Mass media, in its free form, allows us to be informed members of society. In countries in the Middle East and North Africa as the media has become freer citizens have become more informed of current events. Furthermore, this expansion of information access has sparked protests such as ‘Arab Spring’, although it was not the causation it certainly expanded them.
However, media can also serve as another tool of control for oppresive governing systems. The censorship of information in many Middle East countries by the government serves as another means for expression of power. In countries such as Saudi Arabia the government not only censors news but entertainment and have made it clear with the removal of shows and political cartoons that they can excercise this power at will reminding their constituents of their level of control.
In the United States our free media allows for both information and misinformation. With no censor on media information especially outlets such as Instagram and TikTok misinformation can be spread just as easily as factual informative media. People can use this resource at will to start positive movements or hate groups. With all this being said I think media can be shaped by the beholder but remains powerful regardless. In both free media countries and less free media countries, media is used as a powerful tool by both governments and the people.
The negativity or positivity of media depends on the beholder. It can be used for meaningful reasons such as finding like-minded people, strengthening religion, and open communication between the government and the people. However, we have also learned how it can be used to control the narrative and in many Middle East countries media can even result in death. There are both positive and negatives to media, it depends how we use it. Negatives present themself in both free and unfree countreis. Even in free media countries there is so much misinformation that media becomes difficult to navigate and is often used for meaningless things rather than informative consumption. Furthermore, in less free countries media becomes a negative stressor. Censorship becomes a worry for many people and journalists risk their lives trying to spread meaningful information. Overall, media is positive in the sense that it levels the playing ground between the people and government. It serves as a check for governments in power, which is why so many seek to censor and supress it. Ultimately media is a positive force when uncensored and serving as an informative tool.