The Impact of Media on Uneducated Masses

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In the United States or any country with favorable or democratic

government, freedom of the media is essential. However, many analysts

believe that freedom granted to the media gives it power that may be used

abusively, power to influence the public. These critics are against a sort

of, "Lesse-fairre" attitude of the government towards the media. At the

other end of the table however, some feel that freedom given to the media

may go unchecked, for it is the people that influence the media and control

that power. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between...

James Hallow attempts to approach this issue in his work "Why

Americans Hate the Media". In this text Hallows examines the evolution of

the media and its relationship to the public it caters to. In the thirties,

media mimicked sleepytime Sunday morning political debates that one would

watch on the public access channel. They, in many ways were considered

"boring." Networks were growing more interested in attracting their

audiences. As the years advanced and technology followed, media began

taking different approaches to arouse the public. Conflicts on television

where seen as a more interesting and productive approach to increasing

ratings. After a while, interviewers would attempt to provoke debate, mud

throwing and even emotion out of it's political guests. Politicians who be

allowed air-time to address questions presented by viewers and interviewers.

One major complaint however, was that the media was more interested in

evoking a response in the interviewed rather than probing issues th at

really mattered to the audiences. They would infact be more interested in

impressing their peers with the questions they asked, rather than being

interested in the answers. They ask questions like "Do you think Mr.

Clinton will be re-elected? How do you plan to handle Newt's new tax

bill?" rather than "How is your tax bill going to directly effect the

economy? How are your reforms going to change welfare and improve American

life exactly?" The members of the media are seen as jackals eager for a

story, prepared to place anything in the public's eye in the name of

ratings. In the thirties reporters as characters in films where seen as

nitty-gritty heroes that shared the views and concerns on the every day

common man. In recent films these same ‘heroes' are portrayed as story

hungry and unmoralistic. In many cases they are joked as being worse and

less trust worthy than lawyers. This change in the portrayal of media in

movies is a reflection of the publics cynical view towards them. The fact

tha t many real life figures of media participate in such films, knowing in

advance how they will be portrayed, further supports the view the public

has towards them.

Some critics argue that the media is not completely at fault. They

are after all, trying to "give the people what they want". Unfortunately

the advancement of communications technology has superseded the audience's

capacity or desire to absorb it. There is only so much news a person wants

to hear. People have Newschopers with nightvision, satellites, cameras,

recorders, computers, E-mail, Cable television and CNN. Something has to

be more interesting than the next in order to get the viewers to watch. So

in many cases the media mimics the behavior of a sleazy talk show. Jerry

Springer is a current talk show host in Chicago. He attracts his audiences

by promoting violence and conflict between his guests. This concept of

"Shock TV" grants him the rating levels he seeks. The people seem to love

this. Mr. Springer himself was a politician, and had his show been about

addressing important issues in the country he may not have been as

successful. So the media may spend it's energies slanderin g president

Clinton and...
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