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Looking At The Roles Of Media Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 1144 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Media is described today as the fourth pillar of state, the more powerful is its media for its global impact as evident from BBC, CNN and magazines like ‘Times’ and Newsweek. The Western media has tremendous impact in shaping opinions, popularizing western values and their whole life style in the world. Napoleon once said,

“Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets”.

The media, with specific reference to the collective entity of newspapers, radio, television and the Internet, play a very important role in national development. National development involves changes in a nation aimed at improving the political, economic and social lives of the people. In National development, the media particularly contributes in areas of democracy and good governance, political transparency, foreign policy and human rights. The real influence of the media in national development depends on the media itself, the societies in which it operates and the audience it reaches. None of these factors are the same everywhere, at all times, or under all conditions. The media in dictatorships, for example, are not likely to exercise the same influence as those in democratic societies. Even among similar types of government, other factors, such as technology, the target audience and the message, may influence the extent of media impact in the society.

As the Fourth Estate, it provides checks and balances on the activities of the three arms of government;

As agenda-setters, they influence the issues on public agenda;

As gatekeepers, they decide what information gets to the public;

As watchdog, they represent the interests of the people against powerful interests;

And as for multipliers, they add to the combat effectiveness of military commanders.

In military operations, on one hand the media is capable of building public opinion (e.g. Kargil); but it can also undermine public support by emotional coverage (e.g. Vietnam, Somalia). Information is power. Media can be used as a weapon against the enemy as a tool of propaganda, carrying out psychological operations for instigating public dissent against their government, dividing the enemy and countering enemy propaganda. If used prudently, media is indeed a Force Multiplier as it builds public opinion. In the words of Abraham Lincoln:

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“Public opinion is everything. With it nothing can fail, without it nothing can succeed.”

Moreover, the more intense media coverage is on national disasters, the more relief materials and funds are made available by donors (e.g. India, Mozambique). In public health, media campaigns immensely contribute in the reduction of diseases, such as AIDS, SARS, leprosy and preventable children diseases (as demonstrated in Uganda, Thailand, India, Nepal and Brazil).

Media strongly influences the direction of foreign policy (e.g. US policy on Bosnia and Somalia). In internal conflict situations, the media acts as an instrument of peace contributing to nation-building (e.g. post-Apartheid South Africa), but as potent force, in wrong hands, it is also capable of fuelling divisiveness and violence (e.g. Rwanda).

How the media plays its role is a matter of critical importance. Where the media pursue the role in the face of professionalism, truth, fairness and justice, then the society immensely benefits, but where the media become selfish in pursuance of mainly profits and personal gains, then the society is at a disadvantage.

For the media to play any meaningful role in national development, it must be free and independent. Free press is one of the built-in mechanisms in democracy, designed to oppose destructive and disruptive attitudes; the more the freedom of media in society, lesser the corruption. Secondly, control of the media by a few individuals, corporations or governments is inimical to the media’s ability to effectively carry out their role. Thirdly, to succeed in their role, the media must be professional. Biased attitude, sensationalism, propaganda and distortions, negatively affect the contribution of the media in national development. Freedom of the media must therefore go along with responsibility.

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The newly unshackled Pakistani media lacks this sense of responsibility. Even the best of pro-people government policies are criticized and facts distorted for the sake of criticism. Pakistani press and electronic media are faced with shortage of professional reporting, inadequate resources, lack of investigative skills and modern technology. National Media, on the other hand, is used as a mouth piece by every sitting government.

India’s “go global” mantra with more professional and material resources is having damaging impact on Pakistan. The perceived threat can be countered by improving the performance of our own media so that a balance could be created in the minds of the viewers. Projection of truth is essential to gain credibility so that the viewer does not feel the urge to seek it elsewhere.

Moreover, the media must take cognizance of national security and the welfare of the people. Ownership of the media should be spread to avoid the monopoly of a few, powerful individuals, corporations or governments. Transmission of violent materials should be controlled to reduce negative influence on the society.

The effect of media on national security decision-making is significant. There is no doubt of its influence and based on the information provided within this record, there can be no doubt of its power and effect on national security decision-making. It has emerged as a viable element of power. Modern technology has revolutionized the mass media especially the electronic media. While the improved communication and transportation systems accelerated the process of accessibility and verification of the stories for radio and press, the television made media-men sufficiently powerful to considerably influence the policy formation, campaign processes, issue developments etc. In third world countries the television enjoys much more power than in the developed countries. It has been continuously capturing attention and increasing the size of audience. Perhaps that’s why it has become almost a rule in Third world countries to retain complete control over this aspect of mass media.

The regional and global outreach of Pakistani media is negligible and is abysmally behind the media of our hostile neighbor, which continues to carry out its demonizing Pakistan propaganda. The Pakistani media has to face the challenged posed and take it as opportunity by revising its policies and updating its material and human resources to play a proactive role to project and promote Pakistan.


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