Puttnam (2014) asks a very important question
Puttnam (2014) asks a very important question
regarding the media: “Does the media have a duty of care?”
The core tenet of democracy ought to reflect the people’s will. In a democracy
that is representative, the integral opinions enlighten political
representatives, who then take action on their behalf. For this to happen, it
requires a public that is engaged. However, many citizens lack informed
opinions in relation to matters happening internationally as a result of
inaccuracy of reports by the media. In instances where the public cannot depend
on personal experience, the media take an integral role in providing
information to the citizens. However, past nasty experiences with media reports
in relation to different subjects have made many individuals lose faith in the
media because it is compromised by the political and business influences. As a
result, the media do not have a moral imperative that can create informed
citizens, so as to support democracy.
mass media comprise of the backbone of democracy. For instance, it provides the
public with information that is relevant in the making of decisions during
voting in national elections. They as well identify the issues that are in the
society as well as act as a medium for reflection. The media are also a
watchdog that individuals in the society relies on for disclosing bot errors
and wrongdoings by the people who are in power. As a result, it is rational to
require the media to subscribe to specific standards in relation to these
functions, and society relies on the assumption that they do (Barlow, 2009).
there is a rising concern in relation to the lack of proper fulfillment of
these functions by the media. There are various media critics who assert that
commercial media houses that are controlled by several multinational
conglomerates have turned out to be anti-democratic force that supports status
quo (Greenberg, 2007). The news that many
media houses present to the public is entertaining rather than informing that
supply predominantly celebrity gossips, scandals, as well as violence. The
absence of thoughtful debates makes voters who are uninformed to be left with
political propaganda that has been paid for, and which comprise of worthless
slogans that make them to be disinterested as well as cynical concerning
competitive factors within the media have led to media firms producing
entertaining accounts so as to appeal to the emotions of people. The competitive
news media have led to them framing stories in manners that hamper the capacity
of a democratic system to resolve both social and international conflicts. As
the world becomes increasingly globalized, it becomes important for democratic
countries to have foreign policies that are supported by informed citizens. Packer
(2008) assert “The media act as a platform of informing the public about the
things that are happening locally as well as internationally” (90). For
instance, whereas an informed electorate is significant for the functioning of
democracy, there are some medias that circulate information that is falsified
to the public, hence misinforming them. In this case, an individual may decide
whether to listen or not to listen to them.
strong attention on topics that relate to fear as well as danger within the
media agenda places such topics on high political agenda. For instance, a
politician who is seeking re-election cannot overlook a sensationalist media
campaign or even moral panic. In other rare cases such as when a politician may
be able to repel the emotional appeal from the media as well as see the facts
that are behind the accounts, he/she will do something that will satisfy the
opinions of the public.
issue that the media uses to catch the attention of the audience is by using
sex. There may be constructive or destructive messages regarding sex that the
media may propagate. The high significance that the media places on sex might,
therefore, influence the sexual morality of the society in a manner that is
either liberal or restrictive. Saunders in “The Braindead Megaphone” refers the
media as a noise machine. Saunders utilizes “The Braindead Megaphone” to
represent the U.S. mass media, which, despite having a great voice globally, it
normally offers the public half-baked truths, therefore dumbing down their
usefulness to the society, “hasn’t our mass media always been sensationalistic,
dumb and profit-seeking?” (Parker, 2008, p.13). The issue with the media is
that it fails informing the media about the truth, but it is rather feeding the
public with lies for the motive of making money.
incessant media pay attention to fear, danger, disaster, as well as crime,
making people see the world as being gloomy as well as an unsafe place. The
media are a product just like any other. People in the society may choose to
consume it or not. In the essay “The Braindead Megaphone,” Saunders present
both a smart as well as complex commentary regarding the United States media
culture. He makes a comparison of the U.S. mass media to a guy who is at a
party and is in possession of a megaphone. Saunders claims that although the
things that this guy is saying is dumb, everyone who is in the room is
listening to him since he is the loudest individual speaking. They end up
responding among themselves from what he is saying.
addition, the media, serving as watchdogs, are addressing the wrong things. For
instance, the media had over the last years hunted for scandals that are
happening in the private lives of individuals in power as well as their
families instead of concentrating on more serious effects of their policies. Lally (2011) asserts “they go after politicians who
are wounded like sharks that are in a frenzy” (90). The media as well make the
public to get terrified by the wrong things. For instance, minor dangers in the
society are uproariously blown out of proportion, whereas more serious dangers
facing the society go unnoticed (Greenberg, 2007).
media as well fail to report to the public on the wrongdoing that take place in
the corporate sector. For instance, most
media have suppressed important information in relation to health risks of
smoking as a result of pressure emanating from advertisers (Lally, 2011, p.76). Also disturbing is the fact that
some mass media, particularly women’s magazines are encouraging insignificant
alternative health products, hence efficiently conspiring with corporate bodies
that want to defraud consumers of a lot of money (Greenberg,
2009). Most medias such as newspaper, as well as TV's, obtain most of their
income from advertisement fees as well as sponsorship deals. As a result, most
media houses will seek to optimize the interests that their advertisers have,
which may not be consistent with their audiences’ interests.
we see media-groups as agents of inquiry, seekers of truth and providers of
public-information, it's logical to expect their representatives to exhibit an
interest in objective-analysis and investigation; yet when we see them as
corporate-driven market-players, we shouldn't be surprised when all they seem
interested in doing is selling us products or political-ideology. The media are
the marketplace, nothing more, nothing less…and that is a major reason why
truth and democracy in this country is under siege.
conclusion, if the above claims have merit, it is important that the society
perception on the working of democracy be reviewed. The bottom line, as well as
the major directive of the commercial mass media, is to safeguard corporations
in addition to their interests. The media should a significant element in
influencing the political climate as well as the process of democracy in a
particular nation. The position held by Puttnam however does not censor the
constitutional freedom of the media. This is because the media has an
independent set of rights as well as freedoms that it has been given by the
constitution. Nevertheless, the media should make sure that it serves its
function of informing the public appropriately, as this is the essence of
media’s existence. Puttnam concludes by asserting “If we want
to provide decent, fulfilling lives for our children and our children’s
children, we need to exercise to the very greatest degree possible that duty of
care for a vibrant, and hopefully a lasting, democracy (Puttnam, 2014).”
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