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What is Mass Media for Social Good?

Mass media for social good refers to the collective use of communication channels, such as television, radio, newspapers, and online platforms, to promote positive social change and address pressing societal issues. It leverages the mass media’s extensive reach and power to promote empathy, increase awareness, gather resources, and motivate group action in the direction of resolving social issues and enhancing community well-being.

However, mass media has often been criticized for its negative influence. Sensationalized news, social media negativity, and the spread of misinformation are undeniable concerns. However, this powerful tool also holds immense potential for positive change. By amplifying important messages, fostering awareness, and connecting diverse communities, mass media can be a powerful tool for positive change.

Communication theory to demonstrate Mass Media for Social Good

Cultivation theory

Cultivation Theory is a social scientific theory that explains the long-term effects of media on people who are exposed to it for long periods. The messages and themes that are repeated on television or other forms of media shape people’s attitudes and beliefs about the world around them, even if they are aware that the messages are not entirely true or representative of reality. Cultivation theory can be a powerful tool for achieving social good by shaping public perception and encouraging positive behaviors. For example, The Thai Working Group for Climate Justice (TCL) had an environmental campaign. They advocated for policies that reduce greenhouse gas emission and promoted sustainable development. After finishing the campaign, it had a number of effects, both in raising awareness and influencing policy. First, it increased public awareness. The campaign has helped to bring climate change issues to the foreground of public awareness in Thailand. Second, they focus on policy advocacy. TCL has played a role in advocating for climate friendly policies. Their proposals have shaped domestic climate policies and the Thai government’s standing at international climate conferences.Cultivation theory makes the audience develop a heavy sense of environmental responsibility, and feel empowered to take action themselves. The cultivation effect can be used to real world positive social change. As a cultivation theory emphasizes the long-term and heavy exposure to media messages. On the other hand, the Thai Working Group for Climate Justice has been helpful in bringing attention to the issue, pushing for policy modifications, and encouraging an equitable move for Thailand to a sustainable future.

Agenda setting theory

How Agenda Setting Can Drive Social Change for the Media’s Power for Good?

 Agenda-setting theory is a mass communication concept that asserts that news media influences the public agenda regarding which issues are most important. This theory suggests news media sources including radio, television, newspapers, and magazines have a big say in what news items about politics, culture, and society are covered. Agenda setting has the power to choose which issues or events to order and impact the public’s perception of certain news stories. This power to focus attention can be controlled for social good in several ways. In the field of mass media communication, news cycles or entertainment, it is full of stories about environmental degradation. This sustained focus can raise public awareness, and the media can bring important social issues to light, educating the public about problems that might otherwise be neglected. This can spark public outrage, motivate action, and lead to positive change. Framing  the debate, the way the media coverage can shape how people understand an issue by emphasizing certain aspects and downplaying others. This “framing” can be used to promote solutions and mobilize support for social causes. Media empower citizens to participate by highlighting issues and solutions, and engage in social change efforts.  Promote social norms because the media can picture the positive social behavior and messages that influence public opinion and social norms. This can create pressure to conform to these norms and discourage harmful behaviors. Overall, agenda setting can be a powerful tool for social good when used responsibly and ethically. By raising awareness, framing the debate, empowering citizens, and promoting positive social norms, the media can contribute to creating a better society. Media coverage of social justice movements can spread social voices, leading to increased empathy and support.

Uses and Gratification Theory 

It is believed that people want to seek out their own needs to fulfill their preferable goals. That’s why this theory can describe and explain these behaviors. And of course, when it comes to social good, people can use social media to find out the source to better their understanding of the social good in this modern society. Moreover, Social good is also a popular factor that the majority of people are looking for. People use the Uses and Gratification theory for many factors, such as, when they want to:

Learn more about current issues: People use media in many platforms: News paper, Facebook, X or even TikTok. In order to know the affair and be aware of all of the time that has been updating  all the time via social media platforms.

Contribute with the campaigns: when they know and realize that the social issue that occurred is related to them or even affected them. So, they could use the media to take action on the issue. If we talk about modern society, they commonly use social media groups or campaign websites to find out the ways for them to volunteer,  donate or support in other ways.

Raise Awareness: Not only support others but also create their own campaigns or even social media posts in order to raise other’s awareness in the social media about the issues that happened and this could bring the society a social good by the mass media. 

Example case:

#Metoo movement: where victims of sexual harassment share their experiences and encourages other victims to seek for their justice from the offenders. And this creates wind spread in modern society by using social media platforms in an effective way.So, people who see this tend to share and encourage others to offend themselves by sharing experiences, this is also the way that they participate with the campaign to fulfill their needs, need to encourage the society and seek for justice. So, this is a good example for the Uses and Gratification theory for mass media for Social Good. This can prove that mass media plays a crucial role in society these days’ social good.

3rd Era of media and mass communication

Social Media is more than likes and shares 

Social media has become a powerful tool for people who care about the environment, and that can include you.

