Media institutions
Posted on June 14th, 2016

By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando Courtesy Ceylon Today

Various institutions within a society, be it the government, political or any other group, have the power to shape media material to a particular viewpoint. The other side of the coin would be that the media is quite capable of inspiring society as much as the institutions, simply because if media material did not have an impact on a society and its organizations, then those institutions would have no interest in shaping the media in return.

Looking at the continuous bombardments and salvos media have to face from time to time from government sources, religious sections, political and other organised groups it goes to prove to what extent media have an impact on public and private life.

Government & Media

 In such a backdrop, universal State control can be regarded as the most vital factor in influencing any media. Reasons for this are three fold.

Firstly, only a government has the power and the muscle to control any media legitimately to guarantee its amenability to official requests. If any other commercial or professional institution falls out of line on a policy decision, according to what the State sees as breaking the law, then its senior management or any employee who breaks the law of the organisation will have to pay a fine or the offending party might end of up in jail!

Secondly, government is quite capable of exerting pressure and control not only on the media but other institutions as well that may indirectly reflect back into media regulations, its policies, parameters and guidelines.

Thirdly, when governments tend to substitute market forces under regulatory pressures radical modifications can take place progressively where the official State controlling of the media is superseded by off-the record strategies such as capitalism.

To understand these phenomena it is important to develop a relationship between the State and the media by adopting a mutual ‘your resource is my need’ or ‘give and take policy’.


The main advantage of the media is its ability to focus on a particular issue, topic or on a personality and thereby draw public attention towards it. Therefore, what the government needs doing is to ensure that government officials execute their functions dedicatedly and properly with a view to approaching the public and draw attention to whatever problems and issues and explain the issues to woo the public support on current policies and actions taken by the government.

This procedure becomes crystal clear during election campaigns by taking Sri Lanka as a typical example where a prospective candidate craves for media exposure to ensure a chance of winning. In the past the Sri Lankan public has witnessed how some of the hierarchy used their power muscle and controlled and took over newspaper groups, while in certain cases succeeded in closing down completely the newspaper establishment, as much as burning down of some of the media institutions.

Undisputedly politicians and their buddies attached to government circles are starved of publicity, particularly in favourable terms which is known as spin control where politicians and governmental officials always endeavour to influence what they utter and how it is said, by trying to control media access towards them and their activities.

Correlation with other Institutions

Media evidently share significant interactions with other organisations. Their resource dependency is marked by what they seek in the form of advertising, marketing and publicity to earn money, which any media are made up of.

Media and education is predominantly common, but convoluted when the relationship between the two is taken into account. Education concentrates on textbooks and other educational material costing billions annually, globally, on books. If media are to be concerned with education the reverse is true as well.

At any level media may be used candidly for education with mentors involved in planning and producing media such as children’s television workshops. Media is able to function as an educational outlet, as well as one that is able to absorb knowledge much about the world beyond one’s immediate experience.

Outsourcing and the Internet

Outsourcing plays a bigger role in education at present as many educational courses are available on line via the internet throughout the world, thus the conventional term, ‘The University’ is gradually becoming confined to architectural buildings with bricks and mortar only, while the elitists and educationalists lead a new thrust in a business development procedure by adopting the latest method of teaching and learning via the Internet, throughout the world.

Where does media fit into in the world’s social life equation as far as health care and medicine are concerned? Today there are specially qualified medical journalists working for large networks as much as prominent newspapers and magazines that accept classified advertising under Health and Nutrition, Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing and others. Although the vast majority of magazines carry specialised segments within those, the most interesting aspect perhaps would be to consider the relationship between media and medicine in television entertainment.

As far as the media is concerned it does not exist “out there”, instead individuals make the methods in a fundamental perspective. In other words, media entail rules, roles, and routines to accomplish their purpose. In addition, organizations exist within industries that shape or constrain them. But most importantly sharing resources foster such a liaison with other media organisations and institutions.


Media can become public sensitive too at times. For example, in 1956 when Elvis Presley appeared on CBS television for the first time, strict instructions had been given to the camera operators not to focus on his gyrating hips, but to shoot waist-high, as it was considered by the organisers that his rotating and spinning of hips could offend the audience.

In 1971, during the notorious Pentagon Papers Cases, the then USA President Richard Nixon’s attorney general wanted to keep the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe from printing excerpts of a multi-volume State Department document on the origins and history of the Vietnam War. When the photocopies were made available to the three papers, the Supreme Court ruled out by stating that ‘prior restraints on the press were unconstitutional unless an extremely strong case could be made that such a publication would damage national security!’ The government had not been able to demonstrate so.

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