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Human Needs

By FatinAziz Nov 02, 2010 1833 Words
The human needs that the mass media help to satisfy in terms of the news and entertainment media.

Competition has become increasingly keen in the area of the mass media as they keep fighting for the attention of the readers, listeners, and TV-viewers. The life and death of each newspaper and TV station is at stake here when the income from advertising and sponsoring is proportional to the number of readers or viewers. The printed media have problems competing with the electronic media as sources of news. In order to survive, they are increasingly turning to other strategies such as entertainment, titillation, scandal mongering, and spreading fear - and spending fewer resources on serious researching of news. This is not only about the survival of the fittest of the news media, it is also about cultural selection and political selection. The news media are the most important channels for the propagation of culture, ideas, and opinions. Most opinion formation takes place when people sit and watch news and debates on television. Analyzing the cultural selection in the electronic information society, we find that an important part of the selection lies in the choice between TV channels. Millions of lazy viewers sit in their comfortable arm-chairs with remote controls in their hands zapping between action films, revivalist preachers, and commercials for a new fragrance, hardly realizing that by choosing which cultural and political influences they expose themselves to, they also chose the cultural and political evolution of their country. It is important to analyze which selection criteria are in effect here. The electronic media are first and foremost pacifying. It is a relaxation machine, and the viewer wants to be entertained. The faces on the screen are not chosen for their opinions but for their entertainment value. TV stations do not compete on ideologies but on sense impressions. An extreme example is music videos, satiated with fast changing sense impressions sound as well as in pictures. The media affect us in many ways: as a major socialising influence, a carrier of culture, a source of information, education and entertainment, an important factor in political communication and participatory democracy, and a communicator of ideological values and norms, attitudes and beliefs. The media also both represents and constructs conceptions of what constitutes a successful and valued life, along with what is considered to be deficient, deviant, marginalised or undesirable. In all these ways, the media exert an influence on identity formation and associated issues to do with stigma, self-esteem, social relations, economic and political positions. For instance, the way in which socio-economic status is framed in the entertainment and news media significantly influences how audiences feel about social equity and how they treat those who are impoverished, homeless, or unemployed. As the media analyst Diana Kendall argues: “myths and negative perceptions about the working class and the poor create a reality that seemingly justifies the superior positions of the upper-middle and upper classes and establishes them as entitled to their privileged position in the stratification system” (Kendall, 2005: 2-3). While it is true that lack of education is a strong determinant of poverty, it is also clear that more affluent members of society and media practitioners themselves require education about poverty if this situation is to improve. Talking about the role of media in society or audience, news media depend very much on their audience for economic reasons. They have to publish whatever makes people buy their newspapers, listen to their radio programs, or tune in to their TV shows and stay tuned through the commercial breaks. This is what newsworthiness really is about, catching the attention of the audience by presenting something spectacular, unusual, emotionally touching, and something that people can identify with. The concept of psychological is really in place here. Topics like danger, food and sex make people pay attention. Keeping informed about dangers in the environment was of vital importance to our ancestors in primeval society, which is the reason why we have a surveillance instinct that make us hunger for news about possible dangers. News about deviance, crime, and disaster are particularly salient. The media have often been criticized for publishing too much bad news, but the fact is that the audience actually pay more attention to stories about crime and disaster than to good news. The bad news are not always very relevant. Horrific stories about some bizarre and morbid crime that has happened in a faraway place may be more button pushing than reports about well known and trivial dangers like traffic accidents or unhealthy eating habits. The average TV viewer may pay more attention to the story about a bizarre crime although (s)he is extremely unlikely to be affected by a similar crime, at the same time ignoring warnings about the immensely higher risks of traffic accidents or unhealthy life. Another pervasive psychological factor in the preferences of the audience is personal identification. A story is much more touching if presented in terms of personalities than if presented as abstract principles. A political conflict is perceived as much more interesting if it is framed as a personal battle between politicians than if framed as a clash between ideologies and a crime story is more touching if vulnerable victims voice their anger and grief. More than that, newspapers get more than half of their revenues from advertisers, and most radio and TV stations