Monday, May 28, 2018

The Medium is the Message

The medium is the message is a saying of the Canadian theorist Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980). A different medium a different message and the world we see changes. So begins a column in the Catholic Times by a newspaper editor.

The contents of a face-to-face conversation, a telephone conversation, and the contents of a newspaper and TV  are different from each other in sensitivity and response. The development of technology has expanded greatly the way news is delivered and what is delivered. The old concepts are changed: the type of media, the category of news, and the boundaries between the producer and consumers disappear.

More people in Korea consume news through the new media than the traditional media. Single person media is transmitted through online, mobile, and social networking services (SNS). Today anyone can be a reporter and a producer.

In the late 70s and early 80s, when the writer worked as a journalist, they were registered with the government as reporters. They had the authority to cover, produce and deliver the news. Compared to the present it was a time hard to imagine in today's world. Media now is an important factor in the change of modern civilization: economy, politics, society, and culture.

We divide the government into the legislative, juridical and executive and the writer puts the media as the fourth branch of the modern state. Today some put economics as number one and the media as the second. 

Many reactions and challenges are present in the new civilization. Fake news media is a big problem in the world. What is fake news? News that manipulates facts and destroys trust can eventually destroy the function of society. The first requirement of news is accuracy, false news does away with this. Before the local Korean elections in June, it's natural that the election committee is tense. Democracy is the starting point and without fairness, and fictional news used by certain interests and ideologies, democracy is destroyed. Pope Francis has made this a topic of many of his talks.

When you see fire important to cry out 'fire' but more important to put out the fire. The writer has witnessed in the church situations where problems pending are left dangling with a recourse to prayer and some formalistic activity, letting God solve the problem. God does not listen to those kinds of prayers.

We are concerned with fake news. This is important but more so to do something about the situation with concrete countermeasures. We need to have knowledge of the truth, humanistic sensibilities and media literacy to distinguish fake news. This has to be translated into concrete measures. Ethic codes and outlines that world journalism has accumulated are a great help.

Within the clergy, there are few who know the reality of the media. It is not a subject in seminaries and the decision making power in the church is exercised entirely by the clergy. Making policies without knowing the workings of the media, delaying decisions and perfunctory events that the laity are made to conduct while the world civilization is being changed by the new media is not the way to go.

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