What Influence The Media Have Over Education Policy

The media influences many areas of our lives sometimes without us even realizing that it is happening. Where else do we learn about the newest must have toy for Christmas, or the latest iphone. We see it and we immediately want it and cannot live without it. The same principal applies to the amount of influence media has over our schools and education policies. They shine a favorable light on someone who is running for the school board and instantly we think that person is the best candidate for the job. They do an investigative report on how money is being wasted at the expense of our kids and we are ready to march down to the administration building and demand they all resign. We grow up believing that everything we see and here in the media is the truth but the reality is that someone usually has an ax to grind and finds a way to get their view before the general public. This type of journalism has gotten so out of hand that Fox News uses the tagline “fair and balanced” in an effort to bring more views to their channel. I am left wondering why all channels and outlets are not reporting the news in a fair and balanced manner.

There are two ways in which media, including the news media, popular culture, and entertainment sources, are commonly viewed as educational. In the first sense, people learn what to think and how to behave from media sources, viewing information on the news as matter of fact, or the characters on a televised sitcom as models for normal behavior, for example. Many find this view most compelling when considering media’s impact on young children, whose understanding of the distinction between reality and fantasy is not set in stone.

As an example, “Schrag suggests that, lacking prior learning or experience with Middle Eastern culture, young children are bound to learn from Aladdin-a Walt Disney film marketed to young children that has sold tens of millions of copies-that Middle Eastern fruit sellers are commonly prone to violent rage upon discovering a single apple has been stolen from their cart. A similar view of media as unduly and directly influential to children was used in defense of twelve-year-old Lionel Tate, who was tried in 1991 for killing a six-year-old girl by body slamming her as he commonly observed contestants in World Federation of Wrestling do on television.” (Jackson, 2010)

The first policy is the right of freedom of speech. Public schools are the easiest to change though law and public policy when compared to parents, news media, campaigns, and communities. Schools can have a direct impact on students ‘civic attitudes, knowledge, and habits. One of the most effective ways for them to teach citizenship is by promoting discussion of current issues, which is often based on items from the news media. There is even evidence that discussions of current issues in social studies classes can have indirect effects, enhancing family discussions of current events, which then increase both parents’ and students’ interest and knowledge. Educational programs that emphasize discussion of controversial issues have been found to increase students’ tolerance and use of the news media. By discussing these topics at school first then the student going home and talking about it to their parents it helps the student better understand the topic and the world around them. (Lopez, 2009)

In 2005, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation released results from a major survey of more than 112,000 high school students in more than 500 public and private schools that was taken in 2004. “The survey was called the Future of the First Amendment (FOFA). It focused on habits and attitudes relevant to the First Amendment and especially freedom of the press. Students were asked factual questions about the First Amendment. Questions such as, “Is it legal to burn the American flag as a protest?” They were also asked opinion question, “Does the press have too much freedom?” and “Should newspapers be allowed to publish freely without government approval?” Finally, they were asked questions about their use of various news media and participation in school media activities.” (Lopez, 2009)

This research is very disturbing. It implies that schools are not doing their part to teach the students about what rights they do have. Recently some groups tried taking away our freedom of speech by telling us that when we say the Pledge of Allegiance it is wrong to say “one nation under God.” Freedom of speech should protect everyone and one group does not have the right to tell another that the words they choose to say are no longer allowed.

Another area where the media has had a positive impact on school policy involves underage smoking. Movies and TV commonly show the stars of the film smoking. This is because smoking is still accepted in everyday life even though there are so many anti-smoking campaigns. “Libertarianism toward smoking still permeates the society sufficiently to make smoking by film stars tolerable and normal, if not also attractive and desirable, as long as they are not literally advertising cigarettes to minors. Some audience members respond critically to media messages implying that smoking is socially acceptable, while others are more favorable. Yet the commonality of smoking by protagonists in mainstream film, nonetheless, reveals that, according to mainstream producers’ information, smoking is not considered to be beyond the bounds of social norms; it is regarded normally as an expected, largely acceptable, behavior that need not require a critical response or prohibition on the big screen.” (McCarthy, 1998)

