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Socially Responsible Media

Posted on 27 January 2011 by Garima Chak

In our present day world, media- broadcast and print media in particular, are considered mainly to be entities that reflect the face of the society as it exists today. However there is another aspect to this media that we can easily overlook by careless oversight. And this is the aspect in which media is an instrument that helps construct, structure, mould, and even give direction to the world we live in. Thus media is progressively forming the history of the world just as it is reflecting contemporary events. This interpretation of the function of media, however, brings forth a set of issues that arise due to the power that media has come to possess today.

So apparently, like the media of not so long ago, when the paths to world alliances and economic ties were literally inked by the media, the media of today also can be a King maker if it so chooses to be, or, can be the cause of a governments being overthrow, if it so chooses. In fact, today we do not find it difficult to imagine the sway media can have over the general public. However, as someone rightly said, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. So at the same time we must also realise that just as the media gets bigger and more powerful, it even becomes more noticeable, and therefore increasingly easy to criticise.

Sadly, though, the world of media today is one where media people have turned the profession into a money making business. The ethics and morals are long forgotten and even reputed professions like journalism have succumbed to the degradation caused by the after effects of money making scandals doing the rounds. Things have gone so bad in fact that news is not just ‘sold’ for a price to the highest bidder, but even created for him.

Even then our world has not given up on media though. And among various present day views and opinions being voiced about the changing roles of media, there are two sets of thought patterns that are more popular than others. One is the fact that no matter what liberties the media takes or whatever level of sensationalization it chooses to go to, media is still a part of the system that is good even in its worst form. The other view is that the media of the day is what the world around it wants it to be. This media industry gurus and thought leaders would like to prove by pointing out the growing TRPs of the not so moral television channels, and popularity of magazines, newspapers and tabloids that are not even pretending to be dabbling in things that are ethically inclined anymore!

These views, however, would belong to the same school of thought that believes that corruption is a necessary evil, and that natural resources are there so that man can go all out to exploit, loot and plunder, and that the place of women is inside the home kitchen. But radical as this may sound, the first and foremost job of a media student is to get such stereotypical ideas out of his or her head. For until and unless we learn to imagine the change we need, we can never be the change we want. So, what does the media need to do that it is not doing? The answer to that is simple enough. Be ‘socially responsible media’.

And why not! Social responsibility is actually a topic of hot discussion in today’s corporate world. So it might even prove to be a lucrative proposition for the media to become socially responsible. The act will certainly improve their image in the long run. So they could even make it a part of their long term strategy. And the act of being conscious and considerate of the impact they have on their audience could ultimately make them more popular than their competition as well. Besides this, the mere act of acknowledging the fact that they realise that the views and opinions they chose to voice to the general and very-very impressionable” public/audience can have a long or short term cultural or social impact would do wonders to their corporate image.

Ultimately, though, the world will wisen up to the media act of the present day. And ultimately the media also will have to answer for their actions. So, it would only be an act of common sense for the media student of today to inculcate socially responsible habits from now onwards so that once they enter the world of media they are already on the path of the future- the change that is only an outcome of present world scenario- a ‘socially responsible media’.

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