The media, whether professional or social, remains the strongest source of our information and knowledge, making it both necessary and a clear weapon

The recent explosion in Tianjin has brought the focus of the world’s media to China. However, it is apparent that the attention is unwanted by the Chinese. On Weibo (a Chinese social media website, similar to Twitter), a user known as ‘Xu Fengwen’ claimed that ‘During a CNN interview, there were people around with Tianjin accents shouting “delete it, delete it, this is a Tianjin people’s affair” ‘. This suggests that international media is not welcome in Tianjin.

Moreover, in the case of the Tianjin blasts, it is not only the foreign media which has been avoided, but national and even local news coverage has been limited too. According to Free Weibo, (a website that finds deleted social media posts) messages that include the words ‘Tianjin’ and ‘explosion’ have become the most censored. Moreover, Tianjin TV did not report on the blasts. The fact that the local TV station did not report on the issue and that a national website censored the news indicates that the crisis in China is being hidden from the public.

China, like other Communist countries, tends to shy away from media attention. However, in the world of international news coverage, technology defies physical boundaries and borderlines. Pictures, videos and information can be shared with millions around the world within seconds of an event happening. Therefore, it is increasingly difficult to hide from the attention of the global media.

In the modern world, where technology is a huge part of our lives and the media has a large role to play, it is hard to imagine living in a country where the media is limited. For young people, the media is often a part of our everyday lives. Growing up must be a very different experience in a country where the media is heavily censored and has less power.

The media has been a powerful source of information throughout modern history. It has often been used to control what people know or don’t know. The information given to the public has been used as a tool to influence their opinion and maintain order, or to destroy it.

This was particularly evident in the propaganda used in World War Two by leaders on all sides. Propaganda was used to instil a country’s values and aims into its people. This was intended to prevent domestic trouble in a time when international relations were causing turmoil and destruction. It was necessary to suppress freedom of speech to maintain order. The horrors of war were concealed. Optimism and patriotism were encouraged. No matter which country was reporting, they always showed that the other side was guilty and their own soldiers were heroes. Adolf Hitler’s words, ‘The victor will never be asked if he told the truth’ are a clear indicator of the honesty of the media at that time. Victory was more important than the truth. Those at home had to be protected from the details of the reality of war. Public support had to be maintained. Perhaps that was the only point that all sides agreed on.

The amount of control that a government has over the media has a huge impact on their power. What the media shows, or more importantly, what the media hides, can have a huge impact on the public. The media influence exerted on the public is a vital tool for keeping power. It is in the government’s interest to maintain media control.

As well as being a tool for power, control and even brainwashing, democracy and freedom also rely on the media. The media spreads information about what is going on in the government. The media is the public’s primary source of information about the world’s leaders. Without the public knowing what those in power are doing, democracy could not function.

Moreover, as well as informing the public, the media allows the public to express its opinion. It encourages freedom of speech, a key element of democracy. This has of course been greatly assisted by the growth and development of the internet. Social media allows people to express their opinions to a wide audience so there is the potential for one small voice to be heard by millions of others. The public clearly have more power now than ever before, thanks to the way that they can contribute to the media.

The power of the media should not be underestimated. Whether it is in the hands of the government or the public, it is undeniable that the media is a fundamental way through which ideas and information spread. Controlling the media is controlling what the world sees.

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-33908168