Media Essay Outlines

Do you agree that with the emergence of new media, there will be a greater need for censorship?

Key words

New Media:
the digital, computerized, or networked information and communication technologies
characteristics of being compressible, linked to a network and can be manipulated

Will:
Indicates likelihood
Greater need:
Indicates increase

Possible stands:

YES the emergence of New Media calls for a greater need for censorship

NO greater censorship will destroy the effectiveness of New Media

YES BUT need does not translate to effectiveness

Prove using current trends that New Media introduces new characteristics which are potentially harmful to the individual, organisations and nations and hence require additional monitoring

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Argument: New Media allows for the easy access of information by anyone who has the necessary technology.
Reason: This eliminates the screening process that is usually put in place to protect minors from accessing socially undesirable information.
Explanation: Pornography is easily accessible by minors as such websites do not require proof of age, merely a credit card number. Some pornographic websites even allow ‘sneak previews’ of what they have to offer.
Evaluation: Exposure to such material at a young age can result in sexual illnesses, unplanned pregnancies and even rape. Without the proper guidance, children can develop a warped understanding of intimacy which can prove to be detrimental to them in later years.
Conclusion: Therefore, in order to prevent such free flow of socially undesirable information, there is a greater need for censorship.

Other possible arguments (YES)

User to user interactivity = anyone can use it for any purpose
àterrorist networks/cults using internet for propaganda and recruitment purposes \need to protect public or keep them informed
àinsensitive remarks \need to maintain harmony in society
Intricate network connections = hacking
\need to protect people’s privacy
Digitalization of media = piracy
\need to protect profits & intellectual property rights


Balance (BUT)


It may not be effective to censor New Media as it is hard to police the cyberspace or control how information is disseminated through New Media
Governments need to constantly come up with more effective and innovative ways to censor it.

Possible arguments (NO)

New Media is a tool for social change as it allows people to share ideas and express themselves freely.
Allows for self-censorship
Cyberspace as a platform for democracy
Real time compressible information
Marginal harm done

ESSAYS ON THE MASS MEDIA

Topic

The mass media

Question

Should the mass media always tell the truth?

Writer

Joanne Chew, CG 27/07

School

TJC

Theodore Roosevelt once commented on the mass media and journalism specifically – “The power of the journalist is great, but he is neither respected nor admired for it, unless it is used right.” The former president of the United States aptly summed up what the mass media should aim to do: to tell the truth and not abuse their power of massive influence. However, the recent spate of terrorist events tailored for the media seems to propose that the media should not always tell the truth, and that there are circumstances that do not require the whole and absolute truth. That, however, does not imply lying, but instead the telling of a partial truth.

The mass media represents the specific body of the media envisioned for a large scale dissemination of information. Therefore, it is understandable that the mass media wields immense powers of influence over society. As it is, we depend on the media for coverage on the events taking place around us and for information on important global events. As Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong of Singapore once commented, the mass media has a “moral and social responsibility”, and possesses powers of influence “greater than executives and corporate leaders”. Therefore, the mass media has to wield its responsibility and use its position of mass influence wisely – and this suggests a constant, steady, unwavering adherence to the truth. The extent of the mass media’s influence means that its every coverage of events would be eagerly lapped up and absorbed by members of the public, and the media has a social responsibility to cover and report events in a truthful, forthcoming light. Society depends on the mass media or factual reporting and unbiased recounts, and the mass media should live up to this dependence and expectation, and be held accountable.

Moreover, it is important for the media to tell the truth, especially when it pertains to a nation’s welfare, or is in relation to important political affairs that concern a country’s well-being. This function of the media in which it exposes misdeeds and misdemeanor is one that clearly entails a telling of the truth. The media’s whistle-blwoing and expose on the Watergate scandal for example, shows the need for telling of the truth and journalistic integrity despite possible opposition and backlash. The media is commonly regarded as the fourth estate to judge a government’s efficiency, and there is therefore a significant reliance of a nation on the media to check and report factually, the truth on affairs big and small. Therefore, the media’s actions should always be guided by the truth as they have to live up to a societal need for the truth, and non-slanted, unbiased and factual reporting.

Besides its ability to disseminate information on a large scale, the mass media also has the power to shape mindsets, create opinions and mould thought processes. For example, media coverage on the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky extramarital affair created widespread disapproval of the former American president with females worldwide frowning on the adultery of Clinton. The media therefore shaped an opinion on a global scale. Thus, the media should adhere to the truth, as opinions and mindsets are governed and influenced by the media’s coverage on events; dishonest or slanted and untruthful reporting would lead to opinions and reactions based on lies. Not only is this socially harmful, it is also unfair to the parties these lies are built upon.

