Something I had written long ago. Chanced upon it and thought I must share 🙂
Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.
~Jean Jacques Rousseau
In today’s modern world, media plays the biggest role in communication. It is a sole medium that connects one part to another and bridges the gaps, be it between two countries internationally or between the government and the people on a national and local level. This however is just an overview or a superficial explanation of the role of media. It goes much beyond being a mediator. To understand the role of media in international communication, one must understand what international communication means.
International communication more commonly known as Global or transnational communication deals with communication across global borders. More specifically dealing with, as mentioned by several sources “government-to-government”, “business-to-business”, and “people-to-people” interactions at a global level.” With the advent of globalization and inter border relationships, it becomes highly essential that one country is aware of the situations and the happenings of another country they are associated with either politically or financially. And it becomes all the more essential that this information passes on to the grass root levels, that is the people. This article particularly deals with consumerism and the illusion of choice that the media has projected to the masses and how this has affected the mindset of the people, while simultaneously pointing out its role in other areas as well.
In a transnational, digital media landscape, governments can share information through traditional diplomatic means, but nations’ news systems are universal and can reach both governments and citizens. News can shape local and foreign opinions and therefore become part of the dynamics that affect the conduct of international relations. Small media houses are generally owned by bigger media houses who are owned by a huge company who would have vested interests and so their interests will be highlighted in the broadcast of media messages that are given out. This phenomenon that has taken place where media is owned by a few powerful companies has led to lesser authenticity in the news that is received. As no matter how much variety of channels one sees and he is made to think that he has a choice to choose what he wants. The truth of the matter is that they are all owned by one company who controls them, hence controls what you see. Media sector is characterized by global monopoly capitalism.
In the book ‘Manufacturing Consent’ by Chowmsky, it is clearly mentioned, “Since 1990, a wave of massive deals and rapid globalization have left the media industries further centralized in nine transnational conglomerates- Disney, AOL Time Warner, Viacom (owner of CBS), News Corporation, Bertelsmann, General Electric (owner of NBC), Sony, AT&T-Liberty Media, and Vivendi Universal. These giants own all the world’s major film studios, TV networks, and music companies, and a sizable fraction of the most important cable channels, cable systems, magazines, major-market TV stations, and book publishers. The largest, the recently merged AOL Time Warner, has integrated the leading Internet portal into the traditional media system. Another fifteen firms round out the system, meaning that two dozen firms control nearly the entirety of media experienced by most U.S. citizens.”
The most striking trend is the growing market power of a small number of firms. Research states that between 1983 and 1994 the number of global media companies fell from 50 to 20. This is not scary, what truly one must be scared of is a large percentage of media content is imported in the visual sector, hence how can one be sure of what is given to him. We are sold not just news but ‘cultures’, ‘trends’, ‘ideologies’, ‘lifestyles’. We are just given what they want us to receive; while we are made to think again by them that we have the freedom of choice. There is however no choice and definitely no freedom. Our minds have been colonized. Even in international politics the west has a greater hold in controlling the media. The top down flow of information the Naom Chowmsky specified can be used to understand the scenario.
The west sell the idea of being thin to women, and they themselves sell fastfood that contributes to obesity. Nobody reads between the lines, we take what they want us to. Now that the point of media being hypocritic in nature and being servile to a few in the corporate world and leaders of the current political set up, is made clear. It becomes extremely important to know what the role of media should be in global communication. Media must be a watch dog and provide credible authentic information that is unbiased and free of all pressures and controls. Media must help in empowerment and peace building. Instead of encouraging racism, communal disharmony, it must act wisely and do what will benefit the masses. The public must be told what truly exists and not what the super powers want them to know. The situation however looks bleak, when we talk about the media learning to follow its roles and responsibilities.
Freedom of choice may never exist, and no one will be able to curb what is happening but one must be aware of this anarchy in the global media. Only when you are aware of the things around will you be able to act wisely.