The Power And I Function Of Media In A Democratic Society Essay
London! Imagine the city of London, for a moment in your mind. What do you see? Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Bright red double Decker buses.Even if you’ve never been to London, you are aware of London; you know how does it look like not only this but you can imagine London of hundred years ago, lonely street thick Fog, clop clop of horses drawn carriages, suddenly a woman walking alone, seems to be in hurry and disappears in the fog.
These images are vivid and true and as stated you’ve never been there. How do you know so much about London? The answer is simple you get these images from the media. You’ve read books about England (London). You’ve seen pictures. You know who is Elizabeth II (though you happen not to know her personally) you have seen movies set in London.Thus we find that “Media is that means of communication by which information is disseminated to the public at large”
KINDS OF MEDIA.
It has several kinds but generally it is divided into two major categories. i.e. publishing media and electronic media. Publishing media contains newspaper, books and magazines whereas electronic media contains, radio, television and movies.
MEDIA AND FOR THEORIES.
It is useless for the current issue at hand, to trace the genesis of the media. Suffice is to say that media has directly effected the life of people either politically economically or socially. In every sphere of life media places a profound impact on the lives of the peoples living in any corner of the world. Politically speaking, media has been a very important ingredient of a political setup.A democratic setup, such as we enjoy, calls for a rule of public or people. Citizens make important decisions, debate public issues, correct social ills and they compare themselves -with other societies as per development and see how could they further develop themselves. The key element is information, Only if citizen is kept informed he would be able to take decision.
Closed totalitarian regimes have existed since the beginning of governments. They are often elitists authoritarian regime with a strong leader such a Czar of Russia, kings of England especially before the glorious revolution of 1688.In such societies media, generally privately owned, are allowed to co-operate as special privilege granted to by the national leadership. The media, therefore, owed its existence and owe in allegiance to the ruler. If the leader thinks that a certain piece of information be told to the public it will be printed and if he thinks that certain information is harmful it will not be transmitted to the public. Thus media has only such amount of freedom as granted by the national leadership.In the modem societies though Kings and Queens no longer exist in the same concept yet this place has been taken by “Dictators” such as Army Generals, especially in the third world country. Pakistan has been victim of such circumstances in the near past.
Call of the rule of people in the 17th century, brought the concept of the liberty of information. Which gradually developed till the advent of 20th century as “Democracy”.Under libertarian orientation there is a free expression of will and that the majority will come closer to the truth and making rational decisions, therefore, the media in free societies ought also be free. It should be, free to seek and present the truth. They should confidently be kept informed, so that they can elect their representatives wisely, the masses should know how they work and what is the result of their working if they (representatives) do not work according to their wishes the masses should be informed so that they could bring a change.
Such concept cannot be developed unless there is an unmuzzled link between the people and the government. In order to ensure this free flow of information, constitutional provisions are enacted, for example article 19th of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 grants the independence to the press. First Amendment of the constitution of United States of America does the same.
Appeared in the early part of this century, generally with the inception of Bolshevic revolution 1917 in Russia.In such societies the Media is an instrument of the Government, it is not only operated but as well as owned by the government. Whatever the government deems fit is published or transmitted to the public. Though U.S.S.R. disintegrated but still there are visible marks of media control by the government. This land of pattern still exists in China.In Pakistan, where the society is yet to attain political maturity. There are certain anomalies alike, electronic media is under the control of Government whereas publishing media” is privately owned and has sufficient amount of freedom. As stated political maturity is yet to be attained we are gradually moving towards free and fair media.
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY THEORY.
This theory was evolved in the middle of this century. Over the concern of media out-let in fewer hands, as it cost a fortune to establish publishing or televised agency. It began to appear that media is not meant for the voice of media owners but that it should reflect’ the voice of the public. Thus the emphasis has shifted from media freedom to responsibility. Moral and ethical restrictions are placed on the media. It has become mandatory to ·reflect more and more of the public opinion. Usually libertarian societies have started practicing this ethical drill. The presence of opinions and analysis .of different people on the- same topic is outcome of the induction of this concept in the media function.