However, there are instances in which the truth will not set one free, and there is a gap between what society needs and what society should get. Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong commented at Today newspaper’s anniversary celebration that a media’s interest should converge with a nation’s goals of order and stability. Therefore, there are several circumstances in which the media, in order to move in tandem with a nation’s goals, has to avoid revealing the truth.

An obvious instance is when the phenomenon of terrorism is tailored for the media. Instead of simply bombing an obscure enemy village without injecting widespread fear, terrorists nowadays are known to specially tailor their terrorist actions for media coverage, so as to fulfill the more insidious objective of sparking off panic, pandemonium and distress on a large scale. This can be seen way back during the 1972 Munich Olympics in which Palestinian terrorists massacred Israeli athletes. The Olympic event was specially selected by the terrorists as there would be global coverage, and their acts of brutality and slaughter would be broadcast on an international scale, injecting distress across not only one country – but globally. Other instances include the execution of American Nick Berg and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings. Terrorists who captured Nick Berg purposefully filmed the gory and grotesque execution process and circulated I on the Internet to spark off distress to all who chanced upon the film, using the large scale influential power of the Internet to publicise their terrorist activities. In the Oklahoma City bombings, the bomber Timothy McVeigh picked his bombing destinations as he knew it would be a good spot for maximum coverage. During such deliberate, depraved acts of using the media, and exploiting its influence, the media should not succumb or fall prey to such schemes, and should hide some of the truth of the matter, in order to oppose this manipulation of the media.

Moreover, such terrorist acts purposefully attempt to spark off pandemonium using the mass media, and by reporting the full unadulterated and undiluted truth, the media would be a complicit in these acts of trying to destabilize and threaten the public. Therefore, this is a significant instance in which the complete truth is not expected of the media. In the aforementioned Nick Berg execution, media moguls CNBC, CNN and ABC refused to air the execution videos to avoid causing distress to the public. By not fulfilling the supposed talk of reporting the absolute truth, these media stations saved America from further panic and pandemonium, allowing a quicker recovery from the attacks, and helping to salvage the remnants of American national security. Another good example of how the media should be allowed to not reveal the whole truth, is the recent London Tube bombings. Instead of airing unedited and therefore completely truthful footage of the bomb-scene, the news stations decided to air edited still footage, to not further upset the already distressed nation. Therefore, it is pivotal to acknowledge that in such instances, the media should cover up the truth, in a bid to maintain stability and for the welfare of society, and to also prevent itself from getting exploited due to the influence it holds.

At times, to not report the full truth in the interest of national stability is what the media has to do. When Jemaah Islamiah terrorists were arrested in Singapore, the media had to have the discernment and perspicacity to dilute certain information so as not to ignite racial tensions in Singapore’s unique multi-racial social fabric. Therefore, this is another instance in which the absolute truth would not be the necessary truth, in order to protect and maintain a country’s welfare.

Therefore, the media should always tell the truth, but at times, it is required of the media to tell half-truths in order to converge with the primary concerns of a country’s security and stability. Although backers of complete press freedom and seekers of pure, unadulterated truth like non-governmental organization “Reporters Without Borders” might say that half-truths are equivalent to partial lies, I believe that “partial lies” are at times what is truly required instead. It is far too absolute to say that the mass media should “always” tell the truth, as there are precarious situations in our world that make truth-telling an amorphous affair. Roosevelt’s quote on the power of the journalist and it being used right should probably apply to telling “partial lies” for the greater good as well.

Topic

The mass media

Question

“Young people are suffering both mentally and morally from a constant diet of mindless images and meaningless sounds.” Do you agree?

Writer

Samantha Fong, 04A15

School

HCI

If one had tuned into any of the popular youth-oriented television channels a few months ago, one would have almost certainly have seen, and probably become familiar with, the image of a curvaceous, skimpily-dressed blonde gyrating and hissing, “I’m a Slave 4 U” with a boa constrictor draped aross her shoulders in a decadent fashion. Britney Spears, perhaps the epitome of popular culture as well as an icon and idol for many youths, has certainly contributed to the bad reputation that mainstream ‘pop’ has today, with her blatantly provocative music videos and inane lyrics.

