Topic 47: People think that the news media has influenced people's lives nowadays and it is a negative development. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
For many people, news is a regular pan of life. An issue in dispute is whether the massive influence of the news media on people's daily livesdenotesa negative development. It is my view that news media does more good than harm to the society.
The news media provides people with much of the information they need on a timely basis, although there are claims that it reports on issues and events purposely (only selecting those events that interest the audience). Anecdotal evidence shows that people from all walks of life have the habit of collecting information regularly from the news media, including print, broadcast and Internet-based media. Information assists people in decision making. For example, the Free Trade Agreement reached by the Chinese government and its New Zealand counterpart might open up many opportunities to both countries. For any business person, either in New Zealand or in China, failing to recognise and capitalise onthis impendingchange would cause a costly loss.
Meanwhile it should be recognised that the news media can sometimes save lives and reduce casualties. There is a lot of uncertainty about the surroundings, and people are susceptible to the damage caused by accidents, crimes and natural calamity. The news media conveys the firsthandinformation to concerned audiences and enable them to take correspondingactions right away. The authority can declare a state of emergency when it is necessary, organise evacuation and distribute aid to the needy areas. All these efforts count on the news media as the messenger.
Despite their significant and ongoing contribution to the society, the news media might sometimes be harmful to society. It is a convention that the news media exaggerates the magnitudeof the real threat (for example, the potential of a terrorism attack), in order to draw the attention of the desired audiences and in pursuit of high audience ratings. It ends up with causing panic among the population. Meanwhile, the news media tends to emphasise some issues or events, which virtually have little relevance to people's daily lives, such as an occasional multiple vehicle accident, an affair that a celebrity is involved with, and the like. It distracts the audience from something that is much more noteworthy, for instance, poverty, environmental problems, to name but a few.
In summary, the role of news media as an information provider should be acknowledged. In case of emergency, it acts as a lifesaver. However, it is not to say that the news media can give people an overall view of the problems in society all the time.
Topic 48: There are many advertisements directed at children. Parents argue that children are misled, while advertisers consider advertising a source of useful information. What is your opinion?
The impacts of advertising on children have become an area of focus in these years. When the initial purpose of advertising is to disseminateinformation related to goods and services, many parents have associated it with their children's unjustified desires to buy something unnecessary. Although the extent to which advertising influences young viewers is a matter of debate, its impact, in my opinion, is undisputed.
One of the main features of advertisements is giving products an exaggerated account. In addition to this tactic, advertisers tend to stress those attributesof a product that are likely to be valued by young consumers, while playing downothers. Some advertisements might disclose detailed information about products (such as health hazards of overeating some types of food), but in most cases, such information appears normally in small print and children cannot read them clearly. Nor can children comprehend the messages with their literacy skills. As a result, young viewers are susceptible to the effects of a commercial, leading directly to their subsequent buying decisions or their thrustfor buying.
Another main strategy adopted by advertisers is to associate products with lifestyles that are attractive to young people and deliver a strong message that the advertised products are what their peers want and will choose. Children are more concerned with a particular labeland branded products than adults, for the simple reason that they are much less pricing sensitive. They have the desire to possess products they consider popular, fashionable and likely to be admired by their peers, but seldom take into consideration the functions and practical values of those products.
When the negative impacts of advertising on children are acknowledged, it should be noted that as children grow up, they will make more sophisticated judgements about those tactics advertisers use to grab their attention. They are less receptive toadvertising messages and meanwhile more likely to perceive advertising as a mere source of information, assisting them to learn products and services better. Meanwhile, some advertisements are non-commercial and provide information on such issues as anti-smoking, anti-drug, AIDS, healthy eating practices, and so forth. In this sense, it is premature to judge that advertising has no redeeming feature.
To summarise, by enhancing the image of advertised products, making exaggerated claims on products and services and portraying a fantastic way of life, advertising is liable for children's impulsive purchases. Children are misguidedto make a purchase. Although adolescents are less susceptible to the misleading information, the advertisements that are marketed to children should be restricted.