"All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level."
~ William Bernbach, American advertising creative director
~ William Bernbach, American advertising creative director
That's what media is capable of. It can influence society both positively and negatively. While it can lead to blind imitation, it can also serve as a source of inspiration. Overexposure to media can cause information overload, but its right use leads to a global exchange of information. Wrong choices may have a negative impact on society, especially on children and teenagers. However, if used wisely, media proves to be a boon. It gives us a platform to voice our opinions on social and political issues. Owing to its reach and ease of access, it increases general awareness. It is the best source of information, entertainment, and inspiration. It provides us with effective means of communication, making the world a smaller place. Advanced technology has only multiplied its effects. In this OpinionFront article, we talk about how media affects us positively.
Exposure to the different forms of media leads to an increased awareness about what's happening around the world. Newspapers, web portals, and modern-day mobile apps that serve us news feeds, lead to a speedy spread of information. The latest in every field, be it entertainment, sports, or any other, news about major events across the globe, and information about what's new, what's trending, what's in, and what's out, reaches us within minutes, thanks to media. It makes us aware of the changing social or political scenario in not just our country, but the entire world. The changing economy, speculations about a rise or fall in the prices of goods, predictions about the growth or decline in jobs, and statistical studies in various other fields can help us plan for the future. An expected dip or rise in temperature, snow or rainfall, and harsh weather conditions are reported through weather forecasts in the news media. In case of epidemics, natural hazards, or man-made disasters, media spreads awareness about the associated risks and safety measures to take. Government or non-government organizations working for an environmental or social cause can use social media and its other forms to spread their message, thus making the commoners more socially aware and environmentally conscious.
Easy and Speedy Access
Due to the rapid spread of media to all parts of the world, the access to information is easy and fast. Owing to the web technology, almost everyone has access to information from anywhere in the world. Owing to technological developments, media is not limited to big cities. It has reached the world's remotest parts, thus increasing the accessibility of information. Imagine living without the TV or the Internet. Seems difficult, right? With the television reaching almost every household, access to sources of information and entertainment increased. The speed and ease of access was further boosted by the spread of Internet technology. Today, there are several websites, TV channels as well as newspaper columns and supplements dedicated to specific fields like food, travel, animal life, etc. Experts in the field can provide guidance to the readers/audience using these platforms. Thanks to modern communication media like mobile phones and email, people at distant locations can be reached within seconds. With the increasing reach of media, service providers are eager to advertise themselves through these channels. This in turn, increases the audiences' access to different products and services, giving them more options to choose from.
Media as a Platform
Social media has served as one of the best means to voice our opinions on any and everything in the world. Blogs are a great way for anyone to express his ideas. Conversations in the form of comments on social or blog posts, and discussions in online or news forums can help in the exchange of vital information or sharing of views. Media often acts as the link between talented/skilled people and those in search for them. For example, job portals serve as a link between recruiters and job seekers. These days, there are many talent shows on radio and TV, that give budding artists a platform to showcase their talent. Also, there are websites that allow you to exhibit your art. You can demonstrate your performing art, make a video, post it on one of these websites, promote it on your social profile, and see it go viral. Web, TV, and print media are some of the most popular advertising platforms. Businesses use these to market their products and increase their reach.
Source of Inspiration
Movies, documentaries, and books that portray lives of great people inspire many. True stories are told in a way that appeals to the readers/audience. Movies like Gandhi and Lincoln proved to be inspirational because they presented the struggle in the lives of these heroes. Books like The Secret and The Alchemist are popular as inspirational reads. Documentaries, telefilms, and TV shows that narrate true stories of a fight with life's difficulties, have a similar effect on the audience. Media also helps by enabling a small idea or message to spread far and wide, thus inspiring people to come together for a cause. A call for help can reach the masses and also encourage them to contribute. TV channels conduct talk shows and interviews with successful people. Knowing about their achievements and their struggle proves to be motivational for many.
Truth is Uncovered
Media is often blamed for sting operations, but it shouldn't be forgotten that it is also media that brings the reality into light. There are several instances of news media (print, radio, or television) giving voice to the poor and the neglected. The common man can voice his concerns and the media ensures that they are heard by the right people. It acts as a communication medium between the common man and the government, by sharing government policies with people and having their voice reach the governing authorities. Thanks to media, scams are uncovered and millions are saved from losses. Media exposes to the world, cases of corruption, crime, scandals, and acts of abuse. Their cameras help bring out world's dark realities and make the common man aware of them. Corrupt people, criminals, and abusers fear the law as well as the media, for they know it can expose their reality. Media's power poses a serious threat to those acting wrong.
Media as an Industry
The media industry has opened doors to many new careers and led to a growth in many others. News reporters, correspondents, writers, musicians, designers, developers, animators, recordists, camera operators, makeup artists, costume designers, and engineers; the media industry needs them all. There are specializations in most media careers and considering the growth of this industry, the demand for these professionals will only rise. With the increase in media channels, there is a rise in the demand for advertising and marketing professionals too.
It is clear that media influences daily living. Media content contributes to a change in the values of society. It can bring a change in our system of beliefs, attitude towards life, and personality as a whole. It can change the way we think. Its persuasive nature (for example, advertisements) can influence our thoughts and behavior. It exposes us to a new world, that we can associate ourselves with. It won't be wrong to say that society is shaped by mass media. But it is also true that media is a reflection of society.