Throughout history it is evident that the media is necessary and at the core of liberal governance, it changed and improved the way ideas and information were addressed and communicated in society, therefore giving rise to public opinions and improving the level of debate. The association between a free press and a liberal democracy was ultimately necessary to keep absolutist governments in check. The media have acquired a set of responsibilities over time to ensure that society are aware of essential information and current news, resulting in having an informed citizenry. This essay will highlight key ideas and theories, exploring the diverse realm and space which the media control. Combined with technical innovations and news convergences it is clear that the media have the power to shape a society and can alter the way people view specific concerns and how they may view the world.
Based on my research I believe there are two primary functions of the mass media that need to be addressed. The first is the responsibility to ensure the society consists of informed citizens and the other is the ability to generation hype according to the Mill’s ideal and the Northcliffe Pulitzer press model. In todays society, it is thought that the media are now a ‘mixed system’, that there are different roles within the large terrain. There is a requirement to generate news and information, essentially creating the informed citizen and there is also the need to satisfy the role of the journalists acting as watchdogs. The mass media are known for and are used to influence and change public opinion and over time we have seen this. I will examine this in greater detail later in my essay but I feel it is important to note when examining the Hidden Face of Power that, “ a liberal democracy is a multifaceted system, and one part of the system involves hype making, geared towards taming mass publics and managing public opinion for policy elites.”- Louw
Agenda setting is the idea ‘ that the news media indicate to the public what the main issues of the day are and this is reflected in what the public perceives as the main issues.’- McQuail. The term was derived by Shaw and McCombs to explain the occurrence of factors during election campaigns. Mass media researchers have become enlightened with this idea and find agenda setting interesting as it gives researchers a new reason to explore different types of media effects on citizens behaviors, opinions, perspectives and in general on their lives. Two researchers that wrote and explored the notion of agenda setting, Dearing and Rogers state that “ agenda setting is related to several other kinds of effects, including; the bandwagon effect, the spiral of silence, the diffusion of news and media gatekeeping.” According to Dearing and Rogers three alternative agendas need to be clearly differentiated when understanding agenda setting; ‘the priorities of the media, those of the public and those of the policy.’ The fact that the media can alter in integrity and that the interest of the people may not always be the same as the interests or values of the media should to be taken into consideration when exploring this hypothesis. The hypothesis involves different aspects and categories of influence, the interests and prime concerns of political parties (or other interest groups) to those of the media, both the concerns and news morals of the audience play large roles also giving rise to the creation public opinion. Studying and researching the three agendas mentioned above, it seems that the media are instrumental in the combination.
Research carried out by academics Trenaman and McQuail stress the importance that there is ‘ the evidence that strongly...