are major contributors to convergence (Gershon 2000; Fidler 1997). Digital technology compresses information and allows text, graphics, photos, and audio to be transmitted effectively and rapidly across media platforms. The phenomenal growth of the Internet from the introduction of the Mosaic graphical browser to PDF files, audio and streaming video has resulted in a rapid expansion of online content. Changing demographics and competing messages have made the Internet particularly attractive to traditional print and broadcast media who have sought to protect brand name and their historical specialty of gathering and disseminating news, information, and entertainment.

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Media meshing:

Media meshing is the process of using one of the media, such as a blog or a website, to enhance the experience of another medium, such as a newspaper article or a fictional television program.  “Meshing” may describe activities and motivations of an information receiver which are completely independent of the intentions of the source of that information. “Meshing” may also be used to describe the activities of an information provider, who may intentionally encourage consumer engagement by using multiple media or channels of information exchange related to a product or organization, as in an integrated advertising campaign. Strictly, in both cases, “media meshing” ultimately describes the behaviour of the person receiving the information. When the meshing of media sources is encouraged by the source itself, as is often the case with commercial products and special interest promotions, media meshing may be better described as integrated media. This describes the activity desired by commercial entities when they encourage web traffic through non-web media such as billboards or newspaper articles in a comprehensive advertising campaign.

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Theories of mass media:

Mass communication (media communication) theories:

Powerful effect model: Direct influence via mass media:

Hypodermic Needle Theory: Magic Bullet Theory:

The “hypodermic needle theory” implied mass media had a direct, immediate and powerful effect on its audiences. The mass media in the 1940s and 1950s were perceived as a powerful influence on behavior change.

Several factors contributed to this “strong effects” theory of communication, including:

– the fast rise and popularization of radio and television

– the emergence of the persuasion industries, such as advertising and propaganda

– the Payne Fund studies of the 1930s, which focused on the impact of motion pictures on children, and

– Hitler’s monopolization of the mass media during WWII to unify the German public behind the Nazi party

Core Assumptions and Statements:

The theory suggests that the mass media could influence a very large group of people directly and uniformly by ‘shooting’ or ‘injecting’ them with appropriate messages designed to trigger a desired response.  Both images used to express this theory (a bullet and a needle) suggest a powerful and direct flow of information from the sender to the receiver. The bullet theory graphically suggests that the message is a bullet, fired from the “media gun” into the viewer’s “head”. With similarly emotive imagery the hypodermic needle model suggests that media messages are injected straight into a passive audience which is immediately influenced by the message. They express the view that the media is a dangerous means of communicating an idea because the receiver or audience is powerless to resist the impact of the message. There is no escape from the effect of the message in these models. The population is seen as a sitting duck. People are seen as passive and are seen as having a lot media material “shot” at them. People end up thinking what they are told because there is no other source of information. This theory essentially grew out of Darwinism. In that era, human behavior was thought to be guided in basically the same manner as that of lower animals, that is, from inherited instincts. This uniform set of instincts ensured people would receive and interpret mass media messages in similar ways. With such a direct connection between message and action, the results would also be uniform, immediate, and powerful. This stimulus-and-response view posited human action as not being under rational control and the notion that humans are infinitely malleable in the hands of a master sculptor.  The classic example of the application of the Magic Bullet Theory was illustrated on October 30, 1938 when Orson Welles and the newly formed Mercury Theater group broadcasted their radio edition of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds.” On the eve of Halloween, radio programming was interrupted with a “news bulletin” for the first time. What the audience heard was that Martians had begun an invasion of Earth in a place called Grover’s Mill, New Jersey.  It became known as the “Panic Broadcast” and changed broadcast history, social psychology, civil defense and set a standard for provocative entertainment. Approximately 12 million people in the United States heard the broadcast and about one million of those actually believed that a serious alien invasion was underway. A wave of mass hysteria disrupted households, interrupted religious services, caused traffic jams and clogged communication systems. People fled their city homes to seek shelter in more rural areas, raided grocery stores and began to ration food. The nation was in a state of chaos, and this broadcast was the cause of it.  Media theorists have classified the “War of the Worlds” broadcast as the archetypal example of the Magic Bullet Theory. This is exactly how the theory worked, by injecting the message directly into the “bloodstream” of the public, attempting to create a uniform thinking. The effects of the broadcast suggested that the media could manipulate a passive and gullible public, leading theorists to believe this was one of the primary ways media authors shaped audience perception.

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New assessments that the Magic Bullet Theory was not accurate came out of election studies in “The People’s Choice,” (Lazarsfeld, Berelson and Gaudet, 1944/1968). The project was conducted during the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 to determine voting patterns and the relationship between the media and political behavior. The majority of people remained untouched by the propaganda; interpersonal outlets brought more influence than the media. The effects of the campaign were not all-powerful to where they persuaded helpless audiences uniformly and directly, which is the very definition of what the magic bullet theory does. The second set of studies was done by the U.S. Army during WWII. Filmmaker Frank Capra produced a series of seven films collectively entitled, “Why We Fight.” Shown to soldiers, the hope was to create resentment of Japan and Germany while simultaneously increasing confidence in the United States and the justice of its battles. To the chagrin of the top brass, the soldiers learned facts about the conflict but experienced only minor changes in opinions. When changes did occur, they were linked more to the soldier’s level of intelligence and his schooling than the messages per se. While this result supposedly killed the magic bullet theory. As focus group testing, questionnaires, and other methods of marketing effectiveness testing came into widespread use; and as more interactive forms of media (e.g.: internet, radio call-in shows, etc.) became available, the magic bullet theory was replaced by a variety of other, more instrumental models, like the two step of flow theory and diffusion of innovations theory.

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The hoary theory of eighty years ago continues to surface under other guises. One such example is the theory of American media and cultural imperialism. This essentially Marxist concept says that mass media messages reflect “a deliberate policy designed by powerful economic and political interests to transform and dominate the cultures of other people.” (DeFleur and Dennis, p. 420) Countries in opposition to the United States are said to be specially targeted for undermining. Imported media messages create social change and alter the course of normal national development. By controlling what news people hear, the U.S. is able to dominate domestic media and other economic producers. Because native peoples have limited choices in what media are available to them, they are exposed to what superficially appears to be an attractive alternative to their own way of life. Media messages “instill” or “create” needs and wants for consumer products that citizens don’t really need and can’t afford. Such unsatisfied desires can then lead to political unrest and exploitation by more sophisticated Western powers. The responses to this theory are visible in a number of nations. In France, certain American words are outlawed. In Canada, the supply of American videos, movies, or TV is restricted in favor of locally produced products. China controls satellite dishes; Germany outlaws Nazi-related items on the Internet (viz their suit against Yahoo!); and Arab countries complain about encroaching Western hairstyles, clothing, personal behavior, and speech that is offensive to their religious sensibilities. What is deemed “proper,” of course, is to be determined solely by the politicians. Realizing that media consumers are active individuals capable of exercising their free will is not popular with the leaders in our (or any other) country. To do so would be to limit them in their attempts to exercise more political control. One need not look far to find examples in which politicians operate from — and impose laws based upon — the discredited powerful effects model.

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The Weak Effects Model:

Variations in individual psychology and values, membership in a particular social category, disparities in income, religion, age, gender, and other demographic characteristics can and often do overwhelm a mass medium message. In contrast to the strong effects model, the weak effects model contends that people not really isolated but interact socially with family, friends, and co-workers. These kinds of distinctions lead to differences in what individuals will find of interest and what messages they will select to consume (i.e., what they will choose to be exposed to); how closely they will focus upon or attend to those messages; how those messages will be interpreted; and how those messages will affect them. Given such a universe of possible combinations, any given mass medium message will have only limited effects on the public overall. No wonder successful persuasion in such areas as advertising is a headache to producers!

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Agenda Setting Theory:

Agenda Setting Theory is a famous Mass Communication theory that Prof. Maxwell McCombs & Prof. Donald Shaw arrived at, in the 1972 U.S. presidential elections. According to the theory, it is the media that sets the agenda for what people should think about. This finding was based on the research that ‘public give a lot of importance to the issues which are given big coverage by the mass media’. This is exactly what happened in the recent Anna Hazare movement in India. The hunger strike was discussed with great enthusiasm by various TV channels, radio and every national, regional and local newspaper. This resulted in everybody talking about the movement. Indeed, it was interesting to watch bus conductors, vegetable vendors and others, bringing ‘Anna Hazare’ name in their day to day conversation. Further, with honest cop like Kiran Bedi supporting the cause, there was no question of doubting the movement. The outcome of this reaction was that the media did not dare to divert the attention of the audience to other stories. This besides, with every medium monitoring its competitor in terms of issue coverage, Intra-media Agenda Setting also came into picture. We are seeing this now in case of IAS Officer Durga Shakti Nagpal. Every channel, newspaper & radio station is discussing her wrongful suspension by the state government in India.

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Two Step Flow Theory:

This theory asserts that information from the media moves in two distinct stages. First, individuals (opinion leaders) who pay close attention to the mass media and its messages receive the information. Opinion leaders pass on their own interpretations in addition to the actual media content. The term ‘personal influence’ was coined to refer to the process intervening between the media’s direct message and the audience’s ultimate reaction to that message. Opinion leaders are quite influential in getting people to change their attitudes and behaviors and are quite similar to those they influence. The two-step flow theory has improved our understanding of how the mass media influence decision making. The theory refined the ability to predict the influence of media messages on audience behavior, and it helped explain why certain media campaigns may have failed to alter audience attitudes and behavior. The two-step flow theory gave way to the multi-step flow theory of mass communication or diffusion of innovation theory.

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Opinion leadership:

Opinion leadership is leadership by an active media user who interprets the meaning of media messages or content for lower-end media users. Typically the opinion leader is held in high esteem by those who accept his or her opinions. Opinion leadership comes from the theory of two-step flow of communication propounded by Paul Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz.  Significant developers of the theory have been Robert K. Merton, C. Wright Mills and Bernard Berelson. This theory is one of several models that try to explain the diffusion of innovations, ideas, or commercial products. Opinion leaders are individuals who obtain more media coverage than others and are especially educated on a certain issue. They seek the acceptance of others and are especially motivated to enhance their social status.  In the jargon of public relations, they are called thought leaders. Opinion leaders are seen to have more influence than the media for a number of reasons. Opinion leaders are seen as trustworthy and non-purposive. People do not feel they are being tricked into thinking a certain way about something from someone they know. However, the media can be seen as forcing a concept on the public and therefore less influential. While the media can act as a reinforcing agent, opinion leaders have a more changing or determining role in an individual’s opinion or action.

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Diffusion of Innovations Theory:

Diffusion of Innovations Theory first appeared as a 2-step flow model which said that an individual receives information and passes it along to others. Everett Rogers, later, presented this finding in the form of a multi-step flow model in 1983. As per this theory or model, an idea or message travels through interpersonal contacts or various media & social networks; spreads across horizontally and vertically in the contemporary communities and societies, sometimes causing changes that otherwise would not occur. In India itself, the Anna Hazare movement spread vertically and horizontally to all sections of the society. If the elite were talking about it, so were the bus conductors and small shop owners as also students, housewives and every person in India. If that was not enough, the crusade succeeded in getting the attention of the outside world too. Nations like the US and UK were astonished to see a bloodless movement shaking up a country from its deep slumber. The effect percolated to neighboring countries as well. So much so, that a Pakistani businessman Jahangeer Akhtar declared that he would go on hunger strike as a fight against ‘endemic corruption’ in his country. Such a frenzy was noticed at the time of release of a Bollywood movie ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’. At that time, influenced by the concept of ‘Gandhigiri’ some people took to sending flowers to corrupt men, with a message of “Get well soon”! The Candle March scene in the film ‘Rang De Basanti’ also triggered similar feelings in the people. People took to Candle March when the shameful Nirbhaya Gang Rape took place.

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Media and Anna Hazare:

Large scale corruption in 2010 Commonwealth Games followed by 2G scam had left a bitter taste in every Indian. Things looked gloomy.  At this crucial juncture, Anna Hazare, a dhoti clad Gandhian made a grand entry pumping infinite hopes into the sinking hearts of the Indian public.  At the 2011 CNN IBN Indian of  the Year awards, Anna Hazare candidly admitted that it was the media which was responsible for his rise from a regional figure in  Maharashtra to a national icon. ‘If your cameras ‘had not followed me everywhere, who would know me?’ was the activist’s honest response.  India’s media has been happy to offer blanket coverage of Anna Hazare’s fasts. More viewers mean more money. While the media was fixated on Hazare’s fast, it paid little attention to the ongoing and acute desperation and helplessness of the country’s many poverty-stricken areas. The reason this has been the case, of course, is simple – people in rural and semi-urban areas don’t contribute to the TRP (Television Rating Points). The media appears to have had little time for those who favour democratic debate and discussion. By providing round-the-clock coverage of the protest from the Ramlila Ground, where Hazare undertook his fast, the media has drummed up not just an anti-government mood in the country, but also an anti-politics atmosphere.  What defies imagination, even as it stretches journalistic credibility, is that the messengers become the lead players, directing the route the story will run, conjuring up twists and turns where there are none and keeping the news-in-the-making illusion breathlessly alive. The main issue here is corruption, which is the elephant, but the media has given extensive publicity to “the elephant riders, which is Anna Hazare and his team”.  By and large, media experts feel that television coverage was biased in favour of the 74-year-old activist, uncritical in its sweep and adulatory sometimes.  In the end, both the state and Team Anna mistook the medium for the message. Team Anna saw the frenzied coverage as its main weapon, forgetting that democratic politics is not a repetitive television serial, but a tortuous process of negotiation and conciliation. The state, on the other hand, failed to recognise that cacophony will be part of a media environment in which there are more than 350 news channels and several hundred OB vans across India. With great respect to Anna Hazare, I must admit that his movement in India was propagated by media rather than masses. The net result is that corruption is still the most ubiquitous social evil in India. The freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi was propagated by masses and not media and therefore had successful outcome. Social media was successful in propagating ‘Arab Spring’ because social media is led by masses and not by editors, anchors and journalists.  

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Theories of influence of mass media: sociological perspective:

What role does mass media play? Legislatures, media executives, local school officials, and sociologists have all debated this controversial question. While opinions vary as to the extent and type of influence the mass media wields, all sides agree that mass media is a permanent part of modern culture. Three main sociological perspectives on the role of media exist: the limited‐effects theory, the class‐dominant theory, and the culturalist theory. The limited-effects theory, which was originally tested in the 1940s and 1950s, states that “because people usually choose what media to interact with based on what they already believe, media exerts a negligible influence”.  The class-dominant theory states that “the media reflects and projects the view of a minority elite, which controls it”. It continues by explaining that the people who own and control the corporations that produce media comprise this elite. The culturalist theory, which was developed in the 1980s and 1990s, combines the other two theories and claims that “people interact with media to create their own meanings out of the images and messages they receive”. This theory states that audience members play an active, rather than passive role in relation to mass media.

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Limited-effects theory:

The limited‐effects theory argues that because people generally choose what to watch or read based on what they already believe, media exerts a negligible influence. This theory originated and was tested in the 1940s and 1950s. Studies that examined the ability of media to influence voting found that well‐informed people relied more on personal experience, prior knowledge, and their own reasoning. However, media “experts” more likely swayed those who were less informed. Critics point to two problems with this perspective. First, they claim that limited‐effects theory ignores the media’s role in framing and limiting the discussion and debate of issues. How media frames the debate and what questions members of the media ask change the outcome of the discussion and the possible conclusions people may draw. Second, this theory came into existence when the availability and dominance of media was far less widespread.

Class-dominant theory:

The class‐dominant theory argues that the media reflects and projects the view of a minority elite, which controls it. Those people who own and control the corporations that produce media comprise this elite. Advocates of this view concern themselves particularly with massive corporate mergers of media organizations, which limit competition and put big business at the reins of media—especially news media. Their concern is that when ownership is restricted, a few people then have the ability to manipulate what people can see or hear. For example, owners can easily avoid or silence stories that expose unethical corporate behavior or hold corporations responsible for their actions.  The issue of sponsorship adds to this problem. Advertising dollars fund most media. Networks aim programming at the largest possible audience because the broader the appeal, the greater the potential purchasing audience and the easier selling air time to advertisers becomes. Thus, news organizations may shy away from negative stories about corporations (especially parent corporations) that finance large advertising campaigns in their newspaper or on their stations. Television networks receiving millions of dollars in advertising from companies like Nike and other textile manufacturers were slow to run stories on their news shows about possible human‐rights violations by these companies in foreign countries. Media watchers identify the same problem at the local level where city newspapers will not give new cars poor reviews or run stories on selling a home without an agent because the majority of their funding comes from auto and real estate advertising. This influence also extends to programming. In the 1990s a network cancelled a short‐run drama with clear religious sentiments, Christy, because, although highly popular and beloved in rural America, the program did not rate well among young city dwellers that advertisers were targeting in ads. Critics of this theory counter these arguments by saying that local control of news media largely lies beyond the reach of large corporate offices elsewhere, and that the quality of news depends upon good journalists. They contend that those less powerful and not in control of media have often received full media coverage and subsequent support. As examples they name numerous environmental causes, the anti‐nuclear movement, the anti‐Vietnam movement, and the pro‐Gulf War movement. While most people argue that a corporate elite controls media, a variation on this approach argues that a politically “liberal” elite controls media. They point to the fact that journalists, being more highly educated than the general population, hold more liberal political views, consider themselves “left of center,” and are more likely to register as Democrats. They further point to examples from the media itself and the statistical reality that the media more often labels conservative commentators or politicians as “conservative” than liberals as “liberal.” Media language can be revealing, too. Media uses the terms “arch” or “ultra” conservative, but rarely or never the terms “arch” or “ultra” liberal. Those who argue that a political elite controls media also point out that the movements that have gained media attention—the environment, anti‐nuclear, and anti‐Vietnam—generally support liberal political issues. Predominantly conservative political issues have yet to gain prominent media attention, or have been opposed by the media. Advocates of this view point to the Strategic Arms Initiative of the 1980s Reagan administration. Media quickly characterized the defense program as “Star Wars,” linking it to an expensive fantasy. The public failed to support it, and the program did not get funding or congressional support. 

Culturalist theory:

The culturalist theory, developed in the 1980s and 1990s, combines the other two theories and claims that people interact with media to create their own meanings out of the images and messages they receive. This theory sees audiences as playing an active rather than passive role in relation to mass media. One strand of research focuses on the audiences and how they interact with media; the other strand of research focuses on those who produce the media, particularly the news.  Theorists emphasize that audiences choose what to watch among a wide range of options, choose how much to watch, and may choose the mute button or the VCR remote over the programming selected by the network or cable station. Studies of mass media done by sociologists parallel text‐reading and interpretation research completed by linguists (people who study language). Both groups of researchers find that when people approach material, whether written text or media images and messages, they interpret that material based on their own knowledge and experience. Thus, when researchers ask different groups to explain the meaning of a particular song or video, the groups produce widely divergent interpretations based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, and religious background. Therefore, culturalist theorists claim that, while a few elite in large corporations may exert significant control over what information media produces and distributes, personal perspective plays a more powerful role in how the audience members interpret those messages. 

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Media effects: spiral of silence theory:

People are generally scared to voice their opinions if they differ greatly from the opinions presented in the media as “majority” opinions.

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Cultivation Theory:

Developed by Professor George Gerbner, the Cultivation Theory focuses on the effects of long term repetition of messages. This view of media’s influence on culture states that it occurs over time through a distortion of reality. Cultivation Theory does not rely on extensive consumption of media, but that the media cultivates cultural change over time throughout society. The effects of cultivation of the media are exacerbated by a homogenized media landscape, where media outlets, through financial or other pressures, become similar or uniform. If all people receive a similar media message, portraying uniform values, then audiences will more quickly perceive those representations to be accurate.

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Media effects research:

The connections between people’s consumption of the mass media and their subsequent behavior:

Despite decades of research and hundreds of studies, the connections between people’s consumption of the mass media and their subsequent behaviour have remained persistently elusive. Indeed, researchers have enjoyed an unusual degree of patience from both their scholarly and more public audiences. The researchers examined all of the studies in detail, and generally conclude that the research has failed to show that the media has any kind of direct or predictable effects on people.  But the time comes when we must take a step back from this murky lack of consensus and ask – why? Why are there no clear answers on media effects? If, after over sixty years of a considerable amount of research effort, direct effects of media upon behaviour have not been clearly identified, then we should conclude that they are simply not there to be found. However, the media effects research has quite consistently taken the wrong approach to the mass media, its audiences, and society in general. This misdirection has taken a number of forms. Media influences are something that we still know very little about, because the research hasn’t been very good or imaginative… The studies by Greg Philo and Glasgow University Media Group colleagues, for example, have used often imaginative methods to explore the influence of media presentations upon perceptions and interpretations of factual matters (e.g. Philo, 1990; Philo, ed., 1996). Also, the study by Gauntlett in 1997 in which children made videos about the environment, which were used as a way of understanding the discourses and perspectives on environmentalism which the children had acquired from the media, can be seen as falling broadly within this tradition. The strength of this work is that it operates on a terrain different from that occupied by the effects model; even at the most obvious level, it is about influences and perceptions, rather than effects and behaviour. However, whilst such studies may provide valuable reflections on the relationship between mass media and audiences, they cannot – for the same reason – directly challenge claims made from within the ‘effects model’ paradigm. This is not a weakness of these studies, of course; the effects paradigm should be left to bury itself whilst prudent media researchers move on to explore these other areas.

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Media literacy and media education:

Media literacy is the ability to understand how mass media work, how they produce meanings, how they are organized, and how to use them wisely. The media literate person can describe the role media play in his or her life. The media literate person understands the basic conventions of various media, and enjoys their use in a deliberately conscious way. The media literate person understands the impact of music and special effects in heightening the drama of a television program or film…this recognition does not lessen the enjoyment of the action, but prevents the viewer from being unduly credulous or becoming unnecessarily frightened. The media literate person is in control of his or her media experiences.

The following definition of media literacy came out of the Trent Think Tank, a 1989 symposium for media educators from around the world sponsored by the Canadian Association for Media Literacy:

“The goal of the media literacy curriculum must be to develop a literate person who is able to read, analyze, evaluate, and produce communications in a variety of media (print, TV, computers, the arts, etc.).”

Media literacy is a repertoire of competencies that enable people to analyze, evaluate, and create messages in a wide variety of media modes, genres, and formats. Media Education is the process of teaching and learning about media. It is about developing young people’s critical and creative abilities when it comes to the media. Media education should not be confused with educational technology or with educational media. Surveys repeatedly show that, in most industrialized countries, children now spend more time watching television than they do in school, or also on any other activity apart from sleeping. Media Education has no fixed location, no clear ideology and no definitive recipients; it is subject to whims of a financial market bigger than itself. Being able to understand the media enables people to analyze, evaluate, and create messages in a wide variety of mediums, genres, and forms. A person who is media literate is informed. Media literate people should be able to skillfully create and produce media messages, both to show understanding of the specific qualities of each medium, as well as to create independent media and participate as active citizens. Media literacy can be seen as contributing to an expanded conceptualization of literacy, treating mass media, popular culture and digital media as new types of ‘texts’ that require analysis and evaluation. UNESCO has had a long standing experience with media literacy and education. The organization has supported a number of initiatives to introduce media and information literacy as an important part of lifelong learning.  Most recently, the UNESCO Action for Media Education and Literacy brought together experts from numerous regions of the world to “catalyze processes to introduce media and information literacy components into teacher training curricula worldwide.

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A quasi- experimental study evaluated how implementing media literacy in the curriculum of adolescence would influence their attitudes of sexual portrayals in the media and decision made about sex. The study involved 992 adolescent participants who were either enrolled in the media literacy training or had not received any media literacy training. The analysis shows that participants who were in the media literacy training were more likely to recognize the media effects on teenagers and report that the sexual portrayals in the media were not accurate depictions of teen sexual behavior. Furthermore, despite the sexual portrayals, the participants with media literacy were more likely than the control group to accept the view that teenagers often practice abstinence.

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Why teach media literacy to young children?

Because schoolchildren spend more time watching television than they do in school or play in developed nations. The average child watches approximately thirty hours of television per week! The Los Angeles Times recently reported that 37% of children aged 9 – 11 have their own TV’s, as compared to 49% of 12 -13 year-olds, and 54% of 14 – 15 year-olds. Media bring the world into our homes. From them, we learn about war and peace, the environment, new scientific discoveries, and so on. We are dependent upon mass communication for knowing what is going on in our physical, social, economic, and political environments. In other words, almost everything we know about people, places, and events that we cannot visit first-hand come from the media. We also rely on media for entertainment and pleasure. Television and film have become the storytellers of our generation; these stories tell us about who we are, what we believe, and what we want to be. The cumulative impact of mass media is to unconsciously shape our visions of ourselves. In some ways, this is fine: we can learn from the media that our nation is strong and decent, that our political process is reliable, and that our technological achievements are often remarkable. But in other ways, allowing the mass media to shape our images of ourselves is dangerous because the media must follow conventions that are often out-of-sync with real life. Mass media can teach us what it means to be a woman, what families are supposed to be like, or what it means to grow old. Because we receive these messages over and over, we may unconsciously come to accept them as truth without really thinking about it. The dangers of not thinking about media are greatest for young children, who are among our nation’s heaviest but least sophisticated viewers. By failing to help them develop media literacy skills that will allow them to analyze critically what they see and later read, we allow their developing visions of themselves to be controlled by men and women remote from them and from us, whose values and visions we may not share. While creating video is one important way for children to understand how media works, it is not intended as a way to train future media professionals for jobs. Instead, you might think of it as teaching “good citizenship” skills. After all, young people must be able critically evaluate the world around them in order to fully and effectively participate in it. Media education is not only necessary, but also vital. The 21st century children, teenagers or citizens are literally surrounded by the media, which constitute a major component of their social and cultural environment. They are constantly targeted by sonorous, visual, and written messages designed to have an impact on their knowledge, their affectivity (feelings and emotions), their attitude or their behaviour. Unfortunately, most of them ignore how to work out those messages. The purpose of media literacy is to empower young people to understand the mass media and how it works so that they can be in control of this important aspect of their own lives.

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Note:

Please distinguish between media education and educational media or education via media. Media Education is the process of teaching and learning about media resulting in acquiring media literacy.  Educational media is a media that educates students/audience on various subjects.  Education via media is one of the functions of mass media i.e. educate masses e.g. smoking is harmful to health.

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The messages broadcasted by the media are not neutral. They use specific language and accurate technological tools, and they aim at particular targets. Media education means giving each youngster the ability to understand the situation in which he stands when he is the target of media-related messages. It means making him able to be an active media reader, listener or viewer capable of appropriating a maximum of original information from all kind of media-related documents, and especially audiovisual documents. Up to now, school education has been essentially based on writing and speaking language. The part played by images is still of second importance. Yet, according to experts, the audiovisual image can really be used as an original tool serving communication, expression and thought.

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Is media education a school matter?

Media education constitutes a set of means aimed at promoting the development of each student’s personality and helping young people to build up their knowledge, and thereby lead them to play an active part in society and to become responsible citizens in a democratic society. Media education is also in line with the spirit and the principles of school modernization. As a matter of fact, media education refers to knowledge, know-how, and behaviour ; it resorts to interdisciplinarity and proposes general activities requiring the whole set of skills. Finally, by implementing the media in the classrooms, it gives an answer to teenagers’ interests and strengthens the school recognition of cultural and social context.

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Which lessons, subjects, and activities are concerned by media education?

If media education concerns every child, it also concerns every subject. Indeed, it has to complement the specific objectives and learning activities required by each academic discipline.

At elementary school:

Media education can be used in every kind of lesson and turned into a privileged moment: a workshop about media, or a cooperative work with the different academic grades on a common subject, and so on. Media education is therefore the perfect tool for early learning games, artistic development, language awareness, but also for mathematics, religion or ethics.

At secondary school:

Every subject is related to television, radio and media, and each teacher has the possibility to make reference to it if necessary. Mother language, history, social sciences, foreign languages, ethics or religion lessons are closely linked to media education. However, it is also the case for artistic fields, economic sciences or scientific lessons. Regarding vocational and technical education, media education could either be an appropriate tool for technology lessons. In addition, media education and education through media should engender numerous, as well as diversified, interdisciplinary activities. It should fuel group works, documentary research, workshops, debates, think tanks, or school projects. Through its content and objectives, media education must continue to create links between subject matters and trainings too often isolated.

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What is the content of media education?

Media education’s main objective is to enable the student to set up relationships, from any kind of document and through personal reflection, between following six themes:

Languages:

Messages with texts, sounds or pictures are elaborate. They are constituted by many components organized to produce a particular meaning (framing, sounds, page setting). The study of such languages is mainly based upon messages observation and analysis, and audiovisual documents production (pictures, newspapers, posters, video recordings).

Technologies:

This concerns technical procedures and devices employed in visual and sonorous communication. The aim is twofold: to be able to use the daily life equipment and to discover the major media-related technologies.

Mental representation and picturing:

This theme includes both the way by which each document represents its subject, and the possible impact of the document on the mental representation of the same subject. 

Typologies:  

With a view to understanding media-related documents, it is essential to classify them according to their contents (sport, politics), their genres (documentary, fiction, cartoons) and so on. However, these categories are not homogenous and are the result of different approaches. This is aimed at teaching the students how to define the audiovisual documents they discover and, at the same time, at raising their awareness about the subjectivity of any classification (by putting forward the same regular issues or dramatizing events, TV news may be seen as a soap; or a fiction may be seen as a documentary). 

Publics:

Here is taken into account the approach used by a reader, listener or viewer to get the meaning of a document according to his intellectual level, centers of interest.

Productions:

It is important to be familiar with the world of media production, but also to consider all kind of audiovisual messages production, including the most handcrafted. As a matter of fact, educating the viewer to have a critical mind is possible thanks to an analysis that demystifies media production and broadcast.  Each theme only finds its meaning when related to the others.           

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Characteristics of mass media:

Five characteristics of mass communication have been identified by Cambridge University’s John Thompson:

1. Comprises both technical and institutional methods of production and distribution. This is evident throughout the history of the media, from print to the Internet, each suitable for commercial utility.

2. Involves the “commodification of symbolic forms”, as the production of materials relies on its ability to manufacture and sell large quantities of the work. Just as radio stations rely on its time sold to advertisements, newspapers rely for the same reasons on its space.

3. Separate contexts between the production and reception of information

4. Its reach to those ‘far removed’ in time and space, in comparison to the producers.

5. Information distribution as a “one to many” form of communication, whereby products are mass-produced and disseminated to a great quantity of audiences.

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Criteria of mass media:

According to McCullagh (2002) mass media organizations should meet the following criteria to serve the public:

 1) mass media messages should be available to all members of society: there should be no limitations of access to mass media messages based on race, age, education, wealth, and other characteristics of individuals;

 2) mass media messages should address different interests of audiences;

3) mass media messages should provide the public with education;

4) mass media messages should contribute to building a sense of community.

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Purpose of mass media:

Mass media encompasses much more than just news, although it is sometimes misunderstood in this way. It can be used for various purposes besides being news media:

1. Advocacy, both for business and social concerns. This can include advertising, marketing, propaganda, public relations, and political communication.

2. Entertainment, traditionally through performances of acting, music, sports, and TV shows along with light reading; since the late 20th century also through video and computer games.

3. Public service announcements and emergency alerts (that can be used as political device to communicate propaganda to the public).

4. Enrichment and education, such as literature.

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Media power:

Media power is generally symbolic and persuasive, in the sense that the media primarily have the potential to control to some extent the minds of readers or viewers, but not directly their actions. Except in cases of physical, coercive force, the control of action, which is usually the ultimate aim of the exercise of power, is generally indirect, whereas the control of intentions, plans, knowledge, beliefs, or opinions that is, mental representations that monitor overt activities is presupposed. Also, given the presence of other sources of information, and because the media usually lack access to the sanctions that other such as legal or bureaucratic-institutions may apply in cases of noncompliance, mind control by the media can never be complete. On the contrary, psychological and sociological evidence suggests that despite the pervasive symbolic power of the media, the audience will generally retain a minimum of autonomy and independence, and engage more or less actively, instead of purely passively, in the use of the means of mass communication.  In other words, whatever the symbolic power of the news media, at least some media users will generally be able to resist such persuasion. This suggests that mind control by the media should be particularly effective when the media users do not realize the nature or the implications of such control and when they change their minds of their own free will, as when they accept news reports as true or journalistic opinions as legitimate or correct. Such an analysis of social power and its symbolic dimensions requires going beyond a narrow social or political approach to power. It also involves a study of the mental representations, including so-called social cognitions such as attitudes and ideologies, shared by groups of readers or viewers. If we are able to relate more or less explicitly such mental representations, as well as their changes, to properties of news reports, important insights into media power can be gained. Well-known but vague notions such as influence or manipulation may then finally be given a precise meaning.    

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Broadly speaking, there are two views of media’s place in society. One is Elitist (media should educate), and the other is Populist (media should be whatever the people want). Marshall McLuhan was a famous media and communication theorist. He coined the term “global village” while discussing his belief that the effect of the television would be to unite the world. He also believed that print media changes the way you think, and that the written word could make language “official.”

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Influence of mass media:

Before discussing the influence of mass media on society it is imperative to explain the three basic functions of mass media; they are providing news/information, entertainment and education. The first and foremost function of the media in a society is to provide news and information to the masses, that is why the present era is some time termed as the information age as well. People need news/information for various reasons, on one hand it can be used to socialize and on the other to make decisions and formulate opinions. Entertainment would be the other function of the mass media where it is mostly used by the masses to amuse them in present day hectic environment. Educating the masses about their rights, moral, social and religious obligations is another important function of mass media, which needs no emphasis. In present era of globalization, majority of people in the society depends on information and communication to remain connected with the world and do our daily activities like work, entertainment, health care, education, socialization, travelling and anything else that we have to do. A common urban person usually wakes up in the morning checks the TV news or newspaper, goes to work, makes a few phone calls, eats with their family or peers when possible and makes his decisions based on the information that he has either from their co workers, TV news, friends, family, financial reports, etc. We need to be conscious of the reality that most of our decisions, beliefs and values are based on what we know for a fact, our assumptions and our own experience. In our work we usually know what we have to do, based on our experience and studies, however on our routine life and house hold chores we mostly rely on the mass media to get the current news and facts about what is important and what we should be aware of. We have put our trust on the media as an authority to give us news, entertainment and education. However, the influence of mass media on our kids, teenagers and society is so big that we should know how it really works. The media makes billions of dollars with the advertising they sell and that we are exposed to, every single moment. We buy what we are told to buy by the media. After seeing thousands of advertisings we make our buying decisions based on what we saw on TV, newspapers or magazines. These are the effects of mass media especially in teenagers, they buy what they see on TV, what their favourite celebrity advertise and what is acceptable by society based on the fashion that the media has imposed on them.

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Just because 18 million people have their TV sets switched on, it doesn’t mean they are watching.

Robbie Coltrane

Does the media shape our lives? The standard rationale for the current media obsession is that the ‘communications industries’ are playing a more and more important role in our lives. In addition, many on the left argue that current levels of media monopoly and concentration are unprecedented. Neither is necessarily true. The number of media systems and the number of global media consumers has increased in the last 20 years. Consequently, the level of investment worldwide in the media has rocketed.  But the impact on the daily lives of ordinary people in countries with an established mass media is another matter. The idea of a ‘communication society’ hooked together by the Internet and interactive cable services is itself still very much a media myth. Most families can’t afford Sky Sport, let alone a computer linked to the Internet. A recent survey published in the Guardian showed that in fact people in Britain are watching less TV of all kinds than they did a few years ago. The reach and influence of the tabloid press are also exaggerated. Only one third of the electorate in Britain regularly reads a Tory paper (including the so called qualities) and of those who read the Sun only 38 percent voted Tory in the 1992 election. Of course the mass media does provide the bulk of entertainment and leisure time activity for millions of people, particularly working class people, around the world. But this is not because we are all media dupes. The fact is TV and the tabloids are the cheapest and most accessible entertainment available. A 1985 survey revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the quality and choice of TV programs and suggested that viewers would switch off the TV ‘given the opportunity to participate in a more enjoyable activity’. Another survey, this time by Sahin and Robinson in 1974, found that TV viewing was regarded as one of the least enjoyable pastimes. ‘Once again’, it concluded, ‘viewing emerges as the most expendable or least important of daily activities’. Most people are not naive or uncritical consumers of the media. People often buy tabloids for entertainment, not news. For that they rely on TV which is regarded as much more reliable.  Even there cynicism is growing. A 1993 Gallup survey published in the Daily Telegraph showed that only 6 percent of the population thought politicians were truthful on the TV and radio!

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The Effects of Mass Media:

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How much we are realizing about the effects of mass media today. You can often see a world where media can control and alter human life. The media can be used to promote social growth and thinking skills. Television and the newer electronic media, is used wisely, have great positive potential for learning and development. They give children visually different mental skills from those developed by reading and writing. Television is a better medium than the printed word for conveying certain types of information, and it makes learning available to group of children who do not do well in traditional school situations and even to people who cannot read.

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Media psychology:  

Media psychology seeks to understand how the media and the growing use of technology impacts how people perceive, interpret, respond, and interacts in a media rich world. Media psychologists typically focus on identifying potential benefits and negative consequences of various forms of technology and promote the development of positive media.This field of psychology investigates the types of psychological impact on humans caused by a wide range of media such as social media, online education, virtual classrooms, entertainment consulting, traditional media interviews, in providing on camera expertise, virtual and augmented reality therapies, consumer products, brand development, marketing, advertising, product placement and game theory. Media psychology derives from multiples disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, neuroscience, political science, computer science, communications, and international relations. As a result, it provides a large realm of opportunities for conducting valuable research.  Media psychology promotes research about the effects of media to enrich the teaching, training, and practice of media psychology. As well, new findings in researched can be incorporated into the development of new media across a wide array of applications, ranging from business and entertainment to education and healthcare. Media psychology also contributes to expanding the general public’s understanding of psychology and how to effectively disseminate key research to the public through media channels.

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Broadly speaking, media psychology uses the theories, concepts and methods of psychology to study the impact of the mass media on individuals, groups, and cultures. But this definition is too broad to be very useful, and it ignores the very dynamic and reciprocal nature of media and people or consumers. More specifically, media psychology is concerned with the inter- and intra-personal psychological dimensions underlying the impact and use of any medium of communication, irrespective of the nature of the subject matter being communicated. The key delimiting definitional element in this view is that such interpersonal communication is accomplished by way of something other than face-to-face, oral-aural communication. In other words, media psychology is concerned with the social and psychological parameters of communications between people (or people and other organisms) that are mediated by some technology or conduit other than simply air. Media psychologists talk of a communications medium like television. We talk of a collection of communications media as a collective noun – the media. And we talk of mass media. What makes a medium of communication a mass media rather than simply a personal medium? A defining element for a medium to be specified as mass vs. personal must be that the medium reaches out to a high volume of people rather than to only one or a few. The medium of communications known as the telephone is a not per se a mass medium (even if it is hosting a conference call); nor is the palm pilot or the cell phone, even if they connect to a system of broadcasting over or receiving from a mass medium, such as the Internet. For example, the phone doesn’t transmit the digital image, the Internet does. Mass audiences define a mass medium. TV, motion pictures, radio, newspapers and magazines and, increasingly, the personal computer with the growing availability of bulletin boards, data bases, fax and modems devices, and, of course, the Internet, are distinctly mass media. Yet, while the telephone, in all its current incarnations, is not a mass medium, it is a communications medium. And it is increasingly a multi-purpose device. Because of this, the study of phone-related behavior easily falls within the purview of media psychology For example, the use of cell phones by teens for a variety of purposes other than simple communication, such as gaming and entertainment, has expanded the potential influence of this protean instrument in unanticipated ways. This certainly engages the interest of media psychology.

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Pervasive Effects of Media psychology:

The media have come to be integral parts of a variety of social institutions such as schools, hospitals, political and military systems, even religions, and their real and virtual assemblies. The media shape the way news gathering and transmission, advertising, political processes and campaigns, wars, diplomacy, education, entertainment, and socialization are conducted. The effects the media have on these human enterprises are legitimate points of interest on the expanding scope of media psychology. Examples:

• If the U.S. is more likely to intervene in a natural or man-made catastrophe in another country precisely because television images of human suffering move audiences to contact their government representatives, that is a media psychology effect and that is a media psychology event.

• If television has changed the way sports are played, demands game rules to speed up on-field action in order to keep the home viewing audience watching the commercials between plays, that is a media psychology effect and that is a media psychology event.

• If athletes become celebrities who can command multi-million dollar contracts because of their appearances and performances on television, that is a media psychology effect and that is a media psychology event.

• If we are a culture obsessed with celebrity because of the endless sources of entertainment and news about entertainment and entertainers; if everyone is just waiting for their chance to step in front of a camera to become “somebody” in a world where, unless your picture or name is in the media, you’re just a “nobody;” if these are current phenomena that significantly define our evolving culture, then these are matters of interest to media psychologists.

• If news about celebrities push off the front pages and out of prime time news agendas and people know more about The Apprentice’s Omorosa and American Idol’s Paula and less about Islam’s Osama and Russia’s Putin, that’s a media psychology effect.

Media technology, embodied in celestial eyes or terrestrial cameras, provide witness to our private thoughts and public forays. In time, magical media machines will offer virtual paradises for those seeking the safe remove from a too-demanding world or provide the thrill of the dangerous, the forbidden or the unattainable for those for whom such sojourns are either materially unavailable or personally inconceivable. What but the handiwork of transcendent mortals could offer such dangerous wonders? In the beginning there was the word. In the beginning there was the image. And in the beginning there was the voice. Media psychology is about this trilogy. It is about all that is human and all that is of interest to humans. Humans interest humans, humans in word, in sound, in image. The media is devoutly a reflection of its creators, in all their mediated reflection, incarnation, aspiration and rumination. To study this remarkable panoply is to study the creators and their creations. It is to come to understand their arenas of work and arenas of play, their things of work and their things of play. To study media psychology is, in the final scene, to study how humans represent themselves to themselves through lenses, through harmonics and through spectra and how humans send these self-images across time and space in a fierce proclamation of existence. 

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Effects of mass media:

In 1997, J. R. Finnegan Jr. and K. Viswanath identified 3 main effects of mass media.

1. The Knowledge Gap: The mass media influences knowledge gaps due to factors including “the extent to which the content is appealing, the degree to which information channels are accessible and desirable, and the amount of social conflict and diversity there is in a community”.

2. Agenda Setting: People are influence in how they think about issues due to the selective nature of what media choose for public consumption. After publicly disclosing that he had prostate cancer prior to the 2000 New York senatorial election, Rudolph Giuliani, the mayor of New York City (aided by the media) sparked a huge priority elevation of the cancer in people’s consciousness. This was because news media began to report on the risks of prostate cancer, which in turn prompted a greater public awareness about the disease and the need for screening. This ability for the media to be able to change how the public thinks and behaves has occurred on other occasions. In mid-1970s when Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller, wives of the then-President and then-Vice President respectively, were both diagnosed with breast cancer. J. J. Davis states that “when risks are highlighted in the media, particularly in great detail, the extent of agenda setting is likely to be based on the degree to which a public sense of outrage and threat is provoked”. When wanting to set an agenda, framing can be invaluably useful to a mass media organisation. Framing involves “taking a leadership role in the organisation of public discourse about an issue”. The media is influenced by the desire for balance in coverage, and the resulting pressures can come from groups with particular political action and advocacy positions. Finnegan and Viswanath say, “groups, institutions, and advocates compete to identify problems, to move them onto the public agenda, and to define the issues symbolically” (1997, p. 324).

