The media is always an important tool in any context as it instructs and apportions exposure to several instances in life. With the advent of the 24 hour news cycle some years back, the media exposed the vast majority of the world’s population to sordid scenes of violence which went occasionally uncensored also. This context and the impact such media portrayals have on children is discussed in this paper.
In Thinking about Theory the author discusses how certain media portrayals can have a negative effect on children especially with regards to violence. For example the recent uprisings in Arab nations have given the media an unrivalled opportunity to wax lyrical on the conflicts which permeate this region and which are constantly showing on TV from the early hours of the morning (Dettmer p140, 2003). This means that children can view sordid and graphic images of violence without much problem or supervision although adult supervision can be attempted. Still the media seems to have no scruples in portraying such images with children being affected most of all.
Obviously the media needs to be functional to survive but this cannot be let to be run riot accordingly. There needs to be some sort of moderation in this regard as the effects on the younger generation are substantial. One only needs to observe the way the recent student riots were reported to note that this style could easily mean the fanning out of violence which cannot really be controlled. In the end certain presentational techniques on live television may seem to fan the flames of controversy and violence accordingly with the expected results in this regard.
Obviously the media is not restricted to television but there are other forms such as newspapers and the internet which can also express certain forms of violence when this is appropriate. Certain graphic images on newspaper websites are often easily accessible by anyone and this obviously leads to abuse which can lend a hand to the theory of increasing functionalism without any scruples. Large numbers of problems may be caused when the media is insensitive to its effects on others such as in the phone hacking scandal where a number of executives including editors went ahead with their plans to tap telephone lines of top personnel in the celebrity and political field with the resultant consequences when this was discovered. It is important and crucial that everyone knows the effects of what goes on when such ethical principles are left to rot by the wayside.
The media does not only affect the larger cross section of populations which it tends to dominate but is also involved in other issues such as minorities and younger children. As Mcluhlan said the medium is the message so what is good for television may not necessarily be good for newspapers, as a typical example. Occasionally those who wish to sell a good story may resort to inventing issues and sensationalizing certain parts of the plot which makes the final product all the more prone to gullibility and cheap factionalism. Newspapers have to serve the population with their stories and not resort to untrue facts to help them boost their sales. However this is unfortunately not always the case as we have seen in several incidents and cases where cheap sensationalism has become the order of the day in many issues.
Thinking about theory:
Essentially the media should be offering opportunities to think and reflect apart from coming up with stimulative and provocative issues. Notwithstanding all this, several media institutions prefer to focus on the quick buck and insist that making money is their chief prerogaritive in their efforts to protect jobs (Cox, Goldratt, p35, 2005). This may be seen as a two edged sword in this respect as life cannot always be about profit without morals. The effects on children when the media is attempting to exploit certain loopholes can be considerably harmful so it is important that the media continues to understand the strength and power it has on such vulnerable sections of the population.
Conclusion: The media as the message
The media is probably the most powerful tool in today’s world to influence the vast majority of the world’s population. Naturally enough this will mean that it can abuse its position at will or else it may choose to regulate itself according to the circumstances it faces (Dettmer p100, 2005). This is very true when the situation of the portrayal of violence is the issue and everything turns around on this fulcrum. Children should always be protected and there should be no discussion on this with the media playing a crucial role in ensuring that effects of violence and their offshoots are not given too much importance and are actually censored accordingly.
H. William Dettmer. The Logical Thinking Process: A Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving London, Random House 2007, Print
H. William Dettmer. Strategic Navigation: A Systems Approach to Business Strategy, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2003, Print
Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement. , Simon and Schuster, New York, 2005, Print