© Media Watch 10 (3) 451-452, 2019
ISSN 0976-0911 e-ISSN 2249-8818
Changing Dynamics of Mass Media
Society is dynamic. Keeping pace with society, social science is also evolving. So, save basics like fundamental concepts and models; many theories in social science tend to become obsolete sooner than physical science. Rapid technological advancement has made the situation more amorphous. Societal norms and social behaviors are changing at a never-before-pace. If society is like a human body, then communication is its nervous system. The advent of Web2.0 technology and subsequent developments has altered the grammar of mass communication. Time demands to revisit the established theories of communication science and revalidate them in the changing scenario and if necessary, reconstruct them or formulate new ones. This is what Vasupradha Srikrishna vouches for in her article “Neoliberal Media Making the Public Interest and Public Choice Theory Obsolete: Need for a New Theory.” The author draws the attention of communication scholars to the fact that in India, the present pattern of media’s working hardly makes it any different from other industries where profit maximization is the ultimate aim. This attitude of media owners results in the unholy nexus among media houses, corporate, and politicians. Media houses profit from corporate advertising; the corporate want politicians to frame favorable rules; politicians need publicity. This vicious triangle has relegated public interest to oblivion. The concept of media net has ushered in. Paid news is gradually being accepted as the new normal. Media Watch’s January 2012 issue editorial has had a prescient comment: “The upholding of the sacredness of facts and the formation of true and helpful public opinion – two basic responsibilities of all media- will be thrown to wind when the lines between advertisements and news/ features vanish and media users are taken for a ride to the wilderness of unethical transactions.” Though, Vasupradha’s research is centered on Indian panorama; the observations are more or less universally relevant as the picture and structure of media are almost same all over the world except a few countries ruled by autocratic regimes.
Contrary to age-old ethics, even in democracies, Media houses no more consider unbiased reporting sacrosanct. Under the umbrella of agenda-setting and framing, facts are twisted and concocted. Amer Qasem and Adnan Bin Hussein in their paper highlight how media houses toe the elitist line and present contorted facts to shape public opinion at home on international issues. Their analysis suggests that it is no surprise if officials as news sources work as propaganda filters, however, it is nothing but defilement of media ethics if respected newspapers like The New York Times care less about the other side’s viewpoint. A similar streak permeates through the article “Assessment of News Items Objectivity in Mass Media… : The Brexit Case.”
Tatyana N. Vladimirova et al. extended their scope of research to four mass media of three countries, namely the US, Russia, and Ukraine, belonging to two different continents. They observed that on Brexit issue, the concerned four mass media had disseminated the same events in completely different ways though their countries had no direct stakes. Only one mass media gave a neutral assessment. The other three betrayed partiality and distortion in their presentation. They seem to have followed their respective administration’s line in different degrees.
Tahat duo opines that agenda-setting theory’s second level is framing theory. Their article ‘Framing Middle Eastern Ethnic Minorities’ reinforces the concern that news sources, when withhold or partly give information, negatively impact the media content. The write-up bringsforth the predicament of small ethnic minorities of the Middle East and how, at their expense, the interest of two other large minority groups is promoted by various media houses. Tran Son Tung’s article “The Analysis of the Tendency of the Vietnamese Media…” takes VnExpress as a case study. His analysis delineates how this Vietnamese media driven by nationalist fervor portrays Chinese tourists in a negative way. Their presence in Vietnam is projected as a threat to the nation’s history and culture.
Digitization now enabled Social Media to rule the roost amongst various mass media constituents. Social media’s non-linear characteristic and multifarious interactive potential fascinate the youth most. Apart from real-time information dissemination, it facilitates the exchange of user-generated content. For students of Kuwait, social media like Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter work as vehicles of self-expression. Fatima Alsalem’s research concludes that Kuwaiti students are particularly fond of photo-sharing platforms. They use these platforms as a means of self-documentation, which can be shared with friends and followers. In the case of the Malaysian youth, Nurzali Ismail et al. in their research “Why Do They Post…” have found that young Malaysians prefer to rely on social media information in case of natural disasters. Not only the immediacy nature of the social media information, but also a belief that facts released by authorities are filtered and news disseminated by television and newspapers does not provide the whole picture, contribute for such an attitude of the Malaysian youth.
The status of women in a patriarchal Arab world though rising, in the write-up “Towards a Transformative Image of Arab Women,” Layla AlSaqer rues at the slow pace of uplift. The author dissects the Arab social media advertisements on domestic-violence and observes that the very purpose is defeated because they inadvertently perpetuate the stereotype image of women. Zatil Hidayah Abdullah et al. also highlight the perpetuation of the patriarchal order in the representation of women in beauty product promotions. Women are projected as the object of male desire. Not only that, the age-old saying “health is wealth” is conveniently dispensed with and the importance of beauty is promoted at the cost of physical and mental health though beauty is skin-deep, transitory and lies in the eyes of the beholder.
Wang Changsong takes back focus from new media to the cinema, a century-old mass medium. Wang scans the attitude and approach of Malaysians towards cinema in the article “Cinema Attendance…in Malaysia” and finds out that localized themes are more appealing. Shailja Khaduri picks up print media as the subject of research and looks into factors that contribute to the growth of newspapers in India while in other developed and developing countries print media is in recession mode. The author concludes that strategic initiatives like product, marketing, and societal marketing innovations are the prime impetus behind print media’s expansion.
Sathyaraj and Sweetha lift the theme of discourses of this issue to a different realm altogether. They delve deep into a psychic phenomenon. As the portrayal of mentally unsound people in popular culture and arts has been stereotypical in spite of great strides in the field of psychoanalysis, it creates a negative picture at the societal level. This is the biggest impediment in proper treatment of the mentally deranged persons and aggravates their suffering. The findings of the article “Conjuring the Insane…” are quite educative for the members of the family, psychiatrists, and even the society at large in dealing with mentally challenged.
This issue of the journal presents some of the novel research in the process of information and news dissemination. Diverse content, plurality of research methods, and global contributions make this issue a splendid treat for the scholars and academic researchers.
Jyotirmaya Patnaik, PhD
Editor, Media Watch