By- Monali Kakoty
Advancement in mass communication mediums led to exponential bombardment of information. This has led to the formation of a Mediated Society, a society where people are completely influenced by the media for their decision making (everyday-personal or broader) and whose mindset is being controlled by media, thus influencing their perception and understanding of the world. As said earlier about the importance of media as a mass communication tool so, it has to be self disciplined and be used responsibly for the betterment of the society and promotion of peace, harmony and non-violence.
News coverage is an important area of concern. As news channels compete with one another media for audiences, many news producers have come to rely on the maxims like: ‘If it bleeds, it leads’ and ‘Every bad news is good news’. Violence and death, they say, keep the viewer numbers up. Good news doesn’t! Be it Operation Bluestar in 1984 which crushed the Sikh sentiments by entering Golden Temple with weapons leading to Indira Gandhi’s assassination and then followed
by the worst riots which proved to be a black page in Indian history or the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition, 2002 Gujarat riots or the recent Kandharmal communal attacks in Orissa; all these unfortunate events have tarred and questioned India’s secular credentials. But the media has at times used these highly sensitive moments irresponsibly for their own personal interests by sensationalizing, exaggeration of the issue and excess coverage which has led to inter-religion & inter-community hatred and intolerance.
Violence has always played a role in entertainment. But there’s a growing consensus that, in recent years, something about media violence has changed. A study found that between 1993 and 2001, incidents of physical violence increased by 378 per cent. TV shows in 2001 averaged 40 acts of violence per hour. Other research indicates that media violence has not just increased in quantity; it has also become much more graphic, with more of sexual violence and much more sadistic. Explicit pictures of slow-motion bullets exploding from people’s chests, and dead bodies surrounded by pools of blood, are now commonplace fare. Millions of viewers worldwide, many of them children, watch female World Wrestling Entertainment wrestlers try to tear out each other’s hair and rip off each other’s clothing and other reality-thriller programs. And one of the top-selling video games in the world, Grand Theft Auto, is programmed that the players can beat prostitutes to death with baseball bats after having sex with them. Extremely violent lyrics have moved into the mainstream of the music industry too. Virtual violence is also readily available on the World Wide Web. Children and young people can visit websites that feature violent as well as sexually violent images and video clips and easily download them, including the ones that have been censored from retail versions.
Researches on violent television and films, video and computer games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts. Media violence stimulates aggression by desensitizing children to the effects of violence. Moreover, children and adolescents generally imitate what they observe and also they watch violent media portrayals in an attempt to justify their own aggression. Today it is a universal fact that children and adolescents form attitudes and beliefs and take action as a result of their exposure to media content.
The notion of violence as a means of problem solving is reinforced by entertainment in which both villains and heroes resort to violence on a continual basis. The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), which has studied violence in television, movies and music videos for a decade, reports that nearly half of all violence is committed by the good guys. Less than 10 per cent of the TV shows, movies and music videos that were analyzed contextualized the violence or explored its human consequences. The violence was simply presented as justifiable, natural and inevitable;- the most obvious way to solve the problem.
Communication is a double-edged sword. The above said reflects only the negative aspect of may prove to be a clear threat to any society. The vast potential the media industry acquires is yet to be cultivated in order to bring out the best in it. Being the perfect tool of mass communication it should be used for promotion and imparting of knowledge on socio-economic development and welfare programs. It should be used responsibly so as to ensure that violent images and acts are not propagated openly to any extent. The communication and information industry needs to be more sensitive and mature in their thinking as they need to understand that their audience is a mixture of matured and children. It plays an important role with respect to the evolution and promotion of the principles of nonviolence and peace.
Especially with the fundamental transformation of the communication industry, information and communication technology and broadcast media, have enormous potential in promoting non-violent movements to obtain recognition. In relation to global media, broadcast news stories on non-violent struggles more frequently and deeply reported. Any act of repression against non-violent movements to be given more vigilant coverage. It could play an important role as a neutral observer and analyze every violent occurrence and impress upon a nonviolent solution to the problem. It can organize discussions, teleconferencing with the group of nonviolent promoters for a nonviolent approach to sort out any situation that turned violent or tend to be violent.