Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mass Media

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The mass media is an influential tool in communicating information about what goes on around the world. Through television, magazines, radio, and other communicative resources, Americans expose themselves to news all around them. It brings into light the amount of power the mass media has and its ability to manipulate the minds of Americans into forming public opinions on certain issues. I intend to discuss the sources of media power, whether the mass media has too much power, and end with a discussion on whether the mass media has influenced my public opinions in any way.

One source of mass media is newsmaking, or deciding what issues are worth giving coverage to. Through the media the public learns about events, personalities, and issues and begin to form opinions. Therefore, through newsmaking the media decides what is news and begins exposing coverage to Americans. Agenda setting is another source that decides what will be decided on covered events or issues. It is the power to define society’s problems and set forth alternative solutions. Through agenda setting, the media can set the political agenda for the nation and force public officials to speak on covered topics, take positions, and respond to questions. Interpreting is a third source that has the media interpret the news for Americans. They provide an angle on the story and tell Americans what to think about the issue at hand. Common angles are the good guy versus the bad guy, little guys versus the big guys, and appearance versus reality. In addition, the use of visuals allows Americans to make opinions based on facial expressions during close-ups. Socializing is a media power where the audiences to the political culture are influenced. Socialization is influenced not just through television, but also through paid advertisement. Corporations pay big bucks to promote themselves and good citizens and creating positive opinions of their image. Lastly, persuading is used in both paid advertising and news and entertainment programming to change the attitudes, opinions, and behaviors of Americans. A good deal of political commentary on television is used to persuade watchers to adopt the views of the commentators. As described with socialization, paid advertising is a useful tool in persuasion as it plants many opinions in the minds of Americans creating new opinions on issues and events. As mentioned in the text, persuasion is central to politics, and the media are key to persuasion.

The media has enough power to influence many Americans into forming opinions and changing them later on. It is uncanny how the media can manipulate news and create new values for Americans to adopt. Through television, radio, and other sources of communication, the media has created a matrix of information flow that Americans have grown addicted to have. Americans want to know what is going on around them and have a desire to know more about hot topics that the media covers. I wouldn’t say the media has too much power, but I am willing to say that the media uses its sources intelligently to get the story across.

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