Intelligent media consumerism-A A +A
By Nef Luczon
Monday, September 16, 2013
IT’S been eight days since the standoff between the rogue faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Philippine government through the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Zamboanga City, and as far as the public is concerned, they are getting varied information through various mass media platforms – but of which is really to believe?
The general public has long regarded the mass media as the “Bible of truth and information,” but actually they are not until they will police and discipline themselves to be credible and abide the tenets of journalism ethics (and trust me, it is a very hard act to follow, but rewarding once you do).
So when a “social media news network” released a story online about “80 rebels surrender, priest released” when in fact there were just negotiation talks yet on the ground, and a tabloid affiliated by a news publishing giant made a headline that says “Christians vs Muslims in Zambo,” it is not just disturbing, it is beyond mortal sin as far as mass media responsibility and journalism ethics are concerned. If these types of stories are told to the public, and the kind of story angling the people behind it write them, the general audience will not suspect and instead might take it as a gospel truth. Because mass media are powerful, they do not just influence people, but control people’s behavior.
Being fortunate to teach mass media and society to college communication students for a year now, I always tell my students that to better understand the complexities of what mass media do to the people. First, they should think that mass media are not so different with any business organizations.
Business organizations or companies offer products and services to people, who are the consumers; mass media’s products and services are basically in the form of news, information and entertainment contents.
And like any business entities, mass media organizations also compete to get the biggest consumer share, and they will do almost possibly anything just to get the biggest chunk of audience.
If the consumers are always told to be intelligent in buying products or services by checking labels, do researches and if possible analyze the background of companies that produce them, they should also do the same in consuming media contents, more so, it is important for the people know how mass media set its agenda of the things they wanted to “feed” to the people.
As intelligent media consumers, start thinking that mass media practitioners, more so with journalists, that they are not holy beings, respecting what they do (as long as it is the right and ethical thing to do) is already enough.
The general public should understand this; they should stop for a while watching the television, hearing on the radio, reading the newspapers and even surfing the internet. Are they getting the right information or the mass media are at it again to deceive the people’s gullibility?
Because out there, there are those in mass media who are as valiant in truth seeking with compassion to humanity, and there are those in the mass media who simply wanted to see the world burn.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 16, 2013.