Media Commercialism and Professionalism In The World-Mass Communication-Handout, Exercises for Mass Communication. Aligarh Muslim University
sangameswar16 July 2012

Media Commercialism and Professionalism In The World-Mass Communication-Handout, Exercises for Mass Communication. Aligarh Muslim University

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This handout is related to Media and Mass Communication course. It was provided by Prof. Chintak Vikul at Aligarh Muslim University. Its main points are: Media, Commercialism, Professionalism, Exploitation, Intangible, D...
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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

independent spirit.

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,

unbiased education.

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

having friends.

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

unnecessary purchasing.

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

their health.

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