Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, October 19th, 2018

Role of New Media in Social and Political Development


Role of New Media in Social and Political Development

What is new media? New media consists of the Internet, mobile phones, and social media networks such as blogs and micro-blogs, social networking websites, video-sharing sites, and others. In other words, New Media has largely put an end to the monopoly of traditional media; it is a broad term that describes a range of unfettered media utilized for many different purposes. Some of the things that make new media different from traditional media (radio, television, newspapers and magazines) include: They are usually interactive, they are often audience-created and user-driven, they function in real-time, they are usually borderless, the information is often short-lived, they are more difficult to regulate – and to censor, the infrastructure for publishing or broadcasting is usually cheaper for individuals to access and they do not always adhere to journalistic standards and ethics.
New media can play a key part in reinforcing transparency in democratic processes and its institutionalization. Citizens use new media to monitor social, political or administrative issues or else a nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. In the 2012 presidential elections in Russia, activists created a new social media platform ‘Citizen Control’ specifically designed to bring all social groups together to monitor the elections. Also Afghan citizens exposed a lot of social or political frauds through their simple handy media such as mobile phone since 2001. Infact, traditional media’s watchdog role is significantly enhanced by its utilization of new media as both a source of information and a mouthpiece for democratic process. By monitoring social media discourse, observing citizen journalism postings, and by creating new media of their own through blogs and micro-blogs on official media websites, traditional media’s elections investigations have become faster, more diverse, and more interactive. In addition, New Media role as public educator; the decentralized, multi-media, and interactive nature of new media has opened up its potential as a public education tool. For example, international organizations, civil society groups, cultural and political activist make extensive use of face-book, tweeter, YouTube and other video sites to share educative and informative stuffs. Thus, Common users often amused with learning or teaching about health, nutrition and other social issues through mobile phone.
To make better use of the media - in conflict or post-conflict countries such as Afghanistan- there is a dire need to promote media literacy as a safeguard against hate-speech in otherwise volatile circumstances. An audience that is educated in the tenants of media professionalism is more likely to demand high quality media content and play active role in institutionalizing of a unifying political literature. Media literacy is also important for new or transitioning democracies. In these circumstances legal frameworks are usually under development and will greatly impact the future state of independent and free media. Furthermore, citizens may experience a rather sudden explosion of news sources and media formats after decades or more of controlled and sparse media. The greater the media literacy, the more prepared audiences (and information providers) will be in deciphering messages and recognizing value and credibility. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy. Media literacy includes understanding code of conduct and knowing the quickly changing media landscapes.  This is particularly relevant in today’s age of social media, and ever developing media technology. Media literacy also involves recognition of the use of, and power of, subtext. Subtext is the context or background of the primary message and may include images, background audio, and framing, each of which conveys specific messages, associations, and insinuations. In short, media literacy is about developing critical thinking skills and overall awareness. This in turn fosters pluralistic media as well as media who are challenged to improve upon professionalism. Media literacy gives rise to a population who understand the media landscape as a whole, including the impacts of legal frameworks and the importance of media safety.
Overall, in twenty-first century every individual can play the role of media if we literate ourselves especially notice the following points: (1) Cautiousness and knowing that we ruled by Media, (2) Recognition of commercial interests behind messaging, (3) Recognizing the impact of media monopolies on media impartiality, (4)  Understanding the inescapable influence of values and views of the media makers, (5) Understand that control of media is control of thoughts, (7) Recognising the impact on culture by media message and recognize the difference between text and subtext, (8) Understanding how media affects our thoughts, attitudes and future generation, (9) Recognising that there is always a larger story or picture to what is being presented, Recognising bias, misinformation, or inaccuracies, (10) Recognising “filters” that we use when interpreting media messages, such as our own experiences or educations, (11) Developing skills to create one’s own messages, (12) Understanding the power and role that citizen journalism plays in today’s media landscape as an additional category of information providers, This role is especially in the contexts of limited (or entirely absent) freedom for traditional media, (14) Recognizing the different impacts of time-based media (such as movies) as opposed to static media (such as photos), (15) Understanding how audience memory works – what they will remember immediately after consuming a message and what they remember months later, (16) Understanding how emotion plays into message interpretation and memory, (17) Recognizing how messages can be manipulated to enhance emotional responses (including the use of frames, angles, and lighting), (18) Understanding the impact of legal frameworks on media messaging, Knowledge of the tenants of media professionalism such as balanced reporting, right of reply, and protection of source identities, (19) Understanding the impact of self-censorship (the power of fear) on media messaging, (20)  Understanding how to advocate for positive change in the media system.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the newly emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@ gmail.com

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