Most of the policies that schools are trying to enact are for the good of the students. They want to make sure that the students are healthy and safe while they are on school property. Media campaigns have been used to modify individual behavior in many issues such as AIDS, tobacco use, breastfeeding, physical activity, and milk consumption. Ads are used in newspaper articles or letters to the editor in order to influence policy change. “In 2006, North Carolina launched a campaign that used mass media campaign to influence policy change. It became the first state to create a statewide mass media campaign to promote the adoption of and compliance with tobacco-free policies in schools (TFS). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of a comprehensive tobacco control program, calls for tobacco-free policies in schools to prevent youth tobacco use.” (Summerlin-Long. S, 2009)

The most effective tobacco-free policies that are enforced have shown there to be a significant reduction of youth tobacco use. These policies not only affect the students. It also affects school personnel’s use of tobacco and teaching of youth about tobacco. The most successful tobacco-free policy prohibits the use of tobacco products by anyone. No one is allowed to use tobacco on school grounds or at school events at any time. This includes school premises, school vehicles, and school events such as concerts and sporting events. “At the time of the campaign launch, 78 of the 115 (67.8%) school districts in North Carolina had adopted comprehensive tobacco-free policies. The vast majority of these districts passed policies after school and community organizations funded by the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund (HWTF) specifically began to focus on this issue in 2003. As an innovative strategy for augmenting promotion of TFS policy adoption and compliance across the state, the HWTF decided in 2005 to develop a statewide media campaign that would educate North Carolinians about TFS policies and encourage widespread support for such policies in local school districts.” (Summerlin-Long. S, 2009)

This was the first tobacco-free media campaign in the nation there and there was no evidence-based practice to base what ads worked best. Research was needed to help with the creation of the campaign aimed at changing policies. Researchers decided to speak with experts to learn more about messages to promote TFS policy. In February and March 2005, researchers conducted a total of 45 interviews with experts on TFS policy that were from within and outside North Carolina. The experts were from North Carolina and five other states. The people that were chosen for the interview were school district superintendents, Board of Education members, and school employees who included principals, teachers, and other staff. These people were chosen because they had the most power to influence policy and they were the adults most affected by local policy. There were twenty participants in twelve districts with TFS policies and in six districts without TFS policies participated in interviews. Two participants were from organizations that worked across school districts. The research team also interviewed 9 state legislators to ensure the possibility of such a media campaign in a tobacco-growing state. The legislators included political parties, the Senate and the House, and a number of prominent members of the legislature who might wield influence on this issue. (Summerlin-Long. S, 2009)

The survey tool asked interviewees about the best types of people to appear in ads. People were asked to think about which kinds of people would be most compelling in general.. They had to make the decision to decide whether a youth must appear in the personal testimonial of youth, and superintendents/school personnel would be best to relate the experiences of successful districts. They were also asked “(1) what kinds of messages they believed would be most effective, (2) what kinds of messages might be seen as controversial, and (3) legislators’ comments on three of the most popular themes from the expert/stakeholder list.” (Summerlin-Long. S, 2009)

An ongoing problem in schools is bullying. In recent years the students are even bullied while they are on the internet away from the school setting. Schools are now using the media to help stop bullies and make sure that students are safe. Recent news in the national media about two students’ deaths as a result of harassment in school has highlighted a renewed desire for educators to address the culture of bullying and harassment in public schools, especially when the victims are targeted for their real or perceived differences. Some students are bullied and made fun of so much that they see the only way out is to commit suicide or leave the city that they are from. South Carolina’s legislature responded to this need in June 2006 with the passage of the Safe School Climate Act. “This statute was designed to limit and punish “harassment, intimidation, or bullying” among public school students, and it was required that school districts established policies to address this issue before January 1, 2007. However, failure to adequately implement the provision may provide an explanation as to why the Safe School Climate Act has failed to significantly change the culture of schools in South Carolina. South Carolina’s legislative intentions provide a reference for similar legislation and policy changes nationwide. Current research shows that only quality staff development combined with ongoing, effective training in and education about any new policies will lead to its effective implementation. The complex causes of bullying and its impact on school culture continue to be debated by educational researchers, psychologists, and social theorists.” (Terry, Blocking the Bullies: Has South Carolina’s Safe School Climate Act Made Public Schools Safer?, 2010) Obviously legal remedies and punitive measures for bullies alone have not solved the problem. Will there ever be a time in history where students can be themselves and not worry about if someone is going to make fun of them or if they will ever be able to hang out with the cool kids? Hopefully through continued media attention to this problem changes will come about.

