March 4, 2011

The Social Power the Media

The social power of media is an expansive topic. Van Ham says that media has always had and will always have social power, but the medium that is used is forever changing and expanding. So what’s the new wave of disseminating information to control the masses? Blogs! Apparently everyone will listen to what I have to say because I am writing a blog and my word is truth. My first order of business as owner of this prestigious and awesome social power is to outlaw pajama jeans. Its just wrong people- stop it. Just wear your jeans and stop the laziness, it’s embarrassing.

Now that I’ve handled that piece of business lets talk more about media social power.

Van Ham is right, media has and will always have persuasion value over the masses. However, in this day in age with the Internet (and blogs!) how much power any given source has is ultimately in the hands of the viewer. This is where credibility comes into play. As previously studied there are a few ways to gain or have credibility. One is to be established as a government funded source of information and report broadly on all international topics. This is what the BBC did when it started and why it is still a very reputable western source of information. Another way is to establish yourself a strictly non-partisan source of information and prove that by pissing off people on both sides of every argument and have a massive following of people in your main demographic area. This is what Al-Jazeera has done for itself.

How does this translate to Internet credibility? Van Ham himself says that the sheer amount of information that is now disseminated creates a sort of “black hole” of information where it becomes fragmented. Van Ham says that Nye and Owen both talk about the “information advantage.” This is an important and crucial part of gaining credit in this changing and fast paced world. Today people are so used to getting information instantaneously and that being the first to disseminate information into the newsphere is almost as good as being a person’s preferred new source. The first place you see an interesting news story is most likely the place where you will read about it. I agree with Nye and Owens that if U.S. news sources have this capacity it should be used. However, hastiness can be no substitution for accurate information. If in the haste to get a news story out it is later reported that this story has false facts, all credibility will be lost. Therefore this is a delicate balancing act.

In the end something like credibility as a media source is not something that can be gained overnight, but it is not impossible as people will always need a place to get information and media will always have, as Van Ham says, social power. Therefore news sources will never stop trying to attain it. In the end this may work out best for the viewers and readers who will over time have access to the most transparent and accurate reporting due to the competitive conditions that now face all news sources.

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