The media are tremendously important not only as informative but also as formative. In that sense, they can raise awareness to the masses, build trust, and especially serve as a bridge between government and citizens. Sadly, the media many times are manipulated and thwarted.
In countries where the media and government, without ever having a perfect relationship, have more independence from each other; work much better because they have understood they are a decisive factor in the development of their nations.
The media can play a crucial role being the eyes of countries on their long-term strategy. Without the pressure made by the media, there is no development. Democracies depend on what media say and teach citizens, but when they lie, all democracies are affected cause they touch our sentiments and drives us as they want. Sensational and superficial are the two main descriptions we can give today's media.
The media sometimes represent large corporations which of course have a direct profit motive. They have the basic function of social communication but when that basic function battles with the private purpose that those corporations have, a great conflict comes out and in most cases, the prevailing desire for profit wins.
Journalists who accurately report what their sources say can effectively remove responsibility for their stories onto their sources. The ideal of objectivity therefore encourages uncritical reporting of official statements and those of authority figures. In this way the biases of individual journalists are avoided but institutional biases are reinforced (Ryan 1991: 10,176). ‘Professional codes ensure that what is considered important is that which is said and done by important people. And important people are people in power. Television news thus privileges holders of power’ (Kellner 1990: 113-4).
Many magazines and newspapers are mouthpiece of some political parties, doing the task of informing with objectivity very difficult. So, people have to judge on their own by looking different channels for the same news and just then form a conclusion.
Many people do not trust the media. Or it is that maybe they all accept the self-contradictory definition: "Media: 99,99% of what happens is not on the news"
The information we all get from the media, is indispensable for the growing of democracies for three main reasons:
3.- The media can guide and empower citizens to take action as they are a very powerful weapon used to target not few but large masses. The media can also help build peace and social consensus.
No wonder that the media are campaigning one day quite "aggressive"against cigarette consumption and its terrible consequences, and another day are broadcasting commercials of different brands of cigarettes. This is where many of us wonder, are there contradictions in the current model of communication?
Environmental problems are poorly reported in the media because of the need to provide entertainment rather than political awareness, to attract audiences for advertisers, even in news and current affairs programs. This occasionally affects a specific item of news but more generally affects the sorts of stories that are covered and the way they are covered. News editors are reluctant to deal with controversial political and social issues that might alienate potential consumers. As a result news has become bland and neutral and ignores issues that concern large portions of the population who are not considered to have or exercise much buying power (Bagdikian 1983: 180-1, 201-2).
The great dilemma of the developing and poor countries is that people do not know that their basic rights are and if they know, they don't know about where to go and what to do. They don't know what their collective strength is because they tend to act separately. Even they don't know how to protest and what the importance of protests is.
Bagdikian, B.H. 1983, The Media Monopoly. Boston: Beacon Press.
Kellner, D. 1990, Television and the Crisis of Democracy. Boulder CO: Westview Press.