Do you remember walking down the hallways in high school and suddenly having the security guard chase after you because they thought that your shorts where to short? By the time that I was a senior in high school is became a joke to us all. We learned that we could bend our arms a little bit and make it look like our shorts were long enough. In reality yes our shorts where to short but there was nothing that we could do about. My high school didn’t have air conditioning so at times it got very hot and it was unbearable to wear pants. When we would go shopping for shorts they ones that would fit around our hips without falling off would be too short and it we bought them so that they were a little bit too big so the length was right then we would get into trouble because they would be falling off of us. It was such a dilemma. The dress code restriction didn’t just stop on what length our shorts had to be. “Students and teachers alike have always had restrictions on what is appropriate and inappropriate dress. Virtually with no exception, schools have minimum dress codes in place: rules about what cannot be worn at school. Uniform policies state explicitly what must be worn in schools.” (Gereluk, 2007)

“Halter-tops, tube-tops, one shoulder tops . . . muscle shirts, see-through or mesh tops (unless underneath a shirt) aren’t to be worn. Blouses, shirts or tops that reveal bare backs, midriffs, undergarments, or that have spaghetti straps or revealing necklines are not to be worn in Trent’s classes, hallways, class activities, or on field trips.” (Raby, 2010) Does that sound familiar to you? I remember reading this in all my classes throughout my educational career. I always used to wonder why we had to have such a strict dress code. Now that I am older I have realized why. Dress code violations are distracting to others and they do not fit the desired image of a school, and disrespectful toward oneself and others. The details of dress codes do shift, however, as school administrators respond to trends in popular fashion. An example of this is reflected in rules banning midriff tops now making way for new concerns with girls reveal­ing cleavage. “Several American towns banning young men from wearing low-slung pants that reveal their underwear.” (Raby, 2010)

Dress codes are not only for the students they are also for the staff in the school. Who wants to look at a teacher all day that is wearing sweat pants or a really low plunging neckline? I would be very angry. That is more distracting than if a student was wearing that outfit. “In a 1901 document entitled “Rules for Teachers,” female educators were informed that they “must wear at least two petticoats” and that “dresses must not be any shorter than two inches above the ankle.” Male educators were informed that they “shall wear a suit coat and suspenders.” Additionally, teachers were admonished not to “wear bright colors”.” (Kiracofe, 2010)

As you can tell times have changed a lot. People do not dress like this anymore. Now modern school administers must decide if teachers are allowed to wear T-shirts with religious messages or other religious garb such as a turban or birkha. (Kiracofe, 2010)

The question of whether or not media plays and helpful or harmful role in regards to the education system is not an easy on to answer. School safety has been improved following the events of past years that played out on every TV screen across America. They have reported on cyber bullying and the devastating consequences that such behavior can cause. Smoking has been banned from school property. On the other hand they have shown crazy “games” that have been being played among large groups of students. The latest one involves students on foot being chased by other students in cars. The object of the game is for the students on foot to make it to a predetermined location without getting caught. Shortly after this story was reported in the mainstream media there was an increase of traffic accidents due to even more students playing the game after hearing about it on the nightly news. The best we can hope for is that the good outweighs the bad and to try and teacher our children that just because the news anchor tells them something it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the truth etched in stone.

What Is The Propaganda Model?

When Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky discussed the “propaganda model” in the book called “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media”. A from the political economy viewpoint. They pointed out that money and power can filter some of the information, allowing the government and politicians to spread their words to the public. Although the purpose of media is not for propaganda only, the main proportion of it is used for propaganda (Herman& Chomsky, 1988). They argue that every piece of original daily news in America is under strict checking before they can be published, the news gatekeepers including ownership, advertiser and sources. From this point, the media are totally lost in serving those who can control and support them, representing the interest of the wealthy and powerful class in the society. They called the checking process as five “filters” of the news, which is also the central notion of the “propaganda model”. The news”filters” are ranging from money dominators, advertisers, sources, to “flak” and “anticommunism”. Through analysing the “five filters”, they are dividing the “propaganda model” into two types: the first pattern is characterized as checked through the official censorship to serve those who are the dominant class in the society. While the latter propaganda type is difficult to be noticed, the media always discloses scandal by the authorities and criticized the government to convince the public. Once the general public have trusted the media, they will naturally follow the media and support those government policies that media is advocating. That is publicity gambit played between the media and the dominant class. The latter type is more important in Chomsky’s opinion.

