So far, there’re various media for people to choose and access the information such as television, radio, Internet, or even mobile phone, consequently, media have a full capacity to set a social subject for mass audience to think and talk about. Often, media do not deliberately set the agenda and determine the pros and cons of that particular issue, so it repeatedly causes bad consequences towards public as well as establishes ‘moral panics’, which can sometimes lead to mob violence.
The studies point that there is a correlation between violence on media and violent behavior. The reason that violent programs go well on the global market is violent imagery on television gets high ratings; therefore, producers are forced onto market to make a profit. But more significantly, television has taken the place of other forms of communication that at one time tied us together in families and communities, and gave us all the opportunity to participate in creating and passing along our cultural story.
Since mass media as crucial vehicles to influence public opinion, the government is likely to control and dominate the press and broadcasting. There was a wide range of restrictions on reporting and in many countries in the region at the time, we had a number of governments that were authoritarian governments that used press control as one of their political tools. Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Laos, just to name a few; all had restrictions on their own domestic media, restrictions on foreign journalists working within those countries, and restrictions on what news could be sent out.
As example in Malaysia, during the government of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, authorities controlled all major newspapers and broadcast outlets, ensuring a substantial degree of official influence over news published in the country. The only exception was the Internet, which had so far remained censorship-free. Additionally, under Malaysian law, authorities are required to screen foreign publications prior to their distribution in the country. For instance, Malaysian government blocked the distribution of some U.S. newsmagazines in 2002, apparently because the government considered some stories inaccurate and untrue, including reports on alleged links between the al-Qaeda terrorist network and groups in Malaysia.
On the other side, Thailand, as the democratic society, is still in the criticism about the current Prime minister, Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra, regarding his policies and style of leadership whether they’re against the constitution and good moral or not particularly ‘War on Drugs’ policy. Furthermore, many people mentioned that he attempted to cover his critics by taking control of the country’s independent television station since 23 ITV staffs dismissed due to they “damaged the station’s reputation” by openly criticizing the station’s buyout by the Prime Minister. Not very long, the press violently reacted and declared that he was as dictator. Even more serious, some journalists believed that they were exposed to serious reprisals when they disclose the corruption of local authorities. Although Dr. Thaksin sharply uses media effect to structure individuals’ thinking and increase efficiency of mass communication for the government, his propaganda shouldn’t be contrary to the legal constrains in terms of the right of expression.
Media play an important role as a showcase that reveals trait of a certain area through outsiders. Obviously, when the press emphasizes on any topic and criticize people would be instantly interested in and rapidly spreading out till sometimes hardly cope with it. In conclusion, mass communication can affect cognitive change among individuals, mentally order and organize the world for us and also simply create conflict or violence among people in society. Therefore, authorities or interest groups who extremely control on media especially the government, television program producers and newspaper need a proper consideration for media use as well as being responsible for consequences.