Is The Ad World Controlling the Media?

Posted on February 14, 2010 in Society

Swati Chawla:

Flicker through a news channel or simply gawk at the billboard and you will notice a signage displaying the arduous amount of money pooled in to win the hearts and wallets of the customers. Ever since mass media became mass media, the corporate industry has added a new spectrum to its vicinity. That would include wider control on media through the excessive display of resources. The question that commands attention is whether the media industry has become a natural corollary to brand ‘Corporate’? Is it losing focus on the content or is it being driven by some overarching control?

The direction of this industry is defined by the evaluation of its target. Media’s ‘audience’ is the ad world’s ‘consumer’. While easy consumerism is promoted through the rise of sophisticated advertising, however, the question is whether media is being able to meet its journalistic endeavors.

As the trending goes, the traditional advertising methods have been replaced by newer techniques of brand promotion and market research. In the entire flourishing scenario of the ad world, media has more or less been relegated to a position of the execution of individual interests. This happens when most of the funding comes from the different departments of the Ad World. These fund givers are also attention grabbers. Socio-political journalism, in a way, is driven by them. It therefore, becomes easier for the department heading the monetary control to completely drive its content. Ben Bagdikian, a prominent media critic, and author of the well-acclaimed book ‘The Media Monopoly’, clearly describes the pressure on media companies to change content (to “dumb down”) and to shape content based on the demographics of the audiences. With a wider control on the programmatic framework of their medium of product telecast, clearly the content would be centered to the needs of the audience rather than the truth. In such a case, political news would seem rather apolitical. There is also a possibility of tampering the news to match it with the quality of the product. To connote it simply, the news of a husband killing his wife could easily be juxtaposed to the selling of a better brand of knife!! Hilarious as it may sound, the chances of such a situational crisis seems to be rather possible.

While the advertising industry promises better growth through better funds, it cannot completely evade its duty towards the social sector. Mere remote controlling the media to gather a wider network of ‘consumers,’ must not negate its journalistic vision. The ad world sure has a lot of impact on the media, but to say that it is the only driving force would be incorrect.

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz