The Media's Influence on Public Opinion

2435 Words Mar 25th, 2007 10 Pages
Humans are not born with fully formulated attitudes about politics, so where do they come from? The answer is political socialization, which is the way in which people learn about politics . There are a number of elements or agents involved in creating our political awareness, but this paper will focus on the mass media¡¯s role (particularly forms of news media) in constructing political reality in Western society.
One way that the media shapes our political reality is by mixing facts with opinions and in doing so manipulates messages. The amount of time and emphasis allocated to particular types of stories can also have an influence on what issues viewers perceive to be significant, over reporting some issues, while neglecting others,
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In other words, every minute of a politician¡¯s direct speech was supplemented by six minutes of speech from the reporter. This trend has led to journalist becoming more like an ¡°arbiter, passing judgment on campaign events and strategies.¡± We see here that instead of allowing the audience to interpret or make sense of the election issues by themselves, journalist have stepped in to highlight and reinforce the part of the subject matter they find to be politically salient. This is a form of manipulation, as viewers associate a politician¡¯s direct quote with the journalist¡¯s opinions.
One of the first things that I was taught when I started the broadcast journalism program at Mohawk College was ¡°if it bleeds, it leads,¡± meaning that the most sensational stories þuthat is the stories most likely to shock viewer þuis always given top priority. This key principle in the world of journalism is a guideline for journalist, editors, and producers to follow to prioritize stories. This popular selection practice may make people believe that the Top Stories, which are the most emphasized, are more important then other stories. For example, a story involving a violent crime is likely to lead a newscast and a story about a property crime is likely to be reported later in a newscast, if it gets reported at all. This can be misleading for viewers that could be lead to believe that violent crime is more prevalent than property crime, when the reverse is true; property
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