What is the kind and type of media content that we will create in societies that are more in balance and whole? How will new media be when manipulation, power and greed are no longer the driving force?
Before you read this post, you should know that I’m not a trained journalist. In fact, I have never worked in a traditional media company. I was “pushed” into media business by a friend who asked me to work with him on a Web-TV project back in 2009. It was a beginning of a new path, and the experiences taught me many things about the media. So, what have I learned since then about the role of media in our societies?
Trust, honesty, and integrity are values that we don’t associate with the media industry. On the contrary, what we see on most mainstream media channels is manipulation that plays out its tricks in different levels of communication.
Most people watch the news as if it’s accurate and objective. Is it so? Somehow, we blindly believe that the newspapers and the television inform us everything that we need to know about the world. Perhaps it’s time that we start to be honest about it, by examining some of the assumptions we have about media.
One crucial assumption that we need to discuss is journalistic objectivity. In my opinion, there is no such thing as objectivity.
Simply because we all have a subjective mind. And we interpret everything that we experience in this world through our lenses. Assuming that a piece of media content is trustworthy just because a journalist will put the “objectivity hat” on when working on the piece, it’s not only disillusioned but also misleading to the public. We must stop believing that media can be objective and neutral, because
every choice behind any piece of media content; the interview questions, the headlines, the editorial works etc., is a choice of subjectivity– representing what the media wants to communicate and to be known for!
Why can’t the media be free?
When I was in London a few years ago, I stay with a host that has this teacup with the line: “Owned by no one. Free to say anything.” Big media nowadays is owned by someone, and therefore, they are not free to say anything because they will have to take the interests of the owners into accounts.
If media cannot be objective, the next interesting question is – can it be honest and fair?
I believe that it can, but we must clarify what fairness and honesty mean in journalism!
For me, fairness is about the ability to cover a topic from different angles of understanding with genuine respect for each point of view that one chooses to represent. I emphasize “genuine respect” because it’s not about manipulating a certain opinion to “win” over an argument.
Rather, it’s about telling the story through the eyes of the person who shares it and communicating an honest perspective of how that person sees the world.
This is something that I miss when watching mainstream media. The chase after “good stories” has made many people forget values such as kindness, respect, integrity and not to mention ethics.
Perhaps it’s time that we question the role and purpose of media, and most importantly, begin to discuss the responsibilities that we and the media must take.
It is a responsibility because what we choose to cover, affects the development of human consciousness at every level of societies. When the current media industry is mainly about sensational, drama-driven stories and manipulation, it won’t contribute to make the world a better place to live for all living beings.
Yes, you read it right- I also believe that media must have the courage to explore new visions for our world! It must be futuristic and dare to create new stories and visions for Humanity.
Once I had an interesting discussion with a man who asked me this question: “How can we trust the media again?”
Trust, as a value, is difficult to build but easy to destroy. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to rebuild the trust. For me, one of the ways to (re)establish the trust is to let values such as respect and integrity to guide us on how we should tell a story. It’s time to change the industry – from within!
And it’s time for us as media consumers to be more critical and holistic in our thinking so that we can become more conscious about the way we think of the world.
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