The Power of the Media Revisited
Writers have the ability to start revolutions, impart knowledge and change the world. With the globalization of media, these effects are now at a global level. Evidence of the power of writers is the Arab Spring (Wikipedia, 2016). In 2010 people connected over social media and the internet to overthrow governments and start revolutions in several countries in the Middle East. This movement still has wide reaching effects today.
There are two aspects to leveraging the power of media in ethical ways to be beneficial to society. One is the responsibility of the writer of media to verify facts before publically releasing a story. Second is the responsibly of the consumer to verify stories before they believe them and repost them on social media and repeat them to friends and colleagues.
This increased power of the writer in the internet age brings more responsibility. Incorrect information or false ideas can be spread rapidly when shared on social media. This makes even more important for writers to act ethically and verify stories before they publish them. False information can place all members of society at risk. An example was in 2013 60 Minutes ran an incorrect story about the Benghazi incident (Silverman, 2013). Many people watched this episode and it took a few days for other news sources to confirm the 60 Minutes story was incorrect. Writers of media need to balance the consumers need for instant updates and news with the making sure the inform ion is correct. Certainly a false story has potential to do more harm than a late story.
A media literate consumer is key to making them less susceptible to false information and enables them to be less influenced by non-verified stories. For example, there have multiple false news stories on major networks about Obama not being a U.S. Citizen (Marcotte, 2015). This is not true. If one didn’t take time to verify that this story was in fact an editorial, and the facts were debatable one could assume this was a truth and change the course of the United Sates with their vote.
Both the writer and consumer hold responsibility that false information does not get decimated as truths. This responsibility is more important than ever when a story can go “viral” and reach millions of people quickly.
Upon returning to my initial post for Comm 510, I find that I agree with my initial stance that media and communication holds much power over people and their thoughts. This power appears to be increasing and reaching a wider variety and number of people. One thing that has changed is how I view news stories I see online and on TV. I always had the opinion that certain news sources contained bias, but it surprises me how difficult it was to verify a story on Global Voices news, a source I thought was highly reputable and unbiased. Now when I am watching or reading a story, I am always careful to consider the source and see if the facts add are verifiable.
Marcotte, A. (2015) Fox News Brings up Obama Birther Lie Retrieved on February 22, 2016 from http://www.salon.com/2015/11/19/fox_news_brings_back_obama_birther_lies_donald_trump_dennis_miller_and_the_revolting_post_paris_sliming_of_the_president/
Silverman, C. (2013) Worst Media Errors in 2013 Retrieved on February 22, 2016 from http://www.poynter.org/2013/the-best-and-worst-media-errors-and-corrections-in-2013/233613/
Wikipedia (2016) Arab Spring Retrieved February 22, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Spring