The first filter illustrates that the investors monopolized the media. Take the newspaper for example, fierce competition in the profit driven free market result in emphasizing more about the readers. Moreover, the progress of technique means the cost is increasing, for the working class newspaper, the cost is relatively low, thus then, and they have to quit the competitive market. Since the media entered the profit-driven market, the capital of the giant media firms are generally controlled by the large enterprise, the board, the stockholders and the bankers in the enterprise are caring more about the profit rather than the quality of the news. Thereby, it is not surprising that the media giants are tied up with wealthy circles.

The media are highly reliance on the advertisers in the profit-driven market, which means the choosing of the advertisers, will influence the media profoundly. On one hand, the considerable revenue from advertising will naturally increase the popular media product. In other word, it is impossible to get the support from the advertisers without the ratings guarantee. As Herman and Chomsky (Herman & Chomsky, 1988.) argued in their book that it was the buying power from the audience attracting the media most. As a result, it is not difficult to understand why the newspaper is going backwards and in crisis while the society is developing. On the other hand,

Advertisers often discriminate both the working class and radical media politically (Herman & Chomsky, 1988), in which the advertisers would rather consider more about those who have great purchasing power than the poor.

News source is the third filter. Sources form the government and the company can meet the need of media organization: using the reliable sources from the government and the company, can ensure the objective of news reporting; on the other hand, through getting the news sources from the government and the giant company, the publications can cut out a great deal of unnecessary expenditure spending on investigating other unreliable sources.

Herman and Chomsky called the fourth filter as “flak and the enforces” (Herman& Chomsky, 1988, p.26.), that is, the government and the major corporation are able to put pressure on the media. Here, “flak” means bad feedback of a media programme. The media will pay great price for the negative response; they have to defend themselves in or out of the institution, even in the court. Moreover, the advertisers will pull the advertisement as well. According to Chomsky, the “flak” is generally from the person in authority. Under such pressures, the media can only represent the interest of the investors.

The fifth filter is called “anticommunism as a control mechanism”. In here, they are referring to the media are advocating “communism” policies (policies that are threatening the property profit, especially the America property profit) as a threat to the bourgeoisie. As stated above, the first three “filters” are more important in the propaganda theory.

Essentially speaking, the methodology of the “propaganda model” is the same as other theories; they are beginning with loads of hypotheses, and then go back to the assumption through personal experience (Klaehn, 2003). Although Jeffery (2003) argues that the propaganda model is a concept result from the analysis on the relation of media and the authorities systematically and logically. However, different from other research, Chomsky’s evidences seem to be lacking of persuasion.

In addition, this model is mainly focusing on the newsroom structure, it cannot be used to analyse the general journalism practice. Besides, although Klaehn has explained some criticism about the difference between “gatekeeper” theory and “propaganda model”, and argued the propaganda model is only used for the analysis of the framework but not the psychological process of the media (Klaehn, 2005). There are some similarities still can be found between them: the aim of the news agency is to satisfy the advertisers rather than attract the audiences under the profit-driven market; every piece of news need to be revised step by step before being printed; in order to reduce the cost, a large number of news agencies are trying to decrease the investigative content in order to avoid being criticized or lawsuits.

