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The Mainstream News Media, including news outlets and newspapers, are a powerful influence

on most people. News media and journalism influence people’s opinions and therefore

democracy itself so the power they have is not to be taken lightly. The press has

"responsibilities to the public interest: to respect the truth, to obey the law and to uphold the

rights and liberties of individuals". Good and fair journalism has positive effects on democracy,

but unfortunately, the most popular news feeds in most Western countries have degraded into

poor-quality information, which is affecting democracy and degrading society. Aside from the

biases that are to be expected from corporations and editors, online news in particular, portray

the world in an unrealistic way. The reason of all this is very easy and it’s the cause of issues all

around the world: money.

News media depend very much on their audience for economic reasons. They need to publish

whatever makes people buy their newspapers, listen to their radio programs, or participate in

to their TV shows and make them stay during the commercial breaks. This is what Mainstream

Media really is about: they try to catch the attention of the audience by presenting something

incredible, unusual, emotionally touching, and something that people can identify themselves


The Media in general get more than half of their revenues from advertising and sponsors.

Consequentially, these advertisers have a strong influence on the content of the news.

It is not fair to say though that mainstream media companies exist just for money; these

industries do an incredible job to keep the public informed about all the events happening

There is no closed list of content provided by the media: news, politics, business, current affairs,

entertainment, religion, fashion, food, celebrity and lifestyle are some of the many topics

covered by the media. Furthermore, these topics are provided over a range of platforms.

Traditionally, when people thought of the media they thought of newspapers, magazines, radio

and television. This is no longer the case. For example, a newspaper’s website will carry an

electronic version of the newspaper for that day, or such media can carry unique content not

available in hard-copy form. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, for example,

play a significant role as sources of news and information in many countries.

The role of the journalism as ‘watchdog’ is a traditional representation of the role of the

news media. This watchdog role can take many forms depending on the nature of the medium

concerned, but essentially, this role is to provide information and to act like the ‘eyes and ears’

of the public and monitoring everything is happening in public life and at the end reporting the

events daily.

When people think about journalism as watchdog, they think of media as reporting on the

happenings of government. Actually, reporting on government is a huge task, but it’s certainly

not the only one.

Economic issues can be as important as political ones so watchdog media also needs to report

on economic developments and news. While these will often be linked with government-

related reporting (for example, when talking about problems like interest rates, unemployment

in the country or the budget), this is not always the case. Many times economic issues involve

the private sector, and the media need to be able to report on the activities of major

corporations and concerns in all spheres of the economy, including mining and/or oil
operations, agriculture, manufacturing and services. In doing so, it is important for the

journalists to keep the public informed about the side-effects of economic activity, such as the

actions of polluting companies.

Another important subject for news media is reporting accurately on the social life of the

nation. This means covering artistic and cultural happenings and sporting events, as well as

social trends and developments that impact on the daily life of all, including children, the youth,

the elderly and the disabled.

The role of ‘detective’ is also task of the media as public watchdog. When journalists are well

trained and have trusted sources of information, they are able to investigate wrongdoing by

public officials. This includes perpetrating fraud or engaging in corruption in order to divert and

personally benefit from public funds or other public resources.

The media also play a general educative role in our society. For example, supporting early

childhood development, broadcasters can, and they actually often do, broadcast basic

educational materials aimed at teaching new things to children as well.

Linked to its general educational role, but more controversially, the press can also play the role

of democracy and good governance advocate. Besides reporting on election issues (for

example, the polls, party programmes and party tactics) the media can help to strengthen

democratic processes by encouraging the public authorities to hold a free and fair election

through educating the public about what this would entail. In this role, the media can, for

example, inform the public about how democratic elections should be run. Politicians are very

dependent on the news media because people’s vote is mainly based on the presentation of

politicians in the media. The media appeal of a politician may be more important than his or her
political skills, and consequently we are seeing more and more media people and actors going

into politics. They have to adapt their messages to the media and sometimes the political

debate becomes superficial and toothless. Favorite issues are the most button-pushing ones

like crime and sex, and indeed these issues are between the most salient topics on the agenda

of election campaigns.

In conclusion, the media are not as autonomous as they are supposed to be, because most of

their revenues come from advertisers, as mentioned above. Even license based news media are

becoming increasingly dependent on advertisements and sponsoring. In modern society today,

almost all major cultural events depend on sponsor money. In big sports events, for example,

the sponsors usually have the final say in every detail of the planning and staging of the event.

Likewise, many films and other entertainment programs are influenced by sponsors having

their products placed in the context of the film or show in exchange for their financial


Therfore, advertising not only influences the consumers, but indirectly also the mainstream

media who fortunately do not abandon but instead keep the main goal very clear: professional

responsibility of informing the public.

Reference List


Handbook for Southern Africa Volume 1. Vol. 1. Johannesburg: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

Regional Media Programme, 2012. 1-432. Www.kas.de. Web.

Crabtree, Vexen. "The Worst of the Modern Mass Media." Www.humantruth.info. N.p., 2009.

Web. 18 Nov. 2017.

Fog, Agner. "9. Mass Media." Cultural Selection. Chapter 9: Mass Media. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov.