English 3152 Sec. 001
March 19, 2013
“La Comay”, Mass Media, and Public Opinion
We are constantly exposed to information by different mass media, such as the press, television (TV) and most recently, the Internet. Of these, TV is the most prevalent form mass media. But, how susceptible are we as individuals and as a society to manipulation through those media? How does publicity affect public opinion by providing biased information? I believe that mass media specifically through TV manipulate and affect public opinion by transmitting misleading information. Manipulation is dangerous since the real intentions of the manipulator are hidden by presenting false arguments that appeal to the non-rational and emotional side of the TV viewers in order to influence public opinion.
Walter Lippmann, in his assay Public Opinion, describes mass media (specifically the press), as “the chief means of contact with the unseen environment” (Chapter XXI Lippmann). He argues that the process by which public opinion arises is a complex one and people who understand it have an advantage to manipulate information and thus create or manufacture an image of public consent. In other words, public opinion can be influenced by mass media by creating and presenting an image of uniformity of ideas. Thus, the target of the mass media will have the impression that what it is presented by the media “is the truth”. When Lippmann’s assay was published (1921) the main instrument for mass media was the press. Today, TV has replaced newspapers with its live images. Nevertheless, the principles described in Lippmann’s assay still apply.
One of the best-known examples of utilization of mass media through TV to influence public opinion was during the Vietnam War. At the beginning of the conflict, the US government provided information through mass media, indicating the US was winning such war, when in reality there were few advances and many US soldiers were dying...
Cited: Achbar, Mark and Wintonick, Peter (1992), Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AnB8MuQ6DU
Balkin, J.M. (1998). How Mass Media Simulate Political Transparency. http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/jbalkin/articles/media01.htm
Bible, Iulia (2005), Manipulation Through Mass Media: Brief Analysis of Means, http://www.slideshare.net/iulia_bilbie/manipulation-through-mass-media
García Berríos, Nelson (2013). Renunció Kobbo ¿y ahora qué?. El Nuevo Día. 9 de enero de 2013.
McLaughlin, Erin. Television Coverage of the Vietnam War and the Vietnam Veteran. http://www.warbirdforum.com/media.htm
Lippmann, Walter. Public Opinion. 1921. www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/6456
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