Here’s why:

We’re not just watching, We’re participating

Think back to the first era of media –  TV screens showing us what to think. Media is so powerful because it makes us consume, believe, and act in the same way. Now, things are different. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are all about participation. This means we’re not just passive audiences, we’re active audiences.

How does this help the environment and promote social good?

Because now we have new media such as social media that is a two-way communication, it empowers people to fight for environmental causes in a few ways:

Building Eco-Communities: Imagine online groups filled with people who share your passion for sustainability. For instance, Facebook groups and forums connect you with others who want to live a greener life. You can share ideas, tips, and inspiration to make real changes.

Calling Out Greenwashing: Ever seen an ad where a company pretends to be eco-friendly, but it seems fishy? Social media lets us expose misleading messages. We can point out companies that aren’t as sustainable as they claim and suggest better alternatives. This keeps businesses honest and pushes them to be more environmentally responsible.

More Voices, More Impact

The best part about this new era of social media is the increased diversity.

Everyone Gets Heard: People from all backgrounds can now speak up about environmental issues. Communities facing environmental threats can share their stories with a global audience, raising awareness and sparking action.

Two-Way Communication: Social media allows for real-time conversations. Environmental groups can chat directly with people like them, understand their concerns, and tailor their efforts for better results.

Real People, Real Change

Fashion Revolution: This movement uses the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes to hold clothing companies accountable for their environmental and worker practices. Social media helps people make informed choices and pressure brands to be more sustainable.

Indigenous Climate Activists: Young leaders like Tokata Iron Eyes use social media to show how climate change affects their communities. This allows people to hear firsthand from those impacted and work together to protect the environment.


So, How Can You Get Involved?

Follow and Support Environmental Organizations: Find organizations you care about on social media. Share their posts and use their hashtags to spread awareness.

Be a Fact-Checker: Not everything online is true. Do your research before sharing information to avoid spreading misinformation.

Support Sustainable Brands: Choose companies committed to eco-friendly practices and spread the word about them on social media.

Every like, share, and comment makes a difference. By using social media critically and actively, you can be a powerful voice for the planet. 

Examples of Mass Media for Social Good 

One example of social good in mass media is #MeToo movement in 2017. It started on social media and became a worldwide movement. It started when news stories revealed that a powerful Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein had been mistreating womens for years. The news got a lot of attention and people started to talk about how common it was for women to face harassment. The movement got bigger when people started to use the hashtag #MeToo. Mass media spreading the voice by providing platforms for victims and survivors to share the story and support each other. The movement also led to some powerful figures being held responsible for their actions. It did not stop with calling out individuals. It also pushed for changes in how companies and organizations should handle harassment. This shows that when people gather and speak up, they can change and make a difference in making the world a better place.

Another example is the Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral on social media in 2014. The challenge involved people dumping buckets of ice water over their head. It started when a former baseball player, Pete Frates was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Pete and his friends started the challenge to raise awareness and money for the ALS research. The challenge quickly spread in social media with celebrities, athletes and normal people participating and sharing videos of themselves doing the challenge. The viral of the challenge helped raise millions of dollars for ALS research. The success of the Ice Bucket Challenge shows how the mass media can mobilize communities, raise awareness, and make a positive change to society.


Do you think nowaday’s media shapes us to be better people in society?

Nowadays, in this digital age, the influence of media on our lives is undeniable. From social media platforms to news outlets, we are constantly bombarded with information and messages that shape our perceptions and behaviors. But amidst the chaos of the media, a question arises: Does the media contribute to shaping us into better people for the greater good of society?

On the positive side, the media has the potential to raise awareness about social issues and promote empathy and understanding. Social media platforms like X and Instagram are considered powerful tools for mobilizing communities and amplifying voices that might be unheard. Through viral campaigns and online activism, the media has facilitated movements for social justice, environmental conservation, and humanitarian aid. For example, Hone-Krasae, a Thai TV show, usually picks issues that are going viral on social media by portraying these issues in an engaging format, they raise awareness of the problem in society.

However, the media can also have a negative impact. The prevalence of sensationalized news coverage, misinformation, and divisive content can lead to fear, prejudice, and apathy among audiences. Moreover, the constant exposure to curated images of perfection on social media can breed feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, leading to a decline in mental well-being. For example, some content on TikTok shows unrealistic beauty standards that can damage self-esteem and body image, particularly for young users.

A screenshot from TikTok video “Diana Zhukova”

In conclusion, while the media has the potential to shape us into better people by promoting empathy, awareness, and positive social change, its impact ultimately depends on how it is used. As consumers of media, we must approach it critically, discerning fact from fiction and actively seeking out content that uplifts and inspires us to be representative of positive change in our society. Ultimately, it depends on us whether we will use the media to benefit society or not.

You can also participate or start any social campaigns that you are interested in by using mass media from today!! 


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SaschaSaschaMarch 22, 2023

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