Obviously, Chomsky’s “propaganda model” is largely focusing on the American journalism in the Cold War period. He argues that the “propaganda model” played an important role during the Cold War period; the media is surly the core of the model. He is not only suspecting that the media is stifling public criticism of the government, keeping the public away from the truth; but even considering that the media is responsible for protracting the Cold War. The “propaganda model” is widely applicable in America because of the news culture in the US (Chomsky, 2007).Most of the media group in the US are belonging to the private ownership and not subsidized by the government, almost financially independent. Large amounts of the media are controlled by a limited number of big companies, who are also getting on well with the government through the political donations on the trade of weapons. Consequently, they are sometimes involving in the national policy making as well. Meanwhile, the sources of news are required to be obtained through the official channels, such as the press conference or the personal interview. In order to get the first hand information, the journalists need to be getting on well with the government agencies, which will also affect the media attitude towards the politics. From the Chomsky’s “propaganda model” it can be seen that in order to strengthen the objective image to the public, the media ownership are using the way of conglomeration and merger of small media companies to make grater in power, influence, stature, or reputation. Sometimes, the government played an accomplice role in this process, charging some small media companies to let them bankruptcy because of the heavily cost of the lawsuit, while the giant media is benefit from the influence and power. Thus it can be seen that the media and the government in the US are closely connected. Because of that, media in the US are always exercising self-censorship. Although Chomsky uses the “propaganda model” to criticize the media in the Europe, it is lacking of generalizability after all.

Klaehn has written on her article that there was a common criticism on the “propaganda model”: the propaganda model is to be analyzed under the hypothesized condition that there is no difference among the internal the ruling class, but that will never happen in the reality (Klaehn, J. 2002). As Chomsky and Herman have explained in their book, it is similar to the emphasis within the book, the propaganda of some authoritative country is different to the media of the U.S. In fact, spirited debates is allowed and encouraged in the U.S., only when it does not cross the line. (Herman & Chomsky, 1988). Moreover, they have made another further explanation that “we used the concepts of “worthy” and “unworthy” victims to describe this dichotomization, with a trace of irony as the varying treatment was clearly related to political and economic advantage rather than anything like actual worth” (Herman, 2000).

Talking about this, Colin Sparks, from the University of Westminster has suspected whether this model can be used to explain every context of the media in the UK. Colin Sparks (Sparks, 2007) took the example of the Iraq War reporting in the UK and argued there were lots of researches showing that many media in the UK doubted the legitimacy and appropriateness of the Iraq war. He believes “propaganda model” neglect the complication of capitalist society. From the economical aspects, the conflicting interests among the different department within the capitalism will be everlasting.

It is well known that the US media nearly monopolize the media industry in the world. The “propaganda model” has archived the largest utility during the international news communication. However, media in other countries are not always following what the Americans want. When the reporting does harm the interest of the country or the reporting is iniquitously unjust, each media organization in the single country will put up resistance. UK is not an exception.

20th March, 2003, the allied forces of US and Britain started the Iraq war without the authorization of the United Nations’ Security Council. During the prewar and postwar time, the US media has made every attempt to advocate the “propaganda model”, controlling and intervening the news reporting, in order to ask for support.

Although both the United Kingdom and the United States is the staunchest ally during the war, the way of reporting the war was very different because of their different attitude towards the Iraq war. Comparing with the “patriotism” reporting in the America, news in the UK was obviously impartial. Not only reporting the British and American forces attacked the Iraq forces, but also relayed the civilian casualties,Moreover,they also made some independent comment on the war, even some criticism were totally different from the America announcement.

Brookes and Lewis has analyzed the British Television Media; they choose the four main News channels as a sample of how they reported the Iraqi War, including BBC 1, ITV News, Channel4News and Sky channels. They were mainly focusing on three aspects. Whether Iraq owned weapons of mass destruction, the viewpoint of whether Iraqi civilians wish to be liberate from the governance of Saddam and whether the nature of Saddam’s politics was vicious. The result showed 86% of report tends to agree that Iraq does own weapons of mass destruction (Lewis & Brookes, 2004). Those who believe warfare can liberate Iraq are double of the amount of the reports of attack Iraq. More than half of the reports believe that Saddam’s policies makes Iraq civilian feels they are under pressure and pain. Even channel4 news report seems to have a fair opinion; Brookes and Lewis still give a conclusion of British Television is biased towards the government.

In addition, Couldry and Doweny (Allan & Zelizer, 2004) analyzed seven newspapers report before the Iraq War started (2003 January to Mid February). They mainly focus on whether media should investigate of the reason of starting a war. Result shown that the right-wing newspaper like The Times, The Sun, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail might or might not support the starting of the war. Newspapers such as Daily Mirror, Independence, Guardiance is considered to be focus on the benefit of the nation and is opposite to the west-ring newspaper is doubting the reason and moral standard on the reason of starting a war towards Iraq.

