The Effects of Media on the Public

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The Effects of Media on the Public

By | April 2011
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The Effects of Media on the Public

Television, radio, newspapers are all important sources of information for Americans, and it has been shown that people’s perceptions are significantly influenced by the information they receive from the media – and the way that information is “packaged” and presented. Each and every day, the great majority of Americans are bombarded with thousands of images, sounds and written words provided to them by the media. Television news programs run 24 hours per day, radio talk shows and news programs abound, and newspapers, magazines and journals scream out headlines from uncounted newsstands, drugstores, supermarkets and convenience stores – and the internet, for those who prefer to get their information online. Advertising also plays a huge role in modern media (Browne, 1998). Television is especially influential, because viewers are particularly susceptible to “sound bites” – catchy phrases that sound strong and decisive but offer little of empiric value. American mass media giants such as Fox Newscorp and Time Warner rely heavily on sound bites to attract and hold onto viewers – and television ratings. These pursuits lead programmers to engage in practices that would have been unheard of forty years ago. Broadcasters resort to manipulation, image placement, timing, syntax and misinterpretation in order to add excitement to stories that might otherwise be less effective in holding the viewer’s interest. Many viewers, in turn, trust these broadcast sources, believing that the infotainment they provide is true, fair and balanced. As a result, social behavior and people’s relationship to the media have changed substantially since the 1970s (Browne, 1998). Since 1980, media quality and respectability has plummeted. Once-respectable news purveyors have sunk to the level of tabloids in their pursuit of ratings and the advertising revenues those ratings provide. Viewers seem to be aware that the quality...
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