Why is Mass Media Often Called Fourth Branch of Power?
Did you know that there are four branches of power, and not three, like most of us think? We all know legislative, executive and judicial branches. They seem to create perfect mechanism of democratic state: legislative power formulates rules, executive branch implements them in reality and judicial makes sure everybody follows them. But doesn’t it sound more like a monarchy when one (in a person of three in this case) has control over everything? How will we know if the rules are not fair enough, or somebody doesn’t follow them without any punishment?
That kind of knowledge or information is the most desirable and most expensive product of today. The source of this valuable information is media, which is rightfully called the forth branch of power. Only the countries where democracy means more than just a word can be proud of having truly independent media. The reason is that the communication industry has great power of shaping people’s ideas.
Someone might say that it is all true only in a situation when media reflects the consumers’ ideas with no political or economical impact. I believe that this is a question of independence, not influence. Even the history proves it – look at the example of the Soviet Union – even the most twisted and improbable information can become the most reliable and trustful if it is worked up and served by true professionals. So, the potential of media in influencing people’s minds is huge.
When I think about future wars humankind will face, I imagine not a competition of armed people, but a confrontation of opposite ways of thinking. Mass media surely can be the best tool for that.