Robertson (Robertson, 2004) chose two Scotland papers The Herald and The Scotsman as the subject of the study and analyses on the report that have been done on the Iraqi war. Its purpose is to analyzing whether the Scotland newspaper is playing a role of watchdog or lapdog. The study shows that both newspaper report the action have been taken in the Iraqi war and the result they have achieve during the war. In comparison, the reports related to the destruction of the facilities in Iraq, the impact towards the public hygiene, environment and social order is relatively less covered within the reports. There are also 2775 cases in total mention about the victims, even those who have rarely cover the death of Iraqi civilian, Arabs and Muslim people.

Based on the research from the scholars, there are some specific antiwar news. For example, Daily Mirror in the UK has published two pictures in the front page, which is George Bush with a smile in one picture with a crying Iraq woman on the war wrecks in another picture, with the title “he likes it”; moreover, Daily Mirror criticized that the Iraq war was “pointless”, “horrible”, and appealed to the UK government to stop the war. In addition, The Independent and other newspaper in the UK had replied to Bush’s announcement about “the war will last for no matter how long it will require” on the 28th, March, and it was widely accepted that “the longer the war lasts, the heavier the economic losses will be suffering, the more political price will be paid as well”. Besides, on the 25th April, the former president of BBC – Greg Dyke had delivered a speech in the University of London, he criticized that the news from the America media was over impartial and could not illustrate all the truth from the battlefield, which Greg Dyke was called “distorted patriotism”.

During the war time, the “propaganda model” was not applicable to explain the media in the UK; on the contrary, it works on few specific cases nowadays. In the 24th, November, 2009, a committee was set up in the UK to investigate the legality of the Iraq war. The result of the investigation will be put out after the election around the end of 2010. The investigation time and scope will be arranging from 2001 until the end of July, 2009, including every stage the British army prepare for the war, go to the war and pullout. Many former government high officers will involve in the inquiry as well.

To all appearances, it is difficult to use the “propaganda model” to explain this. According to the “propaganda model”, in order to be trusted by the public, the media disclosures scandals of the authorities and criticized the government. Different from this time, once the commission has investigated that the Iraq war is illegal, most of the media organisations that had supported the war would be accused. Instead of gaining the belief from the public, there is no denying that the media are just digging their own graves.

In my opinion, the news of Iraq war investigative commission just follows the “propaganda mode”, getting the trust from the public through criticising the government without being noticed. It is a fight among the political party results in setting the investigative commission. Firstly, talking about the announcement that the investigation result will be published after the election. On one hand, this timing will not diminish the effect of the political propaganda; on the other hand, an opened interrogation was conducted by an investigative group on the commanders and politicians who is involved in the Iraq war, the purpose of that is to advertise and to build up the publicity for Gordon Brown during the election.

Secondly, the result of the investigation will make no sense. The Guardian (Sparrow, 2009) argued that the Iraq inquiry was not the responsibility for the investigative commission to judge whether the Iraq war is legal or not. In addition, there is no lawyer and judge in the commission team and all the team members are chosen by Gordon Brown, thus then the so called “investigation” is just conducting in a perfunctory way.

If there is a real need to investigate in the lies and acts the British and the American government have done in the Iraq war, it is then necessary to be carry out by international organisations, such as UN Commission on Human Rights or International Criminal Tribunal. The commission will not dig out the crime that they have done, but in fact they cover up the facts from the public.

To sum up the above arguments, it is not surprising that the “propaganda model” has been strongly criticized by some people. Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda Model does not explain every media in every context; it is too rigid in its causal argument and lack of accurate support.

Yet we live in a world, changes take place all the time, there is no adaptable news model that is suitable forever. Even in a country, as media in the UK, there would be a variety of news reporting towards one event. Although some of the news can be analysed by the “propaganda model” while others’ cannot. In a word, the “propaganda model” is lack of practicalness and general applicability.

What Is The Medias First Responsibility

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.

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).

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).