Media – Socially Responsible or not?

This morning I received an email forward, the essence of the email can be found in this link: “Of Stars and Martyrs, Munnabhai vs. Manish Pitambare”.

Even after leaving any aspect of nationalism and patriotism out of it, I think the media started shedding its social responsibilities long time ago.

Media moghuls generally give a reason that media only prints what people want to read. This is not entirely correct. Actually, the converse is much more true. People can only read what is published. From whatever is published, people read different articles with different degrees of interest (this is captured as the “hits” on that story). Then, from within stories read by people, media editors establish trends and use that to report further news. Once the trends are established, they are being continuously revalidated simply because only a certain number of stories are published. The people who read the news that did not fall within the selected trends, must also read the news from within trends.

Some news stories are inherently juicier than the others. So they invariably get more hits. For example, Brangelina stories get more hits than the deaths of soldiers and civilians in Iraq. So media may say that it is only a numbers game. If so, then we can safely say that media is only a commercial enterprise. We should all then agree that it has no more social responsibility than another commercial enterprise, such as Coke or Philip Morris.

If, on the other hand, media assumes any social responsibility, it must also answer why it chose one news story over the other, and it cannot simply use the “popularity” as an answer.