The topic of influence and power of mass media has become important among researchers of communication field since the moment it appeared. It is difficult to underestimate the potential and the role which mass media plays in people’s lives, still some of the researchers are concerned with relatively limited media’s control and impact on society. They claim that the content of a message is just one factor which defines the reaction of audiences; therefore, in order to decrease the chance of unexpected response to the message these factors have to be taken into account.
The review is going to examine three studies, which are written by Fearing (1954), Tichenor, Donohue & Olien (1970) and Noelle-Neemann (1974). Fearing was the first out three who came up with “paradoxes of communication effects” (p.191). Tichenor et al. discovered a difference in acquiring information by people with higher socioeconomic status and those with lower and as a result created a concept of a knowledge gap. Finally, Noelle-Neemann explored the way public opinion forms and changes over the time and came up with a model of the spiral of silence. The mass media undoubtedly has a huge potential for widespread influence. Both Noelle-Neemann and Fearing agree on its power and abilities. Fearing (1954, p.166) seems to be astonished saying that a message emanating from a “single source” is potentially able to reach millions of people and shape their minds. Noelle-Neemann (1974, p.87) echoes the colleague 20 years later considering that the mass media actively participates in a process of creating a public opinion by providing a certain environment.
Before analyzing the main points offered by the researchers it is interesting to pay attention to the way the different theorists structured their work and reached the findings. Both Fearing and Tichenor et al. combined and analyzed the data of other researchers in the field, which allowed them to cover several aspects and develop broader...
References: Fearing, F. (1954). Social impact of the mass media of communications, in, N.B. Henry (Ed.) Mass media and education: The fifty-third yearbook of the national society for the study of education part II (pp. 166-191). Chicago, University of Chicago.
Noelle-Neemann, E. (1974). The spiral of silence: A theory of public opinion. Journal of Communication, 24(2), 43-51.
Tichenor, P.J., Donohue, G. A. & Olien, C. N. (1970). Mass media flow and differential growth in knowledge, Public Opinion Quarterly, 34, 159 -170.
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