Britney is not alone. Hollywood’s action films with their hackneyed plotlines that usually involve a sexy hero or heroine saving the world from evil by using a variety of cutting-edge gadgets and an assortment of pseudo-kung-fu moves, meeting the man or woman of his or her dreams, and then living happily ever after, do little to dispel the stereotype. Television networks are equally guilty of the mental and moral corruption of young people by, for example, glorifying the notoriously and unabashedly insipid duo. Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie, on their show ‘The Simple Life’, and condoning shallow perceptions of beauty in plastic surgery reality television show ‘The Swan’. Clearly, a generation weaned solely on such meaningless forms of entertainment must find it difficult to find solid moral or intellectual footing.

Thankfully, however, this stereotype is just that – stereotypical. While it is easy for us to classify modern popular culture as shallow and mindless in its entirety, there are several substantial elements of it that go deeper than the glitzy display of sounds and images produced by Britney and the like. In fact, looking closer at television programmes or music that might seem frivolous at first glance, one often finds that they reflect many major issues and problems that the young in society are faced with today. For example, hit television series ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, despite its outlandish title and fantastic plotlines, most of which involve Buffy using her super powers to kill the vampires and various ugly monsters that haunt her hometown, has a large and dedicated following, primarily because of the way Buffy’s relationships with her friends and family are portrayed. Furthermore, important teenage issues like popularity, social stratification, insecurity and self-esteem are explored as we follow Buffy through high school, and youths can often relate to and find solace or even advice in her struggles. One might even argue that the physical dramatization of the fight between good and evil on the show could help its young viewers to realize that evil is real, and teach them that their moral choices do affect their ability to defeat the evils in their own lives.

Even rap, the music genre most derided by ‘true’ musicians because of its gung-ho beat and inelegant lyrics, brings several crucial social issues to light, and can often be much more than the jumble of profanities that it is widely perceived to be. French Muslim rap group Alonso, for instance, has songs that express the disenfranchisement, isolation, and indigence faced by many that belong to that community, and has even helped to raise many French youths’ awareness about this sensitive social situation. As such, it would be judgmental to classify rap music as simply meaningless.

Moreover, in the last few years, we have seen a wave of films and television programmes based on ‘classic’ stories and ideas. The popularization of widely acclaimed novels, such as Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ series in the form of the Peter Jackson films, for example, shows that much lauded tales from decades past are not entirely lost on the young, and that, despite the fact that they have been dressed up in modern soundtracks and special effects, the old, epic themes of valour and brotherhood are still present and respected in the entertainment industries of today. Besides stories, ancient philosophy has also been brought out in modern guise, with the famous ‘Matrix’ trilogy being an example of how ancient Hindu philosophy was woven into a popular action film. Such repackaging of long-valued ideas and traditions in modern theatre must surely hint that today’s supposedly superficial images and sounds could hold quite the same amount of wisdom and insight as older forms of entertainment did.

In addition, we must also question whether or not pop culture itself is all that popular. The 21st century has brought with it such a diverse array of thinking, culture and belief that deviation from the popular is, ironically, becoming increasingly mainstream. ‘Indie’ music and films, so named for their supposedly more individualistic flavour, as opposed to the generic formulae of Hollywood and the Big Five record companies, are becoming widespread, catering to ever-widening niche markets of those who want a more varied diet. Ethnic artists, like Bjork and Clannad, previously shunned by the young as unexciting, have made great headway in sharing their cultures with the Western world, providing youths with uplifting and refreshing musical styles and perspectives. Foreign and arthouse films are increasingly being recognized at trendy film awards festivals, reflecting the shift in the taste of the young generation away from the candy floss of Hollywood and towards the rich, flavourful insights of French, Polish and African filmmakers. The spread of such films and music, which has undoubtedly been aided by the rise of the Internet and massive worldwide file-sharing networks that give technology-savvy teens greater access to such less commonly broadcast media. The open acceptance of such films and music is evidence that not all youths are caught up in the fleshy, flashy thrall of frivolous or ‘bubblegum’ pop. In fact, an increasing number are learning to appreciate and savour more creative, unorthodox, and certainly more mentally and emotionally stimulating forms of entertainment and expression.

Nonetheless, it must be acknowledged that the majority of young people today are probably still suffering from the mental and moral obesity that can be blamed on a constant diet of the media equivalent of MacDonald’s. However, with a little discernment and discretion, it is easy to sift the good from the bad in popular culture, or even to sample other less mainstream forms of entertainment. Thus, whether the youth of today are suffering from meaningless media or enjoying the full spectrum of culture and entertainment that our wonderfully diverse society has to offer depends largely on what they themselves make of that choice.

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