2 دی 1390

Social image or reality in media

23 December 2011

By Niki Azad

Translated :Rose Arjmand

Khabarnegaran.info-"The Media is capable of shaping our mindset and even change our opinion or confirm and validate our idea about a specific topic," Shahla Ezazi, a professor of sociology, lectured the Iranian Sociological Association in Tehran University. The lecture was about the imaginary or real reflection of social events in media.

Ezazi states that her comments on media are mostly about traditional media such as televisions and newspapers. She does not comment much about internet and social networks; the uproar they created and how influential they are on today media.

She reviewed the bridging role of reporters and journalists with the society and how influential they are to the members of the society. She explained some theories and a summary of her studies about media.

Ezazi believes reporters are the most powerless people in media organizations. She says: "Reporters are the most powerless people in the media. A reporter does not have power in hand. However, such state of not having power does not equal the state of being insignificant in terms of influencing audiences. Personal skills of the reporters including previous job background, personal ideology and their specialty in their career are important factors to help him / her to influence the audience more."

She says that structure of an organization and management relations can influence the production of a message.

Shahla Ezazi states that many media organizations are affiliated to a particular political party and basically such relations build the ideology of that media organization and make them a property of that political party. Since the other end of the media organizations are connected to the society, the product process that the message passes is of great importance.

Here is an example that Ezazi used to make her point clear. She used the Iranian television as an example because it is a state broadcasting corporation and the government has direct influence on the message that is going to be send to the audience.

"Such structure never lets the media do its job to reflect the truth, on the contrary, it sends a message that it wants to. Telling only a part of a story is distortion of the truth," she says.

She categorized media theories in three groups to clarify her point about media influencing the society: "Theories of Power, which includes left wings and Frankfurt School, explain the relations of media and ruling power and how political power influences messages. Capitalization and the way media and media messages are used to keep it in power are categorized in this group."

However, the second group includes unified theories and integration theories which mention keeping the unity of a society and mention the fact that the media is capable of passing down culture from generation to generation and institutionalize social values and norms. Regardless, we must ask who is benefiting from the dominant norms and culture.

Theories of social change are the third category in Ezazi’s lecture as she says: "theoreticians whose theories fall in category of social change believe media causes the change in the society and also causes the message to be reflected in the media. For instance we can argue if violent messages broadcast by the media can provoke more violent acts in the society; or media initiated the broadcast of violence because the society was already experiencing numberless violent acts. There is not a clear answer to this question and experts are still disputing over the answer."

The Iranian sociologist went on to speak more about her field of specialization, the effect of media and the social truth: "these three groups of theories can conclude in analysis of media and the image it offers to the society. Yet, none of these theories mention gender and tribal minorities. On the contrary media sends such special messages about gender that can form dominant role models in the society. Such characteristic of media can be generalized in other subjects as well."

She says if the sender of the messages enjoys democratic or capitalistic ideologies, and at the same time, if the structure of the society has gender discrimination feature; media is capable of severing such discrimination by sending messages that violates women’s rights and encouraging patriarchy and capitalism.

She reviews left wing theories without referring their tendencies about gender and states: "media messages are able to institutionalize the many of our behaviors. In another word we imitate the behavior shown in the media, which finally ends in institutionalization of capitalistic hegemony and gender discrimination against women."

She refers to statistics that show 90 percent of Iranian families watch television and finds such influence really important and notes: "social networks and internet are like revolutions and took the role of a receive away from the television."

Ezazi mentions some Iranian soap operas and television series and says: "although the Iranian television tries to introduce new dominant roles to the society, it was two way traffic and television got its ideas from the society too."

She believes reviewing the Iranian soap operas shows that the television ignores some facts in the society. For instance knowing divorce is one of the main concerns of Iranian societies, family series do not revisit the rising number of divorce cases among Iranian couples. And in 2000s, the television and its series had an active role in re-introducing polygamy in the country. Nevertheless the television was able to ignore women’s roles in various careers in the society.

She concludes saying: "our researches show that media like television shows only a part of the truth not all of its angles. Still one cannot ignore the media’s bridging role or how it reflects social changes. Even Iran’s state-run television is obliged to grow as the society grows and must show at least a part of the social changes across the country."

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