The New Media: Distorting Politics
Carreon, Elimar Andree L.
Valmores, Michael Aldrin S.
Hidalgo, Jebb B.
Saint Louis College
Mr. Al Gerald S. Barde
IV – St. Alphonsus of Ligouri
October 21, 2011
The New Media: Distorting Politics
The crucial function of mass media in influencing public’s knowledge and understanding on global and national issues is indisputable. In the Philippines, media plays a critical and widespread role in daily life (Suguitan, 2007). Suguitan proclaims that it is an understatement to say that the media is merely influential, for it is powerful enough to make or break persons and institutions, and even shape society (2007). Performing as the main source of information, media serves as the medium in which the government informs, explains, and tries to win the support of the people for its programs and policies (Soifer, Hoffman and Voss, 2001). In this jurisdiction, the media is often called the fourth branch of the government for it monitors political matters to ensure political players don’t abuse democratic processes (University of San Francisco, n.d.). According to Political scientist Harold Lasswell, a pioneer in media studies, the media must perform three societal functions: surveillance of the world to report ongoing reports, interpretation of the meaning of events, and socialization of individuals into their cultural settings. Surveillance involves two major tasks. When it constitutes to the need of general public, it is referred to as “public surveillance”, but it is called “private surveillance” when it involves only particular citizens. Public surveillance is politically significant since it awakens public concerns and initiates action in the society (Graber, 2010). Meanwhile, Mcluhan, another pioneering media scholar, states that the media also serves as “sense extensions” for those who cannot directly witness most of the events happening around them. The second function of the major mass media that Lasswell mentions is interpretation. The media does not only survey events and report them to the public. They also interpret the events, put them into text, and consider possibilities on the consequences (Graber, 2010). The last function of the media according to Lasswell is socialization. Socialization involves learning of orientation and basic values that prepare individuals to fit into their present setting or environment (Graber, 2010). However, although Lasswell has presented three societal functions the mass media has to realize, Graber strongly believes that to these three, a fourth function must be added: deliberate manipulation of politics (2010). In terms of politics, the major mass media comprise a wide scope on how it can vastly be of influence and effect. Graber implies “the public believes that the media have an important impact on the conduct of politics and on public thinking” (2010, p. 11). The Mass Media, through its news, reportings, and analyses, affects the people’s learning on politics and their own political views (Soifer, Hoffman and Voss, 2001). Past researches confirm the impacts of media on factual learning, opinion formation, and on citizens’ political activities. On the other hand, Graber says that aside from these scholarly findings, even if media stories lacked impact, they would still be influential because of the pervasive belief that the media are powerful and that it deserves consideration especially in politics. In total, media coverage has a great impact on political developments and on the public’s perception of politics (Graber, 2010). As political journalist Theodore White put it, the power of the media sets political agenda and that this power is unrestrained by any law. White also states that the media determines what people will talk and think. Graber on the other hand firmly believes that the mass media are an important influence on politics because they regularly and rapidly present political information to large...
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