There is simply no limit to what media can do. It can perform miracles in a society. It can educate, guide persuade, antagonize, make you feel secure and content or can endanger you. It can change your view points, It can refine your opinions and what not? Today’s societies rely hard on the media. Media is not only meant for information but it also works as a-watch dog and caretaker of public interests, It fulfills the cultural political and economic needs of the society, media informs us, entertain us and as said “It invades us”. The means of media communication has become so instant that within minutes a person sitting in Las Vegas, Los Angeles or Washington becomes aware’ of the events taking place in Pakistan. The world has shrunk into a Global Village and within this Global Village, media plays a dominant role. Further due to this Global Village concept, the functions of media has enhanced. These days it even acts as baby seater. Individual versus society as a whole,
Media plays different role for each one of us and society as a collective unit. For example a persons ‘F’ might like detective stories while his friend ‘P’ might be crazy about romantic stories. One might be attracted to science while other to liberal arts. On might be politically conservative, while other a liberal. These paradoxes exist and Media attempts, not always, successfully to answer all those individual needs which may vary from person to person. It must also serve as collective cultural political and economic needs of society, It maintains social equilibrium. It facilitates the change, the society needs by gathering views of the public. It creates a public opinion. It can lead society to conservatism or it can create a liberal society.
CONCEPT APPLICABLE IN DEMOCRACY.
Democracy ‘attaches great importance to the media. It generally says that people are free to express their sentiments and to criticize the wrongs done. Thus a liberal but ethically balanced media is the foremost requirement of Democracy. Thus the theory of social responsibility is most applicable of all other concepts.
POWER OF MEDIA.
There is no doubt that media is a powerful instrument, both, as a voice of public and the voice of Government. It plays a very complex role. The basic power of the media is to influence, it exerts influence, in order
– to create public opinion
– to mould public opinion
– to ensure an existing public opinion
CREATION OF PUBLIC OPINION.
Without giving any weightage to communism as an ideology. (to a person of capitalistic society) communism is perceived as an ironed wall area, behind-which people are to work without consideration of their efforts and qualification. Where exists no enjoyment of life. Compare the same word with capitalism, free market constitutionalism, welfare state concept. One would vision a great deal of difference. Instead of iron curtain it is regarded as ground of velvety grass. Ask yourself another question. who created this difference whence you’re never been there? You have never lived in Russia or Perhaps you have never met a Russian through out your life to verify these views but you believe them, like you believe in a Gospel or some Holy revelations of God. This in fact is the creation of public opinion.
MOULDING OF PUBLIC OPINION.
Kashmir as generally known is a disputed territory. There exists two verdicts about this dispute. i.e. India and Pakistan. To India, Kashmir is its part. It has been decided by the constitutional assembly of the Indian held Kashmir and all is well. Whereas from the view point of Pakistan, it is a disputed territory and all is not well. India has deployed troops in the valley committing atrocities of Machiavellian nature. It IS holding the people of Kashmir against their will. This is all happening through media. The government of Pakistan is trying to picture that India is violating human rights and in many respect Pakistan has been able to negate the Indian view point in front of the world community. Similar was the case when Adlaf Hitler created the “Big Lie” against the Jews. He through massive u~e of media, moulded the public opinion of the German people that Jews were planning to rule the world. The concept was repeated so often that Germans began to believe; thus thousands of Jews were slaughtered. Thus whether it is a disinformation or a truth, media can establish anyone of these notions with equal strength and manifestation.
ENSURING THE EXISTENCE OF PUBLIC OPINION.
