What Is Too Much Power: The Media Perspective

The media is the cause of much controversy and debate, not only in terms of the work it does but also the power it wields. Some people hail it as the fourth pillar of democracy, essential to preserve its sanctity. But others believe that it has crossed the thin line between power and its abuse, transcending into sacrilege.

It is always interesting to observe the intricacies of society’s relationship with power. What is power? What qualifies as abuse of power? What do we make of the nuances of abuse of power– abuses so abstract that we can’t label them so?

Furthermore, it also makes us question the cost of freedom. Is freedom really worth the abuse of power? If there is a line that separates freedom and abuse of power, where does it lie? Are we willing to curb freedoms to combat exploitation? Or are allowing exploitation to flourish in the name of freedom?

In this post, I would like to outline the arguments by both sides– for and against what is probably the most powerful institution in this world. I will not attempt to answer the questions that I have posed above, but merely to present the facts in as unbiased a manner as possible so that you, the reader, can arrive at a conclusion by your own devices.

Please note that media, in this post, will primarily refer to journalistic mass media and not social media or the internet.

First, let us consider the arguments that illustrate that the media has too much power:

There is no doubt that the media holds tremendous sway over public opinion and the words of a journalist can make or break a person, regardless of whether they are true or not. One of the biggest chinks in the armour of media is its lack of accountability to the people.

There is nothing that prevents the media from being as irresponsible as a five year old who has been made president for a day.

It is free to publish and endorse whatever it wishes to and is not answerable to the people. There are laws concerning defamation and ethics for journalism, but they can do little repair once the damage is done. Put simply, the media isn’t checked and balanced like the democratic government is even though it is, in most cases, many times more powerful.

Furthermore, another powerful defense that swings the balance in favour of those against the media is its commercialisation.

Recently, a journalistic operation named Cobrapost 136 unearthed disturbing yet definitive proof of the business that media has become. Though it is a well known fact that money and muscle power can sway the media perspective, watching the tapes that film the negotiations between the investigative journalist and the heads of prominent media as they freely discuss their prices for promoting a particular ideology is a wake-up call we all need.

Thousands of people from all over the world rely on mass media for information. But this information is not free, nor is it true. Reputations and facts can be bought just as easily as groceries.

Another troubling fact about reporting that relates to fake news is the sensationalizing of the various happenings in world. Really, how are mainstream news media different from the reality shows we look down upon for their ‘manufactured’ nature?

If you thought that was all, you’re wrong. The paparazzi culture stands testimony to the worst face of media. I think celebrities are human beings as much as we are, and that they don’t ‘sign up’ for disrespect and disregard of their personal space when they became famous.

The fact that people are so absorbed in lives that aren’t even their own, to the extent where booming business can be made by sneaking around behind celebrities baffles me, but that’s a rant for another post. The ugly face of the paparazzi is another powerful testament to the unstoppable power of the media and the ideals it propagates.

Now, I shall move on to discuss the reasons why the media, despite being the flawed institution it is, is integral to the existence of a democracy.

A popular argument that emerges in favour of the media and the opinions it propagates is that the media in itself was constituted in order to provide perspective. Since the media is not a single entity in itself and is made up of diverse individuals who hail from different belief systems, their conflicting perspectives breathe life and soul into the spirit of democracy.

Furthermore, as the fourth pillar of democracy, the media functions as a platform that encourages the right to free speech and information. Despite the flagrant misuse of power by journalists and news companies, there is no definitive way in which we can bring about regulation without nullifying the very purpose of the media. We need free speech and a body that is vested with rights to freely broadcast information in order to educate the people about the actions and policies of the government. Censorship or any such method of regulation can easily be taken too far and result in the establishment of an autocracy.

A major point in favour of mass media that cannot be ignored is the unparalleled power it has to create awareness. Whether it’s about a scandal or a social issue, the media creates a buzz that gets people thinking and talking. it has always been an important component of social revolution, especially in the past century or so, for it mobilizes and rallies for a cause like no other instituion ever can. And that is where the power of the media lies– in its veritable and unequivocal power to educate and influence the masses.

