Dr. Bharti Batra
The rise of new media drastically changed the dynamics of media. Whereas it provided the one platform for all types of media through convergence, it also affected the role and identity of a media professional. In the traditional media platforms one required essential qualification, training and experience to work in the media organisation as a media professional. Through academics or in the profession, one was taught the ethics and code of conduct while reporting any news and collecting information. But the new media platforms especially the social media have turned each internet user to an active media person.
Today each one of us is a powerful medium and when affects in the larger group is media. Marshal McLuhan posited the idea in 1960 that the technology is just the extensions of human. He emphasized that each technology is merely an extension of human/human organs. Just as the print media is for eyes, Radio-Television is for ears and eyes etc. Thinking from common sense, the question arises then who is the media person. The media term became popular with the development of communication tools. The modern technology like printing press, radio waves, electronic-media production strengthened the individuals/groups to communicate with the larger number of receiver i.e. masses at simultaneous time.
During the end of twentieth century Internet developed as a powerful media. The web platforms provided regular development in the field of information and communication technology. One such advancement is social media; Beginning from two-way communication websites to full-fledged user-owned media that we call as user-generated media. Now each individual is empowered to raise/spread one’s message to the world of his choice by selecting/limiting one’s audience. So each individual is a media person naturally as well as considering the current technology era. When communicating to one/two/group or mass, every participant in the communication process is a media and media person. Though, going to technical definitions, the media has its own characteristics and applications. But commonly understanding and referring to Marshall McLuhan, each human is a media and thus a media person.
Now a day, we get more information through user-generated content on social media rather than mass media platforms. The information is wider in quantity and quality as well. The mass media has wider but still limited access to the news as compared to the number of population. Moreover, mass media covers the message but with certain selection criteria and considering its resources. But an individual may cover any message within one’s resources at any time. Suppose if the total population covers the news and events or proportionately covers, how wide the coverage could be. Exactly that coverage is available on social media; the media of society; where each person is generating news and current affair contents as well as personal contents.
Now, when each of us is a media person, we need to understand the basic authority and responsibilities associated with this role as a media person. The basic purpose of communication or media is to inform, educate, and to entertain. What shall be informed, about what shall be educated, or in which way shall be entertained that matters. The mass media works in a protocol. It is subjected to ethical or legal obligations in case of violation and thus is in the case of social media as well. But the number of social media persons is quite huge than the ones who can post regulation or monitor regulation.
Hence, just like JANTA CURFEW, the “JANTA MEDIA” or the “JAN MEDIA PERSONS” shall actively work as aware and responsible media persons. In the current times, the JAN MEDIA PERSON’s role is essential as well as crucial too. Talking about the current state of COVID-19 in India when each individual / social media person is requested to communicate/spread the precautionary message for COVID-19 to the next 10 JAN MEDIA PERSONS, one shall be very careful and responsible towards his/her inherited media duty. One’s communication maybe another’s action so one shall be very careful in drafting and communicating the message to the other person. Various fact check and news verification training and learning are also provided to the media professionals and society for strengthening the news quality and enhancing media literacy. But all these can only be truly useful when we apply them. The changing dynamics of media and media professionals has resulted into amateur communicators and amateur communication. The audience better to say the producers who are producing as well as consuming the news shall be careful before believing anything or before sharing anything to others.
(Writer is media academician)