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What Is The Medias First Responsibility Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 1551 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Nowadays, the media is playing an important role in our daily life, because with it we can know what is happening in every corner in every minute of the world, and without it we will live in information vacuum. The information that the media provide with us are so wide and diverse, including every aspect of politics, economy and society. And we are surrounded by the media every second. Just for the importance of the media, there are more and more scholars and managers give attention to the topic of media’s responsibilities, especially for its first responsibility. There are two mainly popular opinions about the media’s first responsibility. The one is that as a business, the media’s first responsibility is profit, i.e. to meet the needs of consumers and shareholders, even if at the expense of democracy; the other one, on the contrast to the first one, is that the media’s first responsibility is social responsibility, in other words, is responsible of the audience. This paper will analyze these two representative views and make a comparison between them, and for the first view, it will take the ’cause and effect’ analysis, and for the second view, it will take ‘mirror metaphor’ to discuss.

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The first standpoint-the media’s first responsibility is to meet the needs of consumers and shareholders

With the growing of the market-oriented economy, the industry of media is becoming mature, and there are more and more media independent companies emerge. At the same time, it is forming a fierce competition among different media companies, therefore the degree of the media’s commercialization is becoming deeper and deeper, which may lead to a series of problems that is worthy of our common and deep thinking. So there are many people hold opinions that now that the media is a business, its first responsibility should be to meet the needs of consumers and shareholders just like other commercial enterprises. The commercialization of the media may be the most important reason for the above opinion. In the process of commercialization and in its efforts to show a profit, the media are reliant on the same business principles as a company which produces any other commodity, so the goal they set for themselves is also obtaining profit as much as possible. And just for these reasons, the media will try their best to publish more profitable news to increase their profit, even if at the expense of democracy.

The media is an important way of obtaining information for the audience, but if the media over emphasis on the profit, it will result in the skewing of media content towards commercial ends. And it is also clear that the commercialization of the media not only refers objectively the means of it functions in the market economy, but also to some degree, it changes the quality and type of the information that the media provides and the relationship between the media and their consumers and shareholders. Taking a special example, newspaper, an original and common type of media, if it carries commercially, news judgment will be changed, and in order to get profit, maybe the quantity of advertisement in newspaper will rise largely and the advertisers will be the most popular consumers (Picard, 2004, p. 55). Then whatever stories which will not arouse the intended market audience’s attention will be therefore deemed unworthy. So some news, although they are useful, valuable and educational, perhaps they will be driven away by the profitable news at high speed.

In all, according to the first standpoint— the media’s first responsibility is to meet the needs of consumers and shareholders, all the actions of the media will be taken from the profit prospective, and the quality and type of information is becoming not so important for them.

The second standpoint-the media’s first responsibility is social responsibility

There is a popular saying in modern society that ‘the media is a mirror of the reality’, and in fact, so it does. The media is playing a role of mediator connecting us with the reality (Pradipta, 2008), so the mirror metaphor of the media is accurate to some extent (McQuail, 2005, p. 125). For further study, some scholars expand the mirror metaphor of media, for example they use more images to present the intervening role of the media, and these images are a window, a filter or gatekeeper, a forum, a signpost, disseminator, and, interlocutor and so on. Although each image has its own function, their main function is the same to the mirror, whose is reflection of the reality.

Now that the media is the reflection of the reality, two requests must be taken into consideration. The first one is telling the truth, and the second one is keeping the information meaningful (Azeem, 2009). The first requests of telling the truth need the media try all their best to reflect the fact and keep the stories and information which they report are believable. So the media must promise that both the media itself and the information it provides for audience are all trustworthy. Second, the media not only need promise the truthfulness but also keeping the information meaningful. To some degree, the media stands for the images of a country and the public, and influences the ways of thinking and the value view of the audience, so the importance of the media is obvious. And just for these reasons, if the media always publishes some improper ideas and some meaningless and tedious stories for some other purpose, for example commercial profit, the harm it produces will be quite large and maybe this harm will destroy a place’s, even a country’s economic and political development.

According to above analysis, it is clear that although the content of two requests is different, they emphasis the same thing that the media’s first responsibility is social responsibility, in other words, should be responsible of the audience. The social responsibility of the press has developed a theory, which is firstly referred by Robert Hutchins in the University of Chicago in 1947, and from then on more and more people advocate and develop the social responsibility theory (Yana, 2010). So both from the perspective of a mirror of the reality and the social responsibility theory, the media’s first responsibility should be social responsibility and should be responsible of audience (Tsukamoto, 2006).

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Conclusions and reflections

No matter in the theoretical research and real practice, the subject of the media’s first responsibility is always a serious issue which should not be neglected. Through above analysis and taking a comparison between the two standpoints, the second one that the media’s first responsibility is social responsibility should be advocated and developed. Although the media may think about the needs of the consumers and the shareholders, but that is not its first responsibility. And in our society, sometimes the media lack of the social responsibility, and making the media have social responsibility is a not an easy task, which need our common efforts. The following suggestions should be taken into consideration.

First, the editors and journalists must have professional ethics (The makers, n.d.). Of course, the job of them is very difficult, because the audience they face is quite different and diverse, for example, they are young or old, men or women, and student or workers. But they must decide what are news and the special judgement of the news. There are many different judgement of the news, and maybe just like this criteria that ‘a cat bite a mouse is not news, but a mouse bite a cat is news’. After deciding what will be reported, when the editors are writing the information, they must do it in an objective view. Because there are so high demand about editors and journalists, the managers in the media must check on seriously when they recruit editors and journalists.

Second, the audience should choose which information to read and supervise the work of the media. Because the media is related to every aspect of their lives and it is an age of information exploring, so they need to decide which one is valuable. Besides, they should supervise the work of the audience, because they have the right to protect their benefit and should be responsible of themselves. If they find something improper, they can communicate with the media representatives, at the same time the media should have some persons in charge of coping this issues, and if the audience are right, the media must apologize. If communication fails, they can find related department to solve this problem. Only that both the media and the audience make efforts commonly, the task of the media’s social responsibility will complete.

And it is clear that modern people can not live without media, so the media’s function is irreplaceable. Therefore besides the social responsibility, the media should undertake other responsibilities, such as providing entertainment and education, nation building, and establishing right value view of the audience and so on (Friedman, 2010).


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