MEDIA: A POWERFUL AND POTENT FORCE IN POLITICS , BUT HOW MANY POLITICIANS KNOW THAT ?
By Kabs Kanu
Here is another book for governors, the governed and media practitioners. The media are a very powerful force in shaping political perceptions and political reality. This is why media are regarded as the Fourth Branch of Government. The media are an integral part of the socio- economic and political system. Nobody who heralds the power of media is ever amiss.
The news media, whether it is newspapers, TV or radio, are mighty . They can make or break a nation. The media can break or make a leader. Only ignorant Sierra Leoneans will dispute the power of media. Only people who do not study the socio-political trends do not know that no other force is capable of shaping public opinion than the media.
Media do not only shape perceptions and reality. They play a vital role in informing citizens. The people need information to decide what to believe about politics.
There are pro-government newspapers and opposition newspapers. This is the case , even in advanced democracies like the U.S. and Britain. Some media support the ruling government and help to promote its programs. It is wrong to describe their editors as sycophants because in a democracy, everybody has a right to belong where he chooses. Some media attack the government relentlessly . It is wrong to describe them as nation-wreckers because in a healthy democracy, a section of the media serve as opposition parties to the ruling government.
Despite the fact that civilization has penetrated every crevice of the nation, many Sierra Leoneans, even some media practitioners, are ignorant about media issues , especially with reference to their roles in a democracy. Leaders and supporters of their party loath and antagonize opposition newspapers because they do not understand or fail to accept the role of media in a democracy. As a matter of fact, many leaders and their supporters, regardless of what degrees they hold, do not really understand the meaning and tenets of democracy. They go into politics completely ignorant about democracy, human rights and constitutional issues. President Maada Bio is struggling in Sierra Leone because he is one of such leaders.
It is our duty as media professionals to educate our politicians and their supporters about key issues as democracy and the role of the media, as the fourth estate of the realm. We need to constantly enlighten our politicians and their supporters that in a democracy, the philosophy of SO SAYS ONE , SO SAY ALL is incongruent with a thriving and healthy democracy. There must be divergence of opinions and everybody is entitled to his opinions. The government has no right to persecute journalists for their divergent perspectives on the way they are being governed.