How does the mainstream media influence opinion
With the power to influence opinions of people, the media is used as a tool to shape policies and legislation of a country. According to Entman (1989), the media has a significant influence on worldviews and opinions, but it only shapes what the public considers important. The media has the power to change people's perception about a certain issue, regardless of its ethical standards. It shapes cultural practices of a society, influencing them on what is important and what is not. The media plays various roles in the society. This is achieved by selecting specific information, which is perceived as important, to alter the way in which the society thinks, hence shaping their attitudes (Entman, 1989). With the advent of new technologies, more media choices have surfaced, giving people an opportunity to select the type of information they want to hear, see, and read.
Although more media choices have been established, there are still fewer media owners (Rutenberg, 2002), who are responsible for controlling the information conveyed to the general public. Owners of large media conglomerates have different interests which are aimed at developing policies of the country while favoring a certain political view, the cultural practices, and the economy of the country (Rutenberg, 2002). Although large media corporations like CNN and the New York Times among others provide day-to-day updates, they may be ineffective in airing investigative programs which violate the interests of political figures who are in control, or the interests of the parent company (Rutenberg, 2002). Media outlets sell their products to advertisers, who in return find which audience to advertise to. Consumers are prompted to purchase these programs due to limited platforms where the latter can be obtained from.
Other media outlets get their revenues from sales and subscription fees (Herman & Chomsky, 1988). For example, 21st Century Fox, AMC Networks Inc. , Sinclair, Time Warner Inc. In most cases, when information comes from the government, the society considers it as legitimate. It is for this reason that the government uses the media to its advantage. Media corporations depend on the government for certain provisions, like operating licenses, policies, and franchises. The Federal Communications Commission is a government organization which ensures that media corporations owned by the public follow government policies. This relationship makes the government rely on these media outlets to convey information which the government considers important. Although the society perceives these sources as legitimate, relying on them for day-to-day coverage may have its consequences like developing propagandas.
Official sources of information can sometimes convey misleading information to the general public, which can in return have negative impacts to the leadership or even the public. Today, there are many institutions, public and private owned, whose main aim is to keep track of the information which different media sources convey to the public. In cases of misinformation, these institutions can provide a negative feedback to the general public, leading to propaganda. The mainstream media is also responsible for filtering information which reaches the public. When the attitudes of people have been altered, they can be controlled to choose one alternative over the other. This power allows media outlets to filter the information which they consider important to the society, but in a real sense, their main intentions are to benefit themselves.
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