In the modern society, mass media acquire greater and greater importance with every year. The influence that mass media of different kinds have in the modern human community is difficult to overestimate as far as even the most serious political and social events are not only reported but often decided by media and by the ways mass media present this or that problem or a certain personality (Baran, 2009). Based on these considerations, it is important for every member of the modern human society to be aware of dangers that the influence of the low quality mass media might have upon him or her and to be media literate, i. e. know which sources are worth considering and which are not (Baran, 2009).
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The first argument that comes to mind while considering the role of mass media in the society is the fact that the influence of printed, online and broadcast media is actually overall and comprehensive nowadays. The mass media messages shape the outlook of the world of many people as well as their attitudes towards the events that take place in this world (Baran, 2009). Mass media are also a powerful instrument of communication, which is considered to be the reciprocal process of creating the shared meaning and overcoming the obstacles and noise in the way of transmitting this meaning (Baran, 2009). As far as communication is the vital need of human beings, mass media control the minds of people through controlling the topics and ideas people communicate about.
On the whole, mass control is one of the most dangerous effects of mass media in the society. It is obvious that no one would like others to know what he or she thinks about, and moreover to dictate him or her the things that they should or should not think about or do (Baran, 2009). Being aware that mass media possess the powers to control the minds of the millions of people, one should consider the ways to be media independent, i. e. have the freedom of choice of a source of information and the freedom to interpret the data reported in one’s preferable way.
The major way to achieve such freedoms is to be “media literate”, i. e. to have firm knowledge of the sources of information that are worth believing and considering and of those that are not (Baran, 2009). Having studies the reputation of the sources one is interested in, it is possible to see the sources from which this or that medium obtains information and to find out if it is reliable. Moreover, one can monitor the reliability of the source of information by checking the same data through other sources and seeing how much the information reported is different or similar. Only with such a balanced and proper approach a person can become actually media literate, i. e. able of differentiating between the reliable information and rumors or fantasies presented as facts (Baran, 2009).
Thus, it is obvious that communication is the vital need of any human being, and in the modern society the mass media definitely acquire more and more control over the processes of interpersonal and mass communication. To remain a free person with the right to choose the information he or she wants to learn, one should be media literate, i. e. aware of the credibility and reliability of the mass media he or she regularly considers or is influenced by.
Baran, Stanley J. Introduction to mass communication: media literacy and culture. McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, 6th edition, 2009.