Weekly Focus 8

Media: A Blessing and a Curse

Everyday, we as a society are over run with a never-ending flow of information on various topics like politics, foreign affairs, and celebrity gossip. Our media is the first thing we reach for in the morning, and it is the last thing we see before we go to bed. The media has evolved over the years, and it may not be for the better. And it all started “with the publication of the Sun in New York, American publishing entered the age of mass journalism” (Gitelson 324). The Sun, appeared to the masses and then the penny press (general term for newspapers with a large popular appeal) took root. Following, yellow journalism was developed, used by New York City newspaper owners; Joseph Pulitzer (The New York Word) and William Randolph Hearst (The New York Journal) (Gitelson 324). The tactics involved using alarming explanations and powerful words that would draw in the readers.  Yellow journalism tabloids are still seen today at almost every checkout counter and convenience store. By the end of the twentieth century, the internet became widespread, resulting in a new form of transmitting news. The general consensus is that the media does play a role in framing issues and setting the political agenda.

My Philosophy 102 class has recently discussed the importance of credibility and the relationship it has with readers and the government. It is well-known that the media is biased politically.  “Governments are known to influence and even manipulate the news” (Moore) by framing issues. Priming isolates particular issues and gives more attention to others. For example, you can be primed to vote a certain way based on the location. Three professors, Jonah Berger, Marc Meredith, and S. Christian Wheeler, were the “first to investigate this matter, finding that individuals voting in Arizona schools were more likely to support a ballot measure that increased the state’s sale tax to finance education” (Pryor). People do not even realize they are being primed, it takes place in our subconscious.  

In general, the media does play a role in swaying an individual’s beliefs. Someone lacking knowledge on a subject or who doesn’t have a set opinion may simply adopt the views of the news or media commentators. The media is not the only source of information, but the world is dominated by mass communication, and more and more, the political agenda is being set by the media. “The media wield the most influence in shaping the public agenda when the events and issues are either outside an individual’s experience or new to the society” (Gitelson 334) and nevertheless, the media plays a large role in presenting the issues at hand. The advanced technology of today’s world helps promote the media’s political views. The use of television and the internet helps political figures address the public directly.  “The Internet has reorganized the way Americans do everything—including elect their leaders. Candidates who would have had no chance before the Internet can now overcome huge odds, with the people they energize serving as the backbone of their campaign” (US News). All of these sources wrestle with the same idea: the mass media has hugely influenced the way we carry out political campaigns. However, the media should not be a figurative mouthpiece for the political leaders; it should be a neutral platform that is free of any bias.

Citizens who have done independent research or have a firm opinion to begin with are less suspectable to the influence of the media. “People with strong partisan views tend to gravitate toward sources that express the values that they already hold” (Gitelson 336). I have been keeping up with the presidential election fairly well and came across an article from Ithaca titled, “An Election Unworthy of America”. The article went onto describe how some “incidents don’t even begin to cover the unbelievable vulgarity 2016 has unleashed”. The article is not just talking about the two main presidential candidates, but the 2016 election as a whole. There has been so much violence, such as  the “GOP office was firebombed in North Carolina” or just the vulgarity of the supporters of the candidates. I was not influenced by this media outlet; I had my background knowledge before reading this. The media can sway individuals and how they form political judgments if they do not already have strong views or do not know much about the subject.

To say the least, major newspapers, magazines, and news shows, for the most part, are credible sources of information, “but it is necessary to keep an open mind about what we learn from them” (Moore 124). Governments have been known to influence or manipulate the news in some way or another, so it is crucial to use skepticism and partake in independent research when obtaining information and forming your political opinions.

Works Cited

Boulianne, Shelley. “Social Media Use and Participation: A Meta-analysis of Current Research,” Information, Communication & Society, 2015.

Gitelson, Alan R. et al. “Chapter 10: Media and Politics .” American Government: Myths and Realities.

Moore, Brooke Noel., and Richard Parker. Critical Thinking. Boston, McGraw Hill, 2007.

Pryor, Ben. “You’Re More Likely to Support a Conservative Candidate If You Vote in This Type of Building.” Business Insider, Business Insider, Inc, 25 Feb. 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/how-priming-can-influence-votes-2016-2.

“US News.” US News, U.S.News &Amp; World Report, http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2010/02/04/5-ways-new-media-are-changing-politics.

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