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Role Of Media In Shaping Public Opinion


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For those students of class 10th searching for a history project for school.

Role Of Media In Shaping Public Opinion

  2. 2. Media came into existence in 1780 with the introduction of a newspaper namely “The Bengal Gazette” and since then it has matured leaps and bounds. It has been playing a very important role in shaping human minds. Media is considered to be the 4th pillar of the society. The other three being legislative, executive and judiciary. It definitely plays an important role in the welfare of the society. Media plays a crucial role in shaping a healthy democracy. It is the backbone of a democracy. Media makes us aware of various social, political and economical activities happening around the world. It is like a mirror, which shows us or strives to show us the bare truth and harsh realities of life. The media has undoubtedly evolved and become more active over the years. It is the media only who reminds politicians about their unfulfilled promises at the time of elections. T.V news channels excessive coverage during elections helps people, especially illiterates, in electing the right person to the power.
  3. 3. Coverage of exploitative malpractices of village heads and moneylenders has helped in taking stringent actions against them by attracting government’s attention. The media also exposes loopholes in the democratic system, which ultimately helps government in filling the vacuums of loopholes and making a system more accountable, responsive and citizen-friendly. A democracy without media is like a vehicle without wheels. In the age of information technology we are bombarded with information. We get the pulse of the world events with just a click of a mouse. The flow of information has increased manifolds. The perfect blend of technology and human resources (journalist) has not left a single stone unturned in unearthing rampant corruption in politics and society. Thanks to technology that has brought a kind of revolution in journalism.
  4. 4. The role of the media in shaping public perceptions and opinions about significant political and social issues has long been the subject of both speculation and research. It is widely accepted that what we know about, think and believe about what happens in the world, outside of personal first-hand experience, is shaped and some would say orchestrated, by how these events are reported in newspapers and communicated through the medium of radio and television. The news media is a powerful tool because it provides the public with crucial
  5. 5.  News stories can be understood as narratives, which include information and factual elements, to be sure, but also carry an implicit message. The medium, in the case of news coverage, is the ultimate message. As James Britton writes: Experience is kaleidoscopic: the experience of every moment is unique and unrepeatable. Until we can group items in it on the basis of their similarity we can set up no expectations, make no predictions: lacking these we can make nothing of the present moment. The mass media brings simulated reality into our lives and we find ourselves relying on those sources to
  6. 6. The view of the influence of the media is elaborated on in what is called ‘Cultivation Theory’ . The theory was formed in the year 1980 by Gerbner, Gross, Morgan & Signorielli. Cultivation Theory holds that the popular media, such as television, has the power to influence our view of the world and it is “primarily responsible for our perceptions of day-today norms and reality”. Television, in particular, is our major source of information today and has become a part of us and part of our family life. Television is like a key member of the family, the one who tells the most stories most of the time. Heavy television viewers are more likely to perceive the world as it is portrayed on the television screen.
  7. 7. The limitations of such a ‘world view’ are strikingly portrayed by the character Chance in the movie “Being There”, the story of a gardener who had spent his entire life in the house of an old man and whose only knowledge of the world outside the house was through television. When the man dies, Chance is put out on the street with no knowledge of the world except what he had learned from television. ‘Cultivation Theory’ is not without its critics, particularly those who argue that the capacity of the mass media to shape our thinking is exaggerated.
  8. 8. Another explAnAtion of the influence of the mediA, ‘AgendASetting theory’, plAceS SomewhAt leSS emphASiS on the impAct of the mediA on public opinion And more emphASiS on whAt iSSueS Are ActuAlly covered in the mediA. bernArd cohen wAS one of the eArlieSt AuthoritieS to pick up on thiS in reSpect of the print mediA when he StAted “the preSS mAy not be SucceSSful much of the time in telling people whAt to think, but it iS Stunningly SucceSSful in telling itS reAderS whAt to think About”.
  9. 9. It is likely that both theories or explanations of the media’s influence describe, to some extent, what actually happens. The media can and often does decide what is reported, and these stories, in whole or in part, are assimilated and accommodated into the emotional fabric and cognitive structures of individual readers and viewers. How the media chooses to report and to comment on those events and issues will also have an impact too and will inevitably influence the thinking of many.
  10. 10. Media’s role in promoting state stability cannot be overemphasized. It should be noted that the media is a double edged sword. It can be an instrument of conflict resolution and vice-versa. The impact of media is really noteworthy. Excessive coverage or hype of sensitive news has led to communal riots at times. The illiterates are more prone to provocations than the literates. Constant repetition of the news, especially sensational news, breeds apathy and insensitivity. For instance, In Dhananjoy Chatterjee case, the overloaded hype led to death of quite a few children who imitated the hanging procedure which was repeatedly shown in most of the T.V. news channels. There is a plethora of such negative impacts. Media should take utmost care in airing or publishing such sensational news.
  11. 11. Commercialization has created a stiff competition in media. In order to outdo each other print media has often gone one step further in publishing articles, cover stories, etc. on things which are violent. Media experts say this is one of the means of attracting readers who are glued to T.V. news channels, which have cropped up swiftly in a recent past and they believe this is a cheap form of journalism. Today television channels and newspapers are making fast money by cashing on the news in wrong sense and wrong way. In the race to become more popular and to make money they have broken all the limits media must follow while serving to build a healthy and progressive society. They have no respect for the sentiments and ethics of the people and land whom they serve to, with their immense power to influence the massses they just make judgment like a true dictator rather than a good advice of a true friend as they previously used to do. If it will be going in the future then we people have to think
  12. 12. “When television news focuses on a problem, the public's priorities are altered, and altered again as television news moves on to something new.” Public opinion, or, what is understood to be the will of the majority of the polity or at least a substantial element of it, can be a very powerful determinant of a country’s foreign policy. In democratic countries, governments have to respect public opinion: failure to do so can be very politically expensive. In the ever-expanding body of media effects research, relatively little attention has been paid to how news is framed, and still less has been written on the political consequences of media frames. A frame is the central organizing idea for making sense of relevant events and suggesting what is at issue. News and information has no intrinsic value unless embedded in a meaningful context which organizes and lends it coherence.
  13. 13. A free and understanding press has the power to influence public opinion. The media uses many tools and methods, and its effectiveness depends on the awareness of journalists. Journalism has developed considerably in the 20th century, especially with its concern for the welfare of human beings. It is capable of translating the dialectical association and interactions between it and the events that concern individuals and so it shapes the pattern of presenting events in its publications. Journalism has a supervisory mission in society and hence its basic pillars should be social and ethical commitment. Media is the cornerstone of any public opinion. With a policy of transparency and refinement it can set trends in solving important or controversial issues. News media often use labels and titles to describe people, places and events. The nature of these labels and titles set the tone of the story and can influence how readers view the news story and the individuals or organizations that are the focus of the news item. A journalist’s decision to use labels such as “terrorist”, “insurgent” or “freedom fighter” often reflect a deliberate choice and provides an indication of how the journalist attempts to frame the story.
  14. 14. The media played a crucial role in Anna Hazare’s fight against corruption. The media published the news in a such a way that a section of the society, which was largely apolitical by choice and had been disdainful of political process, started paying heed to Anna’s call. This section, the well-off middle class, happens to be the main consumer of the news disseminated by the media. So the media too got on the Hazare bandwagon to serve — as well as support and strengthen — their clientele (customers) and Hazare received the collateral benefit of increase in number of supporters. The confrontation between Anna Hazare and the government became volatile. The government was inept and clueless in dealing with a largely self-created crisis.  However, Team Anna’s arrogance and rigidity was also responsible for the situation. In this way media played a dubious role in Anna’s fight.