What is the medias’ role in modern society? With Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in the 15th century, modern television and the internet, we are in the age of information. This overflow of information does, however, mean you have to be critical to what you see, hear and read. How news and other information are presented is essential to how the receiver interprets it; so what causes the media to present information the way they do?
The world is a competitive place, and to make profit, news agencies must adapt accordingly. There is a broad specter of news agencies that have different focuses on what they publish. You have “serious” and internationally recognized newspapers like The New York Times, and newspapers like The Sun, whose content may look more like gossip than news. Why aren’t all newspapers like The New York Times? One answer to that is probably that a lot of people prefer to read the, far from objective, gossip about celebrities, rather than the latest update on the crisis on Crimea. The more shocking the revelation, the more they sell.
The vast majority of the media present a lot more than news. Personally, I rarely watch live broadcasts on television, except from the seven-O’clock-news, because half of my time I’ll be watching commercials. It’s not just on the television either; magazines and newspapers are stuffed with these adverts. The amount of advertisement does vary of course, but generally it’s too much. Has the profit become more important than the news themselves, or are the news agencies simply forced to advertise in order to avoid bankruptcy?
In Norway, and most other countries in the West, the news agencies are independent organizations, under no obligation to the state or government. The people that live in the West, me included, may take this for granted, but in many places propaganda and censorship are common. The media is an essential part of the democracy, and if they’re not independent, there is no democracy. To exemplify, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un won several gold medals in this year’s Olympics, at least that’s what North Korean newspapers wrote.
I could write a long novel on this topic, but the lesson would remain the same. Sir Francis Bacon once said “knowledge is power”, and in many ways that’s true. What people think, or are convinced to think, affect their actions; the media has a great responsibility, as well as great power. So keep in mind whenever you are exposed to new information, that there is always more than one aspect to a matter.