The 21st century could well be defined as the Age of Media. Never before in history has the media been such an all-powerful mode of forming public opinion and disseminating ideas. It has become an essential part of our lives. Although, over the years, the media has been through a lot of changes, and the world has witnessed a change in the amount and authenticity of information that they receive from the newspapers, news channels, and other types of mass media.
In the earlier times, media used to be a positive, constructive mode of forming public opinion. It used to be called as “the fourth estate”, or “the backbone of democracy, both the titles suggesting that it was a very powerful, and essential service. It used to inform, entertain, and most importantly educate people, before the internet or the television came into being. It created a sense of awareness among people about the happenings around the world.
However, over the years, the role of media has changed, and become somewhat questionable. From its original role, it has come down to become a mere commercial venture, sponsored (controlled) by corporate houses. Most of the times, we only see what the media wants us to see, hear what it wants us to hear, and think what it wants us to think.
Media, in today’s world, being controlled by totalitarian regimes, the government, a few influential people, often hides some facts and truth. It has become a pawn in the hands of political parties and what used to be called ethical journalism, which was unbiased, objective, free minded, embedded with ideas of equality and justice has degraded into bigoted opinions which do more harm than good. It has become propagandist in nature.
Talking about propaganda, that’s where education saves us. The more educated and aware we are, the less we suffer.
The digital world, which includes the social networking sites has taken over, and has some negative impact as well, such as rumor mongering, or, as we witnessed in recent times, war mongering. It has become a place where people hide behind their virtual selves.
The condition of other types of media is also degrading, which has led to a sense of fear and insecurity among the common people.
Although deteriorating, the current state of media, has to change for better, as in a healthy democracy the ideas of ethics and justice are never separable from the role of a vibrant media.