3. Cultivation of Perceptions: The extent to which media exposure shapes audience perceptions over time is known as cultivation. Television is a common experience, especially in places like the United States, to the point where it can be described as a “homogenising agent” (S. W. Littlejohn). However, instead of being merely a result of the TV, the effect is often based on socioeconomic factors. Having a prolonged exposure to TV or movie violence might affect a viewer to the extent where they actively think community violence is a problem, or alternatively find it justifiable. The resulting belief is likely to be different depending on where people live however.

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Functions of Mass Media:

As mentioned earlier, mass media have pervasive effects on our personal and social life. The role and scope of mass media in our society are in the following areas:

Information function:

Mass media carry a lot of information which are essential for our day to day life. We know exam results, weather forecasts, current affairs, traffic regulations, last dates, precautions, government policies etc. from mass media. The core of media’s information function is performed by the media content called news. The place or time dedicated for news in a mass media is called news hole. News is the most consumed item of any media. News can be defined as reports on things that people want or need to know. Information should be accurate, objective and complete. Biased or incomplete reports will keep the audience away from the media. Advertising is also mass media’s information function. We get much useful information from classified advertisements. While websites such as Facebook and Twitter are known as “social networking” platforms, they are also important outlets in disseminating news and factual information to wide audiences. Small businesses can take advantage of this by using the services of television news networks, newspapers and blogs to reach a large audience of interested and engaged readers. Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman started their portable generator company from a dorm room. They were featured on CNN Money’s entrepreneurs blog and have been able to increase website traffic and marketing inquiries significantly. Small businesses can also release “breaking” news stories directly to their fans through status updates, photo posts and messages. This function of mass communication is important in developing a sense of community for your business. Customers feel connected and informed by using online mass communication tools. 

Education function:

Information is different from education. Education is systematically organized information with predefined objectives. The primary source of education in our society is schools or colleges. Media also perform the functions that educational institutions do. Media are life-long educators for the society. They give us comprehensive knowledge of selected topics. Non-news content or news-based content like editorials, articles, columns in newspapers provide us with complete idea of a subject. Health Magazines, IT magazines are also examples for education through media. Recently, mass media in Kerala, India directly participated in our educational system by publishing educational supplements for school-goers. Padippura of Malayala Manorams, Kutty.com of Mathrubhumi, Velicham of Madhyamam, Kilivatil of Deshabhimani are examples. Moreover, we have a number television channels dedicated for mass education. Victors of IT @ School Project of Kerala Government, Vyas Channel of Consortium of Educational Communication under University Grants Commission, Gyandarsan of Doordarshan are some of such efforts seen in India.

Entertainment function:

Irrespective of their type, mass media are wonderful entertainers. All media have entertainment content. Newspapers publish cartoons, comics, puzzles, special weekend supplements for amusing people. Lion share of magazine content such as short stories, novels, satires and cartoons are for entertainment. Movies are another big stock for entertainment. Audio-Visual media such as television and radio are also primarily concentrate on entertainment function through their programs based on sports, film, and fashion shows etc. While social networking is a proving to be an excellent source of business, the entertainment function of these forms of mass communication is arguably just as important. YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter provide a form of relaxation and escapism from an otherwise demanding world. Music videos and TV shows are instantly available to users all across the world and people are able to participate directly within the media by posting their own videos, art and other creative works. All this adds up to the entertainment value of mass communications refusing to be overlooked. Small businesses can take this opportunity to further their essentially free access to marketing. There is no need for your business to have a large advertising budget now, as you can simply and rather inexpensively create and post electronic commercials and virtual billboards that have the potential to reach thousands of potential customers.

Discussion of Opinions/debate:

Besides providing factual information about a business’ products and services, mass communication tools also allow your small business to shape the opinions of consumers. Social media users are able to easily and quickly post their responses regarding their experience with your business. There is a risk attached to this ease of use, as opinions can become marred by a bad experience with your company. Business owners can capitalize on this, however, by getting directly involved in the debate. Mass communication is about combining marketing with know-how; when you share your opinion-oriented business messages or respond to negative feedback, customers are exposed to different viewpoints and keen to consider your products after all.

Persuasion:

Persuasion means influencing attitudes or opinions. Mass media have many ways to persuade people. Most people form their opinion from information they get from mass media. Media have direct and indirect methods for persuasion. For public opinion formation, mass media use editorials, news analysis and commentaries. In such cases, the purpose is clear and direct. The most obvious method of persuasion is advertising. Advertisements are direct methods to influence purchasing behaviour of the public. Some media report events hiding their vested interests in news. Such biased, subjective reports are for persuading people to form favourable attitudes towards them or their interests. Opinionated news is an undirected method of persuasion. It’s against the ethics of responsible journalism. News and opinion should be given separately.

Surveillance of the environment:

Mass media observe the society and its activities and report them to make people aware of their socio-cultural environment. In other words, we as social animals are always under the close observations of mass media. Media are our watchdogs. It always watches who do good things and who do bad things, and report them to encourage or correct our deeds. Reports about corruptions are good example. Considering this watchdog function of mass media, we call the media as the Fourth Estate of our democratic political system. The other estates are Legislative, Judiciary and Executive.

Transmission of heritage:

By communicating information through the mass media we are transmitting social and cultural values, which aim at sustaining the society.  Mass media are the bridge between our past and present. They report day to day affairs which will become history of tomorrow. The best records of modern history are newspapers of yesteryears. We get our cultural tradition from history and we follow the best of them. In keeping our culture flowing, media play a vital role. It advises us which part of our culture is good and to be followed and which is bad and not to be followed.

Cultural Transmission:

Mass communications are also important for a sense of culture and community. People who keep engaged in social networking sites, blogs and online forums are developing relationships in ways that weren’t possible even 10 years ago. Small businesses are a driving factor in this cultural transmission. It is now easy to speak to people hundreds of miles away, thus creating a “global” small business. No longer does your client base need to be restricted to a radius near a physical location. Small businesses can connect with, sell to and deliver products and services to people around the world. Businesses that offer intangible services like life coaching, branding and consulting are well-suited to take advantage of this virtual space. Mass communications function to keep diverse communities and businesses virtually connected even when they are physically far apart.

Mobilization function:

This function of the mass media is very important to developing communities everywhere. It seeks to bring the people together and helps to advance national development.

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Importance of mass media:

Mass communicated media saturate the industrialized world. The television in the living room, the newspaper on the doorstep, the radio in the car, the computer at work, and the fliers in the mailbox are just a few of the media channels daily delivering advertisements, news, opinion, music, and other forms of mass communication. Because the media are so prevalent in industrialized countries, they have a powerful impact on how those populations view the world. Nearly all of the news in the United States comes from a major network or newspaper. It is only the most local and personal events that are experienced first-hand. Events in the larger community, the state, the country, and the rest of the world are experienced through the eyes of a journalist. Not only do the media report the news, they create the news by deciding what to report. The “top story” of the day has to be picked from the millions of things that happened that particular day. After something is deemed newsworthy, there are decisions on how much time or space to give it, whom to interview, what pictures to use, and how to frame it. Often considered by editors, but seldom discussed, is how the biases and interests of management will impact these determinations. All of these decisions add up to the audience’s view of the world, and those who influence the decisions influence the audience. The media, therefore, have enormous importance to conflict resolution because they are the primary — and frequently only — source of information regarding conflicts. If a situation doesn’t make the news, it simply does not exist for most people. When peaceful options such as negotiation and other collaborative problem-solving techniques are not covered, or their successes are not reported, they become invisible and are not likely to be considered or even understood as possible options in the management of a conflict.  

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Pros of Mass Media:     

•The wide reach offered by mass media is phenomenal. It can target a global audience.

•In terms of newspapers and magazines, it can reach a specified target group. Besides, it is easily accessible. For example, the newspaper lands on the doorstep and we have the latest news in our drawing rooms due to the television set.

•Certain types of media have a loyal fan following. This would mean that an advertiser, publication or news channel would have a ready audience.

•We have the latest news and information at the click of the mouse! The Internet is such a medium that it can give many options for the kind of information required.

•Television, movies, Internet and the radio are some of the best forms of entertainment.

•Mass media can be used for educational purposes in an effective manner.

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Cons of Mass Media:

 •At times, the information reported may not be authentic from every angle. Hence, there may be a misinterpretation of a situation.

•News can be manipulated to influence the minds of the audiences. For example – a particular political party may manipulate reports in their favor, which would indicate the political control in the media.

•Media bias can occur due to various issues. A journalist or an editor may give personal preference to an issue.

•A particular event or a celebrity may receive undue importance and set wrong ideals before the youth. It may present an ostentatious lifestyle, which may inculcate wrong ideals amongst youngsters.

•Unnecessary sensationalism of an issue may project wrong information to the public.

•Misleading messages may again divert young minds towards a wrong path.

•Wrong interpretation of news may even blow things out of proportion. This would create further unrest in any place or even violence in case of extreme situations.

•At times, a particular event or news item may receive too much attention simply because of the lack of important news or snippets. This would again present a wrong idea before the public.

•Certain types of mass media such as newspapers or leaflets have a very short shelf life. In terms of advertising, it would not serve to be useful for every kind of product or message.

These were some of the pros and cons of mass media. Ultimately, it always depends upon the individual and the way a particular message is perceived for a positive influence of the mass media!

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Positives of mass media:

Without the media, most people would know little of events beyond their immediate neighborhood. The further one goes outside of one’s circle of friends and family, the more time-consuming and expensive it becomes to get information. Very few, if any, individuals have the resources to stay independently informed of world events. With the news, however, all one has to do is turn on a television or turn to the Internet. Even when it is biased or limited, it is a picture of what is happening around the world. The more sources one compares, the more accurate the picture that can be put together. In addition to the media conglomerates, there are also a range of independent news outlets, though they have a much smaller audience. Some of these provide an alternative view of events and often strive to publish stories that cannot be found in the mainstream media. Technological advances in many industrialized (primarily Western) countries make it possible to read papers and watch broadcasts from around the globe. While language skills can be a barrier, it is possible to live in the United States and watch Arab-language broadcasts from the Middle East, or to get on the Internet and read scores of Chinese newspapers. Having access to these alternative voices limits the power of monopolies over information. Another important benefit of a functioning mass news media is that information can be relayed quickly in times of crisis. Tornado and hurricane announcement can give large populations advance warning and allow them to take precautions and move out of harm’s way. In a country suffering war, a radio broadcast outlining where the latest fighting is can alert people to areas to avoid. In quieter times, the media can publish other useful announcements, from traffic reports to how to avoid getting HIV. It is a stabilizing and civilizing force. Along the same lines, the news media allow elected and other officials to communicate with their constituents. Frequently, the delegates at a negotiation will find they understand each other much better over the course of their discussions, but that understanding will not reach the larger populations they represent without a concerted communications effort. If constituents are not aware of these new understandings (and subsequent compromises) during the course of negotiations, they will almost certainly feel cheated when a final agreement falls far short of their expectations. To achieve ratification, delegates must justify the agreement by discussing it with and explaining it to their constituents throughout the entire process and the media is often used for this purpose. The advantages of mass media are many. To name a few; the wide reach offered by mass media is phenomenal. It can target a global audience. In terms of newspapers and magazines, it can reach a specified target group. Besides, it is easily accessible. For example, the newspaper lands on the doorstep and we have the latest news in our drawing rooms due to the television set. We have the latest news and information at the click of the mouse .The Internet is such a medium that it can give a range of options for just one particular information. Distance is no more a barrier. Television, movies, Internet and the radio are some of the best forms of entertainment. Some television channels also offer curriculum oriented programs for children and high school kids. Apart from providing oversight to public mass media also helps facilitate transparency in the working of the government. The speedy redressal of the grievances of the public and the adressal to the problems faced by the common man are all facilitated by the mass media. Mass media is the very catalyst in all these processes, be it getting to book the criminals or the passing of the lokpal bill in India. The mass media has been successful in the terminance of various social stigmas and malpractices of the society. Mass media significantly generates large amount of job opportunity for individuals with good vocabulary and speaking skills. In times of crisis the news is the only source of information for the common man. Be it the 26/11 attack on Mumbai or the 9/11 attack on the U.S.

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Negatives of mass media;

But as someone once said every coin has two sides mass media also comes with its own dark side. The news media thrive on conflict. The lead story for most news programs is typically the most recent and extreme crime or disaster. Conflict attracts viewers, listeners, and readers to the media; the greater the conflict the greater the audience, and large audiences are imperative to the financial success of media outlets. Therefore, it is often in the media’s interest to not only report conflict, but to play it up, making it seem more intense than it really is. Long-term, on-going conflict-resolution processes such as mediation are not dramatic and are often difficult to understand and report, especially since the proceedings are almost always closed to the media. Thus conflict resolution stories are easily pushed aside in favor of the most recent, the most colorful, and the most shocking aspects of a conflict. Groups that understand this dynamic can cater to it in order to gain media attention. Common criteria for terrorist attacks include timing them to coincide with significant dates, targeting elites, choosing sites with easy media access, and aiming for large numbers of casualties. Protesters will hoist their placards and start chanting when the television cameras come into view. It is not unusual for camera crews or reporters to encourage demonstrators into these actions so they can return to their studios with exciting footage. The resulting media coverage can bestow status and even legitimacy on marginal opposition groups, so television coverage naturally becomes one of their planned strategies and top priorities. The “30-second sound bite” has become a familiar phrase in television and radio news and alert public figures strategize to use it to their advantage. In most parts of the industrialized world, the news has to “sell,” because the handful of giant media conglomerates that control most of the press (media outlets) place a high priority on profitable operations. Their CEOs are under relentless pressure to generate high returns on their shareholders’ investments. Media companies face tight budgets and fierce competition, which often translate into fewer foreign correspondents, heavy reliance on sensationalism, space and time constraints, and a constant need for new stories. Reporters with pressing deadlines may not have time to find and verify new sources. Instead they tend to rely on government reports, press releases, and a stable of vetted sources, which are usually drawn from “reliable” companies and organizations. Most overseas bureaus have been replaced by “parachute journalism,” where a small news crew spends a few days or less in the latest hotspot. These same media outlets are also dependent upon advertisement revenue, and that dependence can compromise their impartiality. Many newspapers and television stations think twice before reporting a story that might be damaging to their advertisers, and will choose to avoid the story, if possible. According to a survey taken in 2000, “…about one in five (20 percent) of local and (17 percent) (of) national reporters say they have faced criticism or pressure from their bosses after producing or writing a piece that was seen as damaging to their company’s financial interests.” The drive to increase advertising revenue has led many local news shows to measure out world news in seconds to accommodate longer weather and sports reports. The news that is reported in the West comes from an increasingly concentrated group of corporate- and individually-owned conglomerates. Currently, the majority of all media outlets in the United States and a large share of those internationally are owned by a handful of corporations: Vivendi/Universal, AOL/Time Warner (CNN), The Walt Disney Co. (ABC), News Corporation (FOX), Viacom (CBS), General Electric (NBC), and Bertelsmann. These companies’ holdings include international news outlets, magazines, television, books, music, and movies as well as large commercial subsidiaries that are not part of the media. Many of these companies are the result of recent mergers and acquisitions. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently considering revising media-ownership rules that would encourage even further consolidation in the future. In addition to the control exercised by owners, there are also government controls and self-censorship. The United States, governed by a constitution where the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, has arguably one of the most free presses in the world, and is one of the few countries where the right to free speech is expressly written into the constitution. Yet even the U.S. government exerts control over the media, particularly during times of war or crisis. In many other countries around the world, especially emerging nations and dictatorships, governments impose tight restrictions on journalists, including penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment and execution. In these environments, rigorous self-censorship is necessary for survival. In a major survey of 287 U.S. journalists, “about a quarter of those polled have personally avoided pursuing newsworthy stories.”  At times the information reported may not be accurate. The need to generate TRPs has only fuelled T.V news channels to start blame games and manipulate and influence the minds of the audience. Unnecessary importance given to the world of glamour and film industry makes youngsters live in a world of make believe. The same media which was the reason for passing a bill was also the reason for death of Princess Diana. Many strategic militaristic operations could be foiled if media were to give away too much of information to the common man. The mass media industry can be a dog-eat-dog industry at times. This may lead to the media propagating. Large amount of complex data which in actual may be distorted perception of the real world in order to generate sensational news.

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Media’s Negative Influences are narrated below:
Blind Imitation:

When you try to imitate your role models from the glamour industry, do you give a thought to whether you are doing right or wrong? It is often seen that young girls and boys imitate celebrities blindly. The impact of media is such that the wrong, the controversial, and the bad is more talked about. Sometimes, little things are blown out of proportion thus changing the way they are perceived by the audience. Media highlights controversies and scandals in the lives of celebrities. The masses fall for this being-in-the-news and end up imitating celebrities without much thought. Those at a vulnerable age, especially children and teenagers, are highly influenced by anything that is put before them in a jazzy way. At that age, they are attracted to anything that’s flashy and anything that can make news.
Wrong Message:

The negatives in society are highlighted with the purpose of awakening people about them. For example, the negative effects of addiction are portrayed through advertisements. Newspapers, television and the Internet are used to convey social messages. But unfortunately sometimes, the message is misconstrued. The ‘awakening’ does not reach everyone or it reaches the masses in the wrong way. So there is a section positively influenced by the media while there are others who take the wrong message from it. Media influences them negatively. What is shown with an intent to ‘spread a message’ ends up becoming a bombardment of the bad, the ugly. The bad is overinflated and the good goes unnoticed. Depiction of the bad has a negative impact on kids not mature enough to interpret what they are being shown. It’s not just media to be blamed in this case. Parents and teachers have a big role to play in selecting what the young should see and what they should not.
Negativity:

To some extent, media is responsible for generating negative feelings among those exposed to it. An early exposure to bold or violent films, books publishing adult content and news portraying ugly social practices have a deep impact on young minds. If children are bombarded with fight sequences, stunt work, sex and rape scenes, suicides and murders through books or movies, they are bound to leave a scar on these impressionable minds. And not just children, the unpleasant can impact even an adult’s mind. Adults may have the maturity to distinguish between the good and the bad, but bombarding only the bad can affect anyone at least at the subconscious level. Haven’t you had experiences of a bad dream after watching a violent movie? Or of imagining something scary happening to you after watching a horror film? Or a sudden fear gripping your mind after reading about a murder in your city? The reality should be depicted but not so gaudily that it’ll have a lasting impact on people’s minds.
Unhealthy Lifestyle:

Media is held responsible for the change in eating habits of teenagers and the unhealthy lifestyle they are adopting. There are these junk food advertisements everywhere. There’s no one advertising the benefits of eating fresh fruit every day, no one’s promoting drinking 8 glasses of water daily. The benefits of following a balanced diet are not being hyped anywhere. Media is exposing the masses to fast food products, canned food, fad diets, and energy drinks. This is leading teenagers to adopt unhealthy eating habits. No one’s propagating the importance of exercising to keep fit. But there are advertisements of expensive exercise equipment, and weight and fat loss programs. Watching TV or browsing the web late night is spoiling the sleeping habits of many.
Information Overload:

The media in itself is so addictive that once glued to it, you tend to forget everything else. When you are not watching TV, you are surfing the Internet, when you are not on the web, you are reading newspapers, when you are not reading anything, you are listening to something. Thus, all the time, you are glued to some form of media. It is bombarding you with content, news, information, gossip, rumors – it is exposing you to everything it has, some things necessary, some not; some things important, some not, some things you want to ignore, some things you cannot. Media is everywhere, affecting every aspect of life.
Media Addiction:

The negative effects of media on children are manifested in terms of their changing mental setup and the declining quality of their lifestyle. Children should invest more time reading good books, studying, playing outdoors and exercising. Due to the oh-so-alluring media, most of their time is spent glued to the television, reading celebrity gossip, listening to something sensational or wandering aimlessly on the Internet. With a ‘world’ of information and entertainment waiting on the other side of a computer or TV screen, it’s not unnatural for anyone to spend hours exploring it; it’s addictive. This affects kids and teenagers the most, as they are exposed to things they might interpret wrongly or may not even understand at that age.
Self-hatred:

Women with petite bodies and girls with a barbie figure are always shown to be more popular or attractive while the overweight are portrayed as less popular, having less friends and being bullied. This leads to a notion that thin is sexy and fat is not. When this thought grips the minds of youngsters, they take to fad diets or turn to cosmetic surgeries to get that so-called perfect body. The craze for models or actors and actresses, makes teenagers want bodies and facial features like theirs. To get rid of a big nose or to get those big pouty lips, teenagers are ready to go under the knife.
Health Problems:

Media has negative effects on the physical and psychological well-being of society. People spending hours in front of a television or surfing the Internet experience eye problems. Lack of physical activity leads to obesity problems. Media influences public opinion and impacts the choices that people make. The media does play a role in portraying thin as beautiful and fat as ugly. It has led to a general opinion that size-zero is the in thing and fat and chubby are out. This makes the overweight feel out of place. They are ready to starve themselves to lose weight. This can, and has led to increasing cases of anorexia. An inferiority complex and lowered confidence in people with not-so-perfect bodies can lead to eating disorders. In a survey done on fifth graders by the National Institute on Media and the Family, it was found that kids had become dissatisfied with their bodies after watching a video of a certain very popular artiste and a certain scene from a popular TV show.
Changed Outlook:

The media has, in its own way, changed people’s outlook towards life. Media is the interface through which millions look at the world outside. Media claims to depict the ‘today’, but not all types of media show only the truth. With the intent of stressing their point or for grabbing greater attention from the masses, media hypes or exaggerates things to a certain degree. Not everyone is able to filter that element. Most believe everything to be real, especially kids and teenagers.
Fact-Fantasy Confusion:

Vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts – where did they come from? Fairies, superheroes, angels – where did they come from? It’s not only media to be blamed, as these characters belong to folklore. But media did play a role in propagating these characters and making them seem real. Aren’t there ghost and vampire stories that media claims as real? These characters enter our world through books and movies. There is no denying their amusement value or entertainment quotient. But isn’t it too much to blindly believe that they exist? Fiction is amusing only till the distinction between fact and fiction is clear. The reel entertains only till its difference from the real is understood. When the two worlds mix, life becomes difficult.
Right-or-Wrong Dilemma:

The media is so overwhelming that the masses end up believing everything it says/shows. Media sources are so many in number and all of them so convincingly make their point that it is hard to distinguish between right and wrong. The media is constantly bombarding us with information. How far do we go to check its authenticity? How deep do we dig to get to the root of something that’s making news? How critically do we judge the reality of reality shows and the truth behind true stories? We don’t think, we believe. We don’t judge, we get influenced. And that’s how impactive media is.
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While a certain amount of exposure to media is essential for introducing ourselves to the world outside, excessive exposure, uncontrolled access and belief without thought won’t lead us anywhere. They will only make the negative influence of media more obvious.
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The Solution to avoid negative influence of media:
The solution to avoiding the negative influence of media lies in limiting media exposure and choosing what to watch. News sources often bombard you with the same negative stories over and over again, in order to increase the impact. Sometimes, small incidents or events in the lives of celebrities and politicians are hyped, in order to make them more sensational. Refrain from watching such programs or news. Instead, watch good programs that carry healthy content, engage in positive activities, and encourage others to do the same. As a responsible adult (parent or teacher), exercise control on the media exposure that kids and teenagers get.  Media portrayals give rise to stereotypes, affecting your mindset. Advertisements carry subliminal messages influencing buyers’ psychology, or carry direct messages that bear a negative influence. It’s not possible to insulate yourself completely from the effects of media, even if you limit the exposure. And there are so many things you see around you, without choosing to watch them. The only way to shield yourself from them, is to not allow them to influence you. Don’t take media portrayals by their word. Don’t believe in them without thinking. Use your judgment before following or falling for anything. Put things in perspective, and don’t let the media influence you to do the wrong things.  

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How Indian media sensationalize news:

Pre-marital sex immoral, no religion allows it, says judge, shouted the headlines in India. This one is from The Hindustan Times. “In his ruling, additional sessions judge Virender Bhat also said every act of sexual intercourse between two adults on the promise of marriage did not become rape. “When a grown up, educated and office going woman subjects herself to sexual intercourse with a friend or colleague on the latter’s promise that he would marry her, she does so at her own peril.” The judge further held in his ruling, “She must be taken to understand the consequences of her act and must know that there is no guarantee that the boy would fulfill his promise. He may or may not do so,” the HT report says. The judge then added, “She must understand that she is engaging in an act which not only is immoral but also against the tenets of every religion. No religion in the world allows pre-marital sex.”  What the judge says is that consensual sex between two adults, even if marriage has been promised, cannot be interpreted as rape. He adds that there is ‘no guarantee that the boy would fulfill his promise.”  The trouble with the HT headline is endemic of the way most Indian media deals with news such as this one. The headline “Pre-marital sex immoral, no religion allows it, says judge” is far more attention-grabbing than a headline saying “All pre-marital sex is not rape, says judge”. The classic example of tabloid journalism headlines, “Man bites dog”, which is infinitely more sensational than the mundane and routine “Dog bites man”, seems to have been embraced by the news media in India. Tragically, what seems to be a mature, well thought, well thorough judgment goes unnoticed because of the need for sensationalism. Why sensationalize news? Because more people will read it and it will fetch more money. As simple as that. What people got impression from headline is that if you indulge in pre-marital sex, you are against all religions. What the judge wanted to say is that all pre-marital sex is not rape if the boy could not fulfill the promise of marriage.   

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Indian Media deliberately dividing people:

Speaking to Karan Thapar, the Chairman of the Press Council of India Markandey Katju slammed the media saying that he is very disappointed with the way in which the Indian media works. Katju also said that the media is not working for the interest of the people and sometimes divide the people of the country. According to Justice Markandey Katju Indian media is very often playing an anti-people role. I will narrate views of PCI chief in his own words.

 Number one, it often diverts the attention of the people from the real problems which are basically economic. 80 per cent of the people are living in horrible poverty, unemployment, facing price rise, healthcare etc. You divert attention from those problems and instead you project film-stars and fashion parades and cricket as if they are the problems of the people. Cricket is opium of the masses. The Roman emperors used to say ‘if you cannot give the people bread, give them circuses’. In India, send them to cricket if you cannot give them bread. Many channels, day and night, are showing cricket as if that is the problem of the country.

Second is, very often the media divides the people. You see, this is a country of great diversity because it is a country broadly of immigrants. We must, therefore, respect each other and we must remain united. Take for example, whenever a bomb blast takes place, in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, within a few hours almost every channels starts showing that an e-mail has come or a SMS has come that Indian Mujahideen have claimed responsibility or Jaish-e-Mohammad or Harkat-ul-Jihad, some Muslim name. You see e-mail or SMS any mischievous person can send, but by showing it on the TV channels and next day in print, you are in a subtle way conveying the message that all Muslims are terrorists and bomb throwers and you are demonizing the Muslims. And, 99 per cent people of all communities, whether Hindu, Muslim, are good people. When you are demonizing the Muslim community within a few hours of a bomb blast showing that SMS has come, e-mail has come from some Muslim organization, what does it imply?

Third is, as I said India is passing in a transitional period from feudal society to modern society. So the media must promote scientific ideas to help the country move forward, like the European media did in the period of transition in Europe. Here in India the media promotes superstition, astrology and so on. You know, 80 to 90 per cent of the people in the country are mentally very backward, steep in casteism, communalism, superstition and so on. Should the media uplift them and bring them up to a higher mental level and make them part of enlightened India or should the media go down to that level and continue and perpetuate their backwardness? The media through many TV channels show astrology which is pure humbug.

Justice Markandey Katju adds: The media is not always accurate, the media distorts facts; it twists people’s opinions. If you’ve heard of the scandal of paid news in the year 2009 elections, you know what happened. You know earlier the journalist would go to the candidates in elections and ask for money, ‘You give me Rs 10,000 and I will publish news in your favour’. Then it appears that the proprietors got a wise idea that why should these working journalists make money why should we not make money. Then they came forward saying ‘you give me one crore (10 million rupees) and a package will be given to you, front page headline news will be in your favour’. And an astounding thing happened in 2009 elections. Candidate A in the front page of the newspapers says he’s winning by a large number of votes, by a large majority; and the lower part of the front page paid for by the rival candidate says that candidate A is losing his security deposit. So you see on the same page he’s winning by a thumping majority and he’s also losing his security deposit.

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Note:

I have only recorded views of the Chairman of the Press Council of India justice Markandey Katju. These are his views on Indian media and not mine. According to information received by me, many stories appearing in most newspapers of India are paid news.    

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Wrong media coverage of climate change, Arab-Israeli conflict and 2003 invasion of Iraq by the U.S.:

Media coverage of climate change:

Media Coverage of climate change has had noticeably significant effects on public opinion on climate change, as it mediates the scientific opinion on climate change that the global instrumental temperature record shows increase in recent decades and that the trend is caused mainly by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases. Almost all scientific bodies of national or international standing agree with this view, although a few organisations hold non-committal positions. The way the media report on climate change in the English-speaking media, especially in the United States, has been widely studied, while studies of reporting in other countries have been fewer. A number of studies have shown that particularly in the United States and in the UK tabloid press, the media significantly understated the strength of scientific consensus on climate change established in IPCC Assessment Reports in 1995 and in 2001. Much of the public understands comparatively little about global warming. A substantial portion of the United States public has a flawed understanding of global warming, seeing it as linked to general “pollution” and causally connected in some way to atmospheric ozone depletion. Many reporters are not much better informed about climate change. Scientists and media scholars who express frustrations with inadequate science reporting argue that it can lead to at least three basic distortions. First, journalists distort reality by making scientific errors. Second, they distort by keying on human-interest stories rather than scientific content. And third, journalists distort by rigid adherence to the construct of balanced coverage. Bord, O’Connor, & Fisher (2000) argue that responsible citizenry necessitates a concrete knowledge of causes and that until, for example, the public understands what causes climate change it cannot be expected to take voluntary action to mitigate its effects. 

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Media coverage of the Arab–Israeli conflict by journalists in international news media has been said by both sides to be biased. These perceptions of bias, possibly exacerbated by the hostile media effect, have generated more complaints of partisan reporting than any other news topic and have led to a proliferation of media watchdog groups on both sides. Bias in print and broadcast media are manifest in varying ways. Journalists may intentionally or unintentionally distort reports due to political ideology, national affiliation, anti-semitism, anti-Arabism, or Islamophobia.

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The 2003 invasion of Iraq involved unprecedented U.S. media coverage, particularly by FOX News. The coverage itself became a source of controversy, as media outlets were accused of bias, reporters were casualties of both Iraqi and American gunfire, and claims of censorship and propaganda became widespread. The most popular cable network in the United States for news on the war was Fox News, and had begun influencing other media outlets’ coverage. Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a strong supporter of the war. In 2003, a study released by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting stated the network news disproportionately focused on pro-war sources and left out many anti-war sources. According to the study, 64% of total sources were in favor of the Iraq War while total anti-war sources made up 10% of the media (only 3% of US sources were anti-war). The study stated that “viewers were more than six times as likely to see a pro-war source as one who was anti-war; with U.S. guests alone, the ratio increases to 25 to 1.”  Kofi Annan and Richard Perle have said the Iraq War is illegal, but this was never mentioned in the US media aside from Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN.  

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Media bias:

Bias is the inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair. Bias is an inclination of temperament or outlook to present or hold a partial perspective and a refusal to even consider the possible merits of alternative points of view. People may be biased toward or against an individual, a race, a religion, a social class, or a political party. Biased means one-sided, lacking a neutral viewpoint, not having an open mind. Psychologically bias is a tendency. Most biases—like preferring to eat food instead of paper clips, or assuming someone on fire should be put out—are helpful. But cognitive shortcuts can cause problems when we’re not aware of them and we apply them inappropriately, leading to rash decisions or discriminatory practices (based on, say, racism and sexism). Relying on biases but keeping them in check requires a delicate balance of self-awareness. The term “media bias” implies a pervasive or widespread bias contravening the standards of journalism, rather than the perspective of an individual journalist or article.

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We all have bias:

“You can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train”

The above is a Howard Zinn quote of vital importance to our discussion here. Let’s examine the scenario it suggests. You are on a train, sitting with your fellow travelers as it moves towards its destination. What is your opinion on the moving train? Are you in favor of its motion, of arriving with it at the predetermined destination? A person can say yes or no, and can even express that they have no opinion of the phenomena in which they are ensnared. Yet, their inaction in regards to the motion of the train represents a bias and a concrete decision, which favors their continuing as passenger, allowing the train to move unchallenged. If they objected to being moved by the train, they could attempt to jump off of the train, could attempt to pull the chain to activate the break, could work to convince his fellows to help him stop the train or enact a plan to reverse it or alter its destination somehow. If they are in favor of the train transporting them, the passenger has the choice of either sitting still and not interfering with the train’s forward motion, or if this is not enough to satisfy them, to take efforts towards increasing the speed of the train. Notice how the material situation here creates a concrete dynamic; one that does not allow someone to “opt out” in the metaphysical sense. This is because no one can truly “opt out” of material reality. Those who have chosen to do nothing have chosen the action of inaction, and thus demonstrate a clear bias and disposition in favor of forces larger then themselves. This applies every bit as much to physical situations of action or inaction as it does to ideology, to making the decision of having an opinion or professing to have none. This applies to everyone, in fact, it can be applied to any living thing, anything that responds to stimulus and acts in a manner which serves its own vitality. Squirrels can be said to have bias, for they eat nuts and flee from larger animals. Their bias towards satiating their hunger and their compulsion for survival from predators is anything but “neutral.”

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A Fetish for the Middle Road and what that serves:

Just as we understand that we all have a certain bias or agenda, we must understand that journalists and larger systems of media must themselves contain a bias, for human interaction in the material world is a component here. Sure this can vary in its expression and subtlety; after all, just as agendas and biases vary, so too does their analysis of what bias is and where it lies. Yet, with a line so consistent and ubiquitous as the absurdity of “unbiased” reporting, what kind of agenda must be lurking behind such supposedly agenda-free proclamations?  The first thought likely to creep into one’s mind is the desire of media corporations, which are selling a product in the form of their reporting, to give viewers the best impression of the product they are putting forward. This is certainly part of the equation; after all, any news source which would say something to the effect of “Watch us! We’re planning on lying to you and taking advantage of your ignorance!” would not be taken seriously even by the most jaded viewers. Being seen as the most “credible” news source is the top priority of every major news service. Yet, there is a deeper ideological underpinning to the bias of the unbiased. This is a bias for the “middle of the road” perspective, that of the “path of least resistance.” It’s a fetish for the passenger who simply sits still on the train as his betters control its final destination. It encourages the least threatening forms of the relation of people to the economic, political and cultural systems around them.  

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Media bias refers to the bias of journalists and news producers within mass media. Bias exists in the selection of events and stories that are reported and how they are covered. The term “media bias” implies a pervasive or widespread bias contravening the standards of journalism, rather than the perspective of an individual journalist or article. The direction and degree of media bias in various countries is widely disputed. A technique employed to avoid bias is the “round table,” an adversarial format in which representatives from opposing views comment on an issue. This approach theoretically allows diverse views to appear in the media. However, the person organizing the report still has the responsibility to choose people who really represent the breadth of opinion, to ask them non-prejudicial questions, and to edit their comments fairly. When done carelessly, a point/counterpoint can be as unfair as a simple biased report, by suggesting that the “losing” side lost on its merits. The apparent bias of media is not always specifically political in nature. The news media tend to appeal to a specific audience. This means stories that affect a large number of people on a global scale often receive less coverage in some markets than local stories, such as a public school shooting, a celebrity wedding, a plane crash, or similarly glamorous or shocking stories. Millions of deaths in an ethnic conflict in Africa might be afforded scant mention in American media, while the shooting of five people in a high school is analyzed in-depth. The reason for these types of bias is a function of what the public wants to watch and/or what producers and publishers believe the public wants to watch.

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We are told by media people that some news bias is unavoidable. Distortions are caused by deadline pressures, human misjudgment, budgetary restraints, and the difficulty of reducing a complex story into a concise report. Furthermore, the argument goes, no communication system can hope to report everything. Selectivity is needed. The media’s misrepresentations are not all the result of innocent error and everyday production problems, though such problems certainly exist. True, the press has to be selective–but what principle of selectivity is involved? Media bias does not occur in a random fashion; rather it moves in the same overall direction again and again, favoring management over labor, corporations over corporate critics, affluent Whites over low-income minorities, officialdom over protesters, the two-party monopoly over leftist third parties, privatization and free market “reforms” over public-sector development, U.S. corporate dominance of the Third World over revolutionary social change, and conservative commentators and columnists like Rush Limbaugh and George Will over progressive or populist ones like Jim Hightower and Ralph Nader (not to mention more radical ones).  The corporate mainstream media seldom stray into territory that might cause discomfort to those who hold political and economic power, including those who own the media or advertise in it.

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The most commonly discussed forms of bias occur when the media support or attack a particular political party, candidate, or ideology, but other common forms of bias include:

•Advertising bias, when stories are selected or slanted to please advertisers.

•Corporate bias, when stories are selected or slanted to please corporate owners of media.

•Mainstream bias, a tendency to report what everyone else is reporting, and to avoid stories that will offend anyone.

•Sensationalism, bias in favor of the exceptional over the ordinary, giving the impression that rare events, such as airplane crashes, are more common than common events, such as automobile crashes.

•Concision bias, a tendency to report views that can be summarized succinctly, crowding out more unconventional views that take time to explain.

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Media bias of 9/11 attack reporting:

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Stefano Mario Rivolta lists three forms of media bias:

1. gate keeping bias, i.e., deciding whether to release a story or keep it under wraps

2. coverage bias

3. statement bias

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A Measure of Media Bias:

In a paper media researchers estimate ADA (Americans for Democratic Action) scores for major media outlets such as the New York Times, USA Today, Fox News’ Special Report, and all three network television news shows. Their estimates allow them to answer such questions as “Is the average article in the New York Times more liberal than the average speech by Tom Daschle?” or “Is the average story on Fox News more conservative than the average speech by Bill Frist?”  To compute their measure, they count the times that a media outlet cites various think tanks and other policy groups.  They compare this with the times that members of Congress cite the same think tanks in their speeches on the floor of the House and Senate.  By comparing the citation patterns they construct an ADA score.  As a simplified example, imagine that there were only two think tanks, one liberal and one conservative.  Suppose that the New York Times cited the liberal think tank twice as often as the conservative one.  The method asks:  What is the typical ADA score of members of Congress who exhibit the same frequency (2:1) in their speeches?  This is the score that we would assign to the New York Times. Their results show a strong liberal bias. All of the news outlets except Fox News’ Special Report and the Washington Times received a score to the left of the average member of Congress. Consistent with many conservative critics, CBS Evening News and the New York Times received a score far left of center. Outlets such as the Washington Post, USA Today, NPR’s Morning Edition, NBC’s Nightly News and ABC’s World News Tonight were moderately left. The most centrist outlets (but still left-leaning) by our measure were the Newshour with Jim Lehrer, CNN’s NewsNight with Aaron Brown, and ABC’s Good Morning America.  Fox News’ Special Report, while right of center, was closer to the center than any of the three major networks’ evening news broadcasts.  All of their findings refer strictly to the news stories of the outlets.  That is, they omitted editorials, book reviews, and letters to the editor from our sample.

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Liberal media bias:

Liberal bias is partisan selection or distortion of information to support liberal policies. The essence of liberal bias is to dismiss or even to censor opposing views. For liberals, to allow the airing or publishing of an opposing view creates the risk that people might discover errors in the liberal viewpoint.  A 2005 report by Tim Groseclose and Jeffrey Milyo political scientists at UCLA concluded that, based on estimated ideological scores, all of the news outlets they examined, except Fox News’ Special Report and the Washington Times, showed a strong liberal bias (scores to the left of the average member of Congress). Of the 20 major media outlets studied, 18 scored left of center.  Let’s face it, liberal media bias has been around since there have been liberals to do the “reporting” of the news. But this fact should surprise no one. After all, the news media has always been filled with bias of one type or another. In fact, there was a time when American customers of the news knew exactly which newspapers sported which point of view. It was taken for granted that one newspaper supported one side and another newspaper a different side. Sometimes liberal bias reflects a conscious choice by the reporter or editor. Sometimes it stems from mere laziness; it can take a lot of work to produce balanced news stories on a consistent basis. And a reporter under deadline pressure may just not understand the conservative viewpoint well enough to explain it in his story. So if the conservative expert he called doesn’t call back in time, that perspective won’t make it into the story. But none of these are valid excuses. A reporter’s job is to present a balanced story. (Of course, the reporter who tries but fails because he’s just so rushed and can’t get a conservative to comment deserves more understanding from you than the reporter who never bothers to call a conservative and regularly writes or broadcasts biased stories.) As you read, listen and watch news stories you probably already notice stories that you think are biased. To see if they really are biased, you need to determine if the story falls into at least one of several forms in which bias occurs:

Types of Bias:

Bias by commission

Bias by omission

Bias by story selection

Bias by placement

Bias by the selection of sources

Bias by spin

Bias by labeling

Bias by policy endorsement or condemnation

Bias by framing

Bias by false balancing

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Media bias is ubiquitous (everywhere) and not easy to detect. It is always useful to compare several sources of information and, in doing so; it becomes clear that media coverage is never completely objective.

Here are some forms of media bias to watch for: 

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Causes of Media Bias:  

 •Media bias can happen due to various reasons. It occurs when journalists (or people) connected with the reporting of a particular event, have a prejudiced opinion about certain things, which ultimately results in a distorted version of the story.

•Sometimes, there are certain media that may show a political bias towards certain news events. This happens when the publication or channel is in favor of a particular political party or a candidate.

•A journalist may also be biased towards a particular incident and may add his/her personal opinion to the news report. This kind of media bias is purely based on the journalist’s own opinion which is not considered to be purely ethical, to begin with.

•Certain stories are showcased in the media depending on what pleases corporate giants; money and popularity being the deciding factor.

•Racial and religious bias can happen when the journalist or news reporter, gives a report in favor of a particular religion/race.

•Public Relations firms know how to control media houses, influencing their decisions on what to release to the public. They have years of practiced research to back their beliefs, since public opinion (and reactions) are heavily studied beforehand by PR experts.

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There was a time when one could always rely on the various types of media for accurate information. But in recent times, the media has gained for itself a reputation, for sensationalizing certain events or news pieces, where emphasis is drawn on unnecessary details. The various forms of mass media are known to influence the minds of the audience to a large extent. Does this mean the media controls the world at large? What about our reliability on journalists and organizations worldwide? Journalism is a powerful tool when it comes to influencing the minds of people, but are we ready to have them give us only half the truth, or none at all? Let’s take a deeper look into the types and reasons of media bias.

Religious Bias:

 This sort of bias has been witnessed by us innumerable times, where certain nations either highlight the prominent religion of the state or country, or speak ill of the religion that governs the same. While many countries would see this as illegal, others aren’t respectful when it comes to how they portray religion to the audience.

Information Bias:

Some media houses deliberately leave out information, that they see as unfit for the audience to get their hands on, often blurring the line between the good and bad side of ethics. Newspapers, television news channels, and the like, will snip information that is exceedingly explanatory (but important), choosing to go with what can be conveyed in a nutshell.

Corporate Bias:

The media is always looking to please someone, and in this case, it may be a major corporation that they heavily rely on for funds or exposure to audiences, to gain popularity amongst the rest.

