Paper Example on Role of the Media in Shaping Public Opinion

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Middlebury College
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The media plays an important role in disseminating information to the public about key issues and topics. Most of the knowledge that the public has about most issues stem from the information that they receive from the mass media. Media platforms used to provide information to individuals include television, radio and print media. The mass media influences and affects public opinion by making possible for the masses to believe a certain idea or opinion. The media makes it possible for individuals who are widely dispersed to have a collective perception and attitude towards a certain issue. The influence that the media has on public perception is significant. Therefore, individuals who control the mass media are likely to sway public opinion to their advantage. The media is adept at constructing a public opinion. The media plays an integral role in telling the masses what issues are of importance to them and what issues are not important to them. Based on the fact that the media can easily sway public opinions, it is not far-fetched to state that most individuals have no control over their thoughts.

The media controls public opinion by shaping what people hear and read. The media is an important initiator of several issues and matters of national discourse. Media houses are selective with their news items and courtesy of their selection of news items; citizens can engage in informal debates about issues and topics that have been suggested by the mass media. Consequentially, the media determines what the public views as important. There are instances where the media goes to the extent of making commentary about certain issues and in doing so, sways public opinion on certain issues. The media makes it possible for individuals to form a certain perception about national politics. The media provides a platform which budding politicians can use to woo voters. The media also makes it possible for masses to know ideas that are being championed by different political aspirants.

There is a time when the media was widely viewed as the watchdog of democracy and a revealer of the hidden parts of society; this has since changed. On several instances, the media has been involved in inaccurate reporting about issues. Given that there are people who view information from the media as absolutely correct, wrong information disseminated by the media is likely to make individuals make wrong decisions. The media has in many instances failed to divulge truth on matters of national importance. The media has been involved in concealing facts and fabricating truths that has led to misleading the public on issues that are of significance to them. The mass media has been involved in distorting some facts and omitting important stories as a way of keeping society in the dark about certain issues. The media has also been involved in propaganda campaigns about certain issues to sway public opinion about the issues. There have been instances where the media has used photo shopped images of war to influence how the public views the necessity of the United States of America to engage in war. For instance, there were images that were photo shopped by a local daily about the conflict in Syria for propaganda purposes. The media controls public opinion by presenting certain ideas as facts when they are mere opinions! The media goes to the extent of defining the ideal body size and shape so that individuals may go great lengths to buy products that are believed to help in attaining the ideal body size and shape as portrayed by the media. The media has gone to the extent of victimizing individuals who hold different views from what the mainstream media calls factual. Most of the individuals who get victimized by the media for holding opinions that are different from what the mainstream media considers factual are public figures, mostly politicians.

The media can reveal the hidden parts of society but most of the time it doesnt, but it spends its time controlling public opinion. The media has an influence on public opinion by failing to report about important stories that are treated as unpalatable to the masses. The media has been involved in distorting critical facts, omitting of important stories in their news lists and working hand in hand with organized crime and other individuals involved in illegal activities to ensure that the illegal activities carried out by those people remain secrets. The media has also been involved in promoting corporate agendas that most of the time, are manipulative and selfish. Most of the media houses that are in America are owned by large corporations that would rather focus their energies on disseminating information that is palatable to most Americans so that they may be popular and continue raking in huge profits. The corporations are afraid that revealing hidden parts of society may make them unpopular among their clients (companies whose advertisements are aired by the media houses). Consequentially, unpopularity among their clients may make the corporations to lose out on business to rival corporations.

The media has for a long time been involved in hiding some truths from the society. For instance, the media did suppress Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing footages from the United States citizens for many years. Few weeks after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the United States government seized footages of the atomic bomb attacks to deny Americans an opportunity of seeing the magnitude of destruction that the atomic bombs had caused. The footages were kept hidden up to the 1980s; to this point, they have never been fully broadcasted. The public has also been denied an opportunity to view the magnitude of destruction, suffering, and deaths that the United States military forces brought on Iraqi civilians during President George W. Bushs war on terror. The media also failed to reveal images of American soldiers who died in Iraq during the war on terror operation. During the time the war on terror operation was going on, most media houses failed to reveal the fact that a high number of American soldiers were dying during the operation. Independent sources have revealed that about 600 American soldiers died during the war on terror operation yet the media did its best to ensure that the public was kept in the dark with regard to ongoing in Iraq because of the fear that the truth would prick the ego of United States citizens. Media companies have gone to the extent of deleting articles from their websites that try to expose hidden parts of society. It can, therefore, be firmly stated that the media cannot be trusted when it comes to revealing hidden issues and parts of the society.



Baum, M.A., and P.B.K. Potter. 2008. "The Relationships Between Mass Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis". Annual Review of Political Science. 11: 39-66.

Erikson, Robert S., Norman Richard Luttbeg, and Kent L. Tedin. 1980. American public opinion: its origins, content and impact. New York: Wiley.

McCombs, Maxwell. 2006. Setting the agenda: the mass media and public opinion. Cambridge: Polity.

Nacos, Brigitte L., Robert Y. Shapiro, and Pierangelo Isernia. 2000. Decisionmaking in a glass house: mass media, public opinion, and American and European foreign policy in the 21st century. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Protess, David, and Maxwell E. McCombs. 2016. Agenda setting: readings on media, public opinion, and policymaking. New York: Routledge.


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