Is Media Lowering The Level Of Public Debate?

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“Whoever controls the media controls the mind.” – Jim Morrison

Before discussing about media, let us have a brief look at what media is. Media is the medium or way to reach a large audience by mass communication. Media can be divided into four main categories-

  1. Broadcast media: Includes radio, television, recorded music, films etc.
  2. Print media: Includes Newspapers, books, pamphlets, comics etc.
  3. Digital media: Internet and mobile mass communication (websites, blogs, email etc).
  4. Social media: Social networking sites and groups.

Now, I will be referring mainly to broadcast media and print media here, who I feel, is more responsible for lowering the level of public debate. But let me tell you that I do not mean to say that digital media and social media are not responsible for this catastrophe.

The media plays a very important role in our society. India is a democratic country and media is considered to be the fourth pillar of democracy, the first three being The Executive, The Legislature and The Judiciary. This fourth pillar of democracy has the highest potential to govern the direction of the society. It can change opinions overnight and have a tremendous impact on the thinking pattern of people.

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But what is the media doing today? Is it doing what it is supposed to do? Is media following its basic ethics? No, certainly not!

Today, media presents little or almost no legitimate, well-researched news. Instead, it uses eye-catching headlines to attract attention. Yes, I am referring to yellow journalism. Media exaggerates news, adds a lot of spice before presenting the actual matter. Media is alleged to be involved in scandal mongering and sensationalizing news rather than presenting the authentic matter to the audience and readers. An example which can be cited here is Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Jorhat, a district in Assam. During the visit, he delivered his lecture and interacted with the local people. And in the interaction session, a woman hugged and kissed him out of affection and the media did not let go off this opportunity to glorify and publicize this news. It became a hot news which embarrassed the woman’s husband, leading to a heated argument among the couple. And recently it was in the news that the husband killed the woman, burning her with kerosene oil! This is “the media effect”. The publicity of an unnecessary news led to the death of a woman. Could the media not publicize other things during the leader’s visit? Why was the glorification of this issue at par with, or more than the glorification of what the leader mentioned during his lecture and interaction?

When people get incorrect and negatively manipulated information, the powerful force of media instills negativity in their mind. People tend to alter their opinion when media portrays an ordinary thing or event so negatively that people are forced to look at it with a pessimistic point of view. Sometimes media glorifies violence, which has a very negative impact on children- the future of our society.

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What do all these lead to? Decrement of public intelligence. And with a low level of public intelligence, how can you expect a high level of public debate?

Most people tend to form opinions based on all that media presents before them. It is claimed that people now use a lower amount of their intelligence to form an opinion, using the media directly or indirectly to base their opinion. I do not remember the last time I saw a real, live debate on the television. Almost all the “reality shows” and talk shows are pre-planned, made up and garnished before presenting them to the audience. People do not get a fair chance to think and decide what is right and what is wrong. The availability of a lot of mixed options and opinions distract them, lowering the level of public intelligence, which in turn lowers the level of public debate.

Now it is for the people, for you, to choose and decide if media is responsible for lowering the level of public debate. And if you agree with me in your point of view, then it is time for you to change. It is time for you to create awareness and help the society to adopt and follow a fearless, unbiased and  honest media, be it broadcast media or print media.

© Barnadhya Rwitam Sharma

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