The Extent of Media’s Influence on Society and Resulting Responsibilities for New Media

Posted on May 15, 2011

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by Esther Young Hyun Cheon

Media is the collective term given to the types of communication that widely influence people such as radio, newspaper, television, magazines, and the internet. Through the years, media has had a great influence over the public. In 1945, the number of people who subscribed to a newspaper was 14 million. In the 1990’s, however, it increased to 52 million. Not only that, but with the subsequent inceptions of the television and the internet, the advent of new media society has enabled people to be so exposed that it has lead to a great influence over the people.

New media is a broad term in media studies that emerged in the later part of the 20th century. New media holds out the possibility of on-demand access to content, as well as interactive user feedback, creative participation and community formation around the media content.

Traditional and new media are supposed to inform people and form the public voice. Media is one of the most important ways in which people receive information and news around the world. If it were not for media, would we get information and news around the globe immediately? Media affects how we learn about our world, and interact with each other.

Traditional media is selective. The media itself prevents people from their inalienable right to think for themselves and have the freedom to make judgments on the based on the provided facts. Despite the advent of new media, the situation is similar. For example, in the case of the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in May 2008, there were positive and negative effects of the FTA. However, the producer of ‘PD note’, a program that investigates problems in society, prejudicially exaggerated the content of the report on US beef tainted with mad cow disease. Only the negative aspects were made known to the public, and the people were enraged at the possibilities. This resulted in many citizens participating in candlelight rallies to protest against the FTA. However, it turned out that, not only did US beef have little effect on our health but also there were many positive doings unbeknown to the public. Another example is ‘the radioactive rain’ in April 2011. The media said “Japan’s radioactive fallout came to Korea via rain.” The Press overstated the dangerousness of the radiation which caused many schools in Gyeonggi-do to close. These two examples show how the media can influence the way people act and can cause social problems.

What has changed over time is that people are more informed than in the past. So people are better able to distinguish between exaggerations and normality. The important thing concerning new media is that the public should not only be dependent on only the media’s viewpoint, but also common logic. With the appearance of the new media, two-way informative communication is now possible. Through Twitter and Facebook, anybody can give their opinion on any social situation. Therefore, the people making the information are not journalists but you and me. So people have to be mindful of their responsibilities when distinguish between regular and irregular. We are able to enjoy the benefits that new media offers, if people only think.

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