Media is a very powerful tool in any society and has the power to influence the public’s decision on important and sometimes very contentious issues. However, of late, the media has resorted to manipulating facts for its own good and that of various powerful persons or entities.
Media manipulation occurs all over the world has left everybody confused and helpless because no one can judge whether what is being reported is true or not. The media is taking advantage of the people’s trust in them by hiding and covering the most important news from them and this is unrepresentative and misleading the public on very important issues. The media seems to be the most essential source of information and news but people should choose what to believe and what not to believe.
The objective of this paper is to discuss the methods the media use to manipulate facts and what can be done to stop this manipulation by implementing laws that should govern the media. The media should stop being controlled by powerful elites. Media manipulation should be an offence that is punishable by the law so that integrity can once again prevail in the media industry.
Media is the main source of information on news happening in an area, country, and in the international scene. However, many people have repeatedly mentioned that the media manipulates the information it obtains before availing it to their audience. Media manipulation can have many definitions, however, it can generally be defined as the act of making a news item favor a particular interest.
It can also be defined as the suppression and omission of information by making the audience to believe or not to believe a story or deviating the audience’s attention on another story instead of the issue at hand. Media manipulation is a powerful tool that is being used by contemporary media organizations to deceive the public and it is very unfortunate that the people with money and who own power are the people controlling the media.
Most people in the media industry have constantly claimed that media manipulation of news is inevitable and that most of the perceived manipulations result from human faults, working under deadlines, insufficient printing space, limited financial resources, and the challenge of summarizing a long intricate complex news item into an abridged simple report. I differ with these excuses and instead argue that these are deliberate attempts to hide the truth from the public and if urgent and precarious measures are not put into place, it may reach unmanageable levels.
Although the press has to be selective of what it airs, this does not give them an opportunity to favor other people or distort the truth. Media companies have been known to favor large corporations and wealthy people (Kuyper, 25). The problem is so rampant that it has become difficult to depend on any single media company for political, social and economic information. Media manipulation is being carried out mainly in three ways: distortion, concealing information and deceit (O’Shaughnessy & Staedler, 114).
Forms of media manipulation
The media can persuade the public to buy certain products claiming that they are better than for their competitors through advertisements yet they know the products are not good, vote for particular political figures and even to support some courses yet they are sure that the course is not worthy and the political figures are not worthy of election.
Their main aim is to sell the idea, product or publicize the public figure even if it means brainwashing the public without caring about the needs of their audience and I suggest this should be declared punishable by the law.
Distraction is another way the media manipulates facts. This can occur either through distraction by a phenomenon whereby the public is distracted from a very important subject at hand as was seen when the media tried to divert the public’s attention form the Clinton-Lewinsky affair by putting news regarding military attacks in Sudan and Afghanistan to the fore.
Distraction can also occur through fear mongering whereby citizens are frightened if they engage in or do not engage in a certain act, a tragic end might result. For example, the media might try to coerce the public into voting for certain bills, claiming that failure to vote for such bills might lead to certain economic implications.
The media has also been known to provide only a one sided story that favors certain interests. Most of the journalists tend to ignore the fact that there are always two sides to every contentious issue and base most of their stories on one side. They will always cover the one side of the story and make sure that their side is well represented (Wentworth, 116).
Biasness is a common strategy used by the media to manipulate facts. This occurs when the media opts to support, favor or attack an individual, political party, religion, a particular race, ethnic group or an idea. Other forms of media bias are advertising bias whereby stories are chosen to please the advertisers and mainstream bias where they avoid what should be reported and report what others media companies are reporting.
The media can also use biased polls that are misleading to support their positions and include them in news. For example, poll results may be skewed to favor certain persons or the research may not have been based on sound research methodologies. A final form of manipulation of facts occurs in the form of suppression and omission and this occurs when reporters deliberately omit some sections of their reports. The media can even lie about some issues or twist the stories that they are fully aware and claim not to have heard of such news.
Instead of the media being a people centered institution, it has become a vehicle to distract people’s attention away from major issues and it is becoming more and more biased. Strict laws should be enacted to return honesty back into the news that are aired and read all over the world for most media outlets cannot be counted on to give true information and to provide unbiased argument of issues.
The explanation that news bias is unavoidable should not apply here, our media should exercise honesty and give the right information to the public otherwise their competence cannot be approved as they are always misleading the masses. We are not puppets in the hands of the media, instead of playing its role in informing the people what is going on, it has become a means of mass manipulation and we should build immunity to manipulation.
Kuyper, Jim A. Press Bias and politics. Westport: Praeger, 2002. Print.
O’Shaughnessy, Michael & Staedler, Jane. Media and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.
Wentworth, Willium M. Production of Culture in the Mass media. NewYork City: Allyn & Bacon, 1998. Print