Media refers to all channels of communication through which education, entertainment, news, and other informative materials are passed from one person or a group of people to another. Media includes all broadcasting channels including billboards, newspapers, magazines, radios, televisions, fax, and social media platforms to just mention a few. Media has played a very key role in making the world a better place through enhancement of communication between people and for business as well. In short, media has the made the world a small village. However, I understand that media attracts different emotions, feelings, and attitudes from different people because it is sometimes associated with bias and misrepresentation of facts. Behind the curtains of the social communication system, there is a wide range of hidden or unexpressed truths or stories that are covered professionally by the experts. This topic brings to my mind various questions related to media such as the positive impacts of media, negative impacts of media, effects of media bias, reasons for media bias, issues of freedom of speech and how they affect media communication, usage of hype on media, the relationship between media and psychology, fears associating with communicating controversial and highly-sensitive topics, the notion that media creates events instead of reacting to them and representing facts as they are, and journalism ethics among others. In this essay, I am going to address some of the questions such as the positive and negative effects of media, media bias, and freedom of expression and how it affects media communication.
As earlier stated, media has made the world a better place by making it easy to connect with people who are miles away. Media has also made business transactions easier and faster. This is because, through media, advertising, as well as online buying and selling, have been made easy. As a result, e-commerce has been positively influenced by media, which ultimately leads to economic growth. Media has a key role to play in shaping individuals in terms of their culture and social values (Rafaeli, 1988). The information presented in most media platforms is so persuasive that it influences the general public quite easily. Therefore, media can be intentionally used to change people’s negative perceptions about a particular matter or subject, as well as, promote moral uprightness. Media, through social platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp, has made it easy for people to connect with their loved ones who they could not otherwise connect physically (Turcotte et al, 2015). As a result, they are able to keep in touch and build stronger relationships and through that, individuals can easily play a role in each other’s lives. Media has also played a key role in breaking communication barriers and making people to easily voice out their opinions through various platforms. Media also inspires people and creates awareness of contemporary issues such as rape, social orientations, politics, and other emerging issues.
However, media has come with various negative impacts, especially on teenagers. First of all, it has created sexual behaviors that are risky among youth. Ever youth seems to be interested in the sexuality issues represented on media (Poole, 2017). This has promoted issues of bestiality, homosexuality, and gays, just to mention a few. Some media platforms can also contribute to violence especially those that are made in favor of one group and against another group. Addiction to media platforms has also consumed most of their energy and time, distracting their focus from other serious issues of life such as education and personal development.
Apart from the negative effects of media especially on teenagers, its bias is another issue that is worth examining. Once in a while, media imprints itself with the image of a faded glass. In most cases, there are some unexpected truths that are covered behind the curtains of the social communications and the general public might not always know the truth behind an issue. As a result, the general public is slowly losing confidence in the media’s ability to give accurate information pertaining to various issues (Poole, 2017). The various types of media bias include bias on religious, corporate. Sensation, advertisement, information, advertising, and gate-keeping lines (Eberl, Boomgaarden & Wagner, 2017). Most times, media bias happens due to prejudiced opinions of the journalists, political affiliations, among other issues.
There have been several media biases and misrepresentation of information in New York City, one of them being a rape case in the New York central park during which a 29-year-old lady was raped by a serial rapist while jogging in 1989. This was recorded as the greatest rape case of time. During this time, five black boys were accused and convicted of having raped the boy. A film known as ‘The Central Park Five’ reveals that the boys were coerced to make videotapes confessing their involvement in the rape case in hope that their confessions would lead to their release as they had been lied to by the police. However, this was never the case (Didion, 1991). Despite the contradictions in the videotapes and DNA results that showed that the victims DNA was not connected to that of any of the boys, the prosecutors went ahead to sue the boys. The New York media made the public to believe that indeed the boys were the rapists of the white woman. However, several years later, a serial rapist confessed that he is the one who had raped the lady and he had done so alone, bowing to the fact that the five imprisoned boys were actually innocent (Didion, 1991). This led to their release, having stayed in prison for a period of between 6 to 13 years. It was too late to arrest and imprison the serial rapist. The aftermath of all this would be justice denied for the lady. All this misinformation reflects prejudice towards blacks in the New York City.
Unlike in the usual cases, the media team in New York reveals the names of the black boys convicted on claims that this was a delicate issue that required a mention of all those involved in the crime. This was contrary to the requirements that media should not name any juvenile minors involved in a crime (Didion, 1991). The question of concern here was whether the delicateness of the issue really amounted to the breach of the requirements and hence the naming of the juvenile minors supposedly involved in the rape case, or did the media do that because they were blacks? Would they still be named if they were White boys? There are also media biases when it comes to how it treats rape assaults different from any other crime or assault. Names of those raped are not mentioned with the aim of trying to restore self-worth to the already broken individuals.
In general, the media has various biases that have several consequences. The biases have been confirmed to cause racial conflicts. Through media bias, some of the people who deserve justice are ultimately denied because some of the critical information in the cases remain hidden as media reveals information in favor of certain parties. Therefore, though media has positively impacted the world, it needs to reduce its biases and ensure that information is put across as it is, otherwise, the media risks losing confidence from the general public.
- Didion, J. (1991). NEW-YORK, SENTIMENTAL JOURNEYS. NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, 38(1-2), 45.
- Eberl, J. M., Boomgaarden, H. G., & Wagner, M. (2017). One bias fits all? Three types of media bias and their effects on party preferences. Communication Research, 44(8), 1125-1148.
- Poole, F. (2017). An exploration of how teenagers’ electronic and social media use impacts wider areas of their lives.
- Rafaeli, S. (1988). From new media to communication. Sage annual review of communication research: Advancing communication science, 16, 110-134.
- Turcotte, J., York, C., Irving, J., Scholl, R. M., & Pingree, R. J. (2015). News recommendations from social media opinion leaders: Effects on media trust and information seeking. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 20(5), 520-535.