Sensational Bias:

 When certain media houses give an audience the impression, that bigger not-so-common events are rather common, they befuddle the minds of people into thinking that everyday accidents and events, don’t hold any sort of importance. In other words, they highlight rare instances and make them sound like a big deal, when small (but significant) events are kept in obscurity.

Advertisement Bias:

 Like corporate bias, advertising conglomerates have to be kept pleased by media houses, since a large part of funding comes from them. The same goes with political parties who have a stronghold on the media, where the reins are in their grip, with zero freedom to exercise expression and honesty.

Gate-Keeping Bias:

This is when a media house takes the decision to withhold a story from the people, deciding to release the information at a later date, or never at all. This sort of bias is quite common, where a debate of how to release (if they do, that is) the story is first decided, possibly clipped down to size, and finally produced to the unsuspecting audience.

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How to document media bias:  

The first step in challenging biased news coverage is documenting bias. Here are some questions to ask yourself about newspaper, TV and radio news.

Who are the sources?

Is there a lack of diversity?

From whose point of view is the news reported?

Are there double standards?

Do stereotypes skew coverage?

What are the unchallenged assumptions?

Is the language loaded?

Is there a lack of context?

Do the headlines and stories match?

Are stories on important issues featured prominently?  

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What is not Media Bias:

You may come across stories that you believe fit media bias. But, they still may not qualify as examples which you should criticize. With some narrow exceptions, you want to identify bias that occurs in news stories and which favors the liberal view over the conservative perspective.

What isn’t bias falls into three broad categories:

•Editorials or opinion columns

•Stories or statements that make the conservative side look bad, but are accurate

•Non-policy stories on a specific event that don’t have to be balanced

Newspaper, radio and television station editorials are supposed to take a point of view. The same goes for columns which appear on the op-ed page and commentaries on television news shows. Don’t equate a front page news story with an editorial. They are very different items. You should stick to analyzing news stories. They are supposed to be unbiased presentations of the news. When they are biased, the reporter is not doing his job. Editorial and column writers, in contrast, are supposed to take a point of view. They are under no obligation to be fair or balanced. The only exception: If you are interested in showing that a newspaper’s editorials are consistently liberal, or advocate liberal policies more often than conservative ones. Similarly, you can analyze the columnists run by your local paper if you want to prove that contrary to the paper’s claim or public perception, they do not balance out. But don’t ever cite an editorial or column as evidence of how a newspaper’s coverage was biased.  The Daily Herald’s coverage of the school bond referendum was biased if its news stories were unbalanced, not if it ran one-sided editorials.

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Yes, the media are biased. What next? Jeff Cohen, of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), does have a strategy. He says (Lee and Solomon, 1990, pp. 340-358):

* be skeptical of media stories;

* write letters to media companies, make complaints, join talk-back radio;

* don’t advocate censorship, but instead advocate presentation of both sides on any issue;

* use public access TV;

* write letters, hold meetings and pickets;

* use alternative media.

This is a good grassroots program of action, as far as it goes. But the goal is “fairness and accuracy,” namely the balancing of news. There seems to be no larger program to replace undemocratic media structures.

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Efforts to correct bias:

A technique used to avoid bias is the “point/counterpoint” or “round table”, an adversarial format in which representatives of opposing views comment on an issue. This approach theoretically allows diverse views to appear in the media. However, the person organizing the report still has the responsibility to choose people who really represent the breadth of opinion, to ask them non-prejudicial questions, and to edit or arbitrate their comments fairly. When done carelessly, a point/counterpoint can be as unfair as a simple biased report, by suggesting that the “losing” side lost on its merits. Using this format can also lead to accusations that the reporter has created a misleading appearance that viewpoints have equal validity (sometimes called “false balance”). This may happen when a taboo exists around one of the viewpoints, or when one of the representatives habitually makes claims that are easily shown to be inaccurate. Another technique used to avoid bias is disclosure of affiliations that may be considered a possible conflict of interest. This is especially apparent when a news organization is reporting a story with some relevancy to the news organization itself or to its ownership individuals or conglomerate. Often this disclosure is mandated by the laws or regulations pertaining to stocks and securities. Commentators on news stories involving stocks are often required to disclose any ownership interest in those corporations or in its competitors. In rare cases, a news organization may dismiss or reassign staff members who appear biased. This approach was used in the Killian documents affair and after Peter Arnett’s interview with the Iraqi press. This approach is presumed to have been employed in the case of Dan Rather over a story that he ran on 60 Minutes in the month prior to the 2004 election that attempted to impugn the military record of George W. Bush by relying on allegedly fake documents that were provided by Bill Burkett, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Texas Army National Guard. Finally, some countries have laws enforcing balance in state-owned media. Since 1991, the CBC and Radio Canada, its Francophone counterpart, are governed by the Broadcasting Act. This act states, amongst other things: The programming provided by the Canadian broadcasting system should (1) be varied and comprehensive, providing a balance of information, enlightenment and entertainment for men, women and children of all ages, interests and tastes, (…) (2) provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern.  

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Opposite of media bias: hostile media effect:

The hostile media effect, originally deemed the hostile media phenomenon and sometimes called hostile media perception, is a perceptual theory of mass communication that refers to the finding that people with strong biases toward an issue (partisans) perceive media coverage as biased against their opinions, regardless of the reality. Proponents of the hostile media effect argue that this finding cannot be attributed to the presence of bias in the news reports, since partisans from opposing sides of an issue perceive the same coverage differently. The hostile media effect illustrates notions of the active media audience, in demonstrating that audiences do not passively receive media content but instead selectively interpret it in light of their own values and predispositions. Despite journalists’ best intentions to report news in a fair and objective way, partisans are motivated to see neutral content as harboring a hostile bias. In 1982, the first major study of this phenomenon was undertaken; pro-Palestinian students and pro-Israeli students at Stanford University were shown the same news filmstrips pertaining to the then-recent Sabra and Shatila massacre of Palestinian refugees by Christian Lebanese militia fighters abetted by the Israeli army in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. On a number of objective measures, both sides found that these identical news clips were slanted in favor of the other side. Pro-Israeli students reported seeing more anti-Israel references and fewer favorable references to Israel in the news report and pro-Palestinian students reported seeing more anti-Palestinian references, and so on. Both sides said a neutral observer would have a more negative view of their side from viewing the clips, and that the media would have excused the other side where it blamed their side. Subsequent studies have found hostile media effects related to other political conflicts, such as strife in Bosnia and in U.S. presidential elections, as well as in other areas, such as media coverage of the South Korean National Security Act, the 1997 United Parcel Service Teamsters strike, genetically modified food, and sports. This effect is interesting to psychologists because it appears to be a reversal of the otherwise pervasive effects of confirmation bias: in this area, people seem to pay more attention to information that contradicts rather than supports their existing views. This is an example of disconfirmation bias.   

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Media Manipulation:

Media manipulation is a series of related techniques in which partisans create an image or argument that favours their particular interests. Such tactics may include the use of logical fallacies and propaganda techniques, and often involve the suppression of information or points of view by crowding them out, by inducing other people or groups of people to stop listening to certain arguments, or by simply diverting attention elsewhere. In Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Jacques Ellul writes that public opinion can only express itself through channels which are provided by the mass media of communication-without which there could be no propaganda.  It is used within public relations, propaganda, marketing, etc. While the objective for each context is quite different, the broad techniques are often similar. As illustrated below, many of the more modern mass media manipulation methods are types of distraction, on the assumption that the public has a limited attention span. The media is manipulated in all manners, for example through professional public relations (PR), and covert and overt government propaganda which disseminates propaganda as news. What are often deemed as credible news sources can often knowingly or unknowingly be pushing political agendas and propaganda. The impacts of public relations cannot be underestimated. In the commercial world, marketing and advertising are typically needed to make people aware of products. When it comes to propaganda for purposes of war, for example, professional public relations firms can often be involved to help sell a war. In cases where a war is questionable, the PR firms are indirectly contributing to the eventual and therefore unavoidable casualties. Media management may also be used to promote certain political policies and ideologies. Where this is problematic for the citizenry is when media reports on various issues do not attribute their sources properly. Smear tactics are often used to discredit, stain or destroy the reputation of someone. It is unfortunately common-place and is an age-old technique. It can either involve outright lies, or a distortion of the truth. The influence of the mass media on public perception is widely acknowledged, yet few know the incredible degree to which this occurs. There are innumerable examples that show how blatantly the media sometimes distort critical facts, omit vital stories, and work hand in hand with the military-industrial complex to keep their secrets safe and promote greedy and manipulative corporate agendas. Once acclaimed as the watchdog of democracy and the political process, the major media can no longer be trusted to side with the people over business and military interests. In March 2005, the New York Times revealed that there has been a large amount of fake and prepackaged news created by US government departments, such as the Pentagon, the State Department and others, and disseminated through the mainstream media. Spin Watch and Media Lens reveals that the British media also has fake news. An investigation revealed for example, that “fake journalists” have been providing news reports to the BBC. “The BBC has been using these reports as if they were genuine news” when in fact some of the journalists were working for an organization “entirely funded by the British Ministry of Defense as a propaganda operation.”  

Some techniques used by governments and parties/people with hidden agendas include:

•Paying journalists to promote certain issues without the journalist acknowledging this, or without the media mentioning the sources;

•Governments and individuals contracting PR firms to sell a war, or other important issues

•Disinformation or partial information reported as news or fact without attributing sources that might be questionable

•PR firms feeding stories to the press without revealing the nature of the information with the intention of creating a public opinion (for example, to support a war where even human rights groups fell for some of the disinformation, thus creating an even more effective propaganda campaign)

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Media manipulation currently shapes everything you read, hear and watch online. Everything. In the old days, we only had a few threats to fear when it came to media manipulation: the government propagandist and the hustling publicist. They exploited the fact that the media was trusted and reliable. Today, with our blog and web driven media cycle, nothing can escape exaggeration, distortion, fabrication and simplification. Media manipulation is the status quo. It becomes, as Daniel Boorstin, author [of] The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, once put it, a “thicket … which stands between us and the facts of life.” Today the media -— driven by blogs -— is assailed on all sides, by the crushing economics of their business, dishonest sources, inhuman deadlines, pageview quotas, inaccurate information, greedy publishers, poor training, the demands of the audience, and so much more. These incentives are real, whether you’re the Huffington Post or CNN or some tiny blog. They warp everything you read online. Everyone is in on the game, from bloggers to non-profits to marketers to the New York Times itself. And when everyone is running the same racket, the line between the real and the fake becomes indistinguishable. Media manipulation exploits the difference between perception and reality.

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Media Manipulation of the Masses: How the Media Psychologically Manipulates:

I narrate some of the tactics of psychological manipulation to show how media can manipulate the masses through their message. You still see journalists reacting, “How dare you question me!” as if they belonged to some privileged priesthood directly connected to a Divine stream of ultimate truth.

Guilt by Association:

All that is necessary to destroy a person’s character publicly is to take that person and overtly or covertly associate them to something the masses will reject. Never mind if it is true or not, simply to question it or make the association is sufficient. One example that comes to mind is a very clever twist used by a famous newspaper. At the time, a political leader, greatly disliked by the editors of a newspaper, was portrayed in a very interesting way. They put an article and his photo strategically in very close proximity to a picture of a circus clown that was part of some other story.  It was very subtle and very subconscious in approach. The ultimate message was, “This person is a clown, therefore laugh at him and consider him non-credible like you would with a clown.” Another very typical way of using this same tactic is to connect, even if it is through intricate stratagem, the person to some law-breaking, shady, person, organization, or action. Even if it is not true, it will leave a dark cloud of doubt in the mind of the person receiving the information. That is why slander is so effective in destroying enemies. The media will never come out and admit that they do this. They are accountable to no one, much like some sort of immaculate and narcissistic god.

Administer lies gradually mixed with truth:

The next way the media tries to manipulate minds is through, what is called, the verisimilitude. Now that is a real mouthful. It means that something is “very similar” to something else. In this case, it is mixing a little poison or a lie with the truth. It is possible to ingest into your body gallons of healthy food. If you simply mix a small amount of extremely powerful poison with it, you would be dead soon. If we graduate the amount of poison into smaller dosages we can do the same over time, at a much slower rate but getting the same results… your demise. All the media has to do, in order to destroy a person, is to slowly administer lies (poison) about a person mixed in with good things. Eventually, they destroy their enemy and they come out looking like choir boys; clean and glistening.

Make it Funny:
I’ve already mentioned how a political leader was made to look like a clown. There was an influential leader characterized by the media as a bafoon, idiot, and dumb person. The political cartoons drawn of him make him look like some human monkey creature. Typically, monkeys are funny and into mischief. That message stuck. Along these lines, photos that show the bad side of a person, and everyone has them, are used to portray enemies as stupid and/or psychotic fools. You can sometimes see this approach when a publication deliberately uses a photo of a person looking cross-eyed or bizarre. The editors choose photos that make the person look their worst. In contrast, when their favorite persons are put on the same page, they are shown in a hero’s stance, making them look their best.

Reverse Sandwich: 
A great technique to help build self-esteem in people, while correcting them, is called the “sandwich technique.” This approach is amazing because it uses positive reinforcement of the individual before and after you have shared a difficult area they need to change in. This assures to them that you still like them and that you respect them. It makes your message easy to accept with them. When you take the same technique and switch it around, placing something positive in-between two negative pieces of information, it becomes quite destructive. In the media, you can come out looking objective and with a “pass” if you use this technique while still destroying your enemy. It is one of the most commonly used approaches by the media, in article after article pertaining to persons they dislike. Notice this… All you really need to hurt your opponent is to do a news piece on them. You start and close the report with negativity and doubt. This leaves a black cloud over their character. You get a free pass and you still got to be very nasty. This is like a school bully brat that gets away with murder and yet looks good.

Overload Experts:
Have you ever noticed on TV a panel of intellectuals, journalists, etc. are chosen carefully where it is in disproportion but still looks balanced? Sometimes it is outrageously blatant and sometimes it is covert. Let’s say we dislike a position but we cannot say so for fear of looking bigoted. We can handpick the majority of our experts that will agree with us. Then we bring only one person that represents the side we dislike. We unload the pit-bull dogs on that person, all the while we look “balanced.”

Labeling:
we are amused at the interesting adjectives used by a proponent of one side against the other. We hear words like “racist,” “Nazi,” “pin-head,” “antiquated,” “irrelevant,” “killer,” and more. By applying these labels on that person, what happens is that you freeze, isolate, and polarize that person. You make them out to look like they are part of a dangerous, scary, and insane fringe. This process is otherwise known in history as “character assassination.” In this case, it happens in the public forum on full display. Have you ever noticed that if the same is applied to the media, it is considered blasphemy? Who makes the media accountable? No one. They are free to destroy anyone they choose. That is why they secretly fear the internet. The tables can be turned on them by some little guy behind a screen. 

Repeating lies make truth:
Incessant repetition of a lie registers as truth in the mind of the masses. Mass hysteria can be created by repeatedly reporting the dangers of some microbe infesting humans and taking over the world in tones of panic. Some of the most successful tyrants in history used great emotion and repetition to their advantage. Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister said that if “You repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”

Reversing of the poles:
Hitler himself said, “By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.” In this technique, the attacker makes himself look like a benefactor and savior. He twists the sides. Have you ever wondered why the media narcissistically loves to see themselves as the protectors and keepers of truth? It almost has religious indoctrination undertones, doesn’t it? What media does characteristically is reversing of the poles by making black look like white and vice-versa.

The strategy of deferring:

Another way to accept an unpopular decision is to present it as “painful and necessary”, gaining public acceptance, at the time for future application. It is easier to accept that a future sacrifice of immediate slaughter. First, because the effort is not used immediately. Then, because the public, masses, is always the tendency to expect naively that “everything will be better tomorrow” and that the sacrifice required may be avoided. This gives the public more time to get used to the idea of change and accept it with resignation when the time comes.

Use the emotional side more than the reflection:

Making use of the emotional aspect is a classic technique for causing a short circuit on rational analysis, and finally to the critical sense of the individual. Furthermore, the use of emotional register to open the door to the unconscious for implantation or grafting ideas , desires, fears and anxieties , compulsions, or induce behaviors …

Keep the public in ignorance and mediocrity:

Make the public incapable of understanding the technologies and methods used to control and enslavement.

Getting to know the individuals better than they know themselves:

Over the past 50 years, advances of accelerated science have generated a growing gap between public knowledge and those owned and operated by dominant elites. Thanks to biology, neurobiology and applied psychology, the “system” has enjoyed a sophisticated understanding of human beings, both physically and psychologically. The system has gotten better acquainted with the common man more than he knows himself. This means that, in most cases, the system exerts greater control and great power over individuals, greater than that of individuals about themselves.

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Note:

In order to uncover media manipulation, we must not be naïve. We must discriminately keep awake and aware. We must be hungry for truth wherever we find it. We must protect it and defend it. We need to be careful to avoid coming to hasty conclusions just because the “experts” say it. Be careful and watch out.  

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Media propaganda:

Propaganda is a form of communication aimed towards influencing the attitude of the community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument. Propaganda statements may be partly false and partly true. Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the chosen result in audience attitudes. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political, religious or commercial agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of ideological or commercial warfare. While the term propaganda has acquired a strongly negative connotation by association with its most manipulative and jingoistic examples (e.g. Nazi propaganda used to justify the Holocaust), propaganda in its original sense was neutral, and could refer to uses that were generally benign or innocuous, such as public health recommendations, signs encouraging citizens to participate in a census or election, or messages encouraging persons to report crimes to law enforcement, among others. Common media for transmitting propaganda messages include news reports, government reports, historical revision, junk science, books, leaflets, movies, radio, television, and posters. Less common nowadays are letter post envelopes examples of which of survive from the time of the American Civil War. In principle anything that appears on a poster can be produced on a reduced scale on a pocket-style envelope with corresponding proportions to the poster. The case of radio and television, propaganda can exist on news, current-affairs or talk-show segments, as advertising or public-service announce “spots” or as long-running advertorials. Propaganda campaigns often follow a strategic transmission pattern to indoctrinate the target group. This may begin with a simple transmission such as a leaflet dropped from a plane or an advertisement. Generally these messages will contain directions on how to obtain more information, via a web site, hot line, radio program, etc. (as it is seen also for selling purposes among other goals). The strategy intends to initiate the individual from information recipient to information seeker through reinforcement, and then from information seeker to opinion leader through indoctrination.

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Media imperialism:

Media imperialism is a theory based upon an over-concentration of mass media from larger nations as a significant variable in negatively affecting smaller nations, in which the national identity of smaller nations is lessened or lost due to media homogeneity inherent in mass media from the larger countries. The Media Imperialism debate started in the early 1970s when developing countries began to criticize the control developed countries held over the media. The site for this conflict was UNESCO where the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) movement developed. Supported by the MacBride report, “Many Voices, One World”, countries such as India, Indonesia, and Egypt argued that the large media companies should have limited access to developing countries. This argument was one of the reasons for the United States, United Kingdom, and Singapore leaving UNESCO. Media Imperialism is not always an international occurrence, however. When a single company or corporation controls all the media in a country, this too is a form of Media Imperialism. Nations such as Italy and Canada are often accused of possessing an Imperial media structure, based on the fact that much of their media is controlled by one corporation or owner. 

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Yellow journalism:

Yellow journalism, in short, is biased opinion masquerading as objective fact. Moreover, the practice of yellow journalism involved sensationalism, distorted stories, and misleading images for the sole purpose of boosting newspaper sales and exciting public opinion. Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion. Campbell defines yellow press newspapers as having daily multi-column front-page headlines covering a variety of topics, such as sports and scandal, using bold layouts (with large illustrations and perhaps color), heavy reliance on unnamed sources, and unabashed self-promotion.

Frank Luther Mott defines yellow journalism in terms of five characteristics:

1. scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news

2. lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings

3. use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts

4. emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips

5. dramatic sympathy with the “underdog” against the system.   

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Yellow Journalism is a term first coined during the famous newspaper wars between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer II. Pulitzer’s paper the New York World and Hearst’s New York Journal changed the content of newspapers adding more sensationalized stories and increasing the use of drawings and cartoons. As more cartoons were being published in newspapers, Pulitzer began to publish a cartoon of his own that he titled “The Yellow Kid” in 1896. The cartoon was created by R.F. Outcault and became one of many objects fought over between Hearst and Pulitzer during their rivalry. Hearst later took Outcault and his cartoon from Pulitzer by offering him an outrageous salary. Pulitzer published another version of the cartoon very similar to “The Yellow Kid” to continue competing with Hearst. With so much competition between the newspapers, the news was over-dramatized and altered to fit story ideas that publishers and editors thought would sell the most papers and stir the most interest for the public so that news boys could sell more papers on street corners. They often used the “Yellow Kid” to sensationalize stories and discredit the stories of other newspapers. The “Yellow Kid” was also used to sway public opinion on important issues such as the Spanish-American war. Newspapers of the era did not practice the objectivity that newspapers today strive for.

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Yellow Journalism is a term used for the use of negligent and flamboyant newspaper reporting, without regard to facts. With yellow journalism the truth is usually misrepresented or concealed, more often than not, there may be no truth to the story at all. Yellow journalism is by no means a memory in America’s distant past; even the most conservative newspapers still practice it in a refined form today. Tabloids such as the Star and the Inquirer are notorious for sensationalizing and even falsifying headlines. Additionally, every once in a while straight edged newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal, may get into the act as well. In 1996, ABC News was singled out for reporting that Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu had called the then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin a traitor, further investigation revealed that the accusation was false.  It is evident that journalism no more acts as the watchdog of the society, it has conveniently shifted its spotlight from the betterment of society to fulfilling their own desire of climbing higher on the ladder of TRP ratings. Rather than simply stating the truth and making people aware of “meaningful” changes around us, it focuses on presenting an aggrandized and perverted version of the most inane and inconsequential events. Journalism which stoops down to the level of scandal-mongering, sensationalism, jingoism or other unethical or unprofessional practices by news media organizations or journalists is what yellow journalism is. Yellow journalism has become rampant in the recent years and has taken the form of an epidemic spreading widely in media circles. Impartial and analytical reporting is being overshadowed by a flamboyant and irresponsible approach to news presentation.  Sadly though, this period of sensationalist news delivery, where the so-called ‘yellow press’ routinely outsold the more honest, truthful, unbiased newspapers, does stand out as a particularly dark era in journalistic history. Because of a sudden impetus in the newspaper machines and advancements in technology thousands of papers could be printed in a single night. This is believed to have brought into play one of the most important characteristics of yellow journalism – the endless drive for circulation. And unfortunately, the publisher’s greed was very often put before ethics. Be it highlighting Mallika Sherawat’s half clad dance on New Year’s Eve, presenting superstitious notions of communities thriving for three minutes of fame or screening the catfight of a professor’s wife and his love interest, the media has left no stone unturned in order to add more zeros to its bank account.

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Yellow journalism of Indian TV channels:

How do journalists sensationalize their stories? Very seldom do they actually create lies; usually, it’s all about preferring one story v/s the other, focusing on the problems of one political party v/s the other, and (on TV) allowing one bunch of people who share the channel’s views to speak longer v/s the other bunch. Media bias is all pervasive; that’s why consuming more than one media outlet to get the full picture is so important.  One of the commonest tricks of the trade is to give prominence to selective stories that serve the channel’s objectives better. So a negative story that occurs in a state that is ruled by a political outfit not favored by the channel is blown out of proportions; given prominence over other stories which may actually be far more important. By manipulating weights in this manner, media outlets create biased perceptions of what is going on in the country. For instance, these days, too much is being made out of the economic problems facing the country. While this overall picture is indeed true, not enough coverage is provided to the brighter spots of the economy – for example the strong FDI inflows into the country, the fast growth in NRI remittances, etc. As a result, a more-than-necessary gloomy picture is painted. Take another example. The Independent’s sensationalist comment on the PM is put on the front pages, but Obama praising the PM as a stalwart of global economics is ignored. Take stories related to inflation. When inflation drops (though by a token amount), media plays it down and puts it on the inside pages, but had inflation increased by the same token amount, it would have been put on the front pages. This kind of selective biasing of stories is all pervasive. The other common trick that India’s TVs often play is to fill up panels with speakers who share the anchor’s views. One particular anchor is known to shut panelists who take points of view against his up. Editor Arnab Goswami has habit of dominating and insulting panelists who disagree with his views. Another channel which is known to be a pro-ruling establishment channel does the exact opposite. Editor Barkha Dutt has a habit of hobnobbing with politicians of ruling party. A third English news channel does flip flops from government bashing to government appeasing – perhaps to maintain a neutral position “on average”! None of these channels bother about the damaging impact of their dirty practices on the country. The third and increasingly common trick is to conceal the real identities of panelists. A woman lawyer who is quite popular on TV these days is actually the Vice President of a national party’s women’s wing, but the TV channel on which she appears prefers to call her just “Senior supreme court lawyer”. Likewise, another lawyer who once waxed eloquent about a particular party was in reality a college buddy of a national leader of this party. When the political party’s association is concealed, the panelist’s credibility increases. Since the whole intention is to do exactly that, the anchor doesn’t mind it. In general, while newspapers also have biases, they tend to be more responsible and more balanced. But TV channels are a different ball game entirely. TV channels are overtly biased, and in their zeal to support their favorite parties, they are willing to go to any extent.

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The audience of today (inclusive of all age groups) demands what is being catered by the media to them. Unfortunately, to put the whole blame on the journalists for the deterioration of the standards of reporting would be unreasonable. The reason for the ever-rising TRP ratings of the entertainment industry are its viewers who prefer watching Rakhi Sawant basking under all the publicity courtesy her controversial kiss with Mika or the immortal Baa of one of the K serials which gives a boost to the gossip-mongers in media and giving more footage to “junk news”. So the first step to fight the augmentation of Yellow Journalism would be to cleanse our thought process and to differentiate between right and wrong. It is not astounding that yellow journalism has created a hue and cry in society and because it is a fact that the media is a very powerful and influential tool, which has, a great reach throughout the country. It has the power to either ‘make or break’ a person. But let’s not be as aggressive as the Oscar-winner George Clooney, who considers the press to be “real jerks”. In introspection let’s be aware that the common man has the real power to decide what he wants to view and it is in his hands whether he wants to become a puppet in the hands of the star-crazy journalists. Moreover, we need to strike a “balance between rights of an individual to be let alone and the fundamental right (of the press) to freedom of speech, expression and information.”

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Legal Issues of yellow journalism:

Legal treatment of yellow journalism varies depending on location. In the United States, for example, the First Amendment protects the right to free speech and, therefore, essentially allows the media to have a very loose reign on their reporting. Even so, America does have laws related to liable and slander, which basically say that someone cannot damage a person or company’s reputation by printing or saying something that isn’t true. This helps keep sensationalist reporting contained a bit, but defamation lawsuits are notoriously hard to win. Many areas that are politically unstable have passed or are trying to pass regulations that would limit what and how journalists report.

How Readers can deal with Questionable Reporting:

Checking facts and using several sources are both ways to determine whether something is really true or merely a product of yellow journalism. It also often helps for readers to analyze the news source and consider the reason for the particular spin on a story. Paying more attention to language — in particular, looking for adjectives that have specific connotations — is another strategy that often reveals bias. People who find that a news source isn’t following good ethical standards can contact the media company with complaints or leave comments on online pieces that call out the sensationalism, lack of truth or citations, and similar problems.

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Sting journalism:

A Sting Operation is an operation designed to catch a person committing a crime by means of deception. A complicated confidence game planned and executed with great care. The word “sting” derives its origin from American usage to mean a police undercover operation designed to ensnare criminals. The word “sting” is a synonym for the expression “set a trap to catch a crook” and this article uses the term in that sense. In more refined terms, it can be called Undercover Journalism. Sting Operation is an information-gathering exercise; it looks for facts that are not easy to obtain by simple requests and searches, or those that are actively being concealed, suppressed or distorted.

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Sting operation vs. entrapment:

Sting operations are used all over the United States to catch prostitutes, drug dealers, pedophiles – even adults who buy alcohol for minors. This practice has been instrumental in law enforcement’s efforts to keep crime off the streets, and although they aren’t always successful, sting operations serve a useful purpose. The most common defense to a charge resulting from a sting operation is entrapment, which means that the defendant is claiming that he or she was coerced into illegal activity by police officers. Most crimes involving sting operations are not considered entrapment, however, because they don’t meet the criteria. In order to prove entrapment after sting operations, the defendant must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she wouldn’t have participated in criminal activity had they not been coerced by law enforcement. The drug dealer wouldn’t have distributed marijuana; the prostitute wouldn’t have accepted money for sex; the middle-aged man wouldn’t have solicited sex with a minor – all of this is very difficult to prove.

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In the U.S. a successful entrapment defense requires the defendant to prove three things:

1. The idea of committing the crime came from law enforcement officers, rather than the defendant.

2. The law enforcement officers induced the person to commit the crime. Courts have traditionally maintained a high burden of proof for inducement. Simply affording the defendant the opportunity to commit the crime does not constitute inducement. For inducement to be proved, officers must have used coercive or persuasive tactics.

3. The defendant was not ready and willing to commit this type of crime before being induced to do so. If an undercover cop bought cocaine from a person carrying a kilogram of the drug, the seller could not plead entrapment, even if coercion were involved in the sale, since his intent to sell was clear. Most courts also allow a defendant’s predisposition to be demonstrated through prior conduct or reputation.

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Why am I discussing these legal jargons?

Because most of the sting journalism in India is nothing but entrapment…

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 Sting operations are generally carried out to trap a culprit, a corrupt official, an underworld don or anti-social/national element. While such operations have helped to expose many uncovered issues, they have raised questions about media ethics due to the increasing number of fake operations.  According to the law, a sting operation is designed to catch a person committing a crime by means of deception. In other words, it simply refers to a police undercover operation designed to trap criminals. A typical sting operation will have a law enforcement officer or co-operation member of the public playing a role as criminal partner or potential victim and go along with a suspect’s actions to gather evidence of the suspect’s wrongdoing. In journalism, the use of ‘sting operation’ is new but is a growing practice. It is conducted by journalists to expose the wrongdoers. However, it is still a new terminology that is not found even in the latest media-related literature. Again, the practice is yet to be universally accepted.

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An informed citizenry the bedrock of a democracy, holding the government accountable through voting and participation requires investigative journalism which cannot sustain itself on asymmetric dissemination of information. In many cases, the subjects of the reporting wish the matters under scrutiny to remain undisclosed. Among the most popular programs in India, are those reporting on corruption and misdeeds of politicians and government officials. ‘Candid camera,’ reports many true stories of the day the bribe that the police inspector extracts from the victim of a crime before agreeing to investigate, the ‘fee’ that the government officer charges for his giving the order to make an electric connection, and the ‘contribution’ that a company pays a member of Parliament before bringing up a legislative concern in the Lok Sabha. Because of all these things do we really require Sting Operations? At the same time, where such investigative work involves the use of covert methods, it raises issues that tend to further blur the line between law and ethics. Is deception legitimate when the aim is to tell the truth? Is any method justifiable no matter the working conditions and the difficulties in getting information? Can television reporters use hidden cameras to get a story? Can journalists use false identities to gain access to information?  The critical question that surfaces is “to what extent can the media go and to what extent should a person be informed?” Despite the argument that sting operations are done in public interest, commercial gains are pivotal to the broadcasters. In a bid to increase their TRPs, television channels are resorting to sensationalised journalism.  Sting operations have now become the order of the day. There is a general practice of buying ready-made sting from smaller operators. If the sting proves false later, the buyer may disclaim all knowledge! How correct is this practice? The Indian Supreme Court has raised concerns over such freelance sting operators hawking their exposes to the highest bidder.

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Entry of sting journalism in India:

For a few weeks after the Tehelka sting broke in 2001, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government was all but overwhelmed by a political tsunami that swept away then defense minister George Fernandes and BJP president Bangaru Laxman. Laxman quit as BJP president with TV grabs of him blithely receiving cash bundle becoming a riveting image of venality. Both the act of alleged graft as well as the Rs 100,000 bribe hurt him with a BJP MP overheard lamenting, “Arre hamara adhyaksh ek lakh ki ghoos mein pakda gaya!” [Oh, our party president is caught taking bribe of rupees 100,000] After the sting was made public, senior BJP leaders met at the Prime Minister’s residence late in the evening. Laxman had also been summoned and a couple of BJP leaders closely questioned him on what had transpired when two alleged “middlemen” met him. Although he defended himself, Laxman left his BJP interrogators in no doubt that the party did not have a leg to stand on. Soon after, Laxman quit, protesting that he was being made a scapegoat in a larger conspiracy. But by then, he had already become the first victim of modern-day stings in India. Fernandes was NDA convener and till then had not been tainted with graft. In fact, he had been a relentless scourge of the Congress on corruption and the party gleefully pounced on the opportunity to get back at him. The case against Fernandes revolved around sting agents meeting his associate Jaya Jaitly at his official residence and “offering” to make a donation for a word being put in for a fictitious arms company. The hue and cry over alleged bribe givers gaining access to the defense minister’s residence refused to die down and Fernandes had to quit. The scale of the Tehelka sting, with bribes and call girls offered to Army officers, opened a new chapter in Indian politics as it led to several similar operations. Politicians grew wary of hidden cameras but still ended up rising to the bait on more than one occasion. As many as 11 MPs lost their Parliament membership in 2006 after being caught on tape negotiating bribes. And as Singhvi CD shows, stings still haven’t lost their bite.  

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Does The Hindu prohibit its journalists from indulging in sting operations?

How does it respond to stories emanating from sting? 

Is there a written policy to deal with this increasing practice that has consumed a section of the media?

Acknowledging the moral dilemma and the ethical quagmire posed by sting journalism, Editor-in-Chief N. Ravi explained three issues that influence the editorial judgment of this newspaper.

First is the difficulty in verifying the authenticity and factual accuracy of material gathered by an editorial process of which the paper has little knowledge, much less any control. 

Second, in his view, sting operations involving some deception could be used only when justified by an overwhelming public interest involving such questions as prevention of crime, some grave risk to the public, preventing people from being misled by public personalities, and so on. 

Thirdly, he felt that the drastic lengths to which one can go in conducting a sting operation — some forms of enticement including payments of money and dubious hospitality — would seem to vitiate the operation. He said: “For instance, waving money in someone’s face to test his integrity is to be seen as entrapment, and there are specific guidelines even in the case of traps set by law enforcement agencies in the case of corruption — they can only become part of an existing tendency to corrupt practices, they cannot initiate one where it does not exist.”

While the newspaper is wary of publishing the findings of any sting operation as conclusive proof of wrongdoing, when they become a matter of public debate in which the persons charged with wrongdoing and others also participate, it does not refrain from reporting it as a controversy. As far as The Hindu is concerned, the Editor-in-Chief was categorical: “we ourselves do not resort to sting operations, and our journalists go about seeking information, openly, revealing their identities.”

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Legality of Sting Operations in India:

Every citizen strives for a corruption free society and must expose corruption whenever it comes to his knowledge. He shall also try to remove corruption at all levels of the State administration for better management of the State. The Delhi High Court recently in the case of Aniruddha Bahal v. State held that conducting a sting operation by any citizen is a legitimate exercise. Although there is no clear law which specifically allows or legalizes sting operation, but the court derived the right to conduct sting operation under Article 51A (b) of the Constitution of India. This particular Article imposes a duty upon the citizens to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom. The court was of the opinion that in order to fulfill this duty there has to be a corruption free India and thereby making sting operation legal for the same purpose. Freedom of press in India has been derived from freedom of speech and expression. Media has a right to impart information to the public in a fair manner, thus playing an important role in a democratic society. Journalism shall always be in public interest and sting operation for exposing corruption serve public interest. Sting Operations have also been criticized time and again because of the exaggerated television journalism in order to increase the TRPs. A sting operation may be an expression of right under freedom of speech and expression but it also comes with a duty to respect the privacy of others. The 200th Law Commission Report has made recommendations with regard to enacting a law to prevent the media from interfering with the privacy of individuals, which is recognized under right to life and personal liberty. The Press Council of India provides guidelines for reporting a sting operation. A journalist should adhere to the guidelines laid down by the Press Council of India to avoid liability as the law affords him no protection. Still, he can be subject to defamation suit later on by the victim of the sting operation. A sting operation with genuine motive to create awareness or bring forward the ongoing corruption should not be prohibited. A line has to be drawn between sting operations that invade privacy and those which exposes corruption and like others in order to protect the very essence of the Constitution of India.   

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Investigative journalism vs. sting operation:

For journalists who favour sting operations, it is synonymous with ‘investigative journalism’ or ‘undercover journalism’. They consider the whole operation as an information gathering exercise. They regard it as a way of looking for facts that are not easy to obtain through simple request or search, or those that are actively being concealed, suppressed or distorted. The advent of miniaturised audio and video equipment like the pin-hole camera, wireless recording instrument and telephone tapping instrument have enabled one to secretly make a video and/or audio recording of a conversation and actions of individuals. And again there is no clear legal provision regarding the sale and purchase as well as use of such hidden recording equipment in India. In many countries, the sale, purchase and use of such hidden recording equipment are barred. In the United States, only law enforcement agencies and police-licensed detectives are allowed to use them under certain circumstances under carefully controlled conditions. There, nobody other than the FBI can conduct a sting operation; no private individual, not even journalists and licensed private detectives, can do so.

Positive or Negative:

On the basis of purpose, the sting operation is classified as positive and negative. An operation carried out in the public interest or resulting in the interest of the society is a positive sting operation. Exposing corruption, bureaucratic hassles, anti-social/national activities are some of them. It makes governments responsible and accountable.  On the other hand, an operation not benefitting the society is a negative sting operation. Such an operation may violate the privacy of an individual and create unnecessary disturbances. Such an operation not only hampers the freedom of the individual but also restrict his rights. However, drawing a demarcation line between societal benefit and private benefit is not easy. Some sting operations have raised questions about media ethics. India TV carried out a so-called sting operation on a Delhi schoolteacher in 2007. Accordingly, a lady teacher was luring her pupil into prostitution. The operation when aired created havoc among the Delhities. Later, after viewing the entire India TV footage, the teacher in the tape was proved innocent. The teacher was simply made a victim of media entrapment. Though the journalists responsible for the episode were later arrested, the incident was an example of how a sting operation could go wrong.

‘Entrapment’ issue:

Basically, entrapment is inducing people to commit a crime they are not predisposed to commit and would not ordinarily commit. The essence of all entrapment is that somebody promises a man/woman a reward for breaking the law, and then apprehends him when he/she takes the bait. It is said that in order to be legal, a sting operation must be conducted without entrapment. But stings are blurring the line between journalism and entrapment.  According to Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN, “Any sting operation must squarely be in public interest and not entrapment.” However, this rule is grossly neglected.

Privacy issue:

The right to privacy, which is described as a fundamental right in the constitution, is another burning issue. Accordingly, except in circumstances provided by law, privacy in relation to the person, and to his residence, property, documents, records, statistics and correspondence, and reputation are inviolable. A sting operation simply violates it.  Before going any further, it will be better to remember the Food Lion case in the United States. On November 5, 1992, ABC News Magazine ‘Prime Time Live’ broadcast, a high profile investigative report, accused Food Lion, an 1,100-store grocery chain, of selling old food, cheese chewed by rats and spoiled meat washed in bleach to kill the odour. To gather the information, ABC had deputed two producers, who worked undercover in two North Carolina supermarkets. They wore a wig hiding a tiny lipstick-sized camera, and each carried a concealed microphone. Food Lion did not deny the undercover report’s allegations but filed a suit against ABC, charging the network with fraud, trespassing and other deception. The jury ruled against ABC. According to the federal jury, ABC news and Prime Time journalists trespassed and committed fraud while researching the accusations. ABC was fined. The much-talked about Tehelka.com had employed prostitutes as a ‘honey trap’ to cement the arms deals in ‘Operation West End’. Whether using a hidden instrument or a prostitute is ethical or not is being debated. Journalists are divided for and against on using such equipment and prostitutes. But the reality is that the practice of sting operating is increasing, and accordingly the use of miniature audio/video instruments is also increasing. The strongest argument given in favour of using such instruments is that the end justifies the means. They argue that the heart of journalism has to be public interest, and sting operations serve public interest. Does it mean that journalists should be allowed to violate the right to privacy? If yes, to what extent? And against whom should it be mounted? Again, Tehelka.com filmed sexual encounters in Operation West End, allegedly without the consent of the prostitutes, which was another ethical dilemma.

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Sting journalism in today’s time is considered to be nothing more than ‘entrapment journalism’.  The media induce people to commit a crime and then cry foul. One school of thought believes that this is unethical because it could be assumed that the crime would not have been committed if there had been no ‘deception’ or ‘entrapment’. But this argument is on shaky grounds because of two reasons. First: that the crime was committed is enough to justify that the person is guilty (assuming that the sting was authentic).  Second: it is only an assumption that the crime would not be committed had there not been an entrapment. However, an expose would be on sounder ethical grounds than ‘entrapment’. Also, those who mount an entrapment story themselves commit offenses of impersonation, criminal trespass under false pretenses et al. Sting operations break two classic journalistic traditions/ practices. One: the distinction between ‘off-the-record’ and ‘ on-the-record’ briefing is blurred. This typically happens in the case of an expose. A journalist’s responsibility towards her source is questioned here (again ‘public interest’ becomes the parameter to judge whether the story must be done or not).  Second: with the coming of sting operations, not all ‘breaking news’ is topical- they are constructed and created. How many times have we seen ‘breaking news’ which are hidden camera exposes by the channels? All this makes us wonder if stings are merely sensational, done in the interests of the commercial media. Due to the technological advancement authenticity of the hidden camera exposes are questioned. You don’t need a technologically savvy person to concoct tapes. In most cases, proving the authenticity of the tapes takes up a lot of valuable time and the public would have lost interest in the case by the time the report comes out. There is the classic ethical problem that haunts all sting operations: can you hold somebody responsible for a crime that he would not have committed if you hadn’t encouraged him? The essence of all entrapment is that you promise a man a reward for breaking the law and then, apprehend him when he takes the bait. All sting operations involve making people commit crimes that they would not otherwise have committed and are therefore immoral. It is against the public morality and decency.

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Problems with Sting Operations:

What journalists and editors need to determine is who will benefit as a result of the reporting. If journalism is committed to democratic accountability, then the question that needs to be asked is whether the public benefits as a result of specific investigative reports. Does the press fulfill its social responsibility in revealing wrongdoing? Whose interests are being affected? Whose rights are being invaded? Is the issue at stake a matter of legitimate public interest? What the regulatory body will need to determine is who will benefit as a result of the reporting. Is the issue at stake a matter of legitimate public interest? These are some questions which need to be answered when going for a sting operation or going for making legislation on it. The legislation must govern the conduct of the media and must define the extent media can sting a person’s life and whom they can sting? In the US for example, it is only the federal government and the FBI alone has the right to use a hidden camera and go for sting operation. In India too somebody like CBI or any other body must only be legalized to perform sting and their conduct must be regulated through the legislations. This body must not be immune to any legal proceedings. There must be a proper authority like court or Attorney General, whose permission must be sought on proper proof against the subject of the sting. The subject of the sting must have the evidence of criminality. Today the sting operations are taking place for commercial gains. Problem with the media is that it only campaigns for cases which appeal to its market and its imagination, which may result in its good reputation in front of the society. To avoid falling into that trap, the sting operations need a code of conduct. Laws too, should be strengthened in this regard. Sting operations are completely justified if they are carried out with the protocol that has been talked about.

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Sting operations cannot enjoy the status of investigative journalism:

When Arun Shourie exposed the Kuo Oil deal or the Indira Prathistan scandal, he did not resort to sting operations. N Ram and Chitra Subramaniam unraveled the Bofors scandal by putting documents in the public domain. This indeed is investigative journalism. It may be true that all these scandals and those behind the deals managed to escape the law, but that is another story. The fact is that these attempts at investigation turned the media into an important player in the making of democracy. It is high time that investigative journalism gets back on the rails. It will not be out of place to recall the 1972 story of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, both reporters for The Washington Post. Also known as the Watergate Scandal, these two reporters, with support from Benjamin Bradlee, their editor, established the involvement of Richard Nixon, through his aides, in organizing a break-in at the headquarters of the rival Democrats to plant wads of currency! They relied on building the case from scratch. Made into a film, All the President’s Men is indeed a lesson in the art and the skill of investigative journalism. Woodward and Bernstein did not indulge in any deception; and Bradlee did not ask them to do so. Bradlee also did not conceal his political preference: That he stood by the Democrats and was thus opposed to the Republican Nixon. But we do see him putting his two colleagues through all the rigours of investigative journalism.  It is time for the Indian media to junk this business of sting operations and insist that the practice of investigative journalism is restored with all its rigour. This easy way out — sting operations — is not only a sham, but it also contributes to the media losing its credibility and legitimacy. That will not be in the interests of our democracy.

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In an article in The Asian Age dated March 26, 2001, Narayanan drew attention to several points, the most important of which were:

1. Between ‘snaring’ or ‘tempting’ people into accepting ‘gifts’ or ‘bribes’, where a cause of action does not exist, and exposing corruption regarding specific deals, a vast gulf exists. Not to recognise the significance of this difference would be a grievous mistake.

2. No one has shown any concern about the ethics of the operation and whether stilted ‘exposure’ of this kind can improve the system or will damage it further. The motivation of those responsible for the ‘sting’ has been accepted without question and a gullible public has not explored whether a hidden game plan exists in all this.

3. Most see it as the stuff of investigative journalism. Hardly any sees it as a potential time bomb.

4. Sting journalism is an offence in countries like the United States but here it is being hailed as an opportunity for virtue to triumph over the forces of evil. Therein lurks the danger.

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The US permits a sting operation only to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No private individual, not even a journalist, has the freedom to do so.  Even the FBI’s sting operations are subject to strict ground rules laid down over the years by departmental instructions and rulings of the judiciary.

Four such major rules are:

1. Sting operations are to be mounted only on persons against whom some evidence of criminality exists and a sting operation is considered necessary for getting conclusive evidence.

2. Permission for sting operations must be obtained from appropriate courts or the attorney general. This safeguard has been laid down since those who mount a sting operation themselves commit the offence of impersonation, criminal trespass and making a person commit an offence.

3. Where there is evidence of editing of tapes and films, there is an automatic presumption that the recording is probably not authentic.

4. There must be a concurrent record in writing of the various stages of the sting operation.

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Media and language:

Language, communication and media:

Communication includes all methods of disseminating information, knowledge, thought, attitudes, and beliefs. Modern mass media like newspapers, cinema, and television, and traditional media of social communication like the bazaar, puppet show, drama, dance, local meetings, as well as inter-personal communication media like posts and telegraphs, teleprinters, and telephones all impact language use. The underlying and basic factor of these categories of mass media is language. Hence for the effectual and proper utilisation of these mass media, language education is very essential and material. Inter-personal communication media helps meet the demand for mutual communication and exchange of information among people and institutions. In recent years, the use of computer has far reaching effect on language education and communication. In this field also language education is of paramount importance. The special feature of radio, television, and cinema is that they serve the needs of both literates and illiterates. They will also entertain people in remote areas not within the reach of newspapers. On the other hand, newspapers present the ‘written word’ and serve as ‘record,’ while at the same time give local coverage. Language education to the audience, readers and spectators is very essential. The newspaper is ‘talk’ about world affairs and current events, having multifarious functions in society such as disseminating information, socialisation, motivation, education, cultural learning, entertainment, integration, etc. Most newspapers in Indian languages appear to focus on the readability of the material or news they present. They recognize that the way language is used is an important factor in enabling their readers to come back to them. But language alone does not help a newspaper to increase its sale in the market place. In a country where everything is looked at from a political angle, the support base for a newspaper in Indian languages often comes from the shades of political opinion that a newspaper supports and highlights. The manner a news item is presented and highlighted depends on the “ideology” of the newspapers. This “ideology” controls and regulates language use. In a newspaper, headlines occupy a prominent position by summarising the most important news of the day in a nutshell, which facilitates the reader with quick reading and comprehension. The choice of expression plays a vital role in making the headlines more effective. Thus language plays a prominent part and it aims at educating the reader. At present Indian language newspapers show a tendency to use simpler and colloquial forms of expression more frequently. Newspapers in Indian languages at present have also begun to use loaded expressions with sarcasm and cynicism, because the growing middle class around the nation that buys and reads the newspapers is basically cynical about politics and politicians. Radio has greater potential in mass communication than the newspaper for two reasons. Firstly, it reaches even the remote corners of the country and has no physical impediments. Secondly, it imparts language education and provides entertainment and disseminates information to both literate and illiterate listeners. Radio has a major role to play in language. The language used in radio impacted the previous generation very much. News broadcasts introduced chaste language, closely modeled after the written variety. The newsreaders introduced standard pronunciation values to the phonemes, words, phrases, and sentences. TV programs are telecast through satellites. The satellite TV offers a dazzling array of channels and program choices in many different languages. The divide between the literate and less literate or non-literate classes is covered up in the television media. Media discourse provides a fertile ground for traditional cultural learning, even as it provides opportunities to entertain and educate the viewers in novel and wholly modern ways that work against traditional values. Unfortunately, TV is more cinema-centered than radio. Entertainment takes precedence in TV. The impact of TV on Indian languages, in terms of their lexicon and structure, so far seems to be negligible. Privately owned TV channels often follow the models set by the leading newspapers in their coverage.

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History reveals that the Press Acts against vernacular press in British India actually helped the people to seek greater freedom and ultimately independence from Britain. Political, social, and economic revolutions in India are closely related to the active involvement and development of newspapers in Indian languages. The prose of every Indian language is critically developed and guided by the language style used in the newspapers published in these languages. In order to establish their own identity, newspapers deliberately coin and choose their own language expressions. For example, there is a great tendency these days to combine various native words with English words to create special expressions. Translation is no more a fashion with most Indian languages newspapers. Some thirty years ago, most Indian languages newspapers made special effort to translate words and phrases in to Indian languages. Now they tend to simply transcribe foreign words in the native script. This tendency is supported by the spread of cable TV as well as by the globalization process.

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TV and radio news in language learning: 

Exposure to mass media news (for example, TV and radio news), the pedagogical value of such materials, and the possibility of using TV and radio news at all levels of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) /ESL (English as a second language) settings in order to enhance different language skills have been the focus of so many studies (Brinton and Gaskill, 1978; Poon, 1992; Baker, 1996; Cauldwell, 1996; Berber, 1997; Cabaj and Nicolic, 2000). In a research conducted by Brinton and Gaskill (1978), the effect of listening to TV and radio news on improving EFL students’ listening comprehension was studied. Brinton and Gaskill (1978) argue that using TV and radio news utterances as teaching material has proved effective on improving listening comprehension of EFL learners having difficulty in dealing with comprehending news utterances. However, Brinton and Gaskil do not mention any thing about the kind of news to be selected. A similar study which focused on using TV news to improve listening proficiency was also conducted by Poon (1992). Poon found out that greater exposure to TV and radio News improves listening comprehension to significant amount. In addition to the above mentioned studies, Baker (1996) also focused on the pedagogical value of TV news in EFL classes and listening comprehension. According to Baker (1996), TV and radio news can help EFL students improve their listening comprehension. The use of fast speech such as those of TV and radio news in EFL/ESL classrooms has also been studied by some other scholars. In this regard, Cauldwell (1996) conducted a study aiming at discovering the relationship between direct encounters with fast speech such as TV and radio news and teaching listening to EFL students. Accordingly, students may have some problems copping with fast speech at first. However, EFL students can alleviate these problems and improve their listening through great amount of exposure to fast speech. Another short study conducted by Mackenzie (1997) also highlighted the possibility of using TV and radio news reports at all levels of EFL learning. The study rejected the assumption that because the reporters speak too fast, the content is too complex, and the vocabulary is too difficult, TV and radio news cannot be used at lowest levels of EFL situations. Mackenzie’s study included some techniques to be used by the teachers while trying to use news in their classes. As the matter of fact, Mackenzie did not say anything about criteria for the selection of news. What he focused on was the use of fast news at all levels with different techniques. Regarding proficiency and comprehension of television and radio news in a foreign language, a research by Berber (1997) highlighted the point that through enough exposure to these materials, students can easily cope with the comprehension of such materials. Cabaj and Nicolic (2000) also noted that a great amount of exposure to TV and radio news could help students improve their listening comprehension. Moreover, through exposure to TV news and radio programs students acquire the knowledge, structures, strategies, and vocabularies they can use in everyday situations. However, Wetzel et al. (1994), in their study, found that TV news is not always helpful in comprehension. In short, the majority of the aforementioned descriptive and experimental works have been conducted on the pedagogical value and the effect of exposure to TV and radio news genre on promoting different language skills especially listening comprehension but none of them has specifically focused on the discovering the nature of the news to set a clear criteria for the selection of the news. This is one of the initial reasons to carry out the present study.

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The language of cinema, on the whole, is more accessible to the average person than that of other media. The movies, in general, make use of colloquial style of speech. The language of the cinema, like that of other media, also shows considerable variation. The cinema, being closer to informal popular speech, has two advantages: (1) It appeals to mass audience, and (2) it portrays everyday situations wherein popular language is more appropriate than the more formal variety. In the village context the cinema competes with other forms of entertainment because it assesses a more popular language. There is, however, a serious problem. Until early seventies, most movies in Indian languages often followed a style that was closer to the written style. These days, movies are produced mostly in the colloquial idiom, except those movies that try to depict the heritage through mythology, etc. A movie viewer does not get introduced to the written variety now a day. Since in many Indian languages the distinction between the formal and informal styles of language or the distinction between the colloquial/spoken and written styles are still maintained, the usefulness of watching a movie in order to improve the competence in mother tongue is practically less significant.

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The Role of Audiovisual Mass Media News in Language Learning:

A research paper focuses on the role of audio/visual mass media news in language learning. In this regard, the two important issues regarding the selection and preparation of TV news for language learning are the content of the news and the linguistic difficulty. Content is described as whether the news is specialized or universal. Universal contexts are likely to be more comprehensible than specialized contexts. As for the linguistic difficulty, it consists of acoustic, lexical/syntactic and text-type difficulties. Accordingly, audiovisual texts with greater iconic combinations are likely to be more comprehensible for language learning. Moreover, the present paper provides empirical evidence of the role of exposure to news from mass media on speaking fluency.  

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The Importance of Media in Foreign Language Learning:

The use of mass media to teach language in authentic context represents a double challenge for language teachers. Although media give learners access to authentic language utilized in real life, they convey pre-planned ideology with themselves. This paper clarified the importance of media’s authentic language in language learning and teaching and also raised the consciousness of the teachers and learners toward the ideology-laden structures. The researcher used Critical Linguistics (CL) and descriptive-analytical method to prove the ideological representation of news structures, and the analysis was done in terms of lexico-grammatical features in order to clarify the role of authentic language in language learning. Author provided some practical and efficient findings that can be applied in language classes to enhance the language and socio-cultural proficiency of the students. It is recommended that teachers provide analytical framework to help students reflect on their language experiences and practices. The study has provided some practical insights and findings that can be interesting for language learners, teachers, and educators. As it is depicted in CNN, Iraqis are given negative agency roles, and Americans are considered as patients who are paying prices for cruel operations. When Americans are considered as agents, they are given positive images that do their best to dominate the best situations. And in Al Jazeera Iraqis are represented positively. This fact is clarified through the use of lexico-grammatical devices and descriptive methods. The analysis of the data gathered from the media discourse suggests that no media genre is free from the ideology-laden issue. To enhance the practical usefulness of this study, author shed light on the various levels and dimensions of news discourse through the comprehensive analysis of a concrete example taken from Al Jazeera and CNN networks. The structured analysis of news discourse in these networks shows that they have particular social, political, or ideological implications – and these facts are illustrated through the use of CL. This implies that through the media study you can get practical and important information about the beliefs, culture, and society of the country and because they have authentic language they can be efficient source for language learning classes – especially in countries like Iran which doesn’t have access to native speakers. This study reveals the fact that news are usually organized by an abstract schema, consisting of conventional categories that specify what the overall function is of the topics of the text – according to van Dijk (1980) this kind of schema is called superstructure. It reveals the fact that news reports follow a hierarchical schema, consisting of such conventional categories as headlines, main events, context, history, forming the background category. Typical for news stories, in these two networks, is the fact that both of them foreground the most important information which is beneficial for them and background the information which threats their own benefits.

To sum up, overview of pedagogical information can include: First, using authentic language in language learning classes can enhance proficiency of the students in language. Second, media provide an easily accessible source of language data for learning purpose. Third, media can familiarize students with real and authentic context which is necessary for language learning. Fourth, media use different dialects and styles which can be interesting for language learners and can familiarize them with different forms of language.

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Computer and language learning:

Computers store material and keep them in memory. They express the correct use of language. They furnish valuable information concerning various subjects. They operate at high speed and provide opportunity for rectifying and correcting mistakes and errors. Thus the computer, mainly having literary merits, plays a very significant role in language education. It provides knowledge and information in almost all the major languages, both national and international. The computer Revolution in teaching Indian languages is still not yet widespread, despite the fact that computer software engineering is the most preferred profession for the educated young men and women in India. Driven by economic pursuits and greed, Indians seem to be competing with one another in offering their services to enrich the already rich nations. And yet, it is a fact that the presence of Indian languages in the world-wide-web is more significant than any other group of languages in the developing world.  

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Using social media as a language learning tool:

Children now turn to social media by default. This makes it a great – albeit currently underused – tool for language teaching, says Ryan Owen Gibson. Way back in 2000, Ros Taylor wrote for the Guardian about the web’s potential for language learning. At the time, internet users represented less than 6% of the world’s population, and Taylor’s article pioneered the use of online resources as a viable alternative to textbooks for GCSE students. As the internet became more popular, websites have become a pivotal resource for school pupils across all subjects. Earlier this year France launched a national campaign to improve foreign language skills amongst its schoolchildren, centered round a website called englishbyyourself.fr which uses self-study materials accessible on mobile and tablets to immerse children in a spoken English environment. While the internet has surpassed Taylor’s expectations and embraced full-scale language courses such as this, there is still one area that remains virtually untouched by teachers – social media. This is not to say that teachers haven’t yet taken to social media. Some have, the Guardian Teacher Network blogger Matt Britland was an early adopter, quickly recognising the opportunities that social media gives for sharing experiences, tips and resources. But search for terms such as “language learning” or “learn French” on any of the major social networks – Facebook, Twitter and Google+ included – and you will not yet find an abundance secure, interactive language learning environments like France’s englishbyyourself.fr. We are late to the party. Children now default to social media in nearly every aspect of their life. They use it to communicate with their friends, play games and watch TV. Our failure to provide language learning resources must partly be due to teachers and parents who either don’t appreciate or don’t understand the power of social media. But by ignoring social media we are missing out on a world of opportunities. Schools like to think of themselves as modern, innovative and forward-thinking institutions, and the majority of them are. If you enter a classroom today, you are confronted with computers, PowerPoint, electronic whiteboards and iPads. But by refusing to engage with our children in the digital playground that is social media, we will never truly understand their needs and never fully realise its potential as a language learning tool.

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Associations between Media Viewing and Language Development in Children under Age 2 Years:

A total of 1008 parents of children age 2 to 24 months, identified by birth certificates, were surveyed by telephone in February 2006. Questions were asked about child and parent demographics, child-parent interactions, and child’s viewing of several content types of television and DVDs/videos. Parents were also asked to complete the short form of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (CDI). The associations between normed CDI scores and media exposure were evaluated using multivariate regression, controlling for parent and child demographics and parent–child interactions. Among infants (age 8 to 16 months), each hour per day of viewing baby DVDs/videos was associated with a 16.99-point decrement in CDI score in a fully adjusted model (95% confidence interval = −26.20 to −7.77). Among toddlers (age 17 to 24 months), there were no significant associations between any type of media exposure and CDI scores. Amount of parental viewing with the child was not significantly associated with CDI scores in either infants or toddlers. Further research is required to determine the reasons for an association between early viewing of baby DVDs/videos and poor language development.

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Media and language development:

Positives:

Educational programming can help children learn the alphabet and correct pronunciation, and gives them exposure to proper grammar. Older children can watch educational programming to develop their academic vocabularies. Toddlers who watch educational programming may have higher vocabularies and express themselves better, according to PBS.

Negatives:

Toddlers who watch general media, as opposed to educational programs, are likely to have more limited vocabularies. According to PBS, children who are exposed to a lot of television are likely to spend more time watching it and less time reading. Children who grow up in households with constant television background noise are less likely to read and may have shorter attention spans.

Controversy:

Experts are generally divided as to the effects of television viewing on child language development. As discussed above, according to researchers published in The Journal of Pediatrics, further research is needed to assess the influence of DVDs meant for babies on their communication development.

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The Role of Media in Education:

The role of media and technology in education is quite obvious in today’s educational settings. Schools are loaded with computers and even here at Northern Michigan University students receive a laptop to help them with academic studies. This is part of NMU’s Laptop Initiative plan that believes providing every student with a laptop will help improve their academic performance. However media comes in many different forms, such as; internet, TV, radio, and books, all of these media have affected the way students learn. Around the world students are being globally connected with one another via internet (Rolls, 2007). These mass media tools have made the world a smaller place in a way, also called (globalization). The way media affects education are great and varied when you think about it. Back when Columbus sailed the ocean blue the world had the misconception that the earth was flat, and why did they have this theory? Because that is what was printed on every map that was distributed back then making media at fault. Media is such a massive part of our lives and it is everywhere we turn. How could it not affect our lives in terms of education? Before we can dive into all the benefits of media to education it is important that the educators of students and students themselves become what is called “media literate” [vide supra]. This is the ability to decipher the hidden messages in mass media. Teacher education needs media literacy as an essential tool and topic in the new millennium (Schwarz, 2001). Let’s face it, media has changed the world. Media such as internet, is constantly growing and changing, thus educators must stay with the times and keep up by using these tools for their students. With the help of new media power teachers would be more able to offer students information from around the world at an even faster and easier rate.

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As discussed earlier, one function of mass media is education. Mass media supplies an enormous source of documentaries on a wide range of topics such as animals, behavior, geography, history, or art (Kristin& Susan, 2002). The information is extremely helpful with students at any levels. Additionally, mass media contains many visual documentaries, which make learners easier to see and use theories rather than only reading text. Secondly, there are many educational children’s programs like teaching children to count or recognize words, or introducing them to different societies and cultures (Kristin& Susan, 2002). There are also many programs which help parent to solve their kids’ problems. Fox example, the book “Good parent bad parenting”, which is published by Lulu.com publisher on February 2 in 2004, is one effective product of mass media which help parents to educate their children.

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John Dewey stated that education could not be limited within teacher and taught without social environment. So mass media is one such potent force in the social environment of education. Through modern electronic techniques and technologies, mass media prove that education is really comprehensive not confined within four walls of the classroom.

Really, mass media are the educational medium for the mass and mass education. Irrespective of caste, color, geographical, sociological, economical diversities mass media prove as an important means for the education to all. Mankind gets a great deal of information from the widespread mass media i.e. newspaper, TV, radio, magazines, journals, films, etc. It is estimated that mass media may substitute the real classroom teaching in future.

The Main Functions of media vis-à-vis education are listed below:

(1) Providing various information:

These media help in disseminating various information for the mass. People acquire different knowledge very quickly.

(2) Providing vocational information:

Media help in providing vocational and professional information to a larger group of the community.

(3) Spreading awareness and civic responsibility:

People can be aware of different problems of the society and their role in changing society through mass media. People know their rights and duties for the nation clearly.

(4) Educational programmes:

Mass Media help in forming suitable habit for different programs and they utilize their leisure time in a productive way. It also influences the behavior of the people through different programmes.

(5) Role as a non-formal agency:

Now in an advanced society mass media are not treated as informal agencies of education. They are called non-formal agencies due to its wide coverage of educational items in a systematic way. It is viewed that these media can substitute the classroom teaching in future.

Therefore, mass media are the main means of educating the society. These are the cheapest and quickest means of the education for the people. The impact and motivation is very quick through mass media. The teacher must use the educational media and methods effectively in the classroom.

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E-learning:

E-learning (or eLearning) refers to the use of electronic media and information and communication technologies (ICT) in education. E-learning is broadly inclusive of all forms of educational technology in learning and teaching. E-learning is inclusive of, and is broadly synonymous with multimedia learning, technology-enhanced learning (TEL), computer-based instruction (CBI), computer-based training (CBT), computer-assisted instruction or computer-aided instruction (CAI), internet-based training (IBT), web-based training (WBT), online education, virtual education, virtual learning environments (VLE) (which are also called learning platforms), m-learning, and digital educational collaboration. These alternative names emphasize a particular aspect, component or delivery method. E-learning includes numerous types of media that deliver text, audio, images, animation, and streaming video, and includes technology applications and processes such as audio or video tape, satellite TV, CD-ROM, and computer-based learning, as well as local intranet/extranet and web-based learning. Information and communication systems, whether free-standing or based on either local networks or the Internet in networked learning, underlie many e-learning processes.

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Media, culture, society and socialization:

Today the media has a major influence on social life, often changing the actions of individuals and groups. Besides the informative role that mass communication plays, the activity of the press results in some way influencing individuals. Michael Real believes that the media “provides common formulas, common thinking and expression means, defines categories for interpreting the world, contributes to social cohesion, validates the symbols and myths of a culture’. Through information provided by the press, individuals and social groups satisfy their need to control the environment, they assess the importance of events that concern their existence, anticipate market trends and knowingly take certain decisions. P. Lazarfeld and R.K. Merton concluded that “people depend more and more on information distributed by the media. Controlling the access to world, the media offers a particular version of reality and image of the events, of people and socio historical conjunctures. The permanent broadcast of messages almost completely surrounds individuals and societies’  Mass media contributes to socialization, including gender socialization, as when movies implicitly teach young people that it is wrong for females to have many sexual partners. Mass media also affects social movements; for example, news coverage of the U.S.-Vietnam War helped spark the 1960s anti-war movement. Another topic is the relation between media and social power. For example, if mass media powerfully influences beliefs and behavior, and it is controlled by relatively few individuals, those individuals have significant power even in democratic societies. Few aspects of society are as central as the mass media. Through the media we expand our understanding of people and events beyond what we experience in person. The media inform us about different cultures and lifestyles and about the latest forms of technology. For sociologists, the key question is how the mass media affect our social institutions and how they influence our social behavior. They want to know: Why are the media so influential? Who benefits from media influence, and why? How do we maintain cultural and ethical standards in the face of negative media images?

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Media dependency:

Media systems dependency theory (MSDT), or simply media dependency, was developed by Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Melvin DeFleur in 1976. The theory is grounded in classical sociological literature positing that media and their audiences should be studied in the context of larger social systems. MSDT ties together the interrelations of broad social systems, mass media, and the individual into a comprehensive explanation of media effects. At its core, the basic dependency hypothesis states that the more a person depends on media to meet needs, the more important media will be in a person’s life, and therefore the more effects media will have on a person.

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Dependency on media emerges from three relationships.

1) The relationship between the society and the media. Within this relationship, media access and availability are regarded as important antecedents to an individual’s experience with the media. The nature of media dependence on societal systems varies across political, economic, and cultural system.

2) The relationship between the media and the audience. This relationship is the key variable in this theory because it affects how people might use a mass medium. This relationship also varies across media systems. The more salient the information needs, the stronger are the motivation to seek mediated information and the dependency on the medium. In result, the likelihood for the media to affect audiences becomes greater.

3) The relationship between the society and the audience. The societies influence consumers’ needs and motives for media use, and provide norms, values, knowledge, and laws for their members. Social system can function as alternatives to the media by offering similar services of the media.  

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Social Surrogacy Hypothesis:

Current research is discovering that individuals suffering from social isolation can employ television to create what is termed a parasocial or faux relationship with characters from their favorite television shows and movies as a way of deflecting feelings of loneliness and social deprivation.  Just as an individual would spend time with a real person sharing opinions and thoughts, pseudo-relationships are formed with TV characters by becoming personally invested in their lives as if they were a close friend so that the individual can satiate the human desire to form meaningful relationships and establish themselves in society. Jaye Derrick and Shira Gabriel of the University of Buffalo, and Kurt Hugenberg of Miami University found that when an individual is not able to participate in interactions with real people, they are less likely to indicate feelings of loneliness when watching their favorite TV show. They refer to this finding as the Social Surrogacy Hypothesis.  Furthermore, when an event such as a fight or argument disrupts a personal relationship, watching a favorite TV show was able to create a cushion and prevent the individual from experiencing reduced self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy that can often accompany the perceived threat. By providing a temporary substitute for acceptance and belonging that is experienced through social relationships TV is helping to relieve feelings of depression and loneliness when those relationships are not available. This benefit is considered a positive consequence of watching television as it can counteract the psychological damage that is caused by isolation from social relationships.

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Media and behavior:

Mass media plays important roles – both explicitly and implicitly – in terms of conveying information, stimulating thought and discussion, and in forming and developing ideational behaviour. Mass media play a crucial role in shaping the behavior of agents. Indeed, the information relayed by media is known to influence the creation of beliefs (Gentzkow and Shapiro, 2004), cognitive abilities (Gentzkow and Shapiro, 2008), voting behaviors (Gentzkow, 2006; Gentzkow et al., 2011; Snyder and Strömberg, 2010) or even the governmental relief to a natural disaster (Eisensee and Strömberg, 2007). While these ex post effects on the mass media audience has been well documented in the literature, little conclusive work has been produced on the effect of the anticipated media coverage on the behavior of publicity-seeking actors (ex ante effects). Because such agents try to maximize their probability to be relayed in the media, they are likely to adapt their behavior. Among these agents, terrorists are usually considered as an example of actors for which the mass media relay is an indispensable tool. Similarly, political parties are also known to adapt their decisions to the mass media agenda. Furthermore, Strömberg (2004a) theoretically shows that the mass media coverage should drive policy decisions taken by those parties. Publicity-seeking actors may also be agents that themselves disclose information, and need to be relayed in the media. It is the case of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), which, among other roles, audit firms and inform the public opinion on their practices.

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Mass media effects on the production of information: Evidence from Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Reports:

The media report news that in turn influences behaviors. This news is drawn from a set of available information. In this paper, authors study how the set of information is “ex ante” affected by anticipated media coverages. First, they take an exogenous but anticipated shock of media coverage: Olympic Games and FIFA World Cups. Then, they estimate the effect of this media coverage shock on the production of reports by a publicity-seeking actor: NGOs. They use a unique database that collects NGO reports on a sample of 572 firms in 140 countries between 2002 and 2010. Those reports deal with firm practices, and tone of the speech of these reports is classified as ”good” or ”bad” for the reputation of the firm. They find that these media coverage shocks significantly impact the production of information. More precisely, stories that are substitute to sport news (reports on host and participant countries) are significantly less reported by NGOs, while the number of reports on complement to sport news (practices of sponsors) significantly increases. Further, in both cases bad reports overreact compared to good ones.

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Media and culture:

There is an old saying ”Man is a social animal”, which means beyond other requirements such as food and shelter, man has another fundamental need and that is, need of communication with each other. The urge of communication is a basic one and in our contemporary civilization, it has become a necessity for survival. Many different kinds of mass media exist and have existed for centuries. Both have an effect on culture, which is a shared and expressed collection of behaviors, practices, beliefs, and values that are particular to a group, organization, or institution. Culture and media exert influence on each other in subtle, complex ways. The Mass media is a significant force in modern culture. Sociologists refer to this as a mediated culture where media reflects the behavioural pattern of some individuals within a society. Mass media has greatly affected the culture. Many of our norms, values, and customs are greatly affected by media especially electronic media that has great influence on our life and life styles. People learn other cultures by watching TV or social networking. The mass media have greatly affected the culture of many countries– some people would say the effect has been negative, but for the most part, the mass media are an essential and generally positive part of life. The media tell you what the important stories are in the news, let you know about the weather, introduce you to famous politicians and entertainers and athletes, help you to learn more about history, entertain you and provide companionship, and teach you about the norms and customs of the culture (one of the purposes of the mass media is to transmit the culture from one generation to another). Often, media exposure creates fads, hit songs, memes, and catch-phrases, and it can also persuade people to buy certain products. And by seeing a popular celebrity wearing a certain style, many people will want to emulate that “look.”  

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Mass media and Socialization:

Socialization is the process in which a child learns how to behave in life and participate in a group in society. Socialisation is perceived to be the process a child undergoes in acquiring the values, norms, customs, attitudes and behaviours valid in a certain society to become a full member of it. Socialization is a process during which people learn to expect from the world and what the world expects from them. It has been defined as the process of learning to live in human society or the process by which human behaviour is learned and maintained. Thus, a person who is socialized has acquired a basic minimum of knowledge about the society he or she lives in and, a number of its basic attitudes norms and values. People gradually form of its basic attitudes that can help to govern their attention. People become socialized to family living, to politics, to academic life and so on. The socialisation process is a human being’s second birth as a socio-cultural personality. The importance of socialisation is made clear by the famous sentence that every culture is only 20 years, i.e. one generation away from the condition of total barbarism since the newly born “little savages” know nothing about culture. Learning is understood as the ability to behave differently to before due to experiences in certain situations. Learning describes relatively lasting changes not determined by maturation processes in personality development.The transfer of culture happens in learning processes restricted not only to childhood but which basically are lifelong, with learning from models predominating. The passing on of information through learning from models guarantees the survival and continuity of social structures through the relatively frictionless transfer of culture. Socialization has four basic/main agents: family, school, peers and the mass media. Each one of these agents plays a role in our lives. Whereas the main part of the socialisation process has hitherto been ascribed to the parents, many authors suspect that their importance in children’s socialisation is curtailed by television, video and other new media (e.g. computers and computer games). It is argued that television is a new third parent exercising considerable importance because the direction in which a personality develops is largely set in childhood. Socialization to the media also helps determine how we must trust information from various sources.

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Agent of socialization: Mass media:

The functions of mass media as a socialization agent are as follows:

a) They inform us about events

b) They introduce us to a wide variety of people

c) They provide us an array on viewpoints on current issues

d) They make us aware of products and services

e) They entertain us by letting us live vicariously through other people’s experiences

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Mass Media as agents of socialization:

In discussion of culture, we examine the process of homogenization of culture, that is, the spread of one culture to other parts of the world and its social impact. The mass media are the main conduit for the diffusion of American popular culture to semi-peripheral and peripheral areas. This diffusion is seen as particularly threatening to children who are exposed to it through the media before they learn their own native culture. In other words, the fear of cultural homogenization is based on the idea that the mass media are a powerful agent of socialization. The major trend in the media in relation to socialization is what media analyst Todd Gitlin (2001) calls supersaturation. According to Gitlin, “the American child lives in a household with 2.9 televisions, 1.8 VCRs, 3.1 radios, 2.6 tape players, 2.1 CD players, 1.4 video game players and 1 computer. Ninety-nine percent of these children live in homes with one or more TVs, 97 percent with a VCR, 97 percent with a radio, 94 percent with a tape player, 90 percent with a CD player, 70 percent with a video game player, and 69 percent with a computer.”  In addition, on an average, American children watch over two hours of television every day and as much time playing video games. Supersaturation refers to the state where we are so completely surrounded by various mass media and they are so embedded in our lives that we no longer find that fact remarkable or noticeable. At the same time, mediated experience becomes central to our perception of the world and our selves.  The effects of living in a media-supersaturated environment have been the subject of a lot of discussion and controversy: does the content of television programs and video games make children less sensitive to violence and more prone to aggressive behavior? Is intense media exposure detrimental to academic success? In trying to answer such questions, one should avoid exaggerations and simplifications. Human behavior is almost never the product of one variable (such as playing video game).  Aggressive behavior has many roots. What research shows is that children who watch large numbers of hours of television are more likely to have stereotypical views of women and minorities. Also, children who watch television or play video games for long hours are less likely to exercise and more likely to be overweight. Although video games are less passive and more participatory than television watching, they result in the same increase in violent and aggressive behavior, especially in boys. Boys play video games twice as much as girls. Moreover, boys are more likely to play violent simulations involving shooting and fighting whereas girls are more likely to play board games, puzzles and trivia (Wagner, 2004). At the same time, since high-paying careers are available in the technological industries, early familiarity with computers might stimulate children’s interest in computer-related careers and open the doors to them. As Cynthia Wagner suggests, girls should be encouraged to play video games so that they too gain access to these careers where they would probably create less violent games. However, so far, the video game industry produces mostly for a male audience.

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Mass media—newspapers, magazines, comic books, radio, video games, movies, and especially television—present a very different form of socialization than any other, because they offer no opportunity for interaction. While television provides lots of entertainment, at the same time it is a big agent of socialization. The portrayal of human characters in different programs and its advertisements on television helps in projecting the gender perceptions prevalent in the society, thereby helping in gender construction. The same programs help in shaping the attitudes, values, and basic orientation of people to life. Television is an influence on children from a very young age and affects their cognitive and social development (Elkind, 2007;Wright et al., 2001). Television is the medium with the greatest socialization effect, surpassing all the other media by far in its influence on the young child. The very fact that television is not an interactive agent is greatly significant to the development of young children. While watching, children have the feeling that they’re interacting, but they’re not. That’s one of the disadvantages of television as a socializer—it satisfies social needs to some extent, but doesn’t give children the social skills (or the real-life practice in those skills) that allow them to function effectively with people. Since the average child watches 3 to 4 hours of television a day, the time left for playing with others and learning social skills is drastically reduced. Even infants average about an hour and a half of television viewing a day between the time they are born and age 2 (Wright et al., 2001). Children learn through watching television. Some of the things they learn are beneficial; others are not. They learn about the world and the ways of the society. They learn something about occupations, for example, getting an idea about what a nurse does, what a doctor does, and how the two relate to each other. They learn about the institutions of the society—what goes on in court, for example. They learn the language to go with these roles and settings—and they learn some language you’d rather they didn’t know!

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Social Impact of media:

On a social level, media has its greatest impact. Viewpoints have been shaped due to the representation of different cultures, races, genders, religions, and sexual orientations. The two main elements of this are entertainment and news. While the representations should be taken at face value when it comes to entertainment, some representations have led to unfair stereotyping which becomes a part of social norms and thinking for generations. One example is how a segment or culture within a race could and has come to represent the public’s view of that race overall—especially in the case of negative elements of that culture. Another example is both unfair standards of beauty for women as well as negative representation of women. In the case of negative representations, there might be individuals or groups that embody that particular element, but media is able to multiply the negative to the point where it becomes a public accept trait of women. When it comes to unfair beauty standards, women are viewed as beautiful by mainstream media are usually put in favorable roles while women who don’t fix that narrow bracket are often painted as sidekicks, villainesses, comedic, and mentors. Occasionally these women are given a lead in a drama. These standards in magazines, television, and movies have an effect on girls and young women resulting in everything from purchasing fashions to get close to that beauty standard, adopting characteristics, and even depression from failing to meet those standards or feeling they won’t come close. The same goes for sexual orientation and religions. If you take the most boisterous or the fundamental and extremist element of a group, you can paint them in the worst light. Sometimes this might be the intent of mainstream media while other times it is used build characters for a show. In the case where there is particularly weak writing, prejudices might be played up to make a character more endearing or more of a villain. While in the case of entertainment everything should be viewed as show, reality TV is often ate up—because of the tag “reality TV” and whatever sensationalistic elements it may have are also ate up. This occurs even if a disclaimer is plastered on the screen before the show begins and when returning from commercial breaks.

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Mass media: a powerful tool for social change:

Because of its immense ability to provide access to information, the mass media can play a crucial role in promoting reproductive health and social changes affecting gender, reproduction, and sexuality. An especially powerful aspect of the mass media is its ability to create visual imagery, either directly or, in the case of radio, through projections made as a result of messages heard. In the developing world, mass media communication provides a link to the global village and can play a culturally interactive role. The mass media is one of the most powerful tools that can be used to further the goals of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) because it is the most efficient mode of communication and because of its inherent power. To be most effective, mass media communication campaigns must be submitted to constant and rigorous evaluation. Effective campaigns focus on the consumer and must be based on valid market research. To further the goals of the ICPD, the core objectives of communication campaigns must be assessed, consumers must perceive that the message concerns something that is beneficial to them, the imagery used must be carefully chosen, and the mass media campaign must be created by the most competent and creative professionals available. The ICPD has given the mass media a mandate to promote positive, responsible social behavior and gender equality by truthfully and realistically showing that this is more attractive than it’s opposite.  

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In India, the first ‘social soap opera’, Hum Log (tr. ‘People Like Us’), which began broadcasting in 1984, averaged an audience of 50 million people (CIN 2009). Set amongst lower middle-class joint family, the serial had promoted equal status for women, family harmony, and smaller family size norms. Epilogues were used at the end of each program which related the content of the program to viewer’s daily lives. The epilogues were delivered by a famous Hindi actor, Ashok Kumar, and ended with an address to which letters regarding the program could be directed (CIN 2009). The relationship between characters storylines and the lives of the viewers were often strong. Indeed, ‘viewers sent more than 400,000 letters, many of them addressed to the characters rather than to the actors and actresses. Many of these viewers identified with one or more of the characters, and many commented on the social issues raised by the show’ (Chatterji 2008). A survey of 500 such letters written found that ‘92% were influenced in a pro-social direction, 7% showed behavioral change as a result of the show. For example, there was an increase in the number of people signing up to give eye donations, due to a story line where the grandmother had eye cancer’ (CIN 2009). Furthermore, ‘53% of respondents believed in copying positive role models identified in “Hum Log”, 23% believed in copying negative role models. 70% believed that women should have equal opportunities, 71% said that family size should be limited, 64% thought women’s welfare programs should be encouraged…33% of the sample of 500 letters had their social attitudes influenced by the show’ (CIN 2009)

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Media as an instrument for social control:

Social scientists have made efforts to integrate the study of the mass media as an instrument of control into the study of political and economic developments in the Afro-Asian countries. David Lerner (1958) has emphasized the general pattern of increase in standard of living, urbanization, literacy and exposure to mass media during the transition from traditional to modern society. According to Lerner, while there is a heavy emphasis on the expansion of mass media in developing societies, the penetration of a central authority into the daily consciousness of the mass has to overcome profound resistance.

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Media and Social Responsibility:

The normative view of the press argues that the conduct of the media has to take into account public interests. The main public interest criterions that the media need to consider include freedom of publication, plurality in media ownership, diversity in information, culture and opinion, support for the democratic political system, support for public order and security of the state, universal reach, quality of information and culture disseminated to the public, respect for human rights and avoiding harm to individuals and the society (McQuil, 2005). The social responsibilities expected from media in the public sphere were deeply grounded with the acceptance of media as the fourth estate, a term coined by Edmund Burke in England. With the formation of the 1947 Commission on the Freedom of the Press the social responsibility of media became a strong debating point. It was formed in the wake of rampant commercialization and sensationalism in the American press and its dangerous trend towards monopolistic practices. The report of the Hutchins Commission, as it was called, was path breaking on its take on social responsibility and the expected journalistic standards on the part of the press. The theory of social responsibility which came out of this commission was backed by certain principles which included media ownership is a public trust and media has certain obligations to society; news media should be fair, objective, relevant and truthful; there should be freedom of the press but there is also a need for self regulation; it should adhere to the professional code of conduct and ethics and government may have a role to play if under certain circumstances public interest is hampered (McQuil, 2005).

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Mass media and racism:

Mass media has played a large role in the way white Americans perceive African-Americans. The media focus on African-American in the contexts of crime, drug use, gang violence, and other forms of anti-social behavior has resulted in a distorted and harmful public perception of African-Americans. African-Americans have been subjected to oppression and discrimination for the past few hundred years. According to Stephen Balkaran in his article Mass Media and Racism, “The media has played a key role in perpetuating the effects of this historical oppression and in contributing to African-Americans’ continuing status as second-class citizens”. This has resulted in an uncertainty among white Americans as to what the genuine nature of African-Americans really is. Despite the resulting racial divide, the fact that these people are undeniably American has “raised doubts about the white man’s value system”. This means that there is a somewhat “troubling suspicion” among some Americans that their white America is tainted by the black influence. Political activist and one-time presidential candidate Rev. Jesse Jackson said in 1985 that the news media portray black people as “less intelligent than we are.” The IQ Controversy, the Media and Public Policy, a book published by Stanley Rothman and Mark Snyderman, claimed to document bias in media coverage of scientific findings regarding race and intelligence. Research has shown that African Americans are over-represented in news reports on crime, and within those stories, they are more likely to be shown as the perpetrators of the crime than as the persons reacting to or suffering from it. This is true even when crime statistics indicate otherwise.  One of the most striking examples was the portrayal of blacks in the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. The media presented the riots as being a black problem, deeming blacks solely responsible for the riots. However according to reports, only 36% of those arrested during the riots were black. Some 60% of the rioters and looters were Hispanics and whites, facts that were not reported by the media. Conversely, multiple commentators and newspaper articles have cited examples of the national media undereporting interracial hate crimes when they involve white victims as compared to when they involve black victims.  Jon Ham, a vice president of the conservative John Locke Foundation, wrote that “local officials and editors often claim that mentioning the black-on-white nature of the event might inflame passion, but they never have those same qualms when it’s white-on-black.” According to David Niven, of Ohio State University, research shows that American media show bias on only two issues, race and gender equality.  On the other hand, one of the depressingly predictable reactions of the news media is that if a group of whites beats up a black victim it’s automatically a hate crime and is major news, but if a group of blacks beats up a white victim, race is never mentioned in the story, if one even gets published at all.

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Has the media paid too much attention to celebrities?

The biggest misfortune today in India is not hunger, poverty, corruption, unemployment or lack of development but it is when problems like such remain unaddressed. While on the one hand a gigantic percentage of poor people live on the streets and in pathetic conditions, the media industry in India is busy in promoting only Cricket and Bollywood Celebrities. News like “Amitabh Bacchan is suffering from fever, Shilpa’s has dandruff, Ashwariya has given birth to a baby girl and Sachin is back” is ‘breaking news’ for the Indian media particularly broadcast media, thereby leaving aside all socio-economic issues of the country.  Instead of being the watch dog of the society, media has turned out to be a mouthpiece of few chosen people. The way it performs its services is enough to prove that this particular industry is simply there to make money. If Shahrukh Khan cuts the cake, it will be shown as the breaking news but if a poor man dies of hunger, it will not be even condemned. If Katrina is not present for Salman khan’s birthday bash, it will become top priority for most media houses. And when a poor, debt ridden farmer commits suicide, it will not even be castigated. If Sehwag makes a mistake during a cricket game, it will be broadcast for days together but if a politician or any bureaucrat is involved in a scandal, it will given the least of coverage. The most irritating aspect is when needless information is broadcast again and again. Although media is often considered as a mirror of the society with an aim to update, educate and amuse people but unfortunately it seldom performs that duty. It sends out a very disturbing message of media having no social responsibility at all. The Indian media, by way of its obsession with only celebrities, has clearly exemplified its role which has nothing to do with socio-economic problems of the society.

