Mass media is one of the fastest medium of exchange of information which capture audience attention and interest, for example, television and radio is said to be the best Mass Media. A Mass Media to be effective must be accessible to the target audience and able to hold audience attention and interest. Therefore, this essay will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Mass Media. The first advantage of mass media is peace and reconciliation. In the Northern Uganda there has been a civil war and FM radios contributed towards bringing peace after 20 years of crisis which was emphasized by both the respondent interviewees and focus groups. One of the focus group participants said that “when we finally see an end to this war, which might come soon, we should not forget the impact of the local radios.”
For the past two years the FM stations have been running peace and reconciliation programmes in the northern Uganda to make a group of army surrender and come out of the bush. The rebels were mostly from Lira and other neighboring districts from where they were forcefully abducted or conscripted into rebel ranks. The radio stations, in collaboration with church leaders and peace non-governmental organizations, have been stressing the spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness of the rebels, who have killed, abducted or maimed many people, as well as destroying or looting people’s property.
Peace and reconciliation programmes in FM radios act as a useful device related to countries where there is a lot of violence.
The second advantage is cultural awareness. Cultural programmes where there is the use of local language is highlighted as an aspect of cultural development by both the interviewees and focus groups. An elderly presenter on Radio Rhino was another good example for cultural development as he was well versed with the norms, values and traditions of the local community. The programme Tekwaro presented by okullu Arach contributes to “Preservation” of local cultures like knowledge of origins of local clans and about traditional artifacts.
The elderly prefer old local language songs whereas; the young prefer R&B, Jazz and other western lyrics. Young people should have knowledge about their culture and learn how to value it. The third advantage is health education. Healthy people lead to a healthy society. All FM radio stations should have programmes in which medical doctors appear in the studios to make the people aware of specific diseases, their causes, symptoms and how to avoid them. On the program “Meet the Doctor” Dr. Richard Nam bases his topic of discussion on any disease that is the major current health problem or concern to the community.
The topic that was mostly advised on includes sexually transmitted diseases, and reproductive health issues. A focus group participant, while listening the programme got to know that he and his wife was suffering from the disease Candida, its symptoms and how to treat it which the doctor talked about at one time. After the radio programme they went to get the right treatment and since then they were fine. Similarly, all radio stations should have progammes where medical expert give advice regarding diseases that are currently one of the major issues in the society.
The first disadvantage of mass media is the body image. Girls are becoming weight conscious from the age of 8 because of being deluged by media image of skinny models. Studies have shown that 80% of a year olds are on diet, and also a study in which 69% of girls said that magazine models influence their idea of an idealized well built men, therefore, males are becoming insecure about their physical appearance. An alarming observation has been made by the researchers by the use of anabolic steroids and dietary supplements that promise muscles and more stamina for lifting.
Through studies boys, like girls may turn to smoke to lose weight. Young boys and girls may turn to lose weight the wrong way through the influence of mass media thus, causing health problems in the future. Secondly, images of women advertising. Studies have proven that advertising has been a prime target of attack and scrutiny. The relationship which exists between advertising, the consumer goods industry and the crucial economic role of women as consumers is the basic explanation for the critical focus on sex-role portrayal. It has been proven that advertising effectiveness largely depends on the manipulation of the consumers self image.
Advertising manipulates the female image in order to persuade women to buy since women are perceived as the major consumers. Commercial television and magazines are the major vehicles for advertising consumer products because it particularly addresses female images. A research has proven that women are visible in advertising at least on an equal basis with men. A study by the National Advertising Sexist charger focus on female image in advertising is as employed women, as housewife and as sex-object.
Lastly, unrealistic, unhealthy portrayals of female sexuality, sexual health, and gratuitous female sexuality, and nudity. Approximately 14,000 references to sex each year are viewed by the young television viewer. Teens say that television, as well as movies and other media are the leading source of information about sex and sexuality. The study by American Academy of Pediatrices, sexuality, contraception, and reference to abstinence or sexually transmitted to sex a teen will see on television each year. Girls are more likely to get in contact with sexually transmitted diseases than boys and girls also bear the risk of pregnancy. In conclusion it can be said that mass media is the best way to pass information from one place to the other.
A mass media must carry relevant and timely messages, understandable to the audience, accessable to the target audience and able to hold audience attention and interest. Mass media also has advantages and disadvantages of it. Advantages such as peace and reconciliation, cultural awareness and health education. Disadvantages such as the body image, image of women advertising and unrealistic, unhealthy portrayals of female sexuality, sexual health, and gratuitous female sexuality and nudity.