However, it can be argued that the media has as much power as we people give it. We can choose to let it get the better of us and tell us what to think, or use it as a medium through which we obtain information and not let the opinions it shares cloud our judgement. We can choose to take the word of conventional media as the word of God, or we learn how to sift between the real and fake news. We can choose to let the media fool us, or we can revolutionize it. Ultimately, it is about making a choice. A choice between exploitation and freedom, between revolution and degenration– for after all, power dynamics are determined by choices. Choices of both the entity in power and those who it is ruling.

And that’s the thought I would like to leave you with today.

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7 thoughts on “What Is Too Much Power: The Media Perspective

  1. The higher we stand the great the fall. Your attempt at a balanced look at the role journalism plays in the lives of ordinary individuals reminded me of a train of thought Aristotle had in the Politics; the closer something is to perfection the worse its corruption is. You’re absolutely right, an uncensored media is a crucial component to modern-day democracy; the ability to keep citizens informed and knowledgeable about the states of the affairs in the world is crucial to ensuring we have responsible and knowledgeable voters–ignorance in political matters is essentially anarchy or even worse, tyranny–but journalism has become corrupted, it no longer reports news, it creates news, people are no longer informed, they’re molded by the whims of the oligarchs who control the media stations. What is a modern individual to do?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Preach 🙌 it’s really a sticky situation we have here, in identifying the line between the media’s power and abuse. Honestly, I think the only possible course of reform would be to revolutionize the social order and modern democracy– but it is too soon for that now. Thank you for your insightful comment and for that insight about Aristotle– I think his thoughts make perfect sense not only in politics, but every sphere of life!

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  2. This is my most close to heart topic, and that I have dreamed for before I was given a choice to, from the time I was. Indeed, media has become the eyes and ears of citizens, leading them astray and sometimes not letting see the real world, the real picture. Modern day democracy has lost its name and identity as those with power is entitled to abuse it. Be it media that took their pledge to not bring in any false depictry of affairs where, every women and men are part of, or bears the right to debate or know about it. Political power is standing next to media, where there is another situation in which media controls political power. Both ways, we’ve forgot what it was to serve for ourselves and others instead of sucking power out to materialistic needs and selfish parameters. We.need.a.revolution. a revolution that brings back media’s identity, and separates power from our egoism and corruption of mind.

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  3. This is such a heartfelt and most close to topic of mine , since it depicts media and it’s been my passion since before I was given to choose from. Now talking about this, this gives me two pictures, the both sides of the coin, and does indeed hold media responsible as these are what we see, hear, read and is being brought out. Media has lost its identity and it’s reason, to why it had come to existence. We have been witnessing what media can do, when influencers don’t dream the same dreams the establishment of media did. Media wanted to become a voice, it became our voice. It controls our eyes and ears and thereby our thoughts and biases. We have been led astray from what we shouldn’t be, from the issues that are influenced by these media attractors and political bodies. We have been and we can say political power equals media power. There is one situation where media controls political power, where it likes abovethem all and destroys what is meant to become our only source of information. Creating controversies that wasn’t Alive for its place, and satisfying our deadly apathetic vibes. The other scenario is political power controling media, where dozens can be hold accountable for their own lives if they dare to speak the truth. Women in media can be raped, men too, for why not? If none is beneficial to political notorious godfathers, then their God becomes thy and cuts off their throats for trying to pick the hair of their hands. Abuse of power is essential and a must to happen when one comes to power, be it media or political bodies. Egoism has become equivalent to power, to media, to influential bodies, and that’s where we should pluck the roots off. We are in need of revolution, with minds that should draw a line between corruption and freedom, that should draw a line between abuse and advantage of power, to save our sanity and the identities of media establishment and democracy existence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed! The media addresses issues in two ways– it either blows it out of proportion or doesn’t adress it altogether. Definitely, I think any body of power is prone to start abusing the people under it, and that’s the only way in which we will realise that something is wrong with the system and revolutionize it.

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