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Some people feel that television, newspapers, magazines, and other media pay too much attention to the personal lives of famous people such as public figures and celebrities, although others have different opinion about that.  Safe to say, more than 70% lights are focused on those famous people and all kinds of stars. This is because common people like to watch, to know about and to become famous guys. Let us look at the television first, when you turn on the television, there are more than 60 channels in United States, but almost all channels are either talking about celebrities, movie stars, or showing some TV soap programs in which some movie star is in it. There are daily programs such as “E-Talk”, “Access Hollywood”, and “Entertainment Tonight” which concentrate on lives of famous stars. You can tell from their names. Not to mention there are a lot of awards such as Oscar award, Emmy award, Gold Globe, and so on. They are all about famous people. For the program of talking show, such as the Opera Show, or the Larry King Show, most guests that are invited to these programs are celebrities or politicians. And people love to watch that. As for magazines or newspapers, it is the same situation. The first front page, second page and Headline are very often about famous people in different areas, even sometimes discussing the private life of famous people. It looks like if there are no celebrity photos on the front page, the subscription will decrease. People love to read stories about these stars or celebrities. Especially, there are so many photographers who want to take pictures of these famous people’s private life. They do not care how this will invade those people’s privacy, because they know these photos of celebrities may help them get rich. Think about how Princess Diana died in 1997. Nobody can say that it has nothing to do with those paparazzis. The fact that people love to know everything about Dianna, one of the most famous celebrities in the world, killed the princess. In conclusion, TV, newspapers and magazines need these celebrities to attract people’s eyeballs. Otherwise, they cannot survive. And the average people seem to enjoy these personal lives of famous people or celebrities. So it is quite normal for media to pay so much attention to these big guys in the world.

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Media and religion:

The media are often accused of bias favoring the majority religion, or attacking the majority religion. In some countries, only reporting approved by a state religion is permitted. In other countries, derogatory statements about any belief system are considered hate crimes and are illegal. According to the Encyclopedia of Social Work (19th edition), the news media play an influential role in the general public’s perception of cults. As reported in several studies, the media have depicted cults as problematic, controversial, and threatening from the beginning, tending to favor sensationalistic stories over balanced public debates (Beckford, 1985; Richardson, Best, & Bromley, 1991; Victor, 1993). It furthers the analysis that media reports on cults rely heavily on police officials and cult “experts” who portray cult activity as dangerous and destructive, and when divergent views are presented, they are often overshadowed by horrific stories of ritualistic torture, sexual abuse, mind control, etc. Furthermore, unfounded allegations, when proved untrue, receive little or no media attention. In 2012, Huffington Post columnist Jacques Berlinerblau argued that secularism has often been misinterpreted in the media as another word for atheism, stating that: “Secularism must be the most misunderstood and mangled ism in the American political lexicon. Commentators on the right and the left routinely equate it with Stalinism, Nazism and Socialism, among other dreaded isms. In the United States, of late, another false equation has emerged. That would be the groundless association of secularism with atheism. The religious right has profitably promulgated this misconception at least since the 1970s.”  

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Mass media and the mythologizing of content: 

The way people, social groups, ethnic or religious communities “answer to challenges in the natural and social environment, the nature of the historical relations between them, the specific conditions of language formation and mental structures, of culture and civilization, the mindsets of different people, all these has major importance for the way they perceive the world, the processes and social phenomena, the existence of other peoples, the ways of manifestation in time and space of the other, different from them or us”, believes Ion Chiciudean and Bogdan Halic in their study. Mihai Coman considers that from the mythological system perspective, the media were seen: “a) as a deposit in which ancient mythical constructs are kept and reactivated b) as myths and mythological units creators of the modem world”.  From the first perspective, numerous studies have identified various mythological topoi (archetypes) in messages distributed through mass media. If we refer strictly to the information universe, we see that studies have covered the analysis of mythological substrate in areas such are those of diverse facts, reports about crises, events in the political life, narratives about media stars or contemporary heroes. ‘To explain this (re) appearance of the mythological fund, researchers invoke classical theories of mythological legacy theories, which combine diffusional, archetypal, psychological and functionalist explications. In most analyzes, it is argued that journalists are using mythological vocabulary and syntax as they are being influenced by: a) the public for which they produce the news [public from a popular culture, fed with consumer products which are strongly marked by epic schemes and figures with mythological roots] b) mass culture, in which the mythological elements are still present, c) specific editorial stereotypes and preconceptions d) the pressure of unknown events, with unclear development and meaning, which must be made accessible and meaningful. Thus, journalists will associate specific events with symbolic archetypes able to provide a surplus of meaning and emotional charge; such texts are made easy to understand and easy to assimilate due to their common denominator offered by mythological elements’.  The second view believes that media discourse and journalistic texts are cultural products that have the same functions and the same operating logic as the myth: they ensure – through a narrative that often tells the contingent – cognitive control over the real world and, thus, arranges the signification of reality. “What matters is not what the story says, but what it conceptualizes: telling a real story actually allows thinking the event that is unexpected and (maybe) unacceptable by operational cognitive categories. In this case, not the story (archetype) is inherited, but the technique of thinking the unforeseen through mythical frameworks.

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Media and disasters: 

Scholars in many disciplines – Sociology, Geography, Political Science, Law, Public Administration, Economics to name just a few – have discovered a great deal about human and organizational behavior in crisis and disaster. Some of that scholarship has focused on the role of the mass media and, as a result, we know a great deal about the roles media can and do perform before, during and after disasters. This includes warning, keeping people informed in the aftermath of disaster, correcting rumours. Journalism scholars have added to that knowledge, pointing out, for example, that journalists are often troubled by ethical issues, that television is becoming the source of first choice in crises and that there is a great deal of interaction between media and interpersonal sources. Scholars in more than one discipline have shown that electronic media perform differently than print media in crises: the latter have more time to shape the news using established Gatekeeping procedures. Yet much of the knowledge that scholars in other disciplines have acquired about the media and disaster has not made it into the reporting texts and much of the scholarship by media scholars has not been integrated into the disaster literature. Thus, while news stories all too often reflect these myths both in what they include and what they omit, others still misunderstand the effects of journalistic behavior and the way it impacts on victims of disaster. A review of the role of the media in disasters suggests that the media and disasters are inevitably intertwined but in many ways they are still strangers.  These findings do suggest two lessons for those in positions of responsibility during crises or disasters. The first one is that the media can play a critical role before, during and after such incidents. The media are essential, for example, for warnings to be effective and may be the single most important source of public information in the wake of a disaster. The second lesson is that the media have to be monitored and handled with care because it is media reports that distort what happens in a disaster and lead to misunderstandings. Failure by officials to issue a warning, for example, may be a result of myths created by the media.

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A research study: Media and disasters:

A review of two areas of scholarship into the role of the mass media in crisis and/or disaster reveals a dichotomy. There is substantial research by scholars in a number of disciplines and by scholars in Journalism and Mass Communications. The two appear unaware of what each other is doing. Cross-referencing is rare. The scholarship shows that the media can play a critical role before, during and after such incidents. The media are essential, for example, for warnings to be effective and may be the single most important source of public information in the wake of a disaster. The scholarship also shows that media reports that distort what happens in a disaster and lead to misunderstandings. Failure by officials to issue a warning, for example, may be a result of the myth that people panic, a myth perpetuated by the media. Media scholarship also shows however that in one area where the media are often criticized but they are not guilty as charged: the limited research available suggests many victims and relatives of victims welcome the presence of the media and do not see journalists as intruders. 

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Media’s Influence on Children:

Television can have a definite effect on the mind in how one sees the world, how you process things, and how people govern themselves emotionally. This influence amongst children is thoroughly looked at and studied in the article by Kyla Boyse from University of Michigan. Kyla states that “children are more susceptible to obesity, lethargy, and lack of focus due to prolonged television viewing.” It promotes no physical activity, for none is required to participate, or very little for that matter. It could be damaging for a child to not get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Ana Maria Petrescu speaks about it extensively, as she looks at the effects of mass media in an in depth study. Her socio-psycho, and pedagogical approach revealed that “The Effects of Television on the Human Mind, when watching television excessively, inhibits the development of operating strategies of the left hemisphere of the brain, which leads to damage in the ability to use language, logical and analytical thinking”. This of course is a prominent case amongst mainly teenagers. Children are affected as well, but tend to not be overrun by it due to high levels of supervision from parents. Usually as a child enters adolescence, parents tend to let the rope have some slack so to speak, and less supervision is the result. No doubt, the adolescent probably spends tremendous amounts of time on the smart phone, watching TV, and on the internet. It’s no mystery that child obesity is a well-known problem growing in society. Less physical activity and more technology has been the tune lately.

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Media’s influence on children has steadily increased as new and more sophisticated types of media have been developed and made available to the American public. Beneficial effects include early readiness for learning, educational enrichment, opportunities to view or participate in discussions of social issues, exposure to the arts through music and performance, and entertainment. Harmful effects may result from sensationalization of violent behavior, exposure to subtle or explicit sexual content, promotion of unrealistic body images, presentation of poor health habits as desirable practices, and exposure to persuasive advertising targeting children. As you can tell, media acts as that double-edged sword that can hurt as much as help whoever wields it. That is why it is so important to stress the education of media literacy starting at a young age. If that happens video games would be blamed less for violent actions because the child should know the difference between real world and fantasy. A child who is media illiterate is more vulnerable to being influenced by messages in all kinds of media. Specific domains of influence exist that could affect children, they are; violence and aggressive behavior, sexual content, body image and self-esteem, and finally physical health and school performance. Everyone has heard about violence being a problem in media today. Kids watch TV or movies and want to mimic their favorite stars; however they must learn to be able to separate reality from fantasy. This comes from a good solid education in media literacy. Girls more than boys have personal image problems from the constant pressure of media for them to waif thin and so called “pretty.” This in turn would lead to worse academic performance mainly because the student might be starving themselves and without proper nutrition they cannot learn properly in a school environment. Teachers should not bear the sole responsibility for educating kids about media literacy though; parental monitoring is a key factor, since the research studies show that increasing guidance from parents is at least as important as simply reducing media violence. Children may learn negative behavior patterns and values from many other experiences as well as TV programs, and parental guidance is needed to help children sort out these influences and develop the ability to make sound decisions on their own.

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There is no telling how this is a good or bad thing, since where there are pros, there are cons. The good part is that the media is exposing children to a world that may be without it, would leave us handicapped and pretty much dumb about what is happening worldwide. Some media influences can actually make kids want to be better, dream bigger, and make a difference. It keeps a balance that we have to hope doesn’t override the good parts that the media can do for the youth. At the end of the day, media is the open window that leads us to different arenas of the world, where it makes us fuel a passion, follow up on a life-changing endeavor, and helps us learn that there is more to life than just entertainment and showbiz.  Children today need to of course have some kind of control in their lives, where adults need to restrain how much of the media is too much. Parents need to understand that a limit tag has to be placed on the facets of media, where the Internet is your biggest concern. It is more lethal and influential than the television and print media, and that is a technology that is ruling the world when it comes to widespread impact. Social networking as we know is the new caffeine. And the youth are loving it. How you handle the whole situation is really your call, and how responsible kids end up being. Once they are aware of the dangers and consequences, then only can you sit back and just hope that their consciences are fine tuned.

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What can I do to keep the media from being a bad influence on my child?

The problem is that young adolescents often don’t–or can’t–distinguish between what’s good in the media and what’s bad. Some spend hours in front of the TV or plugged into earphones, passively taking in what they see and hear–violence, sex, profanities, gender, stereotyping and story lines and characters that are unrealistic. We know from research such as that conducted by George Comstock and Erica Sherrar that seeing too much TV violence appears to increase aggressive behavior in children and that regular viewing of violence makes violence less shocking and more acceptable. Students who report watching the most TV have lower grades and lower test scores than do those who watch less TV. Add to these negative psychological and academic effects, negative physical effects. Recent reports by the U.S. Surgeon General show that the number of overweight teens in American has increased greatly over the past two decades. Being overweight, in turn, can contribute to serious health problems, such as diabetes.  Negative influences also come from other media. For example, a growing number of ads in magazines, including some for harmful products such as alcohol and tobacco, are targeted at young adolescents.  Your child will benefit from your guidance in helping him to balance media-related activities with other activities such as reading, talking with family and spending time with friends.

Here are some ways that you can help your child make good media choices:

Limit the amount of time your child spends viewing TV:

 It’s impossible to protect your child entirely from the media. Banning TV entirely may only strengthen its appeal to her. However, some parents do make TV viewing off-limits during the school week, except for special programs that are agreed to ahead of time.  Remember, it’s easier to restrict your child’s poor media choices if you say no before she brings home the objectionable CDs or computer games or turns on the violent TV programs. Let your child know that you will monitor her media choices.

Monitor what your child watches and listens to:

Don’t just listen to how loud the music is, but to what the words are. Learn about the TV programs and movies that your child wants to watch, the computer games he wants to play and the music he wants to listen to. Knowing something about your child’s interests will let you enter into his world and talk with more knowledge and force about his choices. Ask your young teen what bands or singers he likes. Then read about his favorites in magazines or newspapers or listen to their CDs or to the radio stations that play their music.

You can also watch or listen with your child:

This allows you to spend time with him and to learn more about the programs, games and music that he likes. Talk with your child about what you are seeing and hearing.

Suggest TV programs that you want your child to watch:

 Encourage your child to watch TV programs about a variety of subjects–nature, travel, history, science, biography and news, as well as programs that entertain. News and history programs, for example, can encourage conversations about world issues, national and local politics, social problems and health concerns.

Talk with your child about the difference between facts and points of view:

Young teens need to learn that not everything they hear or see is true. Let your child know that the TV show or movie he sees, the radio station or music he listens to and the magazine he reads may have a definite point of view. Talk with him about how the media can promote certain ideas or beliefs, which may different from those of your family. If your child wants to watch, listen to or read something that you believe is inappropriate, let him know exactly why you object.

Talk with your child about misleading ads:

 Young adolescents are especially vulnerable to advertising. Talk with your child about what ads are for–to sell products–and about how to judge whether the products the ads sell are right for her.

Consider buying a V-chip for your TV or a filter for your computer:

 A V-chip is a computer chip that can detect program ratings–X, R, PG and so on and so block your child from watching pornographic, violent or other inappropriate TV channels. Similar chips or filters can prevent your child from visiting certain Web sites. Many of these can be obtained for free or for modest costs at your local electronics store.

Talk with your child about the risks of visiting computer chat rooms:

 Let your child know the dangers of “talking” online with strangers. There is software that can restrict children from chat rooms, even as they allow access to other content.

Talk with other parents:

Discussing movies, TV shows, computer games and CDs with the parents of your child’s friends and classmates can give you more strength to say no when she wants to see or hear something that think is inappropriate.

Provide alternatives to media entertainment:

If you give the kids enough activities, the TV goes away.  Given the opportunity, many children would rather do than watch. A day at a miniature golf course or a visit with a friend may hold more appeal for your child than watching TV.  

Model alternative forms of entertainment:

 A young teen whose parent is constantly in front of the TV or checking her e-mail over a quick dinner is being sent a definite message. Parents who turn off the TV or computer and engage in conversation, sports, games or other activities are showing alternatives to their children.

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Role of media to prevent child abuse:

The media’s role in preventing child abuse and neglect is multi-faceted. The early ‘discovery’ of child abuse is the clearest example. Without intense media exposure, Kempe’s (1962) ‘battered child syndrome’ may have remained largely unseen and unheard of. Children are not only the most vulnerable but their voices are often silenced, especially when the subject is child abuse and neglect. Examples of the media’s ability to confront people with images and messages that they may not want to see and hear have been documented above. Investigative journalism also plays a less direct but nonetheless influential role in community education. And opinion pieces, such as Goddard (2002), are yet another means of educating both the public in general and professionals in particular about best practice. Sustained community education and prevention campaigns, using mass media communication, are integral to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. These campaigns continually confront communities with the reality of child abuse. They challenge people, institutions, and governments to listen to children and to respond to the needs of all children and families, and particularly the special needs of children who have been abused or neglected. Further, sustained mass media exposure of child abuse and neglect may publicly censure and shame perpetrators, many of whom are relatives and adults well known to the victimised child. However, to be effective, mass media campaigns will need to be part of a broader prevention program that includes the provision of supports and services for all children and families. A broad prevention program would reflect a society that recognises the value of children, respects children’s rights, and optimises children’s life chances.

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Media and youth:

Media is a way for the members of the society to keep themselves informed about what is happening around them. It is also the major source of entertainment. By creating an image appealing to the youth, media controls the variety of material youth incorporate in their daily lives. Their images, which mostly consist of sexuality, violence, coarse language and revealing clothing, have a negative impact on the youth. Media should be forbidden from advertising and telecasting shows pertaining to violence, sex and unhealthy living because it plays an important role in shaping the opinions of the younger generation. Media violence has lead to increased rates of youth violence. Exposure to violence in the movies, video games and music videos increases the likelihood of physical and verbal aggressive and violent behaviour, thoughts and emotions in youth. Researchers have examined various communities before and after the introduction of television, to find a link between violence and real-life aggression. They found that after the television had been introduced, the incidents of fists fights and black eyes among the youth had increased significantly. Several days after an episode of Happy Days (a television show during 1970s) was aired, in which one character joined a gang called the Red Demons, children in the community created rival gangs, called the Red Demons and the Green Demons and the conflict between the two seriously disrupted the local school. Media violence desensitizes people to real violence. A number of studies show that children/youngsters who are constantly exposed to media violence tend to be less disturbed when they witness real world violence and have less sympathy for victims of violence.

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American youth and media:

American youth live in an environment saturated with media. They enjoy increasing access to television, movies, music, games, websites, and advertising—often on pocket-size devices. Given the prominent and growing role that media plays in the lives of U.S. children and adolescents, what effects do these conditions have on their health and well-being?

Behavioral scientist Steven Martino shared some interesting research findings on this topic:

•The more sexual content that kids see on television, the earlier they initiate sexual activity, the more likely they are to regret their early sexual experiences, and the more likely they are to have an unplanned teen pregnancy.

•There is a strong causal connection between youth exposure to violence in the media and violent or aggressive behavior and thoughts.

•Children are exposed to nearly 300 alcohol commercials per year. Similarly, more than 80 percent of movies depict alcohol use.

•The motives movie characters convey for smoking can adversely affect adolescents’ real-world smoking risk.

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Media and adolescence: A study:

Mass media has long been thought to have a detrimental effect on an adolescent’s values and behaviors. Many social ills including violence, misogyny and negative health behaviors, as well as egoistic cultural values have been attributed to mass media’s influence. Yet the media is not all powerful, nor are its powers unable to be combated. In a paper, researchers analyze the Educational Longitudinal Study data from 2002 to 2006 to determine the real effects mass media has on adolescents in comparison to other influences. They find that not all media is equal in influence. Television and video games have different relationships with a teenager’s values and behaviors in comparison to internet use. Additionally, authors find that when parents are involved with their children as significant others, they do not negate, but can typically counteract many negative effects of media.

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Other researchers find no ill-effects of media on youth:

Media does provide a cognitive frame through which to observe the world and many theorists believe that this frame supports an egoistic society (Grindstaff and Turow 2006, Carragee and Roefs 2004, Gamson et al 1992). This may be true, but contrary to popular thought, the media are not the root of most social problems amongst children and teens (Sternheimer 2003). Though fear of the media and its power to create amoral individuals has become an adopted cognitive narrative, this position does not much empirical support behind it (Sternheimer 2003, Glassner 1999). True, electronic media culture has vastly infiltrated many aspects of teenagers’ daily lives. However, this has not increased violence, risky sexual behaviors, and other teenage “vices.” In opposition, most of these statistics have actually decreased over the past few decades, even though media usage has increased (Sternheimer 2003). For example, teenage pregnancies have consistently decreased over the past fifty years even though words like “epidemic” are used today in contrast to a re-pictured, pristine past (Sternheimer 2003, Coontz 1992). Youth violence and binge drinking also dropped considerably in the 1990s, a decade when both were supposedly an “epidemic” (Sternheimer 2003). In sum, there is little to no direct, non-contradictory evidence that links the current media environment to the many social problems it is said to have caused (Sternheimer 2003, 8, 54).   

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Mass media are an important context for adolescents’ sexual behavior:

A study compared influences from the mass media (television, music, movies, magazines) on adolescents’ sexual intentions and behaviors to other socialization contexts, including family, religion, school, and peers. Media explained 13% of the variance in intentions to initiate sexual intercourse in the near future, and 8 to10% of the variance in light and heavy sexual behaviors, which was comparable to other contexts. Media influences also demonstrated significant associations with intentions and behaviors after all other factors were considered. All contextual factors, including media, explained 54% of the variance in sexual intentions and 21 to 33% of the variance in sexual behaviors. Adolescents who are exposed to more sexual content in the media, and who perceive greater support from the media for teen sexual behavior, report greater intentions to engage in sexual intercourse and more sexual activity. Mass media are an important context for adolescents’ sexual socialization, and media influences should be considered in research and interventions with early adolescents to reduce sexual activity.

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Sex and violence in the media:

One of the more controversial areas of study of the media is what effect the media have on us. This is particularly timely as eyes are on Hollywood/ Bollywood and the violent & sexy movies it makes.

• Does all the sex in the media, particularly the movies and television, have anything to do with the sexual mores of society?

• How about violence in the media?

• Does it have a relationship with the increase in violence in our society?

• Does the media just mirror the sex and violence in society, or does it influence society?

A number of long‐term studies were conducted to determine what, if any results, all that media violence was having on us. Four major results came from these studies. A fifth one has evolved over time.

Catharsis Theory:

The first of these theories suggests that rather than be harmful violence in the media actually has a positive effect on society. The central assumption of the Catharsis Theory is that people, in course of daily life, build up frustrations. Vicarious participation in others’ aggressions helps release those tensions. In other words, every day frustrations in us build up. Without a release valve we risk the chance of becoming violent, or at least aggressive. You do poorly on a test. You have to park to far away from the classroom. Some jerk cuts in front of you on the freeway. You get home and your significant other, or a child, starts demanding your attention. You snap back by yelling or hitting. That counts as violence as much as shooting someone. It is only a matter of degree. The Catharsis theorist would say that by watching violence in the media you release some of that tension and are less likely to be aggressive or violent. But can you say the same thing about sex in the media?

Aggressive Cues Theory:

Then there is the opposite view, that violence does have an impact. Probably most prevalent of these theories is the Aggressive Cues Theory that has as its central assumption this: Exposure to aggressive stimuli will increase physiological and emotional arousal, which will increase the probability of violence. In other words, all that violence gets the adrenaline juices in us flowing and makes us more edgy, increasing the chance that we’ll be more aggressive or more violent. Aggressive Cues theorists are quick to point out that watching violence does not mean we’ll always be more aggressive or violent, but it increases the chances. And the way in which the violence is presented will have an impact on us, too. If we can relate to the protagonist committing the violence, or if the violence is presented in a justifiable way, we can be led to aggressive behavior. If a bratty kid gets spanked in a media portrayal ‐‐clearly an aggressive and violent act‐‐ it sends a message that corporal punishment is acceptable under the right circumstances. If steelworkers see a show where steelworkers drink and brawl after work every day, they are more likely to accept that drinking and brawling are normal behavior.

Observational Learning Theory:

The Observational Learning theorist would take the Aggressive Cues theory a step further. This theory says that people can learn by observing aggression in media portrayals and, under some conditions, model its behavior. If there are 50 ways to leave your lover, then there must be at least 49 ways to be violent or aggressive. And watching violent media portrayals will teach you new ways to be violent. Ever watch a whodunit, such as a Columbo episode, where you spot where the criminal makes the fatal mistake? Ever catch yourself saying, “If I ever committed a murder I would not make that mistake?”  What? Are you suggesting there is a circumstance where you would kill someone?  Or, how about this? Imagine walking down a dark alley and someone steps out in front of you and makes a threatening gesture. What would you do? Anyone think of some kung fu/karate moves you might make to defend yourself? That’s a pretty aggressive /violent thought. And you learned it by watching a media portrayal. So the Observational Learning theorist says that not only would the media violence increase the probability of the viewer committing an aggression or violence, it teaches the viewer how to do it. Does media mirror society or does it influence it? (The answer is both.) Further, the Observational Theorist hedges his bet by pointing out that you will not automatically go out and mimic the violent act, but you store the information away in your brain. Again, think about sex instead of violence. Does watching sexual portrayals teach you new ways to think about sex and perhaps engage in sexual acts? If you see that sleeping with someone on a first date is normal, after a while you start believing that everyone must be doing it, so you should, too.

Reinforcement Theory:

One theory says that media violence decreases the probability of violence by the viewer. Two others say that it will increase the probability of violence. And then there is the Reinforcement. Theory that debunks both. The central assumption of this theory is that media portrayals reinforce established behaviors viewers bring with them to the media situation. Violent portrayals will increase the likelihood of violent or aggressive behavior for those who accept violence and aggression as normal. It will decrease the likelihood of aggression and violence for those brought up to believe that violence is bad. Violence merely reinforces prior beliefs. Instead of looking for blame in a violent media portrayal, the Reinforcement theorist would say that if you want to predict an outcome, look at the viewer’s background. Look at the person’s cultural norms and views of social roles. If person grows up in a crime‐ridden neighborhood, then violent portrayals are more likely to lead to violence. Obviously, selective perception is going on here. But the Reinforcement theorist would point out that there is going to be the exception to the rule. You are going to run across the gentle old man who everyone believed would never hurt a fly who whacks his family into a thousand pieces one day. Or you are going to find the gang member who one day recognizes the futility of violence and turns to the priesthood.

Cultivation Theory:

A final theory on the effects of violence in the media has evolved out of more recent studies. It is the Cultivation Theory. Rather than predict that we will turn to or from violence, it looks at how we’ll react to the violence. The central assumption of the theory is that in the symbolic world of media, particularly TV, shapes and maintains audience’s conception of the real world. In other words, the media, especially TV, creates fantasy world that is mean spirited and dangerous. It also creates stereotypes of dominant/weak folk in society. You are starting to show some signs of age with gray hair and wrinkles around your eyes. If you are guy in the media, that is good. It shows a maturing. If you are woman, that is bad, it just shows that you are getting old and less vital. A male can be dominant and be looked up to. A woman who is dominant can be a bitch. All lawyers are crooks. All journalists are seedy. All media stereotypes! And the media tell us that it is a mean world out there. Driving freeways is unsafe because of drive by shootings and spectacular police car chases. Crime in the neighborhood is rampant if you look at the nightly news. Some people who live vicariously through television feel it is unsafe to leave their home or apartment and become shut‐ins.

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Moral Panic Theory

A final theory relevant to this area is the moral panic. Elucidated largely by David Gauntlett, this theory postulates that concerns about new media are historical and cyclical. In this view, a society forms a predetermined negative belief about a new medium — typically not used by the elder and more powerful members of the society. Research studies and positions taken by scholars and politicians tend to confirm the pre-existing belief, rather than dispassionately observe and evaluate the issue. Ultimately the panic dies out after several years or decades, but ultimately resurfaces when yet another new medium is introduced.  

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Violence and mass media:

Complaints about the possible deleterious effects of mass media appear throughout history; even Plato was concerned about the effects of plays on youth.  Various media/genres, including dime novels, comic books, jazz, rock and roll, role playing/computer games, television, movies, internet (by computer or cell phone) and many others have attracted speculation that consumers of such media may become more aggressive, rebellious or immoral.  Several scholars (e.g. Freedman, 2002; Olson, 2004; Savage, 2004) have pointed out that as media content has increased in violence in the past few decades, violent crimes among youth have declined rapidly. Although most scholars caution that this decline cannot be attributed to a causal effect, they conclude that this observation argues against causal harmful effects for media violence. A recent long-term outcome study of youth found no long-term relationship between playing violent video games or watching violent television and youth violence or bullying. The Straits Times (24 July 1993) sees a growing concern in Asia about the level of violence on television. But according to a survey released in July 1993 young people seemed inured. The highest level of concern was reported from the Philippines where more than half of those questioned said there was too much violence. This was followed by Japan where 42% considered the level of violence too high. But in Indonesia 64%, in Malaysia 62%, in Hong Kong 54%, in Singapore 52%, in Thailand 49%, in Korea 48% and in Taiwan 44% of the respondents considered the level of portrayals of violence on television to be about right.  But also important to the discussion about the possible effects of violence portrayals is the fact that in no other area of research into media effects have as many studies been done as in this one. One can assume that there have been more than 5,000 but also that they vary enormously in quality. That indubitably makes this field, at least as far as the quantity of publications is concerned, one of the best researched in media effects research.

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Today the mass media show far more violent and gruesome scenes. Table below gives an idea of how much violence shows up on television and in motion pictures. Content analyses of television programming shows that the media have gradually become more violent, even in programs targeted to children (Parent’s Television Council 2001a, 2001b).

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Mass Media Effects on Violent Behavior: A study:

The literature on the effect of exposure to media violence (including exposure to violent pornography) on aggressive behavior is critically reviewed. Evidence and theoretical arguments regarding short-term and long-term effects are discussed. Three points are emphasized:

1. Exposure to violence in laboratory and field experiments is as likely to affect nonaggressive antisocial behavior as it does aggressive behavior. The pattern is consistent with a sponsor effect rather than a modeling effect: an experimenter who shows violent films creates a permissive atmosphere;

2. The message that is learned from the media about when it is legitimate to use violence is not much different from the message learned from other sources, with the exception that illegitimate violence is more likely to be punished in media presentations;

3. The fact that violent criminals tend to be versatile as they commit nonviolent crimes as well is inconsistent with explanations that emphasize pro-violence socialization (from the media or other sources). Researchers  conclude that exposure to television violence probably does have a small effect on violent behavior for some viewers, possibly because the media directs viewer’s attention to novel forms of violent behavior that they would not otherwise consider. 

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Media and brain:

On an average developmental day between the ages of 1 and 18, a young person sleeps 8 hours and spends 10 waking hours with self, family, and friends, four hours with mass media—and only two hours in school. Mass media and school play major roles in the development and maintenance of important cultural memories. Young people tend to spend much time and energy on such electronic media as video games, TV, and computers—at the expense of non-electronic media and socialization (although new forms of socialization are evolving around watching TV and playing video games). Our brain is designed to adapt its cortical networks to the environment in which it lives (to master the local language, for example). A socially interactive environment that stimulates curiosity and exploration enhances the development of an effective brain. Thus excessive childhood involvement with electronic media that limit social interaction could hinder the development of a brain’s social systems. Conversely, denying a child easy and extensive exploration of electronic technology helps to create an electronically hampered adult in an increasingly electronic culture. Social media falls in between these two extremes whereby it allows social interaction as well as allows acquaintance with newer technology.

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Our short-term (or working) memory is an attentional buffer that allows us to hold a few units of information for a short period while we determine their importance.  Our short-term memory processes frame the segment of the environment that we perceive. We attend to the things that are inside the frame, and we’re merely aware of the context, the things that are outside of the frame. Mass media often eliminate a proper presentation of the context of an event and so distort its meaning and importance. The result is that a rare isolated event is presented as being common. A brutal murder in a park may empty all the parks in a large region. The efficiency of our dual long-term memory system depends on our ability to string together and access long sequences of related motor actions into automatic skills (procedural memory) and related objects/events into stories (declarative memory). Thus storytelling activities dominate our culture through such communicative devices as conversations, jokes, songs, novels, films, TV, ballets, and sports.

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Our brain uses two systems to analyze and respond to environmental challenges, and electronic mass media often exploit these systems:

1. Relatively slow, analytic, reflective system (thalamus- hippocampus-cortex circuitry) explores the more objective factual elements of a situation, compares them with related declarative memories, and then responds. It’s best suited to non-threatening situations that don’t require an instant response — life’s little challenges. It often functions through storytelling forms and sequences, and so is tied heavily to our language and classification capabilities. User-friendly computer programs and non-frantic TV programming tend to use this rational system.

2. A fast conceptual, reflexive system (thalamus-amygdala- cerebellum circuitry) identifies the fearful and survival elements in a situation, and quickly activates automatic response patterns (procedural memory) if survival seems problematic.

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The fast system developed through natural selection to respond to immanent predatory danger and fleeting feeding and mating opportunities. It thus focuses on any loud/ looming/ contrasting/ moving/ obnoxious/ attractive elements that might signal potential danger, food, and/or mates. The system thus enhances survival, but its rapid superficial analysis often leads us to respond fearfully, impulsively, and inappropriately to situations that didn’t require an immediate response.  People often use mass media to exploit this system by stressing elements that trigger rapid irrational fear responses. Politicians demonize opponents; sales pitches demand an immediate response; zealots focus on fear of groups who differ from their definition of acceptable. The fast pacing of TV and video game programming, and their focus on bizarre/violent/sexual elements also triggers this system. If the audience perceives these elements and the resulting visceral responses as the real-world norm, the electronic media must continually escalate the violent/sexual/bizarre behavior to trigger the fast system. Emotion drives attention, which drives learning, memory, and behavior, so mass media often insert strong primal emotional elements into their programming to increase attention. Since violence and sexuality in media trigger primal emotions, most young people confront thousands of violent acts and heavy doses of sexuality during their childhood media interactions. This comes at the expense of other more positive and normative experiences with human behaviors and interactions. Rational thought development would thus suffer. We can see this escalation in mass media.

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As a corollary to above discussion, mass media (TV) have great impact on us because its content stimulates emotional, reflexive, survival system of brain linked to food, sex and danger while social media (barring few exceptions) have a lesser impact on us as it stimulates analytical, reflective, rational system of brain linked to rational & critical thinking.  Of course, educational TV program would do the same but how many children, adolescent and adult watch educational TV program?

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Media and gender:

The role and status of women in relation to men have gradually changed since the beginning of this country. The mass media have played an efficient role in perpetuating gender stereotypes and in maintaining the status quo. Earlier communication research argued that the way in which men and women are portrayed in the mass media represents reality. The media, however, does not represent as it is lived. It draws upon social reality but selectively picks up certain existing values, behaviors and images, while censoring the others. By highlighting only selected aspects of reality in a particular context, by projecting them as larger than life, and by continuation of repeated media images and messages, the media influences reality . The mass media function in the larger system of patriarchy and capitalism that controls media structures and organizations which represents women as dependent and subordinates. The recent debate of mass media vis-à-vis gender produces much more complex understandings of the cultural dimensions of power and equality, and more specifically feminist analyses of the media, culture and society (Gallager, 1992: 1-15). With the proliferation of “women’s genres” soap operas, melodramas, women’s magazines and so on women have emerged as an important consumers of mass entertainment. The mass media also set the agenda for public opinion by selecting themes, items and points of views that tend to reinforce the patriarchal culture. But media does not reveal the real picture of the cultural society, but it shows only one side of the construction of women’s marginality in culture. Although the progressive discourse is often co-opted in the mass media and reconstructed again to create the hegemony of dominant social classes and reproduces gender relations. The larger system of patriarchy and capitalism that controls the mass media and subordinate women challenges women’s groups often. Many of the feminist activists and academicians who are concerned regarding the women’s issues have also critically analyzed negative portrayal of women in media. This is even found in the developing countries across regions. It is assumed that despite apparent in societal context with which the media function, there are notable similarities in the portrayal of women in mass media across divergent media systems in developing countries. Although the images of women and types of messages transmitted through various mass media, such as print media i.e. newspaper and magazines, electronic media i.e. television and films are not very different, it would be necessary to examine the specificity of media in reinforcing existing gender ideology.

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Portrayal of Women in Mass Media:

The reach of mass media among a majority of the Third World War is much less due to the factors such as illiteracy, inaccessibility, lack of respite from household chores, inconvenient program timings, and traditional restrictions that inhabit their mobility to go out to the theatre or cinema hall. The ways in which women are portrayed in media has emerged as an important area of research and action among feminist researchers and activists in developing countries since the 1980s. It was the comprehensive study of Gallagher 1983 on the portrayal of women in the mass media that drew our attention to demeaning and derogatory media images of women across the world. (The study was conducted in several developed countries such as Australia, Austria, Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany, Denmark, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and developing countries of China, Columbia, Brazil, Iran, Jamaica, Philippines, Puerto, Rico, Senegal and Venezuela). The study concluded that except in the case of government controlled media in “socialist” countries (for e.g. China) media under-represent or misrepresent women and their concerns, use them in advertising as a commodity and present traditional stereotyped images of women as passive, dependent and subordinate to men. Subsequently, how media in different countries portray women have been discussed by women’s group and researchers in various forms in the 1980s. Although periodically efforts are made to highlight the existing trends in the portrayal in media, most of the countries have remained fragmentary and essentially descriptive in nature. After Gallagher’s study, probably no systematic review of literature on media portrayal of women has been undertaken in a large number of developing countries.  As the MacBride Commission has pointed out, “journalists dealing with serious issues and political events are seldom women, and few women become editors or holds directing positions. In the USA, out of 3000 films directors, only 23 are women. Although extensively employed as production and continuity assistants, women rarely have the responsibility for taking broad decisions.”

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 In India, the dominant stereotype images of women and girls are that of:

1) Less competent human being,

2) Key to commercial success in this age of advertising,

3) Instruments for exploitation by men.

To break the vicious circle of existing undesirable images and project the reality of the lives of women and girls would need an overhaul of the content of existing communication message through a well thought out National Communication policy on women. A number of studies conclude that the overall effect of the portrayal of women in media is to reinforce rather than reduce prejudices and stereotypes. This distortion tends to justify and perpetuate existing inequalities. The exploitation of the women’s image for commercial purposes has been noted and criticized varies widely. But the emancipation of women poses the most formidable problems in such values and practices of social, economic and cultural oppression and domination of women which evade attention. This is because there values and practices are a part of the “normal” social life of millions and millions of Indian people in day to day interaction between husband and wives, mother and children, brother and sisters, parents and daughters, wives and their in laws, employers and their women employees and so on. In these very ordinary relations, men and women are constantly violating in practices which they profess in words. Men are more often unconscious of what is being done to them. Whether in matters relating to distribution of food or other items of consumption, or of work or leisure, of property or income, women are subjected to discrimination and oppression which assume in numerable forms. Far from bringing these to light, the media, specially the feature films, are all the time idealizing and rationalizing them. 

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Studies have shown that the image of women that has predominated in magazine advertisements is of weak, childish, deepened, domestic, irrigational, subordinate creature, the producers of children and little else compared with men. Komisar [1971] suggests the audience of advertising could never know the reality of owners lives by looking at advertising, since a “women’s place is not only in the home, according to most advertising copywriters and art directors, it is in the kitchen or the laundry room.” Komisar also refers to the image created by advertisers in 2000 as a combination sex object, wife and mother who achieves fulfillment by looking beautiful for men. A women is not depicted as intelligent, but submissive and subservient to men.  Courtney and Lokeretz [1979] examined imaged of women in magazine advertisements. They reported the following findings: women were rarely shown in out-of-home working roles.

1. Not many women were shown as a professional or high level business person.

2. Women rarely ventured far from home by themselves or with other women.

3. Women were shown as dependent on men’s protection.

4. Men were shown regarding women as sex objects or as domestic adjuncts.

5. Females were most often shown in ads for cleaning products, food products, beauty products, drugs, clothing and home appliances.

6. Males were most often shown in ads for cars, travel, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, banks, industrial products, entertainment media and industrial companies.

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Though women have significantly in every aspect of life, the long list of in human treatment given seems never ending. The Government, judiciary and social action groups are taking positive action to provide women true dignity in economic, social and personal areas. In endeavor the mass media have a pivotal role reporting wrong doing following up remedial action, mobilizing public opinion, brining about social change and highlighting positive developments. The pattern of value in any society is reflected in the contents of mass communications. The way subjects dealing with women are treated indicated to a great extent the prevailing attitude of the society towards women. In this regard, the ongoing communication revolution has opened up new possibilities of accelerating the process of upliftment of women. But if it remains unguided and uncontrolled this revolution will decelerate the process and it will have adverse effects on the lives of women. Incidental studies on the impact of the mass media indicate that women’s exposure to the media is often marginal and unsatisfactory. It appears that the mass media has not fulfilled their duty as an effective instrument in the process of empowerment of women. Women are used to sell any product as soap, towel, and detergent.

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The irony of mass media’s attitudes toward feminism lies in mass media’s historical roles in enabling feminism. Without media outlets, what success the women’s liberation movement might have achieved to date is left to speculation. In the developmental stages of the movement, newspapers and fliers served vital roles in distributing literature geared to unite women over the issue of fighting for their rights to vote in the United States. However, although the media has served as the platform that made communication of the women’s liberation movement an attainable goal, the media has simultaneously and persistently gone out of its way to counteract, discredit, and trivialize those efforts. Stereotypical imagery and innuendo continue to present the public at large with derogatory references to feminists and females, often typecasting them with unflattering or insulting descriptions. In addition, sexual objectification of women grows ever more prescient in advertising and mass media in general, and many marketers perpetuate “clever” reincarnations of imagery from bygone eras that relegate women to positions as simple housewives. As a cursory glance through the annals of time shows, the media has, at best, dealt the women’s liberation movement a condescending, humoring tone. Through mocking attitudes conveyed with sarcastic coverage, stereotypical advertising imagery, and dismissive marketing messages, the media reinforces negative typecasting of gender roles and women’s advocacy. The particular wording of media messaging changes over time to satirize adapting historical and societal norms, but the underlying attitudes of oppression and dismissal have not changed much. Despite its undeniable role in spreading the message of women’s liberation, mass media has taken a peculiar brand of pleasure in ongoing attempts to negate that message.

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Mass media and reproductive behaviour:

In Aga and van Rossem’s survey of the reactions of 2,712 sexually experienced men and women in Tanzania, who collected in an exit survey at outlets that sell the female condom, it was found that about 6% of respondents had been exposed to peer education and 6% had been given an explanation by a provider on the use of the female condom. In contrast, about 38% of respondents had been exposed to the mass media campaign promoting the female condom. Mass media exposure significantly increased the likelihood that a man or a woman would discuss use of the female condom with a partner. In turn, discussion of the female condom with a partner strongly influenced the intention to use the female condom in the future (Agha and Van Rossem 2002). Of course, besides promoting family planning, condom use is closely linked to the prevention of STIs including preventing HIV. In Nigeria, for example, a campaign using music videos produced by popular national artists promoting family planning implanted in 1989-90 was found, after cross-sectional analysis, to have had a significant effect on contraceptive use and intention as well as lowering desired family size (Bankole 1994; Bankole, Rodriguez et al. 1996). Meanwhile, the presentation of family planning themed skits in the country between 1985-88 was followed by ‘[a near five-fold increase in] the number of new clinic clients per quarter in Ilorin…; in Enugu, the number of new clients per month more than doubled; and in Ibadan, the number of new clients increased 3-fold’ (Piotrow, Rimon Ii et al. 1990). Elsewhere, mass media campaigns promoting family planning have proved successful in places as far afield as Mexico (Vernon 1978), Zimbabwe (Adamchak and Mbizvo 1991), Nepal (Boulay, Storey et al. 2002; Barber and Axinn 2004), Uganda (Gupta, Katende et al. 2003), Ghana (Hindin, Kincaid et al. 1994), Bangladesh (Lieberman 1972; Kabir and Amirul Islam 2000; Mazharul Islam and Saidul Hasan 2000), Iran (Lieberman 1972), and India (Apte 1988; Kulkarni 2003). In Nepal, for example, Barber and Axinn found that ‘exposure to mass media is related to…preferences for smaller families, weaker son preference, and tolerance of contraceptive use’ (Barber and Axinn 2004)

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Mass media and public health:

The media is an important ally in any public health situation. It serves the role of being a source of correct information as well as an advocate for correct health behaviors.  Mass media have considerable potential for affecting health behavior. The pervasiveness of mass media and the exposure levels of broad segments of society suggest that mass media may be an important information source regarding health and a relevant socialization force regarding health attitudes and behavior. The role of mass media in affecting knowledge, attitudes, and behavior toward health care may be thought of in terms of the following two dimensions.

