Many people these days question the reliability of media. By media, we refer to most, and clearly not all, press and media outlets, the official and the private the world over, including major international outlets
There are two main paradoxes we wish to raise at the start.
The first relates to the privatisation of media. A couple of decades or more ago, people were questioning “public” media, stating that they represent the single views of governments and states, believing that when they are privatised, they will be more independent, objective and reliable.
In reality, and after privatisation has materialised through the establishment of so many private media outlets in our part of the world and elsewhere, the opposite proved to be true in most cases, for private media generally turned out to be directly managed and influenced by those who either own them or run them. Some are also highly problematic and even superficial.
The second paradox relates to the abundance of media outlets. Not a long time ago, media channels were limited, and some people were arguing that if they increase in number our chances of arriving at the truth will be a lot more possible, and our knowledge of the “truth” about matters will be a lot richer and deeper.
Unfortunately, again, what happened is almost the exact opposite, for their abundance created a lot of confusion, doubt, contradiction, and at times deception. As a result, the truth is almost lost, and some start to yearn for the days when the media were limited in numbers.
What is truly sad, and even more disturbing than the two paradoxes just stated, is the growing conviction among many people that most media in today’s world no longer aim to search for the truth and convey it to people, but to cater to their own specific objectives.
In fact, what concerns most media today, both formal media and social media alike, seems to be the promotion of the idea, the narrative, or the news regardless of content. The measure of their success appears to be more quantitative than qualitative, i.e. how many individuals follow, share or comment on what gets communicated, and not necessarily the significance, reliability or truth of it.
And this is an unfortunate mishap, many argue.
One fully realises, of course, that since their commencement several centuries back, the media have never been fully accurate or trustworthy; narrative is not pure science. Relatively speaking, however, the content of professional media was generally more truthful and reliable.
It is also important to underscore that not all media today are suspect, for many do still care about the truth and enjoy an acceptable degree of reliability. And this is what we want for our world. The problem, however, is that searching for such media, among this labyrinth of outlets, is difficult: At times it is much like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
It is also important to underscore that many media outlets in our part of the world, perhaps more so than much of global media, do still maintain allegiance to truth and do take reliability, responsibility and professionalism seriously. And this pleases us immensely
What is required today for humanity’s peace, progress and prosperity is to guarantee the continuation, and the increase, of media that are reliable and truthful.
Until this happens, one must generally be extremely wary and careful of what one receives from media outlets, subjecting it to thorough scrutiny and analysis before accepting it as trustworthy.
Ahmad Y. Majdoubeh is a lecturer in the Department of English Literature at the University of Jordan
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