By Sumeet Kaur:
Everyone is talking about social change as the need of the hour. Lot of NGO’s and social activists through various campaigns are working towards bringing about a change in the society. We as citizens of a developing country have to accept the fact that mainstream media is powerful and is the lens through which we see the world. Therefore, if we want to bring about a change then we have to change the way people think. But then how is this possible? How can we control the mindsets of people? What is it that presently has the utmost power to control the mindsets of the masses right from social, political to economic gains? The answer is the media. We need to change the way the media operates because it is media that is controlling the minds of the people. Now, can that really be possible? Can we control the media or can we be empowered to do so? We cannot deny the role of media as an informer and educator. The media has immensely contributed towards breaking barriers and dissemination of information. An informed citizen with access to a free and representative media is necessary for the proper functioning of a democracy.
Mass media and journalism students are amongst the educated lot, those who know that media ownership is concentrated in the hands of few giants and it is they who are controlling the media for their interests and the common man is a mere spectator who is forced to believe whatever is shown to him/her. We need to look at two aspects which are very important – firstly who is producing the content that we are watching and what is it that is being produced? Everyone has the right to speak, rather than be spoken for. The young and impatient section of the society who have the zeal to bring about social change can effectively use technology, social media and their media skills for this cause. Local media can link local life and the actual life of an individual, in a way that mainstream media cannot and that is what can be tapped for the advantage of the people if we want to bring about a social change. There is enormous potential that exists if local media is put to the right use.
Media and journalism students can very well bring about social change if they work in partnership for the benefit of local level communities and run and manage media production centres and teach people to voice their opinions and share their perspectives on the issues that matter to them — on a local level at the very beginning and then take it to the next level. Media production can educate the masses as well give them a platform to discuss, debate and find out solutions to problems. The passive consumer can be made an active producer, and if such a change happens society immediately gains.
Media and journalism students need to realize their responsibility towards society. They are the ones who have the right know how about the new media technologies besides the journalistic and production skills. If they sacrifice the lucrative glamour industry and work at the grassroot levels, they can equip people with critical thinking abilities, and enable them to produce content the way they perceive it. Content produced by these fully-trained individuals may be broadcast in mainstream media or through local media. Adequate training can bring about a change in the life of hundreds of people be it students, teachers, artists, photographers, housewives, daily labourers, and others from different walks of life. Only media education has the power to bring about a social change and reach out to millions of people. This will only help people in differentiating the right from the wrong and understanding the hidden meaning or commercial implication of the content that they watching, constructed in a manner that gives every viewer the illusion of reality. Apart from generating ideas, the capacity to make ideas happen is a combination of the forces of organization, community, and leadership skills. Bringing about a social change is indeed in the hands of the youth. With a right blend of talent they can certainly make it happen. Young graduates can not only discover the media world, but also bond with our worldwide human family through communication. They can be the ones who truly know how to live and contribute to our global human community.