1. Mass media may impact health knowledge, attitudes and behavior both in a deliberate sense through “campaigns” that are specifically designed for such impact, and in an unintended or “incidental learning” sense through material that contains health-related information, but which is not specifically intended to impact health knowledge, attitudes or behavior.

2. In both cases, mass media may act either as a “change agent” or as a “reinforcing agent” — that is, media may function in such a way as to change knowledge, attitudes and behavior or to confirm existing behavior patterns. In these respects, the role of mass media in affecting health care is similar to their role in affecting knowledge, attitudes and behavior toward other products and services.

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The mass media are intensively employed in public health. Vast sums are spent annually for materials and salaries that have gone into the production and distribution of booklets, pamphlets, exhibits, newspaper articles, and radio and television programs. These media are employed at all levels of public health in the hope that three effects might occur: the learning of correct health information and knowledge, the changing of health attitudes and values and the establishment of new health behavior. Mass media campaigns have long been a tool for promoting public health (Noar, 2006) being widely used to expose high proportions of large populations to messages through routine uses of existing media, such as television, radio, and newspapers. Communication campaigns involving diverse topics and target audiences have been conducted for decades. Some reasons why information campaigns fail is an early landmark in the literature. Exposure to such messages is, therefore, generally passive (Wakefield, 2010). Such campaigns are frequently competing with factors, such as pervasive product marketing, powerful social norms, and behaviours driven by addiction or habit. Mass media campaigns have generally aimed primarily to change knowledge, awareness and attitudes, contributing to the goal of changing behaviour. There has not normally been a high expectation that such campaigns on their own would change people’s behaviour. Theory suggests that, as with other preventive health efforts, mass media campaigns are most likely to reduce unhealthy attitudes if their messages are reinforced by other efforts. Reinforcing factors may include law enforcement efforts, grassroots activities, and other media messages.

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According to Ray Moynihan and colleagues:

The news media are an important source of information about health and medical therapies, and there is widespread interest in the quality of reporting. Previous studies have identified inaccurate coverage of published scientific papers, overstatement of adverse effects or risks, and evidence of sensationalism. The media can also have a positive public health role, as they did in communicating simple warnings about the connection between Reye’s syndrome and the use of aspirin in children. Despite the potential of news media to perform valuable health-education functions, Moynihan et al. conclude that media stories about medications continue to be incomplete in their coverage of benefits, risks, and costs of drugs, as well as in reporting financial ties between clinical trial investigators and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

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The primary health communication tool used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is PRIZM, which was developed by Claritas, Inc. PRIZM divides the United States into sixty-two lifestyle clusters, or groups of people with similar “geodemographic characteristics, consumer behaviors, psychosocial beliefs, and media habits” (Parvanta and Freimuth 2000, p. 22). It provides data on 250 sociodemographic census variables and approximately 500 items concerning media preferences, purchasing behaviors, and lifestyle activities. Following a needs assessment that revealed an abnormally high birth-defect rate in a four-county area of Virginia, mass media were tapped to inform more than 22,000 women of child-bearing age about the health benefits of folic acid supplements and folate-rich foods. The campaign included television and radio PSAs, brochures, posters and display boards, as well as the cooperation of a local grocery store chain that provided other print media (food information cards and special food labels on folate-dense products). In a 1999 evaluation, CDC investigators reported a statistically significant increase in folic acid awareness between 1997 and 1999. Mass media have been major sources of information about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. In a 2000 study, 96 percent of 1,290 men aged twenty-two to twenty-six reported hearing about these subjects through television advertisements, radio, or magazines. Some authorities have expressed skepticism about the mass media’s future motivation to provide positive sex education messages, since portrayal of sex attracts viewers, which in turn, increases revenues. Other evidence of the media’s ability to improve reproductive health and promote population control exists, especially from developing countries. Mass media have made people aware of modern contraception and where to access it, as well as linking family planning to other reproductive health care and to broader roles for women. Communication about family planning and population control creates awareness, increases knowledge, builds approval, and encourages healthful behaviors. In Egypt, where nearly all households have television, population control objectives have been achieved through televised PSAs. Data also support the positive effects of mass media messages on contraception use in Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya. In a 1999 Tanzania-based study, a team of researchers led by Everett M. Rogers showed how the popularity of a radio soap opera promoting family planning increased listeners’ self-efficacy with respect to discussing contraception with spouses and peers. Although mass media are important for disseminating health messages and encouraging an adoption of healthful lifestyles, they currently fall short of their potential. The realization of this potential in the future depends, in part, on increasing the media advocacy skills of public health authorities, improving understanding of competing antihealth media messages, and organizing channels for an optimal media mix.

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When to use the media for health promotion:

It is apparent from the evidence that the media can be an effective tool in health promotion, given the appropriate circumstances and conditions. Some of the situations in which media have been found to be most appropriate are as follows.

1. When wide exposure is desired. Mass media offer the widest possible exposure, although this may be at some cost. Cost–benefit considerations are at the core of media selection.

2. When the timeframe is urgent. Mass media offer the best opportunity for reaching either large numbers of people or specific target groups within a short timeframe.

3. When public discussion is likely to facilitate the educational process. Media messages can be emotional and thought provoking. Because of the possible breadth of coverage, they can be targeted at many different levels, stimulating discussion and thereby expanding the impact of a message.

4. When awareness is a main goal. By their very nature, the media are awareness-creating tools. Where awareness of a health issue is important to its resolution, the mass media can increase awareness quickly and effectively.

5. When media authorities are ‘on-side’. Where journalists, editors and programmers are on-side with a particular health issue, this often guarantees greater support in terms of space and editorial content.

6. When accompanying back-up can be provided on the ground. Regardless of whether media alone are sufficient to influence health behaviour, it is clear that the success of media will be improved with the support of back-up programs and services.

7. When long-term follow-up is possible. Most changes in health behaviour require constant reinforcement. Media programs are most effective where the opportunity exists for long-term follow-up. This can take the form of short bursts of media activity over an extended period, or follow-up activities unrelated to media.

8. When a generous budget exists. Paid advertising, especially on television, can be very expensive. Even media with limited reach, such as pamphlets and posters, can be expensive depending on the quality and quantity. For media to be considered as a strategy in health promotion, careful consideration of costs and benefits needs to be undertaken.

9. When the behavioural goal is simple. Although complex behaviour change such as smoking cessation or exercise adoption may be initiated through media programs, the nature of media is such that simple behaviour changes such as immunisation or cholesterol testing are more easily stimulated through the media. In general, the more complex the behaviour change, the more back-up is required to supplement a media health program.

10. When the agenda includes public relations. Many, if not most, health promotion programs have an agenda which is not always explicit – maybe to gain public support or acknowledgement, to solicit political favour, or to raise funds for further programs. Where public relations are either an explicit or implicit goal of a program, mass media are effective because of their wide-ranging exposure. 

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Mass media health information: misinformation or disinformation or both:

As the amount of information grows at an unprecedented rate, so does the amount of false, and potentially harmful information. Misinformation, either due to inaccurate information, misleading information or misinterpretation of health information, can have potentially dire consequences, triggering mass panics, misleading uninformed policy-makers etc. Mass media campaigns are intended to communicate certain health care information with a view toward change in health habits. Examples include anti-smoking, seat belt usage, lower cholesterol, and hypertension identification campaigns. Mass media may also have unintended effects in the sense that the average viewer is exposed to a regular diet of “medical” shows on television and also to large numbers of commercials for proprietary medicines. The learning from such programming and commercials may be in the form of “misinformation” and may not be compatible with good health habits. A national study by the Louis Harris Organization (1973), for example, concluded that mass media were second only to the individual’s physician as a source of health information. Furthermore, much of the health information absorbed from television is likely to be under low involvement conditions and, therefore, processed without evaluation. A logical question then is whether mass media depict an accurate profile of health, illness, and the value of medical services, drug products, or medical treatment. Some social critics suggest that mass media depict a distorted and stereotyped view of these topics with consequences for people’s health beliefs, attitudes and behavior and for their probabilities of accessing the medical system under specified conditions. For example, to what extent does advertising for proprietary drugs convince people to search for simplistic solutions to medical symptoms that may be indicative of more serious problems? To what extent does cigarette advertising help people to deny or sublimate the medically dangerous effects of smoking? The extent to which mass media either positively or negatively impact health is an important empirical question requiring systematic evidence to resolve. One study of television programming found that 30% of the health-related information was “useful” while the remaining 70% was inaccurate or misleading or both (Smith, 1972). This may suggest the magnitude of the potential problem, although this study is only one isolated piece of research evidence. Another study by Frazier et al. (1974) of dental health advertisements concluded that 43% of the information is inaccurate, misleading, or fallacious.  “As access increases in the developing world, many health-related crises could parallel social and political movements that have resulted, at least in part, from these technologies (e.g., the use of the Internet by the Falun Gong in China or the role that SMS played in the destabilization of a Philippine government). Hong Kong, for example, narrowly missed mass panic as a result of misinformation being posted to a falsified website concerning SARS. Elsewhere, decision makers have been misled by, or chosen to misuse, information found on the Internet (e.g., South African President Mbeki’s stance on HIV/AIDS). For health communication programs, the Internet may become a countervailing factor and an obstacle as a source of misinformation and myth, particularly in the areas of infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS.” The hypothesis may well be that mass media act more to misinform than to educate people about health and appropriate health habits.

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Meta-analysis of mass media campaign and health behavior:

Mass media campaigns can directly and indirectly produce positive changes or prevent negative changes in health-related behaviours across large populations. Author’s careful reading of topic-specific individual studies and more-general mass media reviews, and their collective experience in campaign research and evaluation across health behaviours has led them to the following conclusions about the conditions under which media campaigns work. The likelihood of success is substantially increased by the application of multiple interventions and when the target behaviour is one-off or episodic (e.g., screening, vaccination, children’s aspirin use) rather than habitual or ongoing (e.g., food choices, sun exposure, physical activity). Concurrent availability of and access to key services and products are crucial to persuade individuals motivated by media messages to act on them. The creation of policies that support opportunities to change provides additional motivation for change, whereas policy enforcement can discourage unhealthy or unsafe behaviours. Public relations or media advocacy campaigns that shape the treatment of a public health issue by news and entertainment media also represent a promising complementary strategy to conventional media campaigns. Various hindrances to the success of mass media campaigns exist. Pervasive marketing for competing products or with opposing messages, the power of social norms, and the drive of addiction frequently mean that positive campaign outcomes are not sustained. Greater and longer-term investment will be required to extend effects. The increasingly fractured and cluttered media environment poses challenges to achieving adequate exposure to planned media messages, rather than making wide exposure easier. Careful planning and testing of campaign content and format with target audiences are, therefore, crucial. For all the reasons described above, isolation of the independent effects of mass media campaigns is difficult. Substantial evidence has, however, been garnered from study designs that, in isolation, are less than classically excellent, but in aggregate yield a substantial body of support for the conclusion that mass media campaigns can change population health behaviours.

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Below there is some evidence about changes in levels of knowledge and awareness during mass media public health campaigns:

Alcohol-

 Awareness of ‘sensible drinking message’ unit – up from 39 to 76%, 1989–94

 Knowledge of units in popular drinks – up 300%, 1989–94

 People’s accurate assessment of their own drinking – up 5%, 1990–94.

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HIV/AIDS-

 Changes in levels of tolerance: those in the general public who say that homosexual relations are always or mostly wrong – 74% in 1987; 44% in 1997

 Attitudes to people with HIV infection: those who think people with AIDS have only themselves to blame – 57% in 1987; 36% in 1996

 Belief that a condom protects against HIV: 66% in 1986; 95% in 1997

 Women aged 18–19 whose partners used condoms: 6% in 1986; 22% in 1993.

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Folic acid-

 Spontaneous awareness of folic acid – 9% in 1995; 39% in 1997

 Sales of folic acid supplements and prescription rates – up 50% in an eight-month period.

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Skin cancer-

 Proportion of the public who thought a suntan was important –28% in 1995; 25% in1996

 Proportion of people who say they use a sunscreen when sunbathing in this country – 34% in 1995; 41% in 1996.

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Case Study: Messages for a Vaccination Campaign:

In order to increase the number of children less than a year old receiving vaccinations in Manila, Philippines, radio and television broadcasts were created because almost everybody utilized one or both media channels. According to a study done later to determine the efficacy of the campaign, using the radio and television “resulted in more children being vaccinated on schedule…These results show that in places where people use mass media regularly and vaccinations are available, effective radio and television spots can increase vaccination rates and extend the reach of health workers.”

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Case Study: Using Radio for Diarrheal Disease Control in Swaziland:

To prevent the deaths of infants and young children from diarrhea, radio broadcasts were used to train health professionals to treat the disease, distribute relevant health materials and set up places where mothers could learn how to prepare medication properly. According to the evaluative study performed later, “given a similar level of staff effort but the far greater coverage achieved by radio, it was found that more than twice the number of mothers learned the correct procedure for mixing SSS (the medication) from the radio than did those who learned it from face-to-face communication.” This provides strong evidence that the radio campaign was a successful health communication strategy. 

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Mass media interventions: effects on health services utilization: Cochrane review:

Twenty studies were included. All used interrupted time series designs. Fifteen evaluated the impact of formal mass media campaigns, and five of media coverage of health-related issues. The overall methodological quality was variable. Six studies did not perform any statistical analysis, and nine used inappropriate statistical tests (i.e. not taking into account the effect of time trend). All of the studies apart from one concluded that mass media was effective. These positive findings were confirmed by our re-analysis in seven studies. The direction of effect was consistent across studies towards the expected change.  Despite the limited information about key aspects of mass media interventions and the poor quality of the available primary research there is evidence that these channels of communication may have an important role in influencing the use of health care interventions. Although the findings of this review may be affected by publication bias, those engaged in promoting better uptake of research information in clinical practice should consider mass media as one of the tools that may encourage the use of effective services and discourage those of unproven effectiveness. Mass media communication can encourage increased utilisation of health. Mass media information on health-related issues may induce changes in health services utilisation, both through planned campaigns and unplanned coverage.

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Preventive smoking in young population: Cochrane review:

There is some evidence that the mass media can be effective in preventing the uptake of smoking in young people, but overall the evidence is not strong. Can mass media campaigns (television, radio, newspapers, billboards and booklets) deter young people from starting to smoke? Campaigns which researched and developed their message to reach their target audience had a higher success rate than those which did not. Effective campaigns also lasted longer and were more intense than less successful ones. The timing and type of broadcast made a difference to their success, with older youths in one study preferring radio to television. Changes in attitudes, knowledge or intention to smoke did not generally seem to affect the long-term success of the campaigns.

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Mass Media play important Global Role in persuading Smokers to Quit:

Antismoking information in mass media is persuading smokers worldwide to think about quitting, according to a recent analysis of data from 17 countries participating in the Global Adult Tobacco Survey. The survey examined whether antismoking messages on television, radio, billboards, and newspapers or magazines may have influenced smokers’ plans to quit. In 9 of the 17 countries, seeing antismoking messages in at least 1 of the media categories had a significant effect in swaying smokers to part with cigarettes or other tobacco products. The effect was even stronger in countries where smokers were aware of antismoking information in more than 1 type of media.

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Mass media antismoking campaigns: a powerful tool for health promotion.

Cigarette advertising and promotion have been shown to influence smoking in young persons, but the powerful effect of the mass media on behavior can also be used to promote health. Several states have earmarked a portion of their cigarette excise tax revenues to fund mass media antismoking campaigns, which have been effective in reducing cigarette consumption and in helping persons quit smoking. Despite their successes, the campaigns have been hindered by tobacco industry-supported attempts to cut their funding or restrict their scope. The most aggressive campaigns, which attack the tobacco industry and challenge social norms about tobacco use and promotion, are the most controversial but also the most effective. Mass media antismoking campaigns are a promising tool for health promotion, but only if sustained funding can be guaranteed and the development of the advertisements can be protected from intrusion by political forces.

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Mass media sources for breast cancer information: their advantages and disadvantages for women with the disease:

This study, conducted in 1997, aimed to explore in depth the views and experiences of women with breast cancer concerning disease-related mass media information. Three age-stratified, unstructured focus group discussions were convened with thirty women with breast cancer (n = 11, 12 and 7). The discussions were audiotaped and transcribed in full and the transcripts were analyzed using theme analysis. A number of themes concerning mass media breast cancer information were identified. Women sought and paid attention to information from a variety of mass media sources, including medical books and journals, leaflets, videotapes, women’s magazines, newspapers and television programs. Mass media information was thought to possess a number of advantages. In particular, participants viewed mass media sources such as magazines and television as helpful in raising breast cancer awareness in the general population. Mass media information, however, was also viewed as having a number of disadvantages. For example, once diagnosed, participants thought that mass media sources such as magazines were frightening and depressing owing to their often negative and sensationalised nature. This finding was particularly worrying as women with breast cancer looked for and were often ‘drawn’ to such communication vehicles. To conclude, mass media information has advantages and disadvantages and its impact upon individuals may depend on their disease status. It is important that editors of mass media sources such as women’s magazines are aware of this dichotomy and are prepared to provide accurate, factual and less dramatised breast cancer information.

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The potential of mass media communications in the health care arena is generally phrased in terms of their promise for changing habits and life styles. However, the history of communication research indicates that the most persistent finding is that mass media act mainly to reinforce existing attitudes and behavior. In an article in the Journal of Health Communication, Liana Winett and Lawrence Wallack wrote that “using the mass media to improve public health can be like navigating a vast network of roads without any street signs: if you are not sure where you are going and why, chances are you will not reach your destination” (1996, p. 173). Using mass media can be counterproductive if the channels used are not audience-appropriate, or if the message being delivered is too emotional, fear arousing, or controversial. Undesirable side effects usually can be avoided through proper formative research, knowledge of the audience, experience in linking media channels to audiences, and message testing. Sophisticated societies are dependent on mass media to deliver health information.

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Why health campaign fail on media:

Research evidence indicates that most mass media campaigns oriented toward changing health care habits fail.  Analysis of the foregoing and other campaigns indicates that there are some basic reasons why most health care campaigns fail. These reasons may be summarized as follows:

1. Most health care campaigns operate without explicit objectives or with inappropriate or unrealistic objectives, probably because they are based on an inadequate understanding of the way mass communications work, and on an inadequate understanding of the marketing requirements of the “product” being promoted.

2. Most health care campaigns are non-programmatic; they are short-run, one-time efforts, while the behavior change they are designed to induce must continue in the long run.

3. The beneficial effects of the recommended behavior change are not immediately apparent to the consumer, and perhaps never will be.

4. Most health care campaigns fail to identify market segments within the total audience who require different communication approaches in line with their specific needs.

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Mass Media and Mental Illness:

If public perception of mental illness is based on negative and false images perpetuated by the media, there is a danger that government responses to systems and people in the mental health field will also be based on these false realities, rather than on the true needs and issues of people suffering from mental illness (Cutcliffe & Hannigan, 2001; Rose, 1998). A paper highlights studies that provide evidence to support the following five hypotheses:

• the mass media are a primary source of public information about mental illness;

• media representations of mental illness promote false and negative images and stereotypes;

• there is a connection between negative media portrayals of mental illness and the public’s negative attitudes toward people with mental health issues;

• negative media portrayals have a direct impact on individuals living with mental illness; and

• there is a connection between negative media portrayals of mental illness and government responses to mental health issues.

There is a complex relationship between mass media depictions of mental illness and the public’s understanding. McKeown and Clancy (1995, cited in Cutcliffe & Hannigan, 2001) state that this link is circular: negative media images promote negative attitudes, and ensuing media coverage feeds off an already negative public perception. The media must play a role in changing such negative perceptions. In the past, people with physical disabilities were depicted in the media only when the story was about their disability. Today, it is becoming more common to see television characters whose physical disability has nothing to do with the storyline (for example, Dr. Weaver in ER and Doris in The Young and the Restless): they are characters like any other, and their disability is not significant to the story. This is far from the case with mental illness. In popular media, mental illness is most commonly portrayed as deviant and dangerous, and is also frequently the only noteworthy trait about the character. For change to occur, accurate and positive messages and stories about mental illness and people living with psychiatric diagnoses must become more commonplace. Thornton and Wahl (1996) found that the influence of newspaper articles on people’s attitudes toward mental illness was more positive when study participants had received accurate supplementary information, indicating that change in the mass media’s depictions can produce change in public perceptions. NAMI’s StigmaBusters newsletter has been responsible, through public letter-writing campaigns, for successfully removing offensive ads from television and radio, and more importantly, for educating media advertisers, producers, and writers about the impact of their negative and inaccurate depictions on people with mental illness. It is essential that people working in the mental health field combat negative media portrayals and encourage public education programs. The myth regarding the inherent connection between violence and mental illness must be revealed, and accurate information must be disseminated to the public through the media. It is vital to highlight stories of successful recovery. Such stories of resilience and hope, if presented properly, can both educate and entertain audiences. Ultimately, the struggle of advocates for more accurate and positive representation of mental illness and of the mentally ill in the mass media is analogous to the struggles of other minority and disenfranchised groups. Wahl (1995) sums it up best when he says, “the civil rights movement offers one big lesson, speak up.” 

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Media, politics, democracy and good governance: 

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The figure below shows media triangle depicting relationship between media, public and government:

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Media informs us. Without media, the public would not be informed about what is going on in the political realm, what the issues are, who is a contender, or what is going on in the world. The media acts as the bridge between the government and the people. The only way to gain political awareness is through media consumption. There is no direct communication between the United States and the American people. The media is the informant. Through free media and paid media, the press is able to influence voters by telling them what issues are important at the time. While there is a wide-spread belief that the media is biased to either the right or the left, it should be less of a concern to the public because the media is largely unsuccessful in shaping opinion. The media also influences the government through the spotlight affect and discussing issues that might not have been at the top of the political agenda. The media has a very strong affect in politics, campaigns and elections by dictating what issues are relevant, what candidates will get the most coverage and what criteria they should use to evaluate candidates. Equally, the media is affected by the government, who is able to use the media as a political instrument by furthering the political views of whatever power is currently in office. While it is not absolute because outside factors also shape positions, the media, public and government has a cyclical relationship that influences one another.  

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Media, politics and public opinion:

Recognize the media’s political force. The late political activist Malcolm X once said, “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” In making this comment, he recognized the power of the media to form public opinion. Politicians of every stripe as well as their opponents try to gain the attention of the media in order to bolster their causes. A well-aimed news camera, filming a handful of protesters, can often influence public opinion more effectively than the protests of hundreds of individuals who are not being filmed. As McCombs et al.’s 1972 study of the political function of mass media first showed, media coverage of an issue can “play an important part in shaping political reality”.  Research into media coverage of climate change has demonstrated the significant role of the media in determining climate policy formation. The media has considerable bearing on public opinion, and the way in which issues are reported, or framed, establishes a particular discourse.  Discourse, broadly defined, is a linguistic or communicative regularity, which creates particular norms and determines the way we understand an issue, and “help[s] shape institutional considerations of policy”.  The relationship between media and politics is reflexive. As Feindt & Oels neatly state, “[media] discourse has material and power effects as well as being the effect of material practices and power relations”. The Foucauldian concept of power-knowledge is central in discourse analysis, and resonates in media coverage of climate change. As highlighted above, media coverage in the United States during the Bush Administration often emphasised and exaggerated scientific uncertainty over climate change, reflecting the interests of the political elite.  Hall et al. suggest that government and corporate officials enjoy privileged access to the media, so their line quickly becomes the ‘primary definer’ of an issue. Furthermore, media sources and their institutions very often have political leanings which determine their reporting on climate change, mirroring the views of a particular party.  However, media also has the capacity to challenge political norms and expose corrupt behaviour, as demonstrated in 2007 when The Guardian revealed that American Enterprise Institute received $10,000 from petrochemical giant Exxon Mobil to publish articles undermining the IPCC’s 4th assessment report. Ever-strengthening scientific consensus on climate change means that skepticism is becoming less prevalent in the media (although the email scandal in the build up to Copenhagen reinvigorated climate skepticism in the media[59]), however in terms of weighting impacts and positing responses, climate change remains a discursive battleground.

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Mediatization:

In communication studies or media studies, mediatization is a theory that argues that the media shapes and frames the processes and discourse of political communication as well as the society in which that communication takes place (Lilleker, 2008). In this framework, an important aspect of modernization is the development of media (Krotz 2008), beginning with a change in communication media and proceeding to subordination of the power of prevailing influential institutions (Hjarvard 2008, 7). As a consequence of this process, institutions and whole societies are shaped by and dependent on mass media (Mazzoleni & Schulz, 1999). Asp used the term mediated politics to describe how the media have become a necessary source of information between politicians and those in authority and those they governed. According to Asp’s understanding politics are mediated when the mass media are the main or the only source of political information through which it may influence or even shape people’s conceptions of political reality. Asp theoretical assumptions that mass media may influence and mobilize current political ideas through mediatized rituals have been adopted my various communication scholars.

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How the Media frames Political issues:

Episodic vs. thematic framing:

In his book Is Anyone Responsible?, Shanto Iyengar evaluates the framing effects of television news on political issues. Through a series of laboratory experiments (reports of which constitute the core of the book), he finds that the framing of issues by television news shapes the way the public understands the causes of and the solutions to central political problems. Since electoral accountability is the foundation of representative democracy, the public must be able to establish who is responsible for social problems, Iyengar argues. Yet the news media systematically filter the issues and deflect blame from the establishment by framing the news as “only a passing parade of specific events, a ‘context of no context.'” Television news is routinely reported in the form of specific events or particular cases — Iyengar calls this “episodic” news framing — as distinct from “thematic” coverage which places political issues and events in some general context. “Episodic framing,” he says, “depicts concrete events that illustrate issues, while thematic framing presents collective or general evidence.” Iyengar found that subjects shown episodic reports were less likely to consider society responsible for the event, and subjects shown thematic reports were less likely to consider individuals responsible. In one of the clearest demonstrations of this phenomenon, subjects who viewed stories about poverty that featured homeless or unemployed people (episodic framing) were much more likely to blame poverty on individual failings, such as laziness or low education, than were those who instead watched stories about high national rates of unemployment or poverty (thematic framing). Viewers of the thematic frames were more likely to attribute the causes and solutions to governmental policies and other factors beyond the victim’s control. The preponderance of episodic frames in television news coverage provides a distorted portrayal of “recurring issues as unrelated events,” according to Iyengar. This “prevents the public from cumulating the evidence toward any logical, ultimate consequence.” Moreover, the practice simplifies “complex issues to the level of anecdotal evidence” and “encourages reasoning by resemblance — people settle upon causes and treatments that ‘fit’ the observed problems.”

Shaping the political agenda:

Shanto Iyengar looks at why we think what we do about politics in Is Anyone Responsible? But the theories and premises of his research are derived in large part from his 1987 book News That Matters (co-authored with Donald Kinder). In that book, he examines how we think about politics, suggesting that television determines what we believe to be important issues largely by paying attention to some problems and ignoring or paying minimal attention to others. “Our evidence implies an American public with a limited memory for last month’s news and a recurrent vulnerability to today’s,” Iyengar and Kinder write. “When television news focuses on a problem, the public’s priorities are altered, and altered again as television news moves on to something new.” The presidential observer Theodore White arrived at the same conclusion in his landmark book, The Making of a President: “The power of the press in America is a primordial one. It sets the agenda of public discussion; and this sweeping political power is unrestrained by any law. It determines what people will talk and think about — an authority that in other nations is reserved for tyrants, priests, parties and mandarins.”

The pro-establishment media:

Material of news, usually turns out to be the peculiar property of those in power and their attendant experts and publicists.” The conclusion he draws from this is that “political reporting, like other reporting, is defined largely by its sources.” President Johnson once quipped that “Reporters are puppets. They simply respond to the pull of the most powerful strings.” The point echoes Walter Lippmann’s classic analysis of the press, Public Opinion, in which he raised difficult questions about adequacy and the purity of media information. If the information we are getting is tainted, he asked, are we capable of performing our duty as democratic citizens? The press … is too frail to carry the whole burden of popular sovereignty, to supply spontaneously the truth which democrats hoped was inborn. And when we expect it to supply such a body of truth we employ a misleading standard of judgment. We misunderstand the limited nature of news. In their oft-quoted book Media Power Politcs (1981), David Paletz and Robert Entman argue that “by granting elites substantial control over the content, emphases, and flow of public opinion, media practices diminish the public’s power.” What this means, they concluded, was that “the mass media are often the unwitting handmaidens of the powerful.” This same conclusion is drawn by New York University’s Robert Karl Manoff in the March/April 1987 issue of Center Magazine. He maintains that one of the major problems of today’s journalism is that the press is allied with the state. “The press,” he writes, “is actually a handmaiden of power and American politics.” It reports governmental conflict only when conflict exists within the state itself. Journalists and officials share a “managerial ethos” in which both agree that national security, for instance, is best handled without the public’s knowledge.  

Objectivity:

In a persuasive 1984 essay in The Quill, Theodore Glasser, professor of journalism at the University of Minnesota, made the point that “objectivity precludes responsibility.” First … objectivity in journalism is biased in favor of the status quo; it is inherently conservative to the extent that it encourages reporters to rely on what sociologist Alvin Gouldner so appropriately describes as the “managers of the status quo” — the prominent and the elite. Second, objective reporting is biased against independent thinking; it emasculates the intellect by treating it as a disinterested spectator. Finally, objective reporting is biased against the very idea of responsibility; the day’s news is viewed as something journalists are compelled to report, not something they are responsible for creating. . . . What objectivity has brought about, in short, is a disregard for the consequences of newsmaking.

Political consequences of the news media:

Ultimately, however, there has been very little written about the political consequences of media reporting. The failure to see journalism as a democratic means rather than an end unto itself is perhaps symptomatic of the gulf between the press and the public. Surveying the available research on the political effects of mass media, Paul Burstein at the University of Washington points out that politics is only important insofar as “political actions have important consequences. Sociologists must know this, at some level, but when studying politics they assiduously avoid focusing on consequences.” Politics is routinely taken to mean campaigns, elections, and the affairs of big government. Exceedingly few sources refer to the media’s role in facilitating public politics. If democracy requires more of us than the act of casting a vote, the media scarcely reflect that notion. As Christopher Lasch puts it: What democracy requires is public debate, not information. . . . Unless information is generated by sustained public debate, most of it will be irrelevant at best, misleading and manipulative at worst. . . . Much of the press, in its eagerness to inform the public, has become a conduit for the equivalent of junk mail. But critics of this claim, such as Paul Light, associate dean of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, maintain that it is up to the citizens to determine the agenda. In sum, journalists may take us seriously as news consumers but generally ignore our wider role as citizens. As a rule, they do not encourage communication, strengthen the public dialogue, or facilitate the formulation of common decisions. In fact, they may do just the opposite by routinely framing news in objective and episodic formats. And “even when the function of journalism is considered to be education,” in James Boylan’s words, “the public’s role is still likely to be conceived as passive.”

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Mass media and political transparency:

Without mass media, openness and accountability are impossible in contemporary democracies.  Nevertheless, mass media can hinder political transparency as well as help it. Politicians and political operatives can simulate the political virtues of transparency through rhetorical and media manipulation. Television tends to convert coverage of law and politics into forms of entertainment for mass consumption, and television serves as fertile ground for a self-proliferating culture of scandal. Given the limited time available for broadcast and the limited attention of audiences, stories about political strategy, political infighting, political scandal and the private lives of politicians tend to crowd out less entertaining stories about substantive policy questions.  Political life begins to conform increasingly to the image of politics portrayed on television. Through a quasi-Darwinian process, media events, scandals, and other forms of politics-as-entertainment eventually dominate and weed out other forms of political information and public discussion, transforming the very meaning of public discourse.  In this way the goals of political transparency can be defeated by what appear to be its central mechanisms: proliferating information, holding political officials accountable for their actions, and uncovering secrets.

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Political media:

Political media are communication vehicles owned, ruled, managed, or otherwise influenced by political entities, meant to propagate views of the related entity. A similar term, normative media, emphasizes technical and social characteristics of the media itself in shaping decisions. Harold Innis and later Marshall McLuhan,both Canadian media theorists, were influential in developing this theory. While it is simple to recognize a political medium in an official newspaper, magazine, TV channel that directly declares to belong to a group, deep concerns might regard submission of communications to political interests and impartiality of media that do not declare their party alliances. This influence is not always conspicuous and causes people to accept ideas put forth by those who wish to control communication for the good of society, or causes those who support freedom of communication and minority empowerment to oppose them. Of India’s 140-odd news channels (national plus regional/local), roughly one-third are owned by politicians, political parties or by “entities” not interested in building a news brand. These are just political vehicles and influence peddlers. As a result, companies that want to make money by running a proper news outfit end up competing with ones that have no shareholders to answer to. This hyper-competition is forcing everybody into a race to the bottom on standards. The obvious case is of Tamil Nadu, where the main political opponents fought their personal and political battles over their media networks (Jaya TV, Sun TV and now Kalaignar TV). There have been reported cases of a complete blackout of opposition reportage by Sumangali Cable network (owned by Sun TV). The more recent and lesser known case is of Fastway Cable, backed by Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and the Shiromani Akali Dal trying to monopolize the television scene in Punjab.      

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Media and democracy:

Media plays a crucial role in shaping a healthy democracy. It is the backbone of a democracy. Media makes us aware of various social, political and economical activities happening around the world. It is like a mirror, which shows us or strives to show us the bare truth and harsh realities of life. The media has undoubtedly evolved and become more active over the years. It is the media only who reminds politicians about their unfulfilled promises at the time of elections. T.V news channels’ excessive coverage during elections helps people, especially illiterates, in electing the right person to the power. This reminder compels politicians to be up to their promises in order to remain in power. Television and radio have made a significant achievement in educating rural illiterate masses in making them aware of all the events in their language. Coverage of exploitative malpractices of village heads and moneylenders has helped in taking stringent actions against them by attracting government’s attention. The media also exposes loopholes in the democratic system, which ultimately helps government in filling the vacuums of loopholes and making a system more accountable, responsive and citizen-friendly. A democracy without media is like a vehicle without wheels.   

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Informing the citizens about the developments in the society and helping them to make informed choices, media make democracy to function in its true spirit. It also keeps the elected representatives accountable to those who elected them by highlighting whether they have fulfilled their wishes for which they were elected and whether they have stuck to their oaths of office. Media to operate in an ideal democratic framework needs to be free from governmental and private control. It needs to have complete editorial independence to pursue public interests. There is also the necessity to create platforms for diverse mediums and credible voices for democracy to thrive (Parceiro, 1999). It has already been discussed that media has been regarded as the fourth estate in democracy. Democracy provides the space for alternative ideas to debate and arrive at conclusions for the betterment of society. The publicly agreed norms are weighed over that of actions on the part of economic organizations and political institutions (Barnett, 2004). This is close in essence to the concept of public sphere where rational public debate and discourse is given importance. Individuals can freely discuss issues of common concern (Tsekeris, 2008). Media plays one of the crucial roles behind the formation of public sphere (Panikkar, 2004). However, Barnett is of the opinion that in modern times the true sense of public sphere is getting eroded with the media of public debate getting transformed to mediums for expressing particular interests rather than general interests which are universally accepted. This signifies that public sphere which is essential for a vibrant democracy can actually be channelized to serve vested interests rather than public good.     

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How media impairs democracy:

It is always very disturbing when mass media tries to determine the issues on the public agenda. Often artificially and without any relation with the citizens’ real agenda and the priorities recommended by the social reality, mass media attempts to establish political priorities. This fact can be explained, among others, by the secret links between mass media and the great national or international corporations. In such cases, although introducing itself as representing a public interest, mass media actually represents the private interests. This situation can lead to manipulations of the public opinion in the direction desired by the private financial sponsors, who are looking for some market advantages or economic gains. Therefore, the social-democracy must state that the freedom of the press is not reduced to its independence in relation to the public power, but it must also include its independence in relation to the private interests.

On the other hand, the emergence of media monopolies creates the premises of reducing the number of options available to the citizen and the possibility of his subtle manipulation. The quality of information decreases and the danger of disorienting the citizen increases, as the very laws of competition on the free market are not protecting the press consumer any longer. This means, at the same time, the decrease in the quality of democracy. The crisis in democracy is mediated by irresponsible media in the following aspects:

1. Mass media makes it possible the appearance and the development of the “political show”. Electoralism means the exaltation of the elections’ importance, not as a method for the consultation of the electorate in order to identify its aspirations and expectations, but only as a method of seizing the power. The power without a mandate regarding the application of a clear program is, though, a power that cannot be exercised. On medium and long term, such a power alienates the electorate; as it creates the feeling the voters have no control over politicians (decision making and decision makers).

2. Mass media might create as well, false personalities and destroy real personalities. It might impose questionable political groups and hide compromising truths, inventing, at the same time, artificial crises.

3. Mass media sometimes could determine the spending of important amounts of money in campaign that might confuse the ordinary people and, thus, might actually encourage corruption.

4. Mass media, in a number of cases, distorts reality and induces pessimism, skepticism, distrust and an inclination towards isolation and violence in society through its mainly conflictual approaches and its search for the sensation.

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Good governance and media:

Right to information is a key to good governance. Governance is conceived as the capacity of the state, the market and the civil society, media included, “to sustain itself under the constitutional setting” in order to move “towards avowed goals, reduce the inherent cleavages among social, cultural, ecological and political systems and communities, concert sound policies, mobilize resources and maintain the sufficient level of legitimacy, transparency, credibility and accountability before the public”‘.  A governance that steers in normative order to achieve its goals- -law and order, human and national security, voice and participation and the promotion of public goods is called good governance. The World Bank defines: “Good governance is epitomized by predictable and enlightened policy making; a bureaucracy imbued with a professional ethos; an executive arm of government accountable for its actions; a strong civil society participating in public affairs; and all behaving under the rule of law”. Transparency guarantees, including the right to disclosure, can thus be an important category of instrumental freedom.  Good governance entails the principles of transparency, accountability and participation. Within this context, the state is in a key position but should not dominate. The really important players include institutions and non-governmental organizations. The news media is one of the players. It is possible for it to position itself as a driver for good governance. Media as an important source of public information could be expected to be a vehicle to encourage the promotion of the principles of good governance. Via the media, facts, events and viewpoints can be presented as information to the public. The mass media must be able to perform the function to criticize, discuss and suggest on matters of public concern, for example on the issue of corruption at various levels of government. Media coverage should strive to give an accurate, independent and critical account of a news story. This will have the effect of promoting transparency, which is one of the principles of good governance. There is no doubt that the media can contribute significantly to good governance reform. Unfortunately, a great part of the media is not fully independent, and is subject to the influences of particular interests. In this case, the news presented is no longer objective. Worse, it can be used as a tool, or even a justification for a particular argument. This is what can cause misunderstandings in the community. The media not only can act as a conduit for information dissemination, but sometimes can provoke and sway public opinion. When this happens, it may become a stumbling block to the democratic process. The media and the public are not the only players as the society moves towards good governance reform. It takes a good response from the government. In accordance with the principle of transparency, the government should provide to the media broad access to information on public policy matters. Access is of course not limited to permission to cover events and governmental activities. More than that, the government should guarantee press freedom in the true sense through a clear legal umbrella. As long as there is no clear legal umbrella, freedom of the press will not be guaranteed. And as long as there is no freedom of the press, access will be a problem, and good governance will remain a democratic living dream. Access to information, freedom of the press, and an umbrella legal instrument will together support the processes of democracy and good governance.

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The roles of the media, including the social media, in promoting good governance are being recognized by the governments and policy-makers in various countries. In the UK, a “Survey of Policy Opinion on Governance and the Media” published by BBC (2009) reveals that although the emphasis on good governance in the development agenda is questionable, “there seems to be increasing recognition of the media’s role in governance in the development community. There are also some indicators that media are being more recognized by the policy-makers as having a central role in development.”  In Thailand, the roles of the media in promoting good governance are also recognized by the government. Media reform is being conducted in the country with the hope that the media can perform their functions more efficiently. Whether or not the media can promote good governance also depends on the media themselves. A UNESCO publication on Media and Good Governance (2005) clearly reveals what the media should be, and should have, in order to perform their duty effectively. First of all, the media must be independent and pluralistic. They should be free from any kind of influence, particularly political or commercial control. Secondly, the media should be equipped with the necessary investigative capacity to bring out the truths to the public and fulfill their functions in promoting good governance. They need journalists who are professionally trained in gathering and analyzing information. In addition, they should have the infrastructure and organizational capacity to sustain an economically viable operation. Without adequate investigative capacity, the media would find it hard to satisfactorily accomplish the promotion of good governance. Achieving good governance requires the understanding and participation of every member of the society. The media, their roles, channels and content, are considered powerful enough to make this achievement a reality. But a great number of existing media channels, and the content they deliver, cannot take up this responsibility adequately because they are not accessible or affordable for all. The work of the media should not divide the citizens into the information-rich and information-poor. In other words, there must be channels which serve the right to know of the people and the interest of the public, without any control either by the state or commercial entities. Such channels must deliver diversity of content to serve the various groups of members of the society. In particular, content must be informative and useful – it can then be turned into knowledge and wisdom which the people can use to eliminate poverty, alleviate hardship, and improve quality of life in the post-modern society.

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National developmental role of media:

Basically, the media are described as performing three functions or roles of information, education and entertainment. These are the conventional social functions the media render to the public, but which is equally applicable in broader sense in national development pursuit. It could be said that through educating, informing and entertaining, the media thereby make the society, society members or the nation as well as the leadership of the very society, aware of the importance and need to undertake certain process or processes of national development.  Also attached to these three basic roles of media is another role of persuasion, where media are seen as virile tools of applying persuasive efforts to influence people’s actions towards a particular direction. The mass media are therefore seen for their role in furnishing the public with necessary information to achieve development or change goals. These roles of media in national development lie in their capacity and capability to teach, manipulate, sensitize and mobilize people through information dissemination – (Ucheanya 2003, as cited by Chinenye Nwabueze). The media also chart a course for the public in line with the agenda setting theory, thereby creating in the minds of the people, issues that should be viewed  as priority issues including development programs and policies  – (Nwabueze, 2005). Though not free of some propagandist motives, health issues such as the HIV/AIDS, Polio Immunization and the H5N1 Virus issue became the leading stories disseminated by the media. Other related issues include wars, famine, women and children health and rights as well as democratization activities receive prominence and greater attention from the media. 

Other roles of media in national development include: 

1)  The media leads to formation of attitude through establishing of values for the society or nation and thereby building a climate of change in the society or nation. Accordingly this involves the dissemination of news and information in response to a basic human need, which is the “right to know”.  

2)  Protection of Social Justice is another role of media in national development, in that the media are not only expected to record, compose or report account of events and stories just as the historians do, but the media are also expected to analyze issues and facts contained in the news, in line with the need and interest of Social Justice. The press “are subordinate to a far higher goal: the goal of ensuring that public and private conduct is directed towards the greatest possible measure of justice, in society”.

3)  In order to ensure a peaceful national coexistence and progress, the media have before them the task of discouraging such negative issues as ethnicity, dictatorship in leadership like the military rule and of course discourage embezzlement of public funds, as it is the disturbing trend presently indulged by politicians occupying positions of responsibilities and related public.

4)  The responsibility of informing people about development projects and programs is another major role of media to national development. Such programs designed and proposed by policy makers could be entirely new to the people at whom they need to be enlightened, educated and mobilized by the media.

5)  Offering solutions to problems is another developmental role of the media, in that they are not only expected criticize government officials and condemn their actions, but also as watchdogs of the society, they should review, analyze, appraise or criticize, as the case may be, activities of government agencies and programs

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Problems restricting developmental role of media:

Few among the numerous obstacles to objective media reporting and progressive functions of the media are: –

1)  Restrictions from the so-called “state security” laws and decrees tend to prevent full rights of expression and writing or broadcasting the facts as they are – by “calling a spade a spade”.

2)  Lack of adequate remuneration and protection for media practitioners by the media managers often lead to suppressing of facts and succumbing to collection of gratification (the notorious brown envelope syndrome) in order for the reporters to have their ends met or pay for transportation and facilities for sending their stories. 

3)  Crossing the interests of media owners or proprietors is another problem whereby executives of government owned media prefer to have their lead story carrying big portrait of the governor or president on the TV screen or front page of Newspaper in order to maintain their position in office. On the other hand, private media owners often have governors, ministers and commissioners friends, at which the helpless reporter willing to report facts or expose an act of dishonesty committed by any of these people could not have his story published or aired because it crosses their (media owners) personal interests.

4)  Lack of self-regulation is also a problem militating against objective and developmental output by media. The media are seen as good in criticizing others but scarcely do they criticize themselves in terms of observing the code of ethics of the profession. While a section of the media engages in bitter criticism and harassment of those in position of power to earn their recognition, others stoop down to paying cheap lip service to the authorities in order to gain gratifications. It could be said that while the former case could fetch charges of defamation in the court of law, the later could expose the practitioner to ridicule and debasement.

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Media industry, media ownership and advertisement:

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Media and finance:

 Every kind of social service behind Mass Media and media institutions has to be considered in two ways. Media is no welfare-organization to educate people. It is an industry, a big business with many influential professionals and major investment for equipment and facilities. Media unite markets, products and technology. Products can be used and recycled in multiple ways. The business involves creativity and uncertainty and concentration is its natural tendency. In fact, Media have high fixed costs and in addition it is very difficult to enter this business. To finance and maintain Mass Media this industry is dependent on advertising revenues, direct audience revenues, audience donation, auxiliary enterprises, private support and government subsidies. Advertising is the most popular way to treat high costs of the media business. And it is on newspapers that advertisers spend most money. There they have the possibility of display and classified ads. Another important financial point is the direct selling of a product to the audience. It is the last step, the delivery to the receiver.  With all these sources Mass Media business is pretty successful in the whole world. But with its big commercial importance we have to be careful with our judgments. In some cases business interest might be bigger than the interest in social service. Then, the product’s quality might be reduced, gatekeepers would provide only information in view of the quickest profit and there would be more advertising than information.

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Media economy:

Mass media had the economics of linear replication: a single work could make money. Also as an example of Riel and Neil’s theory–proportional to the number of copies sold, and as volumes went up, unit costs went down, increasing profit margins further. Vast fortunes were to be made in mass media. Corporate media is beholden to making profit. First and foremost it’s about money. Forget that there is anything about providing information to the masses so they can make good democratic choices…that looks good on the blackboard in a journalism class about ethics but its pie in the sky and that’s no lie. Mainstream media don’t report the news, they sell it. They sell it to advertisers who give them money to print ads that will get consumers to spend money. 

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Media industry:

An industry is a category of business. In the case of the media industry, the term refers to the collection of businesses that allows information to be shared. This includes operations such as radio broadcasts, websites, and newspapers. Jobs that are commonly available in media include positions for journalists, photographers, and producers. Businesses within the media industry can often be sub-categorized by their mediums. There are newspapers, magazines, and television stations. There are also radio stations, website, and podcasts. Each of these are unique forms of media, although they may all be used to share the same type of information. The media industry employs vast numbers of people in varied roles. Print media, for example, is a segment of this industry wherein people can employ their skills to be journalists, editors, and publishers. The demand for visual material provides employment opportunities for photographers and videographers. Radio affords people the opportunity to be creative directors, disc jockeys, and radio personalities.  In many places, the media industry relies heavily on protection provided in national constitutions, which often grant and protect free speech. Generally, the countries with the strongest democratic systems have the largest and most varied media industries. In many countries around the globe, censorship is a major problem. When this is the case, participants in this industry are often at risk of persecution if they attempt to disseminate information that their governments do not find favorable. Some countries even go so far as to limit the access that people in their nation have to international media. The media industry is considered to be a powerful tool if properly used. It can be used to influence masses of people. For this reason, the media industry is one toward which people commonly have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is generally understood that the media industry serves some very useful and essential functions. Some of the businesses in this category inform people of important information, such as when the radio is used to announce threatening weather or the newspaper is used to display public notices.  On the contrary, the media industry is also commonly criticized for destroying values or providing a platform for extremism. Examples of this may include instances when obscene behavior is flaunted on talk shows or racists are allowed to distribute newsletters. In some cases, the media is even accused of threatening public safety, such as when the details of classified government documents are exposed on the Internet.

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Media ownership:

A media proprietor or media mogul refers to a successful entrepreneur or businessman who controls, through personal ownership or via a dominant position in any mass media related company or enterprise consumed by a large number of individuals. Those with significant control, ownership, and influence of a large company in the mass media may also be called a tycoon, baron, or business magnate.

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Effects of Mass Media ownership on serving Public Interest:   

Information is now called “power” like money and authority. Mass media companies that exercise control over information transmitted to the masses are now seen as strong force in building public opinion. As the “fourth power” in society, mass media organizations attract attention of many scientists. Mass media ownership and its effects on different aspects of mass media performance were the subject of many studies. This topic attracts many scholars due to importance of mass media in social life of society and its ability to affect publics. Mass media are seen as a social medium that contributes to building strong nations, feelings of unity by transmitting values and norms in messages. Mass media play role of an agent of the secondary socialization process and can contribute to successful socialization of individuals into existing social life. This research addresses the question of mass media ownership effects on ability to serve the public interest in society through transmission of values, knowledge and addressing interests of different groups of people present in certain society. Serving the public interest is part of a long-term welfare policy of government; it helps to build socially healthy society. Mass media content is a product of the interaction between different interests within mass media, different roles of mass media, different sources of information, and different interests of groups outside mass media organization (McCullagh, 2002; Shoemaker, 1991; Press Freedom, 1997; Koltsova, 2001). Shoemaker (1991) builds the hierarchical model of sources that influence content of mass media. Within organization content is being affected on three levels: individual level, media routines level, and organizational level. On individual level content of media messages is affected by communicators’ personal backgrounds, experiences, attitudes, values, and beliefs and by communicators professional backgrounds, roles, ethics, and power within the organization. “Organizations must routinize work in order to control it” (Shoemaker, 1991, p. 97). These routines affect individual communicators and their way of working. On the organizational level content is affected by the economic goals of a media organization, its structure, internal policies, internal control, and organizational roles. “Individual workers and their routines must be subordinated to the larger organization and its goals” (Shoemaker, 1991, p.116). The Goals of an organization are determined by the owners of the organization. There are also effects on content of mass media messages from non-organizational levels: extramedia level and ideological level. On the extramedia level content is affected by sources of information, revenue sources, other social institutions, economic environment, and technology. Ideology addresses issues of accepted and non-accepted behavior, determines spheres of consensus and deviance. Policies in the sphere of media are introduced on the ideological level.

Effects of ownership on content:

Within an organization, factors on the organizational level are the key to understanding the presence of a certain type of content. Decisions about the target audiences and type of content are made on this level. Ownership structure, as one of the factors on the organizational level, also affects the content of mass media messages. Research usually indicates three basic types of mass media ownership: government owned (or government party owned), privately owned, and own both by government and private organizations or individuals (Press Freedom, 1997). Government-owned media outlets usually seen by social scientists as pursuing goal of social welfare and harmony, while privately owned media are seen as pursuing interests that are determined by desire to make profit, although it is not always the case. The fact that media are (partly) owned by government does not mean that channels and content are totally controlled by government. Usually, if not subsidized, these channels have to make profit, which means independence to certain extent from government ideological interests. Effects of ownership on serving the public interest are part of a bigger theme of effects of mass media ownership on content. There are number of studies that were able to determine effects of ownership on content, although there are some that present the opposite view. These studies looked at different effects in different areas. One of the areas of research that examined media ownership effects on content deals with consolidation of media, which occurred in order to pursue economic and organizational advantages. Chain ownership in the newspaper industry received a lot of attention. Studies found that the editorials of the big chain-owned newspapers were more likely to express positions on some issues and less likely to vary in positions taken than editorials of nonchain- owned newspapers (Akhavan-Majid, Rife & Gopinath, 1991). Another study found that editorial’s endorsement patterns changed when newspapers where purchased by chains (Rystrom, K., 1987). Thrift (1977) found that the editorials of the chain-owned papers tended to have less argumentative editorials on local controversial issues. The location of newspaper’s headquarters (out of state place of headquarters is the case for chain newspapers) was also found to affect the way local conflicts were presented in papers (Donohue, Olien & Tichenor, 1985). News reporting patterns were found to be connected to the type of ownership. Independently owned daily newspaper had more stories that require more reportorial efforts and used more enterprises news sources than chain-owned (Fradgley & Niebauer, 1995). A study by Olien, Tichenor, and Donohue (1988) found a strong correlation between the type of ownership and coverage (frequency and proportion) of non-local business. Another study found that the more characteristics of the corporate form of organization newspaper had, the more emphasis was placed on quality of news coverage (Demers, 1996). As a source of political information, mass media may affect public behavior on elections. Scholars examined the effects of newspaper’s consolidation on endorsement of political candidates. In a study by Wackman, Gillmor, Giano, and Dennis (1975) they found that chain owned newspapers in comparison to independent newspapers were more likely to endorse candidates for president, support the favored candidate of the press, and be homogeneous in endorsing candidates during observed election periods. The authors concluded that “chain ownership of newspapers discourages editorial independence in endorsing presidential candidates”. Another study concluded that newspaper ownership was an important factor in endorsement, although chain newspapers were found to be homogeneous to lesser extent (Gaziano, 1989). A study by Busterna and Hansen (1990) found no significant differences in endorsing the press-favored candidates. Chain-owned newspapers demonstrated even more autonomy that has been found in other research. This difference in results can be consequence of different methods as concluded by authors. A study of the effects of foreign ownership on content by Hollifield (1999) found significant differences between domestically-owned and internationally-owned newspapers in the coverage of local stories. Control for circulation size and size of newspapers did not diminished these differences. There were also studies that reported no effects of ownership on content of newspapers. For example, Akhavan-Majid and Boudreau (1995) compared the editorial role perception of chain-owned and independent newspapers. With control for the size of newspapers there was no difference in editorial role perceptions. Perception changed due to size of newspapers, not due to ownership. Some studies addressed questions about effects of ownership and the size of newspapers on space and allocation of different kinds of content. Lacy (1991) found that ownership did not have an effect on how news were allocated. Yet group-owned newspapers, when compared to independently owned ones, had shorter stories and devoted more space and stories to editorial and op-ed material. Although results of studies on effects of ownership on contents are contradictory, this area of study still attracts scientists and is among the most highly debated. Some studies did in fact show that mass media ownership has impact on the diversity of its messages on two levels:

1) Presenting different points of view or different perspectives on some issue (for example, while endorsing, news paper either endorse one favorable candidate, or presents several);

 2) Presenting a variety of issues in general.

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In a democratic society, independent media serve electorate about issues regarding government and corporate entities. Some consider the concentration of media ownership to be a grave threat to democracy. Learn about who owns vital media outlets. Social theorist Noam Chomsky argues that ownership creates an intrinsic bias in the media. Whether or not news reporters say they strive to project objectivity and professionalism in their reporting, the truth is that the news they present is a product. This product is sold to benefit the interests of a business enterprise. Thus, products created by reporters should not attempt to cripple the enterprise within which they are employed and must be created in agreement with unspoken rules or standards.

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Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media: authored by Edwards and Cromwell:

In the book Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media, authors expose the fundamental contradiction between, on the one hand, our need for information about the world and, on the other, the need of media conglomerates to deliver returns to their shareholders. Everyone knows that newspapers exist to make money, but few of us think through what this really means. For Edwards and Cromwell, commercial pressures ensure that news reaches the consumer only after passing through a sophisticated ideological filter. Most papers, for instance, must attract advertising from companies that do not want their brand associated with controversy. When the financial giant Morgan Stanley says it will cancel all ads for 48 hours if it deems editorial coverage “objectionable”, it merely articulates a threat others leave implicit. Conservatives regularly complain about the liberalism of journalists at the ABC or in the Fairfax press, but Edwards and Cromwell dismiss reporters’ personal beliefs as largely irrelevant. Whatever they think privately, journalists must cultivate good relationships with government officials and corporate spokespeople simply to do their job. When the veteran Washington reporter Helen Thomas became too strident a critic of George Bush, the White House refused to take questions from her. Media workers understand the importance of credibility with those in power – which means they generally internalise the accepted limits of dissent. “We are sure he is sincere in what he writes,” Edwards and Cromwell say of a reporter whose misdeeds they chronicle. “We don’t believe for a moment that he is . . . conforming to a conspiracy . . . We are suggesting that he is a part of a corporate media system that strongly selects for certain editors, certain journalists, certain beliefs, certain facts, certain victims and certain crimes against humanity.” That’s why Guardians of Power concentrates not on challenging Britain’s tabloids, nor its Tory broadsheets, but rather the liberal papers. It seeks to show the boundaries beyond which even progressive publications simply will not go. Edwards and Cromwell document, for instance, the way that in 2002 and 2003, reputable newspapers uncritically parroted the American claim that Saddam had expelled UN weapons inspectors – even though many of the same papers had themselves reported the withdrawal of the inspectors in 1998. 

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Media consolidation:

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Concentration of media ownership (also known as media consolidation) is a process whereby progressively fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media.  Contemporary research demonstrates increasing levels of consolidation, with many media industries already highly concentrated and dominated by a very small number of firms.  Globally, large media conglomerates include Viacom, CBS Corporation, Time Warner, News Corporation, Bertelsmann AG, Sony, Comcast, Vivendi, Televisa, The Walt Disney Company, Hearst Corporation, Organizações Globo and Lagardère Group. As of 2012, The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the US, with News Corporation, Time Warner and Viacom ranking second, third and fourth respectively.  Concentration of media ownership is very frequently seen as a problem of contemporary media and society. When media ownership is concentrated in one or more of the ways mentioned above, a number of undesirable consequences follow, including the following:

1. Commercially driven, ultra-powerful mass market media is primarily loyal to sponsors, i.e. advertisers and government rather than to the public interest.

2. Only a few companies representing the interests of a minority elite control the public airwaves.

3. Healthy, market-based competition is absent, leading to slower innovation and increased prices.

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Pros and cons of media consolidation:

Pros of Media Consolidation:

 Media for the Consumers:

What works for the consumers, works in the media. Like any other business, the purpose of the media is to earn profit and the only way they can do so, is by providing the viewers with whatever they want. So something that is popular in media stays on, while others are just chucked out. Since people are responsible for what appears in the media, it is assumed that quality media wins.

Minimal Government Control:

 If the media is consolidated, and it is people who make choices of what they want to see, the government control is minimal.

The Advantage of Converging Technologies:

 According to pro consolidation arguments, due to converging technologies the media houses are fueled by the desire to reach consumers in different and often innovative ways. This allows the user to get a phone, TV and internet from a single company, and pay a single competitively priced bill, instead of three different bills. The competition among the few media houses also ensures better and lower prices for the consumers.

 Diversification:

The diversification argument by the media houses says that with consolidation there is lesser investment risk. Therefore, a bad phase by a subsidiary of the media conglomerate can be counterbalanced by more profitable ventures. Meanwhile, the pro consolidation voice also argues that with diversification there are a number of TV channels, movie productions, newspapers, radio or the Internet offered by companies. Thus every niche is catered for, and every voice is heard.

Cons of Media Consolidation:

Lack of Competing Viewpoints and Perspectives:

One of the biggest fears in the minds of those opposing media consolidation is that the large media houses will silence alternate views, which can then lead to a decline in democratic viewpoints. It is staggering to imagine that only a handful of media houses cater to billions of viewers. They are responsible for controlling all aspects of the industry, from creation and production to delivery. This has led to lack of meaningful content and alternate viewpoints in the media. So, every channel you tune into expresses the same opinions. There is marked censorship of content, especially if it is too controversial. The lack of diversity is a direct result of monopoly in the market, and little or no healthy market-based competition.

 Money vs. Public Interest:

The lack of adequate competition also means that media houses now, run after money instead of serving public interest. Since every media house is now ensured of a large global audience, the focus shifts from providing quality services to getting more money. Innovative or risky ideas are now squelched in favor of ‘tried and tested’ methods. Moreover, with less competition, the media houses charge more and, due to the lack of alternatives, the consumer has to pay.

 Focus on Advertisers:

The commercially driven media is loyal to their sponsors and advertisers, not to the viewers. There is minimal interest in journalism and public affairs, and more concentration of lucrative genres that do quite well. As the CEO of Westinghouse put it aptly “We are here to serve advertisers. That is our raison d’être.”

Under-representation of Minorities and Women:

There is a vast under-representation of women and people of color in media. Even though women consist of 51 % of the US population, they hold less than 7 percent of all TV and radio station licenses. There is also a lack of accurate coverage and diverse programming related to women and minorities in the media.

 Biased Political Views:

 Large media houses are also blamed for their biased political views. A well-known supporter of the Republican Party is the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. In 2010, Murdoch’s News Corp. made a $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association. Of course, the company defended this. Jack Horner, a spokesman for News Corp. said “It’s patently false that a corporate donation would have any bearing on our news-gathering activities at Fox News or any other of our properties.” This is not an unusual event however. Media companies are known to support candidates and political parties. When donations of this magnitude are made, it affects and influences the content in the media as well.

Less Local News:

With the monopoly of large media businesses, the local news takes a backseat. With cross-owned media there was a marked production of total news produced locally.

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Corporate Colonisation of the Press:  

For a quarter century, former journalist Ben Bagdikian has charted the scale and scope of corporate control of the US media system. Bagdikian’s analysis reveals the detrimental effects corporate consolidation has had on the American media landscape: the erection of nearly insurmountable barriers of entry into media markets; the precipitous decline of minority owned media outlets; the homogenisation of media form and content; and the economic censorship of public expression (Bagdikian).   One of the most pronounced effects of media consolidation has been on local news and cultural production. In recent years, communities across the United States have seen locally owned and operated media outlets swallowed up by outside interests eager to maximise profits, minimise investment, and reduce overheads. Regulatory changes – most notably the Clinton-era Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996 – combined with synergies realised through new media technologies, have facilitated this latest round of media consolidation. As sociologist Eric Klinenberg notes, while market efficiencies benefit corporate media giants, local communities have lost a great deal. The local reporters, veteran TV producers and live DJs who once provided the stories, sights and sounds that made our hometowns feel like home have become endangered species in the age of Big Media, replaced by the same wire copy, digitally voice-tracked radio programs, video news releases and other canned content that runs in every market, coast to coast. (Klinenberg)  When we consider the media system in relation to the broader political economy, the significance of the communication industries to corporate ascendancy comes into sharp relief. As communication scholar Stanley Deetz observes, “the institutional relations between mass-media institutions and other corporate institutions contribute to the preeminence of the corporation as a social institution” (Deetz). It is the structural alignments within and between various sectors of the economy that have precipitated the crisis of US journalism and which pose the greatest threat to independent journalism and a free press. The institutional relationship between the media industries and other corporate enterprises is most fully realised through the practice of advertising. Pleasing corporate sponsors is of the utmost concern for the media industries because commercial advertising “pays the bills.” Corporate media, therefore, have little incentive to challenge the values, interests or practices associated with corporate institutions. While this logic makes perfect business sense, applying this same rationale to the practice of journalism is a recipe for disaster.  None of this is not to suggest that corporate elites exercise direct editorial control over working journalists. As media scholar Robert McChesney notes, the effects of corporate media ownership on journalism are far more subtle, but no less profound: “The corporate/commercial pressure on news often takes place indirectly, and is therefore less likely to be recognised as such by journalists or the public”. Yet, these pressures are manifest in the day-to-day practice of US journalism.  Indeed, in the era of corporate colonisation, news organisations are expected to do more with less. Compelled to generate profits while minimising redundancies, newsrooms across the country are cutting corners with one hand and enhancing the entertainment value of their news product with the other. Typically, this strategy involves eliminating jobs for working journalists, curtailing if not completely eliminating investigative reporting, re-purposing entertainment fare as news content, and having a growing reliance on the public relations industry for “pre-packaged” news items.  In this environment, journalists are left with few good options. Anxious to avoid antagonising commercial interests or government news sources, journalists rarely challenge people in positions of power and authority for fear of losing access to “official sources.” Instead, working journalists play it safe by taking a less confrontational stance toward elites, pursuing instead the sensational, the titillating or the trivial news item. Thus, journalists create the illusion of conflict and controversy by covering relatively inconsequential “news items” like celebrity gossip, or the sexual misconduct of politicians, while studiously avoiding substantive public policy issues.  This condition has dire consequences for our politics and culture. When the public good is subordinate to the marketplace in determining news values and priorities, journalism’s role in nurturing an egalitarian public sphere is debased. Divorced from its historic role as an incubator for an active and engaged citizenry, the contemporary practice of US journalism undermines democracy by cultivating a profound sense of apathy, cynicism, and powerlessness.

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Media and advertising: 

Media vehicle is a specific print or electronic medium employed in an advertising campaign. Advertising is a way of communicating some message, while media is the medium through which communication to the mass market is carried out. Almost always in advertising, some action is required from the target audience, but with media, not every communication requires a response. Media includes radio, TV, newspaper etc while advertising may include some of the content carried in the media types. In 2002, advertisers spend approximately $150 billion to sponsor TV and radio programs in the U.S., in the hopes of making two-to-three times as much in return from media consumers who buy their products and services. From the 1970s to the 1990s, the daily number of ads targeted at the average American jumped from 560 to 3,000. In that same time frame, the number of ads to which children were exposed increased from 20,000 per year (Adler et al., 1977) to more than 40,000 per year (Kunkel & Gantz, 1992; also see Strasburger, 2001).

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Advertising is one of the most fundamental ways, where buyers are brought into buying what they are shown to be good, with their decisions based on what they saw on television, newspapers or on billboards. For instance, a celebrity star who is a famous football player might make an image in the minds of the young people whose favorite sport is football. A positive influence might mean your health will improve because playing sports is considered a good way of daily exercising, and is a good way to mingle with peers. But as a negative influence, young people might be dragged into the adverts, where their favorite celebrity stars are seen smoking cigars, different images of violence and exposure to thousands of junk food advertisements. Gain an understanding of the influence of advertising objectives in the media. Products of mass media are often supported by revenue generated from advertising. Although advertising is often viewed in negative terms by critics of its influence, advertising can also play a positive role in society. For example, anti-tobacco campaigns have increased public awareness about the risks of smoking cigarettes. Thus, advertising is capable of being instructive and even ethical rather than simply bothersome.  

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What do cigarettes, movies, junk food, video games, alcohol, and comic books have in common?

These are all examples of products whose advertisements offend and frighten various politicians and “public interest” groups. The mass media messages we see and/or hear on television, radio, film, the World Wide Web, music CD’s, newspapers, books, and magazines are used by these watchdogs to justify restrictions on what mass media can or cannot portray for public consumption.

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Why is MSM (Mainstream Media) advertising revenue in free fall?

1. The monopoly of MSM as the sole news content providers has been broken. The news is no longer controlled by a handful of players at the world, regional and local levels. Anyone with a Facebook account is publishing content. Now, content runs the gamut from great journalism down to excruciating daily minutiae a la Twitter and Facebook. This massive explosion of information has created a nearly infinite pool of ad space, which drives down the value of a generic impression.

2. Advertising on MSM is a very poor way of reaching a targeted audience. Sure advertisers can reach 3 million people by taking an ad out in Time Magazine, but it’s much better to reach 300,000 people who actually care might be interested in the advertiser. Targeted advertising is obviously far easier online.

3. Distribution costs and margins are often very close to zero online. Some publishers are happy if their advertising revenue covers their hosting cost. Often, advertising profit isn’t the motive for small publishers. That makes it tough for MSM, with huge overhead and disgruntled shareholders, to compete.

Let’s take a look at David Carr’s statement:

“The audience that is worth $1 in print is worth a dime and sometimes a penny on the web.”

While this is certainly true from the New York Times’ perspective, it isn’t the whole story. An audience can actually worth more online, since data allows for much better targeting. The problem for large publishers is that the dollar they used to get from an audience is now split up into a hundred pennies. Small publishers are picking up those pennies and new media companies like Google and Facebook are amassing valuable data and picking up the dimes. People aren’t going to read the entire New York Times on a Sunday afternoon anymore. People will gather news from a hundred sources: RSS feeds, Facebook, Twitter, Google News etc.

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Advertisement money spent on media vs. time spent by people on media:

When most businesses consider forms of advertising that may be the best for their company, television, radio, newspaper, magazines, and internet are typically the first types of media that come to mind. While each of these advertising outlets does have its advantages, it’s Out of Home Media that is generally thought of the least, even though outdoor advertising actually reaches nearly every American, and still does not get a proportionate share of ad revenue. In the figure below you can see on the left where most businesses are spending their advertising dollars. Television and print advertising pretty much take the cake. But on the right you can see the amount of time Americans are actually spending each week using or interacting with each of these forms of media. Interesting how Outdoor only receives a 4.4% share of spending money, but the return and average time spent outside is greater than every other form of advertising with the exception of TV.

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Alcohol advertisement on media in India:

In India, there is a ban on alcohol advertisements in the mass media. Whether there should be a ban on alcohol products or not involves nuances missed by people on either side of the argument. All major alcoholic product manufacturers advertise ostensibly non-alcoholic products with the same name, logos and overall appearances as their alcoholic products. Most of the advertised products are actually non-existent. In all the cases, manufacturers are paying more for the advertisements of these proxy products in a month than the decades of sales of these products. It is a travesty of law that should be amended without any delay. If, as a society, we decide that it is acceptable to have alcohol advertisements in the mass media then that’s fine, but what is the point of allowing such an openly exploited loophole? If we decide that there should be a continuation of the ban on the advertising of alcoholic products then the manufacturers should be forced to comply with having different visible logos and names for alcoholic and non-alcoholic products.

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How does wealth influence the mass media?

Anarchists have developed detailed and sophisticated analyses of how the wealthy and powerful use the media to propagandize in their own interests. Perhaps the best of these analyses is the “Propaganda Model” expounded in Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, whose main theses is summarized here.  Chomsky and Herman’s “propaganda model” of the media postulates a set of five “filters” that act to screen the news and other material disseminated by the media. These “filters” result in a media that reflects elite viewpoints and interests and mobilises “support for the special interests that dominate the state and private activity.”

These “filters” are:

(1) The size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms;

(2) Advertising as the primary income source of the mass media;

(3) The reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and “experts” funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power;

(4) “Flak” (negative responses to a media report) as a means of disciplining the media; and

(5) “Anticommunism” as a national religion and control mechanism. 

“The raw material of news must pass through successive filters leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print,” Chomsky and Herman maintain. The filters “fix the premises of discourse and interpretation, and the definition of what is newsworthy in the first place, and they explain the basis and operations of what amount to propaganda campaigns”

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Media and privacy:

Many instances have also proven that the media has crossed its boundaries to the extent of victimizing and being judgmental of the youth today. Evidently, in the rat race of competing with their contemporaries, the delusional younger generation falls prey to the tactics of the media who uses them as tools to reach the finish line. The media puts no effort to show the right direction to the troubled youth; rather they are made spectacles of, making it impossible for them to lead a normal life. The recent MMS scandal of a 17 year old, from a renowned school of Delhi, which was blown out of proportion by our “responsible” news-hunters, forced not only the principal to throw her out of the school but also made it unfeasible for her to stay in India. Not even a single detail of the event was hidden, including names and details of those involved, which left permanent scars on her character making it impossible for her to face society. This instance along with innumerable others, stand for an explicit invasion of the law of privacy which is recognition of the individual’s right to be left alone and have his personal space inviolate.
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In early times, the law afforded protection only against physical interference with a person or his property. As civilization progressed, the personal, intellectual and spiritual facets of the individual personality gained recognition and the scope of law expanded to give protection to these needs including an individual’s privacy. The term ‘privacy’ has been defined as “the rightful claim of the individual to determine the extent to which he wishes to share of himself with the others”.  The concept of privacy is used to describe not only the individual’s right to keep things to himself but also defines the limit of the Government authorities or any kind of institution or organizations to intrude in our lives and keep a watch on us through surveillance or telephone tapping. For instance, by determining whether a pregnant woman has a right to abortion, or whether an HIV infected person has a right to marry or have children,  government authorities can exercise control over personal choices. To top it all if the media decides this to expose this to the world, then the privacy of a common man comes under threat.
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Evolution of the law of privacy has occurred due to development of media in the modern times. It is because of the media and the unbridled growth of yellow journalism that the private life of an individual has come in the public domain, thus exposing him to the risk of an invasion of his space. Moreover in the Internet age, information has become very accessible and is available with one click of the mouse. This is the reason why law should be a ‘watchdog’ to journalism and keep an eye on its procedures. But unfortunately, even today in no country does the right to privacy enjoy the status of a specific constitutional right. Privacy law has evolved largely through judicial pronouncements. Even as late as 1991, the law in England was found to be inadequate to take actions against yellow journalism. In that year, the court of appeal decided Kaye v Robertson. The case concerned a well-known actor who had to be hospitalized after sustaining severe head injuries in a car accident. At a time when the actor was in no condition to be interviewed, a reporter and a photographer from the ‘Sunday Sport Newspaper’ gained unauthorized access and took his photos. Because of no proper law, no action was taken against the reporter. Despite the lack of specific constitutional recognition, the right to privacy has long held a place in international documents on human rights such as Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
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In India, the right to privacy is not a specific fundamental right but has gained constitutional recognition. Unfortunately the right to privacy is not one of the reasonable restrictions. In India right to privacy has derived itself from- common law of torts and the Constitutional law. In common law, a private action for damages for unlawful invasion of privacy is maintainable. Under the constitutional law, the right to privacy is implicit in the fundamental rights to life and liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. Various case laws in the past are evidences, which prove the infringement of privacy by journalists. In Kaleidoscope (India) (P) Ltd. v. Phoolan Devi, the trial Judge restrained the exhibition of the controversial film Bandit Queen both in India and abroad. The trial court reached a prima facie view that the film infringed the right to privacy of Phoolan Devi, notwithstanding that she had assigned her copyright in her writings to the film producers. This was upheld by the Division Bench. The Court observed that even assuming that Phoolan Devi was a public figure whose private life was exposed to the media; the question was to what extent private matters relating to rape or the alleged murders committed by her could be commercially exploited, and not just as news items or matters of public interest. Thus, justice was rendered by preventing by intrusion of privacy into the life of the one and only Bandit Queen. 

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In the feud between the Journalists and the Law, a flimsy argument put across by the Journalists when reprimanded for their wrong doings is that there are too many restrictions put on them making a hostile environment for them to work forcing them to cross their boundaries. They conveniently blame the legal set up and the people for curtailing their right to spread awareness. However it is a fact that various provisions under law have given enough scope to journalism to do its job with full validation and earnestness. Despite that, out of sheer desperation for more exaltation, journalists have misused this freedom for their own vested interests. In Rajgopal v. State of Tamil Nadu, popularly known as the “Auto Shanker” case, the Indian Supreme Court had expressly held “the right to privacy” or the Right to be let alone is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. A citizen has a right to safeguard the privacy of his own, his family, marriage, procreation, motherhood, child bearing and education among other matters. None can publish anything concerning the above matters without his consent. If he does so, he would be violating the right of the person concerned and would be liable in action for damages. Nonetheless, the court held that the State or its officials could not impose prior restraint on publication of defamatory matter. The public officials could take action only after the publication, if it is found to be false. Position may, however, be different, if a person voluntarily thrusts himself into controversy or voluntarily invites or raises a controversy. In another landmark judgment which addressed the issue of privacy was the telephone tapping case- People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India the Court observed: “The right to privacy by itself has not been identified under the Constitution. As a concept it may be too wide and moralistic to define it judicially. Whether right to privacy can be claimed or has been infringed in a given case would depend on the facts of the said case….”

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Media transparency, accountability and regulation:

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Complaints about mass media:

Complaints about the mass media are commonplace. To begin, there is the low quality of many of the programs and articles. There is the regular portrayal of violence, given an attention out of proportion with its frequency in everyday life. More generally, most of the mass media give much more attention to bad news–crime, deaths, disasters, wars, etc.–than to positive sides of the human condition. The mass media frequently create unrealistic fears about criminals, foreign peoples and the like. “News” often is more like entertainment than information or education. News reports, especially on television, are typically given without much overt context. The latest events are described, but not what led up to them or caused them. The result is that consumers of the media learn a lot of facts but frequently don’t understand how they fit together. “Context” is the result of the assumptions behind the facts, and this context is all the more powerful because it is neither stated nor commented upon. Even the “facts” that are presented are often wrong or misleading. Powerful groups, especially governments and large corporations, shape the news in a range of ways, such as by providing selected information, offering access to stories in exchange for favourable coverage, spreading disinformation, and threatening reprisals. Advertising is another powerful influence on commercial media. Advertisers influence what sort of stories are presented. But more deeply, advertisements themselves shape people’s view of the world. They are a pervasive source of unreality, fostering insecurity and consumerism. The problems with the mass media are indeed many but, judged by the criteria of accuracy, quality and independence of special interests, some media are much better than others. Most media critics seem to believe that it is possible to promote and develop enlightened, responsive, truly educative mass media. This may be the case. Mass media by their nature have given power to a few and offer little scope for participation by the vast majority. The problem is not with media in general, but with mass media, namely those media that are produced by relatively few people compared to the number who receive them. Most large newspapers, television and radio stations fit this description. This argument suggests that reform of the media, although useful, should not be the goal. Instead, the aim should be to replace mass media by communication systems which are much more participatory. This argument does not assume that audiences are passive, uniform masses of people. Rather, it is founded on the insight that “power tends to corrupt” (Lord Acton) applied to the power that mass media give to owners, editors, sponsors and featured contributors.

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Transparency in media: 

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Transparency can be defined as, of or relating to the ability to see through a particular medium whether this be metaphorical or literal. Transparency in the media would refer to the ability of the general consuming faction to “get it” on their own. A media that had little transparency could be considered hard to figure out, contains poor documentation, is closed source, or closed information that only a handful of people have access to. Aspects of transparent media include open source documentation, open meetings, financial disclosure statements, the freedom of information legislation, budgetary review, audit, peer review, etc.  Some organizations and networks insist that not only the ordinary information of interest to the community is made freely available, but that all (or nearly all) meta-levels of organising and decision-making are themselves also published. This is known as radical transparency. These organizations include: Wikipedia, the GNU/Linux community, and Indymedia.  For instance, by this definition an article that had footnotes, references to sources, or documented opinions of professionals in whatever field the article was referring would be more transparent and forthcoming than an article composed strictly of opinion. Media transparency is the concept of determining how and why information is conveyed through various means. As used in the humanities, the topic of media transparency implies openness and accountability. It is a metaphorical extension of the meaning used a “transparent” object is one that can be seen through. In communication studies, Media is transparent when:

1. there are many, often competing, sources of information

2. much is known about the method of information delivery

3. the funding of media production is publicly available

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Biased information can affect public policy if the government tampers with the way information is portrayed in order to cast a positive or negative light on it. Depending on how transparent a news article is, one can determine its reliability and make assumptions or draw one’s own conclusions from the findings. Media transparency brings up issues concerning freedom of speech since the governments may censor what information is conveyed in order to sway public opinion. Corruption has been a major issue in the growth and progress of certain areas of the world, because there is a lack of media transparency. Transparency, publicity, and accountability are all needed in order to produce change. Just making information available may not be enough to prevent corruption if such conditions for publicity and accountability, as education, media circulation and free and fair elections are weak. Information should be reached by much of the common public if it is to catalyze change in the areas being exposed. It may be helpful to strengthen people’s capacity to act upon the information they receive through transparency, in order to increase its effectiveness.

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Media accountability:

McQuail (2005: 207) defines media accountability as voluntary or involuntary processes by which the media answer directly or indirectly to their society for the quality and/or consequences of publication. Media accountability is a phrase that refers to the general (especially western) belief that mass media has to be accountable in the public’s interest – that is, they are expected to behave in certain ways that contribute to the public good. The concept is not clearly defined, and often collides with commercial interests of media owners; legal issues, such as the constitutional right to the freedom of the press in the U.S.; and governmental concerns about public security and order. Claude-Jean Bertrand, who pioneered a comparative study of media accountability in 2000, defined media accountability instruments (MAI) as any non-State means of making media responsible towards the public« (2000: 108). His study focused on codes of ethics in 17 European countries and also included an analysis of press councils, ombudsmen and journalism reviews as examples of media accountability instruments (MAI). Ten years later, Bertrand’s list of MAIs requires considerable extension since the Internet, and particularly the social web, has profoundly altered the practices of media accountability. Existing definitions of media account-ability may also need to be reconsidered. Following Russ-Mohl (2003) and Fengler (2008b), MAIs in the digital age can be classified as:

• Established instruments of media accountability: press councils; ombudsmen; media journalism in trade journals; media criticism in the mass media; also letters to the editor, correction boxes etc.;

• Innovative instruments of media accountability emerging online: such as editorial weblogs (e. g. on the news site of the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting); websites monitoring news content (e. g. the British Mail Watch); webcasts of internal critique sessions or team meetings (as practiced, for instance, in the newsroom of the US daily The Spokesman Review); online ombudsmen (such as the German Bronski from the daily Frankfurter Rundschau); and the media-critical activities on Twitter and Facebook.

Clearly, some of these innovative instruments are unique to the web, others – like online ombudsmen or online press councils – replicate existing offline formats. Journalistic codes of ethics and professional norms are to be considered not as instruments, but as informal institutions constraining media professionals’ behavior.  According to Bertrand (2000: 151), the aim of media accountability is to improve the services of the media to the public; restore the prestige of media in the eyes of the population; diversely protect freedom of speech and press; obtain, for the profession, the autonomy that it needs to play its part in the expansion of democracy and the betterment of the fate of mankind.  

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Media accountability and the Internet: 

Probably the most interesting, and challenging, aspect of studying media accountability today is the analysis of the status quo and possible impact of online MAIs. The Internet now offers an almost endless array of new venues for pluralistic debates about journalism, at high speed and low cost. Thus, the role of the public in the process of holding the media accountable will probably change profoundly and require new concepts of media accountability. Before the advent of the digital age, Bertrand correctly emphasized the importance of self-regulation by media owners and media professionals, pointing out that media consumers often prove too apathetic or unorganized to become involved in media accountability (Bertrand 2000: 19). Therefore, Bertrand placed the audience on the receiving end of media accountability, noting that media accountability shall improve the services of the media to the public and restore the prestige of media in the eyes of the population (Bertrand 2000: 151). Holding a passive image of the public in mind, 20 scholars considered media criticism mainly as a prerequisite for making a better-informed media consumption choice in the past. But to date, several press councils across Europe do not include representatives of the audience (cf. Fengler et al. in print; Puppis 2009). The Internet and especially the Web 2.0 offer a mass of new venues for citizens to become actively engaged in the debate about the quality of media content. The Internet provides the audience with new instruments to reinforce journalistic norms (cf. Fengler 2008b). Via blogs, Facebook and Twitter, comment functions, the websites of online ombudsmen and the like, members of the audience can easily communicate and comment on the quality of journalistic products in a digital public sphere. The inclusion of the audience into the media accountability process via the Internet is particularly important with regard to media systems operating under tight political constraints. In many transformation and developing countries, the government heavily restricts the media profession, which cannot thus be expected to be an effective self-critic. Furthermore, in developing Puppis’ (2007) model of co-regulation, researchers suggest a new audience-inclusive perspective on media accountability in the digital age. This approach, mirrored in Karmasin’s concept of media stakeholders (1998), includes not only groups defined as interested parties (journalists, media managers), but also citizens as having a similarly high interest in accountable and transparent media. Therefore, researchers suggest referring to a new model of media accountability in the digital age as seen in the figure below:

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Media accountability instruments (MAI):

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Media accountability instruments are defined as any informal institution, both offline and online, performed by both media professionals and media users, which intends to monitor, comment on and criticize journalism and seeks to expose and debate problems of journalism:

• at the individual level (e. g. plagiarism of a single journalist, misquotations in an article),

• at the level of media routines (e. g. the acceptance of corruption among journalists),

• at the organizational level (e. g. PR influence on editorial decisions in a newsroom), and

• at the extra-media level (e. g. state repressions against journalism).

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Media Accountability Systems (MAS):

A media accountability system (MAS) is any kind of means used to ensure that media are socially responsible, a way of inducing media and journalists to respect the ethical rules set by the profession. All MAS aim at improving news media, but they are extremely diverse:

Individuals (e.g. ombudsmen or in-house readers’ representatives)

Groups of people (e.g. contents evaluation commissions)

Regular meetings (e.g. local press councils)

Single documents (e.g. codes of ethics)

Small media (e.g. journalism reviews)

A particular operation (e.g. an ethical audit)

A long process (e.g. a university education or in-depth research)

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Media accountability systems have several purposes:

1. Criticism, the easiest and most common method to improve the media.

2. Monitoring, needed now because media products are so numerous and short-lived.

3. Access to the media, both in the sense that everyone should be able to use a wide range of media and in the sense that every group in the population must be able to broadcast information.

4. Training, the long-term solution to most media problems: both the education of professionals and the sensitisation of citizens.

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Some MAS are born within the media (like a correction box); others develop outside (like a journalism review); while some involve the cooperation of media and public (like a press council). Admitting to mistakes is always difficult, especially in an industry whose function includes furnishing the public with reliable information about events and issues that affect their lives. But publicly acknowledging failure, setting the record straight, and seeking to ensure that such errors will not recur is one of the most effective ways of strengthening trust between the public and the media.

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Media accountability systems (MAS) are grouped as follows:

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Institutions of media accountability:

In democratic societies, where press freedom and freedom of expression are essential elements of the constitutions, journalism is regulated to only a small extent by laws, usually covering issues of libel, protection of youth and the right of reply. New laws, being introduced in several European countries in recent years with the aim to prevent terrorism, may have a certain impact on the freedom of journalism in the long term. Diversity of opinion is ensured to varying degrees across Europe by media competition law, while the state, as Claude-Jean Bertrand (2000: 108) noted, should not participate in controlling or monitoring the news media in a democracy, except by delivering the threats that media often need to start the process of self-regulation« – which often happened throughout Europe in the latter half of the 20th century.

