Media Control and Political Power in democratic societies ?!
Generally perceived as working to inform and enlighten public opinion, media, in western democracies, can also be a propagandistic rhetoric, manipulated by political power.
The media is a communication power that could transform the whole society. Media has an incredible degree of influence with respect to shaping thought .This strength can be used constructively by educating people or destructively by misleading them. The West keeps criticizing the media controlled by dictatorships but what about media in democratic societies? How the media should influence the political climate and democratic process in Western democracies and are the media used by the state as propaganda arms in the West? It seems that the supposed role of the media has not been accomplished, even in western democracies, because of state media control. Accordingly, media's power declines as a democracy becomes more established.
The last two decades have seen an unprecedented spread of democracy around the globe. In the context of the apparent problems and frequent setbacks, scholars and policymakers alike have become aware of the crucial role of the media in processes of democratization and consolidation. Increasingly, the role of media in political change has been an area of focus and concern .However, to better understands media, we need to understand the political environment in which they operate. In particular, in democratic societies, media should play a significant role in educating and enlightening people. The twenty first century uprisings are proving that the media, today, makes new efforts to control thought and manufacture consent, under political influence and political power ,therefore,always prevails.
Actually, from newspapers to television to radio to the internet, the media should be the leading factor in political communication by being the mirror of the society .It is assumed that media has responsibility of conveying the truth and relevant information to the common.Therefore , it should maintain the real purpose of it and accomplish its functions as watchdogs identifying the most relevant issues, providing a platform for debate across a diverse range of views and resistance of forces outside the media to subvert their independence. However, the media is not fulfilling these purposes.
I think the misuse of media as a political actor and a tool to falsify the truth is more dangerous in Western democracies. It is astonishing how the political power in the West can efficiently produce pressure on media so that the propaganda themes quickly become established as true even without real evidence. Gradually, media, under political influence, manipulates the public opinion by making a person believe in a false dogma. Tangible examples of propaganda are media bias and the corruption of language. First, the “war on terror” is a propagandistic rhetoric used to whip up mass hysteria and political propaganda is the means by which leaders keep the masses in line. Thus, “Propaganda”, as Noam Chomsky states, “is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state”. Second, the control of language in order to control thought leads people to ignorance and confusion such as the concept of islamophobia. Third, the media bias through the highly puzzling contradictions embodied in the news, mainly New York Times, which presented a restricted views on whether to go to war in Iraq, shutting out discussion of options that many people favoured, for instance. Political instrumentalization of the media is destroying people’s power of arguing and reasoning. It engenders individual’s loss of critical thinking faculty and the diminished capacity of self expression. I think the necessity of alternative media in the modern democracies in order to reach the essential role of it is becoming urgent.
By exploring the stance of the international community towards the role of media, I realized that the focus was only on the repressive societies where the oppression of media’s freedom is done by force and censorship. Thus, it is true that much has been written on political control of media but generally under totalitarian regimes. However, a thorough analysis of the role of media in the twenty first century reveals that media, even in democratic societies, are highly influenced by political power .The media is meeting a new challenges during this century, such as how to accommodate the growing use for political purposes while appearing neutral and maintaining the practices and policies that made the media a reliable communication and information means in the first place. One the one hand , the media is frequently criticized for remaining too close to political power holders to be able to act as effective watch‐dogs .On the other hand ,the way in which the audience interpret is vulnerable to political messages.
Because the political propaganda is a universally influential mechanism, selectivity is an inevitable, even necessary, in modern world. The government’s policy is extremely related to the use of media either by offering the freedom or by imposing seeds of oppression. If all these claims are true, then we have to drastically revise our view of the way the democracy works.