The Power of the Media to Shape the Thoughts of the Average Individual

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Thesis Statement Popular opinion credits media with great power to shape not only what the average individual thinks about, but also how they think about those subjects. Recent research in the fields of Political Science, Psychology, Economics, and Communications supports this opinion. Abstract Popular opinion credits media with great power to shape not only what the average individual thinks about, but also how they think about those subjects. This paper examines research in the fields of Political Science, Psychology, Economics, and Communications to determine what, if any, effect media has on American politics. An individual’s perception of what is important is influenced by the media through various methods. The more prominent…show more content…
Regardless of the methodology used, studies support the finding that the more prominent an issue is in the media, the higher the perceived level of importance by the general public. Thus, the subtle influence of public opinion toward a candidate or platform can be achieved by increased coverage of topics where the candidate has succeeded (or failed). The candidate need not be directly named in the coverage for the perception of their ability to be effected. Mention of a subject in the media on a daily basis over a period of a month can be more powerful than one urgently-worded message. Historical Overview In the early 1900’s, scholars discounted the influence media had on an individual’s political choices as being minimal (Entman, 1989). The primary method for media contact during this time was newspapers and magazines, and the presentation of news was primarily confined to clearly-defined presentation of fact or opinion. Technology was minimal, so the time between an event’s occurrence and the media’s coverage reaching an individual could range from days to months, depending on distance and available delivery methods. Over the years, communication techniques have become

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