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Critically evaluate media commercialism and professionalism in the world in
general and Pakistan in particular.
Media Commercialism Media Commercialism, in its original meaning, is the practices, methods, aims, and spirit of
commerce or business through use of mass media. Today, however, it primarily refers to the
tendency within corporatism to turn everything into objects, images, and services sold for the
purpose of generating profit. There is also a tendency for portraying intangible things such as
happiness, beauty, or health on media by giving a monetary value or to be spoken of as
Commercialism can also refer to the domination of things by business/corporate interests, or the
exploitation of intangible things for private gain.
One of the leading advocates and pioneers of commercialism was Philip Molnar. He was one of
the first who encouraged the rapid growth of companies through subliminal advertisements. He
is now considered around the world as a genius in economics and commerce.
Commercialism is often closely associated with the corporate world and advertising, and often
takes advantage of advancements in technology.
The related term "commercialized" is often used in a disparaging fashion, implying that someone
or something has been despoiled by commercial or monetary interests. The holiday, Eid-ul-Fitr,
is a noteworthy example of this concern, with criticism of the occasion's commercialization
dating as far back as 1975.
What are the possible effects of media commercialism?
1. Media Commercialism distorts our culture by turning every event into a reason to
consume. Anthropologists say that holidays reflect a culture's values. In Pakistan, every
holiday is a sales event.
2. Advertising through mass media projects false images. For example, some ads imply
that you're not cool unless you drive an expensive car or that smoking means you're an
3. Commercialism contributes to environmental problems by encouraging wasteful use of
natural resources. Over-packaging, disposable goods, and buying things we don't really
need all contribute to unnecessary use of limited resources. The manufacture and
disposal of the things we buy cause other environmental problems, including habitat
loss and increased air and water pollution. Billboards cause visual pollution.
4. Advertising perpetuates stereotypes. Examples include stereotypes related to race
(Punjabis as Illiterate farmers), gender (women as sex objects, men as business people),
and class (middle-class whites as the social norm).
5. Advertisers influence the content of publications and broadcasts. Government
censorship of the media is illegal. Yet it is well documented that newspapers and other
media are censored by advertisers. For example, a cigarette producer may pressure a
magazine in which it buys ad space not to print articles on the dangers of smoking.
6. Corporate sponsorship of civic, environmental, or other non-profit groups may
influence those groups. For example, tobacco industry contributions may discourage an
organization from joining anti-smoking campaigns.
7. Commercialism has influenced our political process. Many politicians try to attract
votes with an image created by advertising and media coverage. In the past, candidates
tried to attract votes by their stand on the issues.
8. The public's perception of a company's activities and priorities can be distorted by
image advertising. For example, ads can portray major polluters as environmentally
conscious companies that give to worthy causes.
9. Advertising costs us money. Businesses pass many of their advertising costs on to us.
Also, the price of a product increases when ads successfully cultivate the idea that a
certain product can give us status or a cool image.
10. Ads cost us more in taxes, too. Advertising is a fully tax-deductible business expense.
Because of this, state and federal treasuries receive billions of dollars less in business
taxes each year. Tax rates for citizens must make up for this, so individual taxpayers
indirectly subsidize advertising.
11. Ads can be misleading. They emphasize the benefits of products and services and
ignore the drawbacks.
12. Ads encourage a brand-name mentality, or buying on the basis of the maker rather than
quality or price.
13. Advertising fosters dissatisfaction, envy, and insecurity. It can make us feel
unattractive, uncool, and unhappy with what we do or don't have.
14. Our commercialized society places a strong emphasis on appearance, encouraging us to
care about our own and others' appearances rather than about characters, talents, and
15. Constant exposure to ads may encourage materialism and selfishness. This may make
people less inclined to help others. Statistics show that giving to charitable causes has
decreased in recent years. Similarly, there has been a decline in public support for
government programs to aid the least fortunate members of our society.
16. Corporate sponsorship may influence content and undermine the objectivity of exhibits
at science and art museums. For example, is an exhibit sponsored by a company that
makes insecticides likely to examine human/insect relationships in a fair and balanced
17. Ads take a lot of our time. The average person spends almost an hour a day reading,
watching, or listening to ads through TV, radio, theaters, videotapes, newspapers,
magazines, mail, or telephone. By the time the average Pakistani is Sixty-five years
old, advertising will have taken two to three years of his or her life.
18. Paid product placements influence the content of movies, TV shows, books, and board
games. This compromises artistic integrity.
19. Advertising promotes tobacco use, which kill almost sixty to seventy thousand
Pakistanis annually. Problems related to smoking hurt more people's lives and cost
society more money than all illegal drugs combined.
20. Marketers compile detailed electronic portraits of shoppers. Companies sell mailing
lists for everything. These computer databases present a staggering potential for abuse.