Nuclear energy has been a bone of discord since its discovery. The horrendous memories of the dropping of atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is still fresh. Yet the countries of the world are still pursuing the dangerous goals. What is the role of media? Though we all know that Nuclear energy is imperative for Pakistan in order to eliminate the Indian threat, yet side by side we also realize that Nuclear proliferation is dangerous. The power of media is being utilized to create this notion. The recent Nuclear proliferation dilemma of North Korea is one of such example. Thus media is ensuring the existence of this notion that Nuclear nonproliferation is imperative for the existence of this world or else the world may go to pieces.
MEDIA FUNCTION AND POWER IN PAKISTAN.
Media, as allover the world, is considered as a powerful component of the society. It plays various functions like education and elimination of evil in the society. The History of media, as the History of Pakistan, consists of less than half a century but even in this small span of time, the media in Pakistan has achieved considerable status. The society of Pakistan is bilingual i.e. English and Urdu and the media functions in both of them.
MAJOR FUNCTIONS WHICH THE MEDIA IS PERFORMING IN PAKISTAN:
Watch Dog. Among the major functions, media acts as watch dog of public interests. It points out the political anarchy prevailing in the society and defines and suggests the ways to eliminate them. It is important to point out that about half a decade ago media had nothing but the political news and as said by Fulbright a scholar of journalism, “Pakistani, newspapers are full of political news, which covers the considerable amount of a newspaper”. It gives comprehensive accounts of the government’s doing and by dint of different opinion, writers analyse the situation in a critical manner. The problem lies between electronic and published media. The electronic media is under the control of Government and as a result it does not reflect the voice of public but the voice of government wheres the publishing media is comparatively free since 1988, after the elimination of Marshal Law, reflects a more of public opinion, though there ate certain government owned and party owned newspapers.
THROWING OF THE CLOAK OF COLONIALISM.
Another major contribution which the media is making in Pakistan in throwing off the cloak of colonialism and reviving the spirit of Islamic and Pakistan; culture. Pakistan is moving toward modernism and the media is improving the ties of local and customary culture with the modem emerging values, The society of Pakistan is blessed with the western values. 1>,t: media is playing vital role in keeping the local culture alive,
Recently the reformative notions are beginning to take hold in order to eliminate the evil. Today we find that media is pin-pointing the evils present in the society. Even on the electronic media, talk-shows and Dramas, carries a definitive message while pointing out the evils of political, social and economic nature. Entertainment and worldly Information: Apart from its major functions, it also entertains the people. Books magazines, and newspapers all carry the notions of entertainment. In electronic media, the display of dramas and talk-shows are for entraining purposes, apart from message carrying, as well. The media also functions to provide us of local and International information and their subsequent effects on Pakistan. A message from the President of United States informs of the standing of Pakistan in the would community.
FREEDOM OF PRESS MEDIA.
Politically speaking, Pakistan is yet to become a true democratic society. There has been major upheavals. For most of the History, Pakistan has been ruled by Military Dictators or Civilians Dictators. As stated in the authoritarian theory such system wants compliance. Thus Press and Publication Ordinance, 1963 consisted of several black laws. Where publisher has to deposit too much security which used to be forfeited. There were provisions like not to publish the proceedings of National or Provincial assembly.
A newspaper was bound to publish the press note issued by any Government agency in full and without change and the governments was to determine whether certain publication is for public good or not. These black laws were eliminated by the new Ordinance. Registrations of Press and Publications Ordinance 1988. It is important to note that the press and publishing agencies have become relatively free after the Promulgation of 1988 Ordinance. In addition it is exerting considerable influence on the electronic media as well.
It will not be a wrong notion to add that Media has acquired the shape of “Fourth organ of the state” . The media, in fact. has broken away from the politics and at least in principal has established itself as an independent and imperative organ of any society. Independent of all institutions, including the State, political parties and pressure groups. the media has become eyes and ears of public which could not see for itself or indeed talk to itself. In the world ruled by interest and regulated by science public faded into a spectator. Watching thing happening around. media has provided them an opportunity to interact their voice and say in this complex structure.