The world continuously changes; and with these changes are the numerous developments that take place in many aspects of life. This does not exclude technology, which has mostly caused other changes in life. One of the areas of life most affected by technology is how a person receives and sends message. The media or the things which allow people to see the byways of human life tail the continuous change. Even the meaning of the term media has now evolved from simply being a means to send and receive message into that body which communicates to the people the occurrences in life from the very minute it happened to the last second it occurred. Media is indeed the extension of man and as man constantly evolves so does media (Mcluhan, 2001).
In this generation, the media has already let go of its initial roles in democracy and in life as it evolved along the changing times. It has let go of its primary purpose as the people’s watchdog and the fourth estate. Media is no longer just a marketplace of ideas where people may openly debate issues as they arise. More importantly, media has let go of its role as the neutral transmitter of information (Cook, 2006). It is no longer odd for people to see biases in media reports which involve government officials or proposed policies. The objectivity of media outfits has disappeared and the media has become an avenue for writers and reporters to express their personal thoughts rather than that of the readers and the general public.
The Media and the Issue
Writing may be considered as the earliest form of media. In most countries, the very first news and propagandas came in the form of writing or journalism. In the United States, the earliest media were newspapers that are one to three-pages long which contained the events or occurrences in the city of the previous day. During this era, newspapers were the most powerful means of sending news (Mcluhan, 2001).
In the present generation, the most powerful form of media may be the internet and the television. These media forms can immediately transmit the news even in a split second. Unlike in the newspapers which need more time for writing, editing, and printing, internet and television news reports are a lot faster. It is also more affective as it extends to more than one sense organ, the sight and the hearing (Mcluhan, 2001). As the TV and the internet are the most powerful means of spreading information nowadays, these are also the forms of media where most biases against public officials and policies may be found.
Behind the Scenes
There are numerous reasons that may be blamed for the existence of media bias in this generation. First and foremost is history; due to the fact that the media does not only report current events, but it also records them, thus it knows history more than anyone else (Gardiner, 2002) Not only does it know history, media knows it well and is oftentimes deeper than the knowledge available for ordinary people. While fulfilling the watchdog role, it multitasks into becoming history markers that when the time comes that an event must be remembered, the media may be used to unearth what may be thought as hidden and forgotten. When the media learns a negative aspect of a politician or government official, it marks immediately. With these feature, the media sees occurrences with a different eye as compared to other people. Also within this eye, it views people involved in the news in a different light. As such, the tendency of diminished objectivity and increased biased especially when the event involves politicians in a controversy in which the people become victims.
An instance when this occurred is the event that involved President Bill Clinton. When the media learned about a lawsuit filed against the former American president, they were immediately all over him. Despite the implied innocence until proven guilty, the media covered the events with bias. This was not surprising as years before Clinton’s presidency while he was still the governor of Arkansas, there had also been similar charges against him (Times, 1998). The media knew of this and as it is, the bias occurred due to the fact that there is a probability of guilt basing on the history of charges against the president. This proves that history has something to do with the bias.
Another reason that may also be found in this same scenario of media bias is when trust is lost. Trust is earned as everyone else knows, and as everything else that may be earned, it may also be lost. In the event of the Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal, the trust that the media has put on the president together with the people when he was voted as president of the country, was marred by the controversy in which he got involved in. With this controversy, the good reputation of former president Clinton became tarnished which eventually resulted to the people and media’s diminished trust towards him.
It should be noted that the media is an aspect of the society whose trust is first sought by any politician. The media is all about trust because it functions as the society’s watchdog; as such, anything that seems well for their perspective is viewed just the same by the people who trust them (Gillmor, 2006). As such, when the media begins to pound on a certain personality, it greatly affects the people. In the case of past president Bill Clinton, it affected him greatly that resulted to losing his presidency.
The media is such a powerful aspect of society. Due to the reality that it can accurately speak of the current events happening and what has taken place in the society, it holds the ability to manipulate people’s beliefs. It can twist reality in the way it wants to. It can even reroute a person’s point-of-view into what that person never expected. It is regarded so highly by the people due to the roles it promised to fulfill. As such, when the media deviate from this role, societal problems may occur. This is why the now existing bias in media reporting concerning government officials as well as policies is not only harmful to the media itself but more especially to the people it promised to serve.
The media, as it digs through the history of politicians and public policies that it criticizes, must also keep in mind that it is always important to stick to the function that they must fulfill for the people. The only way that bias and subjectivity may be eliminated is by going back to one’s roots. The media should retrieve the humility that the media in the past used to possess. The media should look back and note that they are not a higher estate; and their purpose encompasses serving the people by giving honest information of what they need to know rather than providing them information of what the media thinks that the people should believe.
Cook, T.E. (2006). Freeing the Presses. Los Angeles: LSU Press.
Gillmor, D. (2006). We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People
California: O ‘Reilly.
McLuhan, M. (2001). Understanding Media: The extension of Man. New York: Routledge.
Times. (1998). A Chronology: Key Moments in the Clinton-Lewinsky Saga.
Edition.cnn.com. Retrieved May 11, 2009, from