University of MostaganemFaculty of Arts and LiteratureDepartment of English Studies
Introduction What is Mass Media ? The Role and Power of the Mass Media The Political power The Social Power The Infulence of Mass Media in the Arab World « Aljazeera »…As a Practical Example Conclusion References
In the study of mass communication, there has been a continuous debate about the powerful effects of the media on the public and about the role of mass media in the political and social change of a society ,which introduces few of the several queries : Does the Social Media have political power? Has it been lately the factor behind popular uprisings across the world ? Are they empowering people and, thus, promoting democracy? Will the media articulate the voices of society and break the political near-monopoly of the state?
By definition, mass communication is a message created by a person or a group of people sent through a transmitting device (a medium) to a large audience or market. So What Exactly is Mass Media? Mass media is any medium used to transmit mass communication. Until recently mass media was clearly defined and was comprised of the eight mass media industries; Books,Newspapers, Magazines, and Recordings,Radio, Movies, Television and The Internet.
the role of the mass media in global society has been evolving over the past century towards the following goals and duties:1. The media informs the public, provides information and amusement, generates political ideas, mobilizes political and social action groups, and generally helps to shape the public policy agenda and priorities.2. The media plays a role of political accountability and checks-and- bal-ances, keeping an eye on public officials and institutions and con-stantly challenging them via reports, interviews, debates, etc.3. The media can sometimes play the role of a direct political actor, such as happened in the arab world ,when the press reveals political actions or plans that impact on the political scene.4. In the end, the media is a reflection of society. Very rarely can the mass me-dia actually make people change their minds or their views instantly.
In the words of theorist power Castells, “Political becomes dependent on the control of, or the influence on, the apparatus of communication and persuasion – primarily the information and communications technology that is central to what we call the media and, thus, the materials they convey” From the words of the theorist Castells ,that push us to know the reasons that made the people use the term,”Political power of the media”,we find ourselves in front of this following question: wh a t h a s h a d b e e n h a p p e n i n g i n t h e l a s t ma n y y e a r s t h a t h a s l e d t o t h e i d e a o f t h e
An answer to that question could be known ,if we returned to what have happened In Moldova, Twitter, Facebook and again text messages helped organize mass protests against Communist Party in 2009, which, ultimately, lost power. The church sexual abuse case was exposed by” the Boston Globe ,news papper” in 2002. The exposure led to the filing of lawsuits against the Catholic Church for harboring child rapist. more recently, the Arab uprising has spread from Tunisia to Egypt to Bahrain and other states. The mass protests within states were partially helped organized by the mass or social media .
From a theoretical point of view, the media showvarying potential to contribute to political change withinvarious types and phases of transformation. However, in allpossible situations, the mass media are not primary politicalactors but rather mediators between the government, theopposition and the people. For the Arab media to besuccessful in catalyzing change, it is vital that they maintainrelations with the political opposition and civil society, andtheir interaction with political culturesinfluences the formation of democratic attitudes and values
social power is summarily defined as a social relation between groups or institutions , involving the control by a (more) powerful group or institution (and itsmembers) of the actions and the minds of (the members) a less powerful group. Such power generally presupposes privileged access to socially valued resources, such as force, wealth, income, knowledge, or status.
Chaney (1996) agreed with John Thompson, who developed the Social Theory of the Media in 1995. He looked at the way media impact society through his Social Theory of the Media with the assumption that mass communication changes our frameworks of understanding, at both the communal and individual levels. Thompson’s theory can be applied in the Arab region for many reasons. For example, he purports that mass media have created new forms of social interaction which are more limited than everyday social interactions. This social interaction created by the mass media is slanted and probably prejudicial because mass media is used to create and generate propaganda (Chaney, 1996).
What we need to be aware is that most of our decisions, beliefs and values are based on what we know for a fact, our assumptions and our own experience. In our work we usually know what we have to do based on our experience and studies, however on our daily lives we rely on the media to get the current news and facts about what is important and what we should be aware of.
In the last 50 years the media,in the Arab counteries, influence has grown exponentially with the advance of technology, first there was the telegraph, then the radio, the newspaper, magazines, television and now the internet. We live in a society that depends on information and communication to keep moving in the right direction and do our daily activities like work, entertainment, health care, education, personal relationships, traveling and anything else that we have to do.
While Islamists seek to mobilize people through moral rigor, social networks and political organizations, the media in the arab world have inspired people’s minds through their liveliness, plurality and dynamics. The old idea that a “triangle of taboos”— politics, sex and religion— expresses Arab culture is outdated in the new media age. While religion is still sensitive, hedonism is an element of many Arab programs and it has become an acceptable part of life to debate politics.
All what we have seen about the political and social power ,could be ,clearly, presented by Aljazeera news channel. Al Jazeera offers their viewers a different and new perspective, it was the first of the Arab TV stations to break the unwritten rules that one does not criticize another Arab regime.
The role of Aljazeera in the coverage of the Arab uprisings that has spread from Tunisia to Egypt to Bahrain , help to influence the people and bring a popular revolution that changed the long-standing regime in Tunisia and Egypt and history will record the channels crucial galvanizing role in the extraordinary events that are now unfolding in Egypt and Tunisia.
The mass media transmits the information, the flow of which creates transformation. Now this transformation can be positive and bad. However, the effects of bad or positive transformation are determined by the economic environment of any state. I conclude my presentation by this question: I f t h e me d i a s h a p e t h e p u b l i c a g e n d a , wh a t o r wh o s h a p e s t h e m e d i a ’s a g e n d a ?
Castells, Manuel (2004), Power and Politics in a Networked Society, Ralph Milliband Memorial Lecture, http://annenberg.usc.edu/images/faculty/facpdfs/Castells- LSE-lecture.pdf. Chaney, D. (1996). Media and modernity: A social theory of the media. Thompson, J. B. (1995). The media and modernity: A social theory of the media. Stanford University Press. Altheide, D L. 1985. Media Power. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Zayani, Mohamed. Introduction: The Al Jazeera Phenomenon.London,2005