Howard Laswell famously argued that the media plays three primary roles in society: socialization, interpretation and surveillance/watchdog. Of these three roles, I believe the most important is surveillance/watchdog because of its power to create a critically informed public and hold those in positions of authority accountable for their actions.
The role of media as watchdog involves investigating, monitoring and reporting on matters of public interest (Guggenheim & Guggenheim, 2017). This can include providing updates on political issues or developments within specific industries or businesses. The media’s role as watchdog also involves exposing any potential wrongdoing or unethical behavior by those in positions of power such as government officials. Through its investigative journalism duties, the press sheds light onto misconduct which might otherwise go unnoticed or be deliberately concealed from the public (Guggenheim & Guggenheim, 2017). It is this exposure that allows citizens to form more informed opinions about their governing bodies and make better-informed decisions when engaging with institutions like government agencies. Moreover, it is through this kind of scrutiny that high-ranking officials are held accountable for their actions (Varis et al., 2017).
Howard Laswell argues that the media plays 3 roles: Socialization, Interpretation, and Surveillance/watch dog. Which is most important
The ability to monitor and ensure accountability from major decision makers creates an environment where truth cannot be hidden from sight. Journalists provide a service not only towards informing citizens but also keeping powerful entities honest about their motives and reasons for acting differently (Guggenheim & Guggenheim, 2017). In many cases people come into office with noble intentions but may abandon them due to external pressures; however having well-informed citizens looking over officials shoulders keeps them true to their promises and prevents any corruption from occurring without consequence (Varis et al., 2017). As such I would argue the role of media as watch dog has immense importance because it acts as a bulwark against dishonesty while allowing citizens knowledge necessary for making meaningful changes within society.
Unlike other roles attributed to the media ,the act of being a watchdog requires more proactive engagement than simply relaying information passively( Varis et al.,2017 ). Journalists must be willing to take risks by holding those in power accountable despite potential backlash . This willingness can often result in vital stories being brought into mainstream attention which otherwise wouldn’t have been reported . For example ; prior research found that journalistic investigations were vital in uncovering levels corruption amongst FIFA executive members leading up 2014 world cup bidding process ( Varis et al.,2017 ). Without an active press spearheaded by individuals dedicated to pursuing uncomfortable truths ,many injustices throughout history likely would have gone undiscovered .
In conclusion ,I assert that although all three roles identified by Howard Laswell are important components towards understanding how mass communication works they do not compare against each other significance wise . Surveillance /watchdog holds special importance due its ability root out dishonesty while creating knowledgeable citizenry capable enact change when needed most .