Mass Media vs Social Media: The Century Of Citizen And Responsible Media

Posted on September 8, 2011 in Columns, Media and Culture

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The biggest 21st century achievement is the establishment of free media that has been a strong and robust recourse against abuses of power within the democratic structures of modern societies. It is not unusual for the three traditional areas of power – legislative, executive and judicial – to make mistakes and operate less perfectly than they might. This is more likely to happen under authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, where the political realm is mainly responsible for violations of human rights and attacks on liberties.

In a democratic framework the media have often seen it as a duty to denounce such violations of human rights. Journalists have paid the price: they have been physically attacked, murdered or have disappeared.

This is why; media is often seen as the “fourth estate”. Thanks to the civic responsibility of the media and the courage of individual journalists, this fourth estate has provided a fundamental and democratic means for people to criticize, reject and reverse decisions (unfair, unjust, illegal and sometimes even criminal) against innocent people. Free media is the voice of those who have no voice.

Unfortunately, over the past 20 years, with the acceleration of globalization and the digital revolution that shattered the divisions that previously separated the three traditional forms of communication (sound, text and images) and allowed the creation and growth of the internet, this fourth estate has been stripped of its potential to change societies in a more democratic way, and has gradually ceased to function as a counter power.

Within this geo-economic framework there has been a decisive transformation in the mass media, striking at the heart of their structure as industries. The mass communications media (radio, newspapers, television, and internet) are being realigned to create media groups with a world vocation. Giant media enterprises have realized that the revolution in new technology has greatly increased their possibilities for expansion, but not necessarily in the interest of promoting freedom of speech and democratic societies.

Subsequently the media companies began a further stage of group restructuring, by bringing into a single frame, not only the classic media (press, radio and television) but also all activities in mass culture, communication and information. These three spheres previously separated; have gradually become integrated into a single sphere in which it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between the elements of mass culture, communication and news.

These modern hyper-enterprises have been concentrated, and have bought their way into a wide variety of media sectors in many different countries on every continent. They have acquired such economic weight and ideological importance that they are now major players in globalization itself. And they are only preoccupied with growth, which means that they have to develop relations with the other estates in society, so they no longer claim to act as a fourth estate with a civic objective and a commitment to denouncing human rights abuses.

They are not interested in correcting the malfunctions of democracy and creating a better political system. They have no interest in being a fourth estate and even less in acting as a countervailing power. And even when they do constitute a fourth estate, that estate is just an adjunct to the existing political and economic estates and operates as a supplementary media power to crush people.

As young leaders, how do we react to all of this? How can we resist the offensive nature of this new power that has betrayed the ideal of building a democratic society? The answer is simple.

First, we have to engage and lobby with the Media companies and lobby them to use their important influence and power to help protect truth and personal freedom by adopting the resolution presented within this important gathering.

Secondly, we have to use our creativity and the opportunities made available by Social Media platforms to create more space and tools that will increase the freedom of speech any place and anywhere.

Thirdly, we have to continue to lobby our own governments and international institutions, like this gathering, to impose the needed analysis and the necessary reform to be adopted for an ethical approach from major media; to require, from them, a commitment to truth and a respect for codes of conduct, so that journalists can operate in line with their consciences rather than the interests of the groups, companies and editors that employ them.

One of humanity’s most precious rights is the right to freely communicate our thoughts and opinions. No law should be allowed arbitrarily to restrict press freedom and the freedom of speech. But these freedoms can only be exercised by media enterprises if they do not infringe other rights that are equally sacred, such as the right of each citizen to have access to uncontaminated news. Under the pretext of freedom of expression media enterprises should not be allowed to disseminate false news, or conduct campaigns of ideological propaganda.

In the new war of ideology that globalization has forced on us; Medias are used as a weapon. Since we now face a multiplication and over-abundance of information, our news is being contaminated – poisoned by lies, polluted by rumors, misrepresentations, distortions and manipulation.

But at the same time, people, and specifically youth, in many parts of the world are now beginning to realize, that today’s news are poisons to our minds, pollutes our brains, manipulates us, intoxicates us, and tries to instill into our subconscious ideas that are not our own.

That is why we suggest that youth from every part of the world should be supported to setting up their own Social Media. It will, at last, give youth and people a peaceful civic weapon against the emerging superpower of the big mass media that push their interests to the detriment of the general interest, and confuse their freedom with the freedom of enterprise, held to be the first of liberties.

We all are the witnesses of the amazing achievement Tunisians, Egyptians and Libyans did to throw away dictators and dead bits out of their governments by only using social media. The organic news made the silent dream of freedom declared as loudly as possible!
The trust between friends, and the news that our friends share are more valuable than what a journalist would “analyze!” By using these tools Revolutions took places and literally changed the map of the world. It is true that we’ve engaged a change, but I invite you all to think about how Social media can cure the social mess these revolutions have made.

Building and helping the youth from every place to set-up their own social media will allow youth to provide their own news, telling their own stories, in a more diverse and colorful way than the formatted news distilled by the mass media. It will be our response: setting up the foundation that will allow youth from everywhere to grow and share their own organic news.

Press freedom is nothing more than the extension of collective freedom of expression, which is the foundation of democracy. We cannot allow it to be hijacked by the rich and powerful. It implies a social responsibility and its exercise must remain, in the final instance, under the control of society. A society that we, the youth, will be inheriting from you.

We the youth believe that the absolute media freedom that the owners of the major communications groups pursue so insistently will necessarily be detrimental to the people of the world, and by extension to us, the youth, leaders of tomorrow.

We, the youth, are saying that this century will be one where communication and information at last belong to the youth and the people of the world and that we will continue to fight against the expropriation of our right of expression. NOW THIS IS A WAKE UP CALL.

Barryck is a true twittaholic by all means! @tweetdeck’s notifications are the best thing to please him. From Djibouti, (right behind Australia yeah), he shares everything he finds valuable. The best project he has been involved in? One Young World. He is Blogger, Business adviser, Concerned citizen, Educator/Teacher, Marketer. You can follow him on Twitter of friend him on Facebook.

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