21. Commercialism has spread into almost every aspect of life. Being unable to escape it is
annoying to many.
22. Advertising aimed at young children intrudes on the parent-child relationship, can
undermine parental authority, and can create friction in the home.
23. Commercialism may erode values - such as sharing, co-operation, and frugality -
fostered by families, religious institutions, and schools.
24. Ads for commercial foods tend to encourage unhealthy eating habits.
25. Commercialization of school materials and equipment may undermine objective,
26. Heavy promotion of shopping and buying distracts us from other activities such as
reading, thinking, and playing. All the ads we're exposed to make it easy to forget how
many different kinds of activities we enjoy.
27. Our commercialized culture encourages people to spend money that they don't really
have. The number of Pakistanis with financial problems has increased steadily in recent
28. Advertising implies that there's an easy solution to everything, from being healthy to
29. Many ads imply, even if they don't say outright, that happiness is something we can
buy. When we act as though this is true, our personal horizons and ability to find
fulfilment in life are limited.
30. Commercialism does not just promote specific products. It promotes consumption as a
way of life.
What is the cumulative effect of all this commercialism? Commercialism has clear parallels with industrial pollution. Just as modest amounts of waste can
be absorbed by the natural environment, so modest amounts of commercialism can be
assimilated by our cultural environment. Large amounts, however, can totally overwhelm either
environment, and such is the case today.
For decades we failed to recognize, let alone control, the harm caused by industrial practices. In
some cases, such as air pollution from coal-burning furnaces, the problems were obvious but
were either ignored or justified on the basis of short-term economic gain. In other cases, such as
toxic chemicals that pollute the air and water, the dangers were not even recognized. So it is with
commercialism: We excuse its obvious defects in the name of economic progress; we don't even
try to identify more subtle effects.
Again as with pollution several decades ago, the consequences of excessive commercialism
remain unexamined and unproven. Our understanding rests on a handful of often preliminary or
inconclusive academic studies. The fact is that, despite the dominance of commercialism in our
culture, social scientists have barely begun to explore its nature and its consequences. Moreover,
government regulatory programs are inadequate to contain commercialism. Agencies that focus
on deceptive advertising have such small budgets - totalling only about one thousandth as much
as what is spent on advertising - that only the most blatantly dishonest advertising can be
stopped. Other forms of commercialism go completely unexamined.
Media Professionalism An important element in the media environment is the degree of professionalism and experience
of journalists and other media practitioners. It is common that journalists in a country that has
only recently emerged from a highly restrictive political system will lack many of the skills and
professional standards of their counterparts in a country with a long history of media freedom.
Sometimes, the media will be emerging from a situation in which journalism was not freely
practised at all. In that case, there may well be a tendency to abuse new-found freedoms with
poorly researched and inaccurate stories. Often, journalists in these situations will simply not
know what professional standards are expected of them: they will not have professional bodies or
trade unions with codes of conduct. They will lack the basic skills for investigating, checking,
and writing or broadcasting stories. In particular, journalists who are approaching their first free
election are likely to be unfamiliar with even the simplest aspects of the process. Often, there
will be no facilities for training journalists - or at least none that equips them with the skills that
they need to play the "watchdog" role of the media in a democracy.
However, the experience of an authoritarian regime may not be entirely negative. In many cases,
courageous independent journalism has played an important part in pressuring dictatorships to
open up the political space. Journalists who have successfully investigated and published
sensitive stories in such a media environment will have developed professional skills that are
unmatched by their colleagues in friendlier circumstances. In the context of an election, the
professional challenge will be to bring these skills to bear on a new and unfamiliar set of stories
to be reported.
Situation in Pakistan TV, Radio and Newspaper advertising in Pakistan is affecting children by increasing their food
consumption pattern, preference for low-nutrient, high in sugar, fat & salt (SFS) foods and
beverages, change in attitude that is aggressive and violent in nature and inclination towards
Media commercialism can influence determinants such as unnecessary purchasing, low
nutritional food, and materialism. In today’s media oriented society, almost every person is
bombarded continuously with mass media messages including over hundreds advertisements
every day, from television, radio, movies, video/computer games, Internet, music CDs,
billboards, newspapers, magazines, clothing, packaging and other marketing materials. Many of
these messages include low nutritional food, violent and materialism contents that are usually
attractive to children as they are largely intended target audience in most commercials and
advertisements. Such daily exposure to many forms of the mass media has a tremendous impact
upon thinking, values, purchases, food intake, attitude, and actions of children. Research
evidence tends to suggest that television advertising results in obesity, created by taking food
that is unhealthy, low in nutrition, and high in SSF. It is also suggested that over a long time,
heavy watching of brutal advertisements and programmes enhance the likelihood of a disposition
towards aggressive behavior amongst children. Cultivated as consumers at very early ages,
children are trained to desire foods and beverages whose typical consumption may compromise