get all their revenues from advertising and sponsoring (Weis & Burke 1986). Obviously, the advertisers have a strong influence on news contents. Such an influence is usually considered unethical, but is nevertheless difficult to avoid. In order to attract advertisers, the media often generate a "buying mood" by discussing topics of relevance to the advertised products and avoiding any criticism of commercial products or of consumerism in general. The influence of advertisers may be even more direct, although clandestine. Occasionally, advertisers have imposed economic sanctions against newspapers that have criticized their products. Discussions of the health hazards of smoking are almost absent from magazines that carry tobacco advertisements, although less important health hazards are covered extensively. The owners of tobacco factories can influence even magazines that do not allow tobacco advertisements because the same investors also own other companies that advertise in these magazines (Weis & Burke 1986). Advertisers and sponsors are afraid of controversial programs unless this is exactly their niche. It is easy to observe that the more competition there is between the news media, the more entertaining and less serious becomes the news programs and political debates. Economic selection can override other factors like ideology because economic selection can kill the news-producing company. Imagine a town where there are two newspapers, A and B. A is a quality newspaper where ethical principles of fairness and relevance are held in high regard, while B is a popular newspaper indulging in sensationalism, titillating sex scandals, and slander. Journalists prefer to work for A because it endorses the principles that they consider the hallmark of their trade. Many consumers, however, buy B because its sensational front-pages catch their attention. The advertisers, too, place more money in B than in A because B extols their products while A often criticizes poor products and unfair business methods. Soon A gets economic problems that forces it to reduce its journalistic staff, reduce the number of pages, and raise the price of the paper. The lowered quality of A now makes more readers turn to B. The vicious circle keeps turning and the economy of A keeps spiralling down until its total demise. This example is not pure fiction. It can be observed everywhere. This proves that the overall economic selection can override selection processes that take place at a lower level and force the news producers to compromise their ethical principles. A study of the selection of news in major American TV stations and newsmagazines in the 1970'es concludes that economic factors had little influence on the journalists in their selection of stories. This was in a period where the media enjoyed the benefit of a rapid economic growth. Apparently, the good economy permitted the media the luxury of setting idealistic principles higher than economic considerations. The present trend is a homogenization of the news media: different media rely increasingly on the same sources, they may have the same owners, the same advertisers, and share the same market. The result is that the different news outlets often tell the same stories and in the same way, only blended with different kinds of entertainment. They avoid controversy and complicated background information and rely increasingly on the button pushing effect of sensationalism and personalizing. The media are so much part of us that to recognize their impact, we must step back and consciously think about how they shape our lives and what they are saying. The media affects people perspective not only through television, but also through radio and newspaper. In this way, even many messages with which we cannot agree, inevitably coming to us from a diverse constellation of media, will not hurt us. They can even be turned to our benefit by whetting our understanding and articulation of what we believe. The media also plays on people’s fears. As a media student, I have constantly realized that indeed media is a very powerful weapon that is used to target not few but large masses. It is very essential for media to promote itself and others in a right manner because we must use media as an entertaining as well as an informative platform to make ourselves aware of things happening around us. And it is true that many times media gives undue coverage to issues which are really not important to a common man and neglects other important matters. It would be so good if media is used as a platform by the people and for the people to make our world a beautiful place by providing the important information and right kind of entertainment. Conclusion is, because of media that we are all aware of what is happening around us. Not only does it bridges the gap between the government and the the general public but it also provides us with the information about what is happening in the other parts of the world, the new technologies that is being developed, about inventions, disasters and almost everything. How media takes place in society, advertising, economic and political consequences, everything is just one click away. When we talk about media, we are not talking about the electronic media only, it includes newspapers, magazines, radio, internet etc. Though it is true that electronic media is more prevalent and it has greater impact on the masses, but the role of other media cannot be neglected. There are people who take keen interest in watching these sensationalised news. so in my opinion, it depends on the masses itself, of what kind of news they are seeking. In short there is something for everyone.

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