Role of media in times of social disharmony

ROLE OF MEDIA IN TIMES OF SOCIAL DISHARMONY

INTRODUCTION

The prominence of communication in human life cannot be overvalued. This is credible because, beyond the biological prerequisites of food and roof, man requires to communicate with his/her fellow human beings. This desire for communication is an early one and, in our modern civilization, a requirement for survival. That is to explain, without communication, no society can prevail, much less develop and survive. For the validity as well as the organization of every society, communication is a basic and crucial process.

Media is the most promising tool for communication for mass audiences. With the assistance of various media like electronic media, print media, and web media, the mass communication method is achieved adequately.

Today, we can look into the latest news and current affairs with just limited taps on the phone or by merely switching on the radio or television, apart from looking at the newspaper every daybreak. Media plays a very substantial role in keeping everyone modernized about the numerous incidents around the world. An enormous bulk of people, all around the globe, rely upon several sources of media for keeping themselves updated on the ongoing matters around the planet.

IMPACT OF MEDIA

Mass media and other elements of communication technology have a tremendous impact on enabling to mold civil opinion and underlying sentiment. Newspapers, TV, and radio are all significant references for basic information about different cultures and other places. This can itself help to engender comprehending if illustrated in a fair, even-handed, and non-inflammatory means.

The significance of mass media has an impact on several facets of human life, which can comprise voting a certain manner, personal impressions, and notions, or skewing an individual’s understanding of a distinct theme due to being given inaccurate data. Media is an ever-changing arena and is being critiqued now more than ever by the public. The all-around impact of mass media has boosted drastically over the years and will proceed to do so as the media itself improves.

Media influence is the real force put forth by a media message, arising in either a modification or reinforcement in audience or self moralities. Media effects are measurable consequences that occur from media impact or a media message. Whether a media message has a consequence on any of its audience units is contingent on many components, including audience demographics and psychological traits. These impacts can be positive or negative, sudden or incremental, short-term,m, or long-lasting. A media message can build or break an opinion and not all consequences outcome in change; some media messages strengthen a prevailing belief.

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Researchers assess an audience after media exposure for transitions in awareness, belief systems, and sentiments, as well as emotional, physiological, and behavioral effects.

SOCIAL DISHARMONY

The coexistence of media and social turbulence does not indeed indicate that one results in the other. Several scholars have tried to sketch out if there is a relationship between access to media and unrest, but it’s an incredibly difficult assignment.

For one thing, media and its services are ever-changing their working system, making them hard to study over time. Connectivity also progresses at a lightning-fast pace. In 2018, for example, internet penetration in rural India hiked at an annual ratio of 30%, connecting hundreds of millions of people for the first time. Today, roughly three Indian citizens are introduced to the internet every second.

Since the emergence of modern media, it has been widely ratified by the thinkers that new media enriches democracy, freedom of speech, and civic movements; however, they have mostl rejected new media’s potential for narcotizing. It is contended that although modern media can be a valuable tool for assisting users in getting organized, develop contents and circulate these contents out to their peers; heightened dosages of mass communication, during the moments of unrest, may transform the stability of citizens from active participation to passive knowledge and this may direct people to become passive protesters. Concepts of “clicktivism” and “slacktivism” have put forth ‘the dark sides’ of social media.

DANGEROUS SPEECH

No one has ever been born loathing or fearing other people. That has to be educated – and those toxic lessons seem to be similar, though they’re given in highly disparate cultures, languages, and places. Leaders have utilized specific kinds of rhetoric to turn factions of people violently against one another throughout the human past by demonizing and bad-mouthing others. The vocabulary varies, but the same principles recur. Such language (or impressions or any other form of communication) is termed as “Dangerous Speech.”

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This, in times of distress, spikes into the media and adversely affects the psyche of the people. In December 2017, Twitter began implementing new protocols towards hate speech, banning multiple accounts as well as establishing new guidelines for what will be authorized on their platform. Yahoo!’s terms of service prohibit the posting of “content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortuous, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable.” Such steps have been taken up to seize the presence of dangerous speech on media.

FAKE NEWS

Fake news, as we know it, is infamous for causing distress. While some fake news may have started with reasonable motives, many who develop fake news are encouraged either to make money or destabilize communities through anxiety or hatred.
When fake news takes off out of control, as it often does, it turns out to hurt people — and it’s not just online statuses that endure, but as we’ve seen from current catastrophes, physical violence can also surge. These in moments of civic unrest can kindle the fire of hostility and result in causalities.

DELHI COMMUNAL RIOTS

The turmoil in India’s capital is possibly the major large-scale uprisings in the nation to play out under the entire glare of media.

Crowd sourced footage here has influenced and was of a pivotal testimonial function. Moreover, with many journalists documenting from the riot-hit neighbourhoods, correspondents were being forced by residents to delete videos as well as pictures from their devices. Admission to information was curtailed during communally charged situations when media organizations either self-censored because of documenting protocols or due to their institutional predispositions.

And while social media is undoubtedly inclined to misinformation but, footage substantiated by fact-checking organizations have assisted to ascertain the full scale of the spectacle that unraveled on Delhi’s streets.

COVID- 19 PANDEMIC

The WHO declared a ‘mystery pneumonia’ on 31 December 2019; the media have been observing every phase of this journey – with numerous articles, endless headlines, and constant updates across the past few weeks.

The modern war against misinformation on most social media platforms is mainly focused on so-called “bad actors” that intentionally circulate lies and deceiving information, sometimes for political profits. Facebook, for example, utilizes a computerized system to serve potentially erroneous content to third-party fact-checkers who then recognize, study and rate inaccurate articles so that their diffusion can be reduced.
Imitating that undertaking on a longer-term purpose would be a substantial lift for the platforms, and it barely may not be possible given the quantity of deceit and false information on several issues is circulated on media daily.

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The mass media is devoted to countering the trauma of Covid-19. It is emphasizing that it is essential to keep the fighting spirit of the people up, it emphasises that it is significant to tackle the spread of dismay, negativity andrumor-mongering. The media has played a commendable role in transmitting information to every nook of the nation. This makes the media all the more crucial in fighting this grave challenge and dissipating correct information about it at micro level.

CONCLUSION

Media is asserted to be the fourth pillar of democracy. One of its significant roles is to notify people about the things that are happening, in an unbiased manner. It is also critical to give reasonable and real news during the turmoil to help with the progress of society. In delicate times, it impacts on public opinion, determines the political agenda, provides a link between the government and the people, functioning as a government watchdog, and implicating socialization.
In conclusion, the mass media plays an integral role in influencing the minds of individuals during times of unrest. Due to agenda setting task of the mass media, the mass media agenda comes to be the public agenda over time. Therefore, it is upon the mass media to play a credible role in establishing their Lippmann agenda since it will become a public agenda in the long-run. There is higher responsibility for media organizations since irresponsible behavior is likely to affect national interests.
“When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often a radical distortion. The complex is made over into the simple, the hypothetical into the dogmatic, and the relative into an absolute.”
-Walter Lippmann

 

Author: Lavanya Rai,
ICFAI LAW SCHOOL, IFHE, HYDERABAD

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