watchdog
Op-ed

Media as a watchdog

Shakeel Ahmad Shaheen

Social Responsibility theory of mass media is a new concept which started in the mid-20th century and is used mostly by developing. The model was designed formally by Siebert, Peterson and Schramm in 1956 in their book. It encourages total freedom to press but it should be regulated according to social responsibilities and external controls. Content is also rectified through public obligation and interference. The social responsibility theory of mass media changed the way press published news. Before this theory, facts were presented without any consideration. The audience interpreted it the way they wanted to. This caused problems as interpretation was not based on reality .investigative reporting started to uncover the reality behind every case.

In Social Responsibility Theory, the press is taken to be for the people and society. The tasks of the press is to make a code of conduct and follow it, to develop a standard in journalism, to make journalism better, to protect journalists and to have penalties if any journalist violates the code of conduct. In this way the people get true information and understandable news. This helps in maintaining social harmony in a society

The media is taken as a place for the voiceless to have a voice and develop public opinions. Each and every person has the right to speak, express and publish. Therefore, the objectives of media are stated to inform, document, analyze, interpret, mediate and mobilize by creating and finding solutions.

Media empowerment is a sign of true democracy. It is a medium which communicate with the entire world. Media definitely has a responsibility on its shoulders, which is to guide the people. People have blind faith in the media and they are convinced that what they hear or what the media has declared is correct. The truth is that in this competitive world the media is also an ill-treated party.

The media has exposed our very own celebrities whom we normally adore. Thanks to the media, we got the true picture of these celebrities who have secretly indulged in wrong doings. It is the duty of media to expose the people. Once a person is a celebrity, his life or his actions definitely make the news, then why do they blame the media?

Media is important for democratic political system. Media flourishes in a democratic system. It strengthens democratic and participatory processes and institutions.

It also serves as an instrument of socialization of people into societal values, norms, political orientations and historical perspectives.

It has become increasingly important to evaluate media’s performance with reference to the notion of social responsibility because its capacity to influence the society has increased enormously over the last two decades. Modern communication technology has enabled the media to reach the large number of people quickly through multiple ways. Further, the propagation of media has made people more vulnerable to its news, views and entertainment.

In a country like Pakistan where democracy is not well-established, media needs to play its role with a lot more caution. Media has to be more reserved in analyzing and interpreting news and other information.

Pakistan faces the threats of growing violence and terrorism. These threats can make the state system dysfunctional. The media needs to play a constructive role in stemming the tide of these trends in Pakistan. Each media group has to use its professional judgment and editorial control to ensure that news, views and other contents. Violence and terrorism and those who engage in these activities should not be glorified. Pakistan’s print and electronic media should learn from the experience of the media in other conflict ridden societies.

A number of print and electronic media groups in Pakistan often find it difficult to maintain non-partisan professional orientations. They are carried away by the polarized political environment and cannot get out of a partisan political discourse. These trends reflect weak professional capacity.

The most important instruments of accountability of the media are internal control mechanisms to ensure that it meets with the primary obligations of social responsibility. It needs to make sure that the standard of quality, credibility and nonpartisanship are maintained for news, information, and political commentaries. Each media group has to address a host of questions and seek balanced solutions on their own.

There is a need to increase knowledge-based programmes on current affairs rather than summoning different drum beaters of different political parties who make highly partisan statements on the TV or engage in shouting contests with each other.

According to me, media has a noteworthy and crucial place in our lives. It shows us the reality which is usually hidden from the common man. It makes us realize that we are being ruled by the wrong people while politicians are only interested in their personal gains and not the welfare of their people. I salute the media for its unique contribution which will definitely benefit the nation and its people in the long run.

 

About the author

Mian Bilal

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