The Media Distort Our Understanding of the World

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The media distort our understanding of what is happening in the world? Discuss. Justify your answer with the use of examples. Discussing whether the media distorts our understanding of the world creates the question of what the actual role of the media is. In a democratic society, the role of the media is to provide the public with enough information for them to be able to elect a government. As well as this, the role of the media is supposed to be to represent the public and act as a watchdog to inform the people of any issues which they would need to act on (www.communicationism.org). The title of this essay is vital for one to think about because the media affects our lives in many ways. One may decide to read the newspaper on a daily basis whilst on the train to work and what they read may have a positive or negative impact on their day. The media is used to send messages to people, through television, newspapers, radio and the internet, just to name a few of the main ones. However, today’s media delivers a lot more than just political news to the public; it has developed a culture which convinces the ordinary man to purchase more materialistic items than they are capable of acquiring, exaggerating news about crime and violence to the extent where people are frightened. In a particular case, an article written by the Ilford recorder reported about children with anti-social behaviour issues that are causing problems for local residents, it mentions, “Police also confirm a mobile phone was stolen from Hainault community centre in Manford Way two weeks ago, which is thought to be linked to the other crimes” (www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk). The key terms used here are “thought to be linked”. This example shows that without stating any sufficient evidence to support a statement, the media has alleged that one crime is linked to another, thus distorting the story to the reader. Providing some of the details can only create assumptions in the mind of the reader, which cannot be good for anyone. It could lead them to believe that the area is a dangerous place to be and that it should never be visited, because of a small number of children. This essay comments on the language used by people working in the media and how it can change a person’s view on the world or even develop a totally different image to the truth. Could it be possible that organisations with large sums of money have the ability to control what the audience is informed about through the media? Journalists are the people that collect the news from events that occur in the world, they then pass the news stories into newsrooms where editors of news programmes can select what they feel will attract attention from viewers. Editors tend to have “tick lists” of a sort to identify which stories will meet their news values. News values are in three categories: Impact, Audience identification, Pragmatics of media coverage (www.btinternet.com). It is through this process that the quality and purpose of the news that the public receive has changed over time. A chapter in a book written by Curran J (2000: 20-21), supports the fact that journalism is affected by “corporate elites because they are key shareholders or even directors of media organisations. The way in which these corporate elites affect journalism is by putting financial pressure to censor texts and gain advantageous coverage or even just to attract a specific audience”. Television is a form of media which creates audiences instead of programmes, according to a chapter written by Seaton J (2003: 179) in the book Power without Responsibility. This chapter agrees that advertisers tend to control commercial television and what goes on it with the use of their financial power; a few seconds of an advertisement can buy into thousands of people’s minds. While we live in a society where there is free press, which means that the media has the right to publicise any type of information, it is remarkable how the original...
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