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Media regulation:

Media regulation is the control or guidance of mass media by governments and other bodies. This regulation, via law, rules or procedures, can have various goals, for example intervention to protect a stated “public interest”, or encouraging competition and an effective media market, or establishing common technical standards. The principal targets of media regulation are the press, radio and television, but may also include film, recorded music, cable, satellite, storage and distribution technology (discs, tapes etc.), the internet, mobile phones etc.  Of increasing importance is the internet, which can now be regarded as a `mass medium’ in its own right on the grounds of its gradual diffusion to majorities in many countries and its use for a number of public communication functions in the sphere of both entertainment and information. The boundary between public and private communication is an important one from the point of view of regulation, but it is much less easy to identify than in the past, especially in relation to the internet which serves as means of personal communication as well as a means of dissemination and form of publication. To some extent, the same applies to mobile phones. Regulation refers to the whole process of control or guidance, by established rules and procedures, applied by governments and other political and administrative authorities to all kinds of media activities. Thus regulation is always a potential intervention in ongoing activities, usually for some stated “public interest” goal, but also to serve the needs of the market (for instance, by supporting competition) or for reasons of technical efficiency (for instance, setting technical standards). Regulation takes many forms, ranging from clauses in national constitutions and laws to administrative procedures and technical specifications. Regulation can be internal as well as external. In the former case, we are usually speaking of `self-regulation’, where internal controls are applied, sometimes in response to public pressure or criticism from outside.

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As seen in the figure above, the majority of potential conflicts in the field of journalism, such as inappropriately sensationalistic, discriminatory or biased reporting, are covered not by laws as formal institutions, but by professional journalistic norms and codes of ethics. The latter are considered as informal institutions (cf. North 1990) and also serve to co-ordinate individuals’ activities. However, adherence to norms as informal institutions cannot be reinforced in court, but can only occur on a voluntary basis.

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Why are media regulated?

There is a contradiction intrinsic to the notion of regulating what are supposed to be the free means of expression and information in a modern society. Regulation by its very nature sets limits to freedom, which is the most basic principle of democratic societies. At the very least, this means that there have to be clear and convincing reasons for regulation, and although we can give general justifications for regulation that help to reconcile it with principles of freedom and democracy, we cannot escape from this underlying tension. There is no single or simple answer to the question `why regulate?’ and often the surface reasons given conceal other purposes (especially the interests of the state). Even so, six general reasons for media regulation can be proposed, as follows:

1. The management of what is arguably the key economic resource in the emerging `information society’, with a very high dependence on all forms of communication.

2. The protection of public order and support for instruments of government and justice.

3. The protection of individual and sectional rights and interests that might be harmed by unrestricted use of public means of communication.

4. The promotion of the efficiency and development of the communication system, by way of technical standardization, innovation, connectivity and universal provision.

5. The promotion of access, freedom to communicate, diversity and universal provision as well as securing communicative and cultural ends chosen by the people for themselves.

6. Maintaining conditions for effective operation of free markets in media services, especially competition and access, protection of consumers, stimulating innovation and expansion.

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Media regulation: time to turn the mirror of transparency?

We should fret less about state versus self regulation and think much more carefully about how best to protect speech. This was the lesson of the Centre for Ethics and Law’s annual lecture on 28 November, 2012, which considered the question of media freedoms and media standards. Baroness O’Neill offered a framework of regulation based on the governance of media processes, not content.  In doing so, Baroness O’Neill argued that hitherto the focus has been on the right of the media to ‘freedom of expression’ rather than the needs of their audience. However, if we change our focus from the producer to the audience, and view media content as communication, we find normative justification for regulating the process by which such communications are produced, while maintaining the fundamental principle of press independence. Against this framework, Baroness O’Neill discussed three classic propositions offered in support of media freedom, and argued that only the last withstood scrutiny. The first relies on John Stuart Mill’s assertion that freedom of expression should only be curtailed when there is a risk of harm to others. Yet, Baroness O’Neill argued, media corporations have no ‘self’ to express. Moreover, while this model of self-expression arguably provides helpful guidance when considering harm in individual situations, it offers little assistance when looking at formulating public policy. The second argument turns to Milton’s suggestion that the protection of speech (even falsehoods) is needed for the sake of discovering truth; that truth can be revealed by allowing false claims to contend with true ones. Yet, this truth-seeking argument can be simplistic in the context of the media – the content of which is often not aimed at truth seeking (crossword puzzles, cartoons and horoscopes to name but a few). However, this second argument is not entirely without application to the media, as it does highlight that other truth-seeking institutions (such as universities and courts) are subject to speech regulation. In this regard, we can draw on the disciplines that these institutions are subject to (for example, the testing and checking of evidence), to provide guidance when looking at the regulation of investigative journalism, an aspect of the media that does have truth seeking at its core. Thus, we turn to the third argument, which Baroness O’Neill argued does provide support and guidance for the future regulation of the media. That is, by focusing on media as a form of communication (not self-expression or pure truth seeking), we find justification to address the needs of the audience to that communication as well as the needs of the media as producers of that information. Importantly, communication must be capable of being accessible, intelligible and assessable. It is this last test of assessability that provides the framework for regulating, not the content of media (which carries with it familiar concerns), but its processes.

Baroness O’Neill proposed five ways in which the media process could be regulated; namely the requirement for media to be open about:

(i) payments to others

(ii) payments from others

(iii) personal interests

(iv) mistake and errors

(v) most sources.

In presenting these recommendations, Baroness O’Neill made the salient point that in suggesting these process requirements, “are we not simply turning the mirror of transparency that the media has so often demanded of others on themselves”?  Media regulation is, understandably, an emotive issue that has implications for a wide range of stakeholders and the lecture generated lively debate. In response, Gill Philips acknowledged that with the power of the media comes responsibility and outlined how certain news groups were already responding to most, if not all, of Baroness O’Neill’s suggestions. Professor Ian Hargreaves emphasized the difficulty of applying the fifth proposal (that relating to sources) to the highly rapid and often necessarily informal pursuit of truth involved in the work of investigative journalism. In particular, he explained that journalism is a “rough and ready” business and warned against the risk of the debate becoming “too highfalutin for its own good”. Thus, we see the difficulty of the task, how do we balance the need to maintain the independence of the media and the difficulty of genuine investigative journalism with the rights of its audience to be able to properly assess its content?

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Self -regulation and media:

Self-regulation has been portrayed as superior to government regulation for addressing problems of new media such as digital television and the Internet. A study reviews the literature on self-regulation to define what is meant by the term, to identify the purported advantages and disadvantages of self-regulation, and to identify the conditions needed for its success. It then analyzes the effectiveness of self-regulation by examining instances where self-regulation has been employed in connection with media. After describing and analyzing past uses of self-regulation in broadcasting, children’s advertising, news, alcohol advertising, comic books, movies, and video games, this study concludes that self-regulation rarely lives up to the claims made for it, although in some cases, it has been useful as a supplement to government regulation. The study identifies five factors that may account for the success or failure of self-regulation. These include industry incentives, the ability of government to regulate, the use of measurable standards, public participation, and industry structure. Applying these five factors to digital television public interest responsibilities and privacy on the Internet, this study concludes that self-regulation is not likely to be successful in these contexts.

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Is self-regulation in Indian media a farce?

Almost all serials show women in roles that are not aspirational. In an advertisement for a brand of pizza owned by a multinational company, a father tempts his 5 year old child to have a pizza. A man in a popular deodorant ad sees a beautiful woman in a pub and says ‘taken’. Kareena Kapoor calls herself ‘tandoori murgi’ good enough to wash down with alcohol in the Fevicol item song. And the very recent utterings from a well-known singer who is also a doctor, first wondered why IIT campuses always have a dearth of beautiful women, then immediately reassured the male IIT students that they shall all end up getting life partners who shall not only be beautiful but shall also feed them rotis. Self-regulation is conspicuous by its absence. Everyone claims that self-regulation is the best regulation. Everybody claims they are aware of what their limits are. But nobody seems to exercise it well – whether it is an individual or an institution, general entertainment channels or news channels, advertising or films. One does not know if awareness of self-regulation comes with an understanding of what really must be regulated. In most of these cases above, quite a few of us do not even know if the thing portrayed needed regulation in the first place. The fact that the Mood Indigo incident had many claiming that too much is being made out of a small incident, itself shows that not many actually understood what was so wrong with what the good doctor said. Self-regulation is, doubtless, the best solution, but unfortunately, it has failed miserably. There are many celebrities who understand the extent of their influence on the masses and act responsibly. But some like Kareena only see it as a ‘clean’ item number as she was not twerking provocatively. The words in the song, however, reinforce the already abominable gender stereotypes that the lady should have refused. The question here is, did she even think of raising an objection? When it comes to broadcasters, generally they argue that viewers are the best judges. Viewers’ choice is important, of course, but not ultimate. As a viewer, you made a choice to watch and be inspired by Udaan while there were other great serials like Star Trek, Karamchand etc that were also televised at the time. A viewer chooses from amongst the fare she/he is provided. Imagine if everything that is shown is as plebian as today’s daily soaps, appealing to the lowest common denominator in an attempt to get TRPs – we are bound to end up morally and creatively a bankrupt society that valorizes trivialities of life. Some argue that art imitates life and they are merely portraying what they see in real life on reel life – even if they are the trivial things that make life. Those who take recourse in this justification are merely trying to hide their creative inadequacies. If patriotism is the last resort of a scoundrel, imitating life in the name of creativity may be another for the unimaginative. When did a health-conscious parent ever tempt his child with junk food like pizza, especially when the child herself is unwilling? When in real life does a self-respecting woman announce she is meat for the lascivious male gaze? Mass media is a powerful tool in one’s hands. One can shape the thinking of a society with inspiring ideas and oeuvres. Merely by showing a slice of real life without a modicum of creative thinking or ingenuity is perhaps doing a disservice not only to their work of art but also to the society at large. General entertainers – advertising, television or films may perhaps be the biggest unimaginative and irresponsible scoundrels when they refuse to self regulate, unwittingly reinforce stereotypes and do not produce creative works of art. They often fall prey to formulas that may have worked in the past. They must remember that great power when misused grossly becomes a grave irresponsibility.

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Can Indian media reject regulation?

 Indian Media people often talk of self-regulation. But media houses are owned by businessmen who want profit. There is nothing wrong in making profits, but this must be coupled with social responsibilities. Media owners cannot say that they should be allowed to make profits even if the rest of society suffers. Such an attitude is self-destructive, and it is the media owners who will suffer in the long run if they do not correct themselves now. The way much of the media has been behaving is often irresponsible, reckless and callous. Yellow journalism, cheap sensationalism, highlighting frivolous issues (like lives of film stars and cricketers) and superstitions and damaging people and reputations, while neglecting or underplaying serious socio-economic issues like massive poverty, unemployment, malnourishment, farmers’ suicides, health care, education, dowry deaths, female foeticide, etc., are hallmarks of much of the media today. Astrology, cricket (the opium of the Indian masses), babas befooling the public, etc., are a common sight on Television channels. Paid ‘news’ is the order of the day in some newspapers and channels where you have to pay to be in the news.  Things are so bad that politicians in some places pay money to journalists who attend their press conferences, and sometimes even to those who do not, to ensure favourable coverage. One TV channel owner told me that the latest Baba (who is dominating the scene nowadays) pays a huge amount for showing his meetings on TV. Madhu Kishwar, a very senior journalist herself, said on Rajya Sabha TV that many journalists are bribable and manipulable. The media claims self-regulation. But by what logic?  How can the News Broadcasters Association or the Broadcast Editors Association regulate TV channels driven by profit motive and high TRP ratings?  Almost every section of society is regulated. Lawyers are a free profession, but their profession is regulated inasmuch as their license can be suspended or cancelled by the Bar Council for professional misconduct. Similarly the licenses of doctors, chartered accountants, etc., can be suspended/cancelled by their regulatory bodies. Judges of the Supreme Court or the High Court can be impeached by Parliament for misconduct. But the media claims that no action should be taken against it for violating journalistic ethics. Why? In a democracy everyone has to be accountable, but the media claims it should be accountable only to itself …The NBA (News Broadcasters Association) and BEA (Broadcast Editors Association) claim self-regulation. Let me ask them: how many licenses of TV channels have you suspended or cancelled till now? So far as we know, only one channel was awarded a fine, at which it withdrew from the body, and then was asked to come back. How many other punishments have you imposed? Let us have some details, instead of keeping everything secret. Let the meetings of the NBA and BEA be televised so as to ensure transparency and accountability (which Justice Verma has been advocating vociferously for the judiciary). Let me quote from an article by Abhishek Upadhyaya, Editor, Special Projects, Dainik Bhaskar:  “It appears that the BEA was founded to collectively use intimidatory tactics in favour of a select few players after NBA failed to do so. The NBA is so weak, so feeble in its exercise of power that it can’t confront intimidation by its own members. The India TV case is an example of this. The NBA, in the past, had given notice to India TV for deceptively recreating a US-based policy analyst’s interview. It slapped a penalty of Rs 100,000 on the channel which then walked out of the Association. The group of broadcasters found themselves completely helpless, couldn’t take any action and finally surrendered meekly before the channel. The offending channel issued a statement saying that its return has come after “fundamental issues raised by the channel against the disregard to NBA’s rules and guidelines were appreciated by the association’s directors…”  The head of India TV, Rajat Sharma, then proceeded to join the board of NBA, and the channel’s managing editor, Vinod Kapri, returned to the Authority in the eminent editors’ panel! “This was the turning point in the so-called self-regulation mechanism of electronic media. It became clear that all concerned had made an unwritten, oral understanding not to raise a finger on their own brethren in future. BEA was the next step in this direction, formed on 22 August, 2009 with a few electronic media editors in the driving seat. Since its inception this body has been irrationally screaming in the interest of a select few. The editors of this body announced some tender sops from time to time to publicise its good image and thwart any regulatory attempt in advance”. If the broadcast media claims self-regulation, then on the same logic everyone should be allowed self-regulation. Why then have laws at all, why have a law against theft, rape or murder? Why not abolish the Indian Penal Code and ask everyone to practice self-regulation? The very fact that there are laws proves that self-regulation is not sufficient; there must also be some external regulation and fear of punishment. Except wise men and women, who else has self-regulation? Is a common man regulating himself? Is he saying to himself – I should not buy cigarettes; I must buy proper bus/train ticket if I’m using a bus/train to travel; I must flush the public toilet after I use it and close the door; I must fight back if my telecom service provider deducts amount from my account for “not selling” something to me… All these media persons are from amongst us. How can they be self-regulating? Self-regulation is all a myth. All these people should know, up to what extent they can indulge in somebody’s lives/minds and affect their future. They have already damaged a huge number of the otherwise innocent people of villages and towns in India.

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Hypothetical experiment of self-regulation:

Let us imagine that all TCs (ticket checkers) of Indian railways have gone on indefinite strike. How many Indian people would still buy tickets for journey in railways?  Very few indeed. People buy railway tickets not because it is their duty to buy tickets but because there is fear of being caught without ticket while travelling. If media is allowed to propagate nonsense without fear of being caught, we are heading for anarchy. That is what India has become.   

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Ethics and media:

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Media ethics codes are delineated below:  

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The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics sets guidelines for the profession of journalism under the philosophies of their mission statement: “It is the role of journalists to provide this information in an accurate, comprehensive, timely and understandable manner.” The Code of Ethics includes four main sections:

1) Seek Truth and Report It;

2) Minimize Harm;  

3) Act Independently;

4) Be Accountable.

The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of journalists, regardless of place or platform, and is widely used in newsrooms and classrooms as a guide for ethical behavior. The code is intended not as a set of ‘rules’ but as a resource for ethical decision-making. It is not — nor can it be under the First Amendment — legally enforceable.” (Society of Professional Journalists , Code of Ethics) Therefore, the Code is only considered to be a voluntary set of guidelines and is backed by no action for investigating complaints or enforcing discipline.

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Media ethics in India:

By “Ethics and Media” we generally discuss the ethics in journalism which influences the mindset of people and moulds the society. Starting from weather forecast to “what will be your future?” It tells you anything and everything. With such an impact any misconduct or irresponsible act can not only affect but shake the very base on which we have laid out our lives. Sadly this is what happening. So much power has come into their hands that they have started taking advantage of the faith and liability of people. It has given away its base to the cheap “money making” business. False stories are made huge sensation and money stops the news of many high class business people and politicians indulged in illegal practices. Cheap news are made highlight. Flooding of Amitabh Bachchan’s house is news but so many villages smashed by the flood is not covered as news. SRK’s protein diet to get 6 packs is news but the plight of millions in starvation is not news. They clearly show what will make people stick to their channels or get a copy of their newspaper everyday. Ethics in Indian media is lacking so much so that people have now started to question its credibility. Without claiming of being original, said “with great power comes great responsibility.”  With more than 70000 newspapers and 140 news channels running in the India can’t a common man turn to any one of 70140 to get original ‘unmade’ news, to know exactly how is his life going to be altered the next day ?     

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Press Councils (PC):

Originally, the idea was Swedish (1916). It reappeared in 1928 in a report of the International Labor Organization, then in the International Federation of Journalists (FIJ) in 1931.The Hutchins Commission picked up the idea of a national council in 1947. And in1953 Great Britain set up its Press Council which was to become a model the world over. There are almost as many formats as there are press councils. In Canada, for instance, because of the size of the country, they were set up at province level. Councils differ by the circumstances of their birth, their initiators, the number of their members, their procedures, their budget or their prerogatives. To make the picture clearer, they can be classified as follows.

But a warning first: there are pseudo-councils that include representatives of government: their mission is to gag the newsmedia. Also there are some semi-councils: those are handicapped by the absence of lay members. At best, there were organized jointly by publishers and journalists, as in Germany and Austria. More often, they represent only one group, the publishers in Japan, the journalists in francophone Belgium.

The true councils include media users, for one third to one half of the total membership. Ideally, such PCs should use all possible means to improve the press. A press council is expected:

(1) To preserve the established freedom of the press.

(2) To maintain the character of the press in accordance with the highest professional and commercial standards.

(3) To consider complaints about the conduct of the press or the conduct of persons and organisations towards the press; to deal with these complaints in whatever manner might seem practical and appropriate and record resultant action.

(4) To keep under review developments likely to restrict the supply of information of public interest and importance.

(5) To report publicly on developments that may tend towards greater concentration or monopoly in the press (including changes in ownership, control and growth of press undertakings) and to publish statistical information relating thereto.

(6) To make representations on appropriate occasions to the Government, organs of the United Nations and to press organizations abroad.

(7) To publish periodical reports recording the Council’s work and to review from time to time, developments in the press and the factors affecting them.

Unfortunately, up to now, councils have pursued only two missions at most:

(1) help the press in its fight for its freedom; and

(2) help the press render accounts to the public.

And they often limit themselves to the second.

A council should be capable of initiating cases, as an effect of closely monitoring the media.

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Overloaded media:

Our world today is increasingly driven by a combination of information and entertainment values, and these are both promoted by the explosion of different means of communication, especially electronic communication such as satellite TV and Internet. This means the market for information is extremely competitive and is characterized by the following:

1. Overload on the audience: Most people today, even in many developing countries, have access to scores of information sources in their homes and offices, including television, radio, internet and others. The audience is over-loaded with options, so if you want to catch someone’s attention via the mass media you have to produce quality material that is deemed appropriate to use by journalists and deemed worth reading or viewing by the audience.

2.  Overload on the mass media: Most journalists are flooded with sources of information, press releases, story ideas and requests for coverage. This means that if you want to attract a journalist’s or editor’s attention and get coverage in their publication or on their channel, you have to produce quality information and PR materials that are credible and that catch the press’s attention.

3.  Overload on funders and advertisers: Those people who pay money to the mass media or to non-governmental organizations – advertisers and funders – are also flooded with more requests than they can meet. So it is critically important for NGOs today to produce high quality work if they wish to attract funds from donors or support from companies that have the option to spend their money on direct advertising and promotion.

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Significance of Research in Mass Media:

Mass media denotes a section of the media specifically designed to reach a very large audience such as the population of a nation state. Mass media are defined as media which have their proper program and constitute their own audience. Mass media research, accordingly, deals with the production of programs and the consumption of the audience. For both perspectives, research topics are justified, data sources are introduced, and recommendation for the research infrastructure are given. Research is an attempt to discover something. The importance of research becomes clear when we understand something about business (although this understanding also relates to everyday personal life such as relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.)  Researchers are the people who find out what people want and need so that decision-makers can give it to them. Researchers also get involved in the other two steps of the process. Researchers find out the best way to accomplish desires of what people want. Research is involved in every step of the process. And regardless of whether we are involved in; writing, production, talent, advertising, distribution or any other area, research is involved. There is no area of mass media that is not affected by research. Research can be very informal, with few, if any, specific plans or steps, or it can be formal, with the researcher following highly defined and exactly procedures. All research, whether formal or informal, begins with a basic question or proposition about a specific phenomenon. These questions can be answered to some degree with well-designed research studies. Research helps us to learn the best way to collect information and analyze it. For radio program, research help to understand the target audience, audience’s interest. Research in mass media is used to verify or refute gut feelings or intuition for decision makers. Although common sense is sometimes accurate, media decision makes need additional objective information to evaluate problems, especially when they make decisions that involve large sums of money.  Research is not limited only to decision making situation. It is also widely used in theoretical areas to attempt to describe the media, to analyze media effects on consumers, to understand audience behavior, and so on. Everyday, there are references in the media to audience surveys, public opinion polls, growth projections or status reports of one medium or another, or advertising or public relations campaigns. The explosion of mass media research is mainly attributable to the rapidly developing technology of the media industry. Because of this growth in research, both applied and theoretical approaches have taken on more significance in the decision-making process of the mass media and in our understanding of media.  Research in media can be done in various ways like qualitative research, quantitative research, content analysis, surveys, etc. The effectiveness of messages that are sent by mass media is measured by different research methods which help to improve its content and introduce itself in better way.
Research is used extensively in all of the mass media:
• Electronic media research provides information about what audience likes and dislikes, analyses of different types of programming, demographic and lifestyle information about the audience.
• Print- It does research in readership, circulation, management, etc.
• Advertising and public relations- It does research on copy testing (research on the effectiveness of advertising), reach and frequency, campaign assessment (success of an ad campaign), public relations, etc.
• Internet- It is useful for on-line research, website research, music testing, etc.
It is because of research in media, we have been able to grow media as an industry. Research has made a significant development in the field of media. It helps us get new information. It has helped to use new technology for its development. It is only due to research, we get valid knowledge that we can prove and trust it without any hesitation. Therefore, for all these reasons, research is very significant in mass media.  

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Media democracy:

Media democracy is a set of ideas advocating reforming the mass media, strengthening public service broadcasting, and developing and participating in alternative media and citizen journalism. The stated purpose for doing so is to create a mass media system that informs and empowers all members of society, and enhances democratic values. It is a liberal-democratic approach to media studies that advocates the reformation of the mass media with an emphasis on public service broadcasting and audience participation, through the use of citizen journalism and alternative media channels. A media democracy focuses on using information technologies to both empower individual citizens and promote democratic ideals through the spread of information.  Additionally, the media system itself should be democratic in its own construction shying away from private ownership or intense regulation. Media democracy entails that media should be used to promote democracy as well as the conviction that media should be democratic itself; media ownership concentration is not democratic and cannot serve to promote democracy and therefore must be examined critically.  The concept, and a social movement promoting it, has grown as a response to the increased corporate domination of mass media and the perceived shrinking of the marketplace of ideas. The term also refers to a modern social movement evident in countries all over the world which attempts to make mainstream media more accountable to the public they serve and to create more democratic alternatives.

A media democracy advocates:

Replacing the current libertarian media model with one that operates democratically, rather than for profit

Strengthening public service broadcasting

Incorporating the use of alternative media into the larger discourse

Increasing the role of citizen journalism

Turning a passive audience into active participants

Using the mass media to promote democratic ideals

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Critics of media democracy note that in order for the system to function properly, it assumes each member of society to be an educated and active participant in the creation of media and exchange of information. In countries with a high illiteracy rate, for example, it would be next to impossible for average citizens to take part and fully engage with media, and adjust their behaviour accordingly in society.  Instead of promoting democratic ideals, this would in turn fracture society into an upper-class that actively participates in creating the media, and a lower-class that only consumes it, leaving individuals open to the manipulation of information or media bias. Although many media outlets are privately owned entities, the journalists whom they employ are subject to intense training, as well as a strict code of ethics when reporting news and information to the public. Because a media democracy relies heavily on public journalism, alternative media, and citizen engagement, there is the potential that all information exchanged be treated as equal by the public. Not only would this negatively affect an individual’s agency in a democratic society, but run counter to the notion of a free press that serves to inform the public.  

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Beyond mass media:

Mass media are inherently incompatible with a participatory society because of their mass character, not just because of government control or corporate influence. Mass media can be abandoned and replaced by participatory media organised as networks, such as telephone and computer networks. Strategies to supersede mass media might include changing one’s own media consumption patterns, participating in alternative media and using nonviolent action against the mass media.

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Participatory media:

In order to better understand the inherent undemocracy of mass media, it is useful to imagine a communications system that allows and fosters participation by everyone. David Andrews (1984) did this with his concept of “information routeing groups” or IRGs. His discussion predated the vast expansion of computer networks and is worth outlining in its original form. He imagined a computer network in which everyone is linked to several interest groups, with each group having anywhere from perhaps half a dozen up to several hundred people. An interest group might deal with anything from growing apples to racism. Each time a person makes a contribution on a topic, whether a short comment, a picture or a substantial piece of writing, they send it to everyone in the group. A person receiving a message could, if they wished, post it to other groups to which they belonged. Andrews called each of the groups an IRG. In a network of IRGs, everyone can be a writer and publisher at the same time. But there are no guaranteed mass audiences. If a contribution is really important or exciting to those who receive it, they are more likely to post it to other groups. In this way, a piece of writing could end up being read by thousands or even millions of people. But note that this requires numerous individual decisions about circulating it to further groups. In the case of the mass media, a single editor may make the decision to run or stop an item. In the case of IRGs, lots of people are involved. By deciding whether or not to forward an item to another group, each person acts somewhat like an editor. A system of IRGs can be self-limiting. If a group has too many active members, then each one might be bombarded with hundreds of messages every day. Some might opt out, as long as there was someone who would select pertinent messages for them. This person then acts as a type of editor. But note that this “editor” has little of the formal power of editors in the mass media. In an IRG system, anyone can set themselves up as an editor of this sort. Members of this “editor’s” IRG can easily look at the larger body of contributions, should they so wish. One of the main reasons why the IRG editor has relatively little formal power is that there is no substantial investment in terms of subscriptions, advertisers, printing equipment or salaries. Participating in an IRG is something that can easily be done in a few hours per week. Investments are lower and positions are less entrenched. An IRG editor will maintain an audience only as long as the editing is perceived to be effective. Similarly, quitting is relatively painless. To anyone familiar with computer networks, especially the Internet, it may seem that to talk about IRGs is simply an awkward way of describing what is actually taking place on existing networks. Indeed, Andrews’ account of IRGs can be interpreted as a description of what was to take place on Internet. But IRGs do not have to be based on computers. They can operate just as well–though more slowly–using the postal system. Again, this already happens with a number of discussions that operate by post, where each member adds perhaps a page of comment on the current topic, sends it to the group coordinator, who then makes copies of all contributions for all members. For those who have the technology and know how to use it, computer networks make this process far easier and faster. Another medium that is inherently participatory is the telephone. Phones are very easy to use–only speaking, not writing, is required–and are widely available. Certainly it is possible for a person to dominate a telephone conversation, but only one person is at the other end of the line. In the mass media, one person speaks and thousands or millions listen. Ivan Illich (1973) proposed the concept of “convivial tools.” This includes technologies that foster creative and autonomous interactions between people. Convivial technologies in the case of the media are the ones that foster participation. The postal system, the telephone system, computer networks and short-wave radio are examples of convivial communications media. The implication of this analysis is straightforward. To promote a more participatory society, it is important to promote participatory media and to challenge, replace and eventually abandon mass media. Jerry Mander (1978), in his case against television, gave as one of his four main arguments corporate domination of television used to mould humans for a commercial environment. But all mass media involve centralised power. Mander’s argument should be extended: all mass media should be abandoned. Saying “mass media should be superseded” is easy. Working out practical implications is the hard part. Although a world without mass media may be a long-term goal, the mass media will be around for quite some time. Therefore, it is necessary to have a strategy to challenge them, from inside and outside, as well as to promote alternatives.

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 Participate in alternative media:

 This is an obvious strategy. Possibilities include:

* subscribing to alternative magazines and supporting small presses;

* writing material for newsletters and small magazines;

* publishing one’s own newsletter, magazine or books;

* organising meetings of friends to discuss issues of significance;

* doing community organising with techniques such as public meetings and door-to-door canvassing;

* listening to and producing programs for community radio and television;

* using computer networks;

* producing, collecting and using micrographics (microfiche, microfilm), especially to distribute and save nonstandard works;

* using short-wave radio;

* running workshops on developing skills for network media;

* developing campaigns that help build skills in using alternative media and don’t rely on mass media;

* participating in self-managing media enterprises (Downing, 1984; Herman, 1992; for further references see Bennett, 1992).

These and other initiatives are going on all the time. They need more support and development. This strategy is fully compatible with the goal of participatory media, so there are fewer internal contradictions and traps.

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Traditional Media maintains Status Quo: Social media challenges Status Quo:

Status quo means the existing condition or state of affairs.

The mass media’s real “job,” unbeknownst to the general public, is and has always been to protect the status quo, that is, to protect the interests of the governing classes. What currently threatens their legitimacy (and that of the ruling classes) is not that they have not been doing their job in the last few years, but rather that the public has begun to realize that the real function of the mass media (and the government) is to work against the public interest. This growing realization is a terrifying prospect for the ruling classes. Hence they would do anything, including lamenting their own personal and individual “failures,” to prevent such a ruinous outcome for the system. However, social media challenges status quo. With the evolution of social media, we can finally all be connected in a way we’ve never imagined. Social media is the new frontier of the Internet and provides the means to express the will of the people by amplifying silenced voices and by providing a global perspective for those whose outlets of expression have been oppressed. The Arab Spring, a revolutionary movement that set in motion a wave of protests in support of democracy, free speech and other liberal ideas, erupted in the Middle East. It began, arguably, when Mohammed Bouazizi lit himself on fire in response to a policewoman who confiscated his vegetable stand. The policewoman slapped him, spat on him and insulted his dead father. From his protest followed one of the greatest uses of social media that has ever been seen. In Tahrir Square in Cairo, hundreds and thousands of Egyptians gathered in protest of an age old regime whose rule went uninterrupted for nearly 20 years. Activists would create Facebook events and tweet photos and videos to show the world their fight for a new regime. Eventually over one million people gathered to protest and overturned Egypt’s oppressive government. The traditional American & Indian media started blocking my comments on my facebook page by pressuring social media because they wanted to maintain status quo vis-à-vis my life by aligning with their regimes.  My facebook page is a small step in challenging status quo maintained by mainstream mass media.   

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To look is one thing,
To see what you look at is another,
To understand what you see is a third,
To learn from what you understand is still something else:
To act on what you learn is all that matters.
—– Taoist saying.

I urge people not to learn and act solely from media but pause, think, and judge. Do not get mesmerized by lies, deception and misrepresentation shown on media. There are nine practices that are crucial to thinking for us in order to defend against human gullibility and unreason:

1. Ask for explanations.

2. Look for consistency.

3. Question the status quo; don’t just believe it.

4. Believe only credible authorities.

5. Watch out for fear mongering and demagoguery.

6. Beware of media-supported stereotypes.

7. Aware of media bias and media manipulations.

8. Recognize that media is allied with the state.

9. Understand that media content is affected by owners, advertisers, sponsors and shareholders of media companies.

Taken together, these nine instructions provide a useful heuristic for determining whether you are justified in accepting any media claim. Also, there are good guys in media and not everybody bad. Try to differentiate between good editor & bad editor, good anchor & bad anchor, and authentic information & not so good information.  

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Moral of the story:  

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1. Communication is conveyance or sharing of information between two or more human beings. Mass communication is information transmitted to a large audience; the means of transmission is known as Media. Mass Media (i.e. traditional media e.g. TV, Radio, Newspapers etc) is one-to-many one-way communication while social networking through internet is many-to-many two-way communication.

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2. Social media has indeed become mass media and as the number of users increase, interactivity (two-way communication) falls resulting in one-way communication typical of traditional mass media. Classical example is my facebook page visited by millions but nobody interacts with me.  

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3. Communication is essential for humans just like food, water, air and shelter. Without communication no society develops and no civilization evolves. We attain cultural, social, political and economic development by sharing our experiences and that is possible only by communication. 

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4. Communication must be capable of being accessible, intelligible and assessable.

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5. Most of our decisions, values and beliefs are based on what we know and our knowledge comes from information provided by media. If one was to ask what is today’s most powerful vehicle in molding of beliefs, attitudes, values and lifestyles, one would say it is media. The more a person depends on media to meet needs, the more important media will be in a person’s life, and therefore the more effects media will have on a person.   

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6. Mass media is very important and dominant agent of human socialization.

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7. Mass media has been influencing the social, cultural, economic and religious aspects of the society. Mass media in developing countries were assigned the role of modernizing traditional societies.

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8. Information or communication cannot resolve problems that are essentially caused by scarce resources, rather than a lack of knowledge. In other words, media can help solve problems caused by lack of knowledge but media is helpless if resources are scarce.  

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9. News media has certain obligations to society including being fair, objective, relevant, balanced and truthful. If a situation doesn’t make the news, it simply does not exist for most people. Had it not been social media, I would have died in oblivion thanks to irrelevance shown to me by traditional media. 

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10. News are facts and interpretations of facts that people want or need to know. Unfortunately, most broadcast news are speculations, opinions and rumors rather than facts. Truth and relevance are not strong factors in the news selection process. Errors are seldom corrected because retractions and disclaimers are unfit. 

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11. Media has to publish or broadcast information that catches attention of audience in order to make people buy their newspapers, listen to their radio programs, or tune in to their TV shows and stay tuned through the commercial breaks. Newsworthiness is determined by people and not media. People like sensationalism, titillating sex scandals, and slander. News often is more like entertainment than information or education.  

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12. The more competition there is between the news media, the more entertaining and less serious becomes the news programs and political debates.

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13. The greater the conflict the greater the audience, and large audiences are imperative to the financial success of media outlets. Therefore, it is often in the media’s interest to not only report conflict, but to play it up, making it seem more intense than it really is.

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14. There is a fundamental contradiction between, on the one hand, our need for information about the world through media and on the other, the need of journalists to align with media owners, media advertisers and deliver returns to their shareholders. Media ownership creates an intrinsic bias in the media no matter whether or not news reporters say they strive to project objectivity and professionalism in their reporting.

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15. Newspapers get more than half of their revenues from advertisers, and most radio and TV stations get all their revenues from advertising and sponsoring. Obviously, the advertisers have a strong influence on news contents. Media primarily sell audience to advertisers for revenues.   

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16. About 20 percent of local and 17 percent of national reporters say they have faced criticism or pressure from their bosses after producing or writing a piece that was seen as damaging to their company’s financial interests.

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17. Corporate consolidation of media led to precipitous decline of minority owned media outlets; homogenisation of media form & content; and economic censorship of public expression.

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18. Out of all different types of media (TV, newspapers etc) on which advertisers spent money to sell their products, outdoor media is the best way to get maximum time of people and consequently best return.  

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19. Despite decades of research and hundreds of studies, the connections between people’s consumption of the mass media and their subsequent behaviour have remained persistently elusive. Some researchers concluded that research has failed to show that the media has any kind of direct or predictable effects on people. On the other hand, other researchers found that mass media play a crucial role in shaping the behavior of people. Indeed, the information relayed by media is known to influence the creation of beliefs (Gentzkow and Shapiro, 2004), cognitive abilities (Gentzkow and Shapiro, 2008), voting behaviors (Gentzkow, 2006; Gentzkow et al., 2011; Snyder and Strömberg, 2010) or even the governmental relief to a natural disaster (Eisensee and Strömberg, 2007). However, despite persuasive power of media, some media users will generally be able to resist such persuasion.    

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20. There is inherent contradiction in media-communication research. On the one hand, communication research indicates that mass media acts mainly to reinforce existing attitudes and behavior rather than changing habits and life styles. On the other hand, mass media is a powerful tool for social change affecting health, education, racism and casteism, crime detection and control, smoking and alcohol abuse, gender equality, sexuality, reproduction, family planning and population control. 

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21. The dichotomy of media message and consequent behavior of people is best exemplified by Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement in India. With great respect to Anna Hazare, I must admit that his movement in India was propagated by media rather than masses. The net result is that corruption is still the most ubiquitous problem in India. The freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi was propagated by masses and not media and therefore had successful outcome. Social media was successful in propagating ‘Arab Spring’ because social media is led by masses and not by editors, anchors and journalists.     

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22. The wealthy and the powerful always use media to propagandize their own interests. Media is supposed to be voice of the voiceless but it often voices voice of the elite and the powerful. Media is considered as mirror of society but it seldom performs that duty.    

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23. Media acts as that double-edged sword that can hurt as much as help whoever wields it. The best way to avoiding negative influence of media lies in limiting media exposure and choosing what to watch. Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister said that if “You repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”  Media lied hundred times that Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe was childless and she committed suicide by consuming sleeping pills. So it became truth worldwide. No journalist ever felt need to tell the real truth that she was not childless and her son was growing up in India and she was knowing it and she missed her son very much and out of despair, she committed suicide. Lie without motive is foolishness and I am unwilling to believe that media lies out of foolishness. Every lie you see on media has a motive and people must see the motive through lies.      

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24. Even though the emphasis is on “objective and balanced reporting.” any human being is always tainted at some level with some bias. Media Research study shows that there is a strong liberal bias among mainstream media. Journalists being more educated than the general population, hold more liberal political views, consider themselves left of center.  

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25. In order to get full picture of an event, it is better to consume more than one media outlet to overcome media bias and media manipulation. I always watch 2 to 3 news channels from different media houses to get information about an event. 

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26. Printed mass media is probably the most significant factor in the high level of literacy in the United States.

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27. Radio, TV and newspapers are useful in learning languages and enhancing language skills. However children who watch entertainment programs as opposed to educational programs on TV are likely to have more limited vocabularies. 

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28. Students who report watching the most TV have lower grades and lower test scores than do those who watch less TV. Seeing too much TV violence appears to increase aggressive behavior in children and regular viewing of violence on TV makes violence less shocking and more acceptable.

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29. The more the sexual content that children see on television, the earlier they initiate sexual activity. 

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30. A child who is media illiterate is more vulnerable to being influenced by messages in all kinds of media. Specific domains of influence that could affect children are; violence and aggressive behavior, sexual content, body image and self-esteem, and finally physical health and school performance. That is why it is so important to emphasize teaching media literacy starting at a young age.

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31. One study of television programming found that 30% of the health-related information was “useful” while the remaining 70% was inaccurate or misleading or both. Another study of dental health advertisements concluded that 43% of the information is inaccurate, misleading, or fallacious.   

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32. Health campaign through mass media is effective in changing health behaviors of population especially when the target behavior is one-off or episodic (e.g., screening, vaccination, children’s aspirin use) rather than habitual or ongoing (e.g., food choices, sun exposure, physical activity).

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33. Anti-smoking campaign on mass media is persuading smokers worldwide to think about quitting smoking.  HIV control program on mass media is successful in educating people that a condom protects against HIV.

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34. Public perception of mental illness is based on negative and false images perpetuated by the media. In popular media, mental illness is most commonly portrayed as deviant and dangerous. 

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35. The mass media function in the larger system of patriarchy and capitalism that controls media structures and organizations which represents women as dependent and subordinates thereby perpetuates gender inequality.  Media under-represent or misrepresent women and their concerns, use them in advertising as a commodity and present traditional stereotyped images of women as passive, dependent and subordinate to men. The overall effect of the portrayal of women in media is to reinforce rather than reduce prejudices and stereotypes.

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36. Sting operation in journalism is a deception that causes the media to lose its credibility and legitimacy. Sting operation can never be called investigative journalism. Those who mount a sting operation themselves commit the offence of impersonation, criminal trespass and inducing another person commit an offence.

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37. In India, most journalistic sting operations are carried out for commercial gain of media and not for public interest; and therefore Indian Parliament must enact laws prohibiting sting operations by media or any private person. Sting operations can be done only by lawful investigating agency like CBI or crime branch of police after getting permission from competent authorities. 

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38. A democracy without media is like a vehicle without wheels.  

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39. Modern democracy is based on the theory of separation of powers between the executive (government and police), the legislature (parliament) and the judiciary (court) with the fourth power media working independently of these three canonic powers. However when media aligns with executive or legislature, an unholy alliance is formed dangerous for survival of democracy. 

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40. Traditional mass media (radio, TV, newspaper) corresponds to the logic which values conformity over individuality while new media (internet) corresponds to the logic which values individuality over conformity. Traditional media sources are often more centrist and focus on broader topics. In contrast Internet provides content to consumers with more diverse and less centrist political views.  

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41. New media, social media and social networking are not synonymous although overlapping. 

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42. Blogging is a raw human opinion as compared to newspaper where an article has gone through rounds of editing to make it as believable and as scholarly as possible. By perusing through multiple blogs on the same subject, we can formulate opinions of our own and therefore blogs can stimulate and satisfy intellectual curiosity as opposed to traditional media content.

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43. For each additional hour spent on the Internet, there is a reduction in up to 65% in time spent using ‘traditional’ media. 

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44. Traditional mass media (e.g. TV) have great impact on us because its content stimulates emotional, reflexive, survival system of brain linked to food, sex and danger while social media (barring few exceptions) have a lesser impact on us as it stimulates analytical, reflective, rational system of brain linked to rational & critical thinking. Of course, educational TV program would do the same but how many children, adolescent and adult watch educational TV program?   Social media users only needed two seconds to decide on visiting a particular website suggesting that our brains can evaluate information at faster and faster speed but rapid fire processing skills may leave fewer resources for comprehension and retention. Also, information overload on social media affects retention of information in our brains. Therefore take your time in browsing social media and restrict quantity of information. Remember, moderate internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function. Also, internet is more reliable than traditional media not because it can´t be wrong (it frequently is) but because it is self correcting.      

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45. Self-regulation of media has failed repeatedly and therefore some sort of non-self regulation of media is mandatory keeping in mind that freedom of press is of paramount importance.  

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46. When judges, lawyers, doctors, politicians, bureaucrats, accountants and police are held accountable to people for their actions and when they are regulated by various instruments; why not media?  Media without transparency, media without accountability and media without regulation is like a rabid dog that bites innocent people rather than the watchdog of the society.    

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47. The main public interest criterions that the media need to consider include freedom of publication; plurality in media ownership; diversity in information, culture and opinion; support for the democratic political system; support for public order and security of the state; universal reach; quality of information and culture disseminated to the public; respect for human rights and avoiding harm to individuals and the society. Evidently, the reality is contrary. 

48. Objectivity in journalism is biased in favor of maintaining status quo and my life is a classical example of it; no matter whether people are dying of dengue or unwarranted claim of saving thousands of lives due to exaggerated cyclone intensity.  

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49. Present mainstream mass media are owned by government or corporate either directly or indirectly (through advertisements & sponsorship) and this ownership does affect their content. Also paid news, media bias, media manipulation, media propaganda and yellow journalism affect media content. Also, the major problem of today’s journalism is that the press is allied with the state. It is a serious threat to any country not to have a media that is a check and balance on those in power. What we see now is that the media has reached an all-time low having a media embedded in the power structure.  On the top of it, the mainstream mass media will be around for quite some time. Therefore mainstream mass media ought to be challenged by social media, independent media groups, alternative media, citizen journalism and participatory media. My facebook page is a small step in challenging status quo maintained by mainstream mass media. If you want to bring new ideas, new thinking and new ways of solving problems, status quo must be challenged.      

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Dr. Rajiv Desai. MD.

February 1, 2014

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Postscript:

Those who aspire to choose media as their career must read this article.      

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