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Mass Media and public opinion

By AyeshaAQureshi1 Dec 27, 2013 2113 Words

Final Report

Department of Social Sciences, SZABIST Islamabad

Submitted to:
Sir Imran Ghaznavi
Submitted By:
Ayesha Mumtaz Ali
December 5th, 2013
How the mass media affects or plays a role in making public opinion.

The qualitative method of research has been used for the work. Articles of different newspapers, research papers and books are reviewed. OBJECTIVE OF THE RESEARCH

To find out the influence of mass media over public opinion. And how those opinions are incorporated socially, politically, economically and religiously in the societal setup?

The report forms its basis on the topic which was selected by me members. I have put a great deal of hard work into this report, to make it not just a piece of paper, but recognizing the idea that The influence of the mass media on public perception is widely acknowledged, yet few know the incredible degree to which this occurs.

The report brings the subject to the limelight, where mass media which is a very wide area of study has been studied as to how it effects the thinking patterns of the people in society: it has been studied qualitatively. The research conducted on this topic made me readily available to the perspective, view or research papers on the following topic. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

As per our course requirement, this report is analytically formulated on the topic “Mass Media’s influence on public opinion”; cohesively showing the importance of media manipulation currently shapes everything you read, hear and watch online. The purpose of the report is to examine the mediums and ways how it impacts the people’s lives .This report will look at how narratives from research papers, internet and articles that the public is bribed with popular radio, television and newspapers into an acceptance of the biased, the misleading, and the status quo. The media are not, according to this approach, crude agents of propaganda. They organize public understanding. However, the overall interpretations they provide in the long run are those most preferred by, and least challenging to, those with economic power. Greg Philo demonstrates this in his 1991 article, “Seeing is Believing”. Although a sizable portion of mass media offerings – particularly news, commentaries, documentaries, and other informational programmes – deal with highly controversial subjects, the major portion of mass media offerings are designed to serve an entertainment function. These programmes tend to avoid controversial issues and reflect beliefs and values sanctified by mass audience. Although the subject matter has existed, since the advent of media but it has been ignored or studied at a less degree when it comes to its influence. Thus, I felt a dire need to bring it in eminence.
The goal of the project was to recognize the large proportion of beliefs and opinions which have a standing and are representation of the media. Secondary research was the primary method of our data collection. A number of books, articles and research papers were consulted to form this report.

The media is the basis upon which we hear news regarding most everything that is going on in the world. There are many ways that the news is presented to the public such as television, internet, etc. We are really only hearing the point of view that the media presents to us. Unfortunately, sometimes it is biased. The Media’s effectiveness can similarly be better understood by viewing critically so to change the public opinion.










Mass media refers to channels of communication that involve transmitting information in some way, shape or form to large numbers of people (although the question of exactly how many a “large number” has to be to qualify as a “mass” is something that’s generally left undefined - it’s one of those things that we know when we see it. Whereas public opinion can be defined as the complex collection of opinions of many different people and the sum of all their views, or as a single opinion held by an individual about a social or political topic. The meaning of public opinion has changed dramatically over time. The formation of public opinion starts with agenda setting by major media outlets throughout the world. This agenda setting dictates what is newsworthy and how and when it will be reported. The media agenda is set by a variety of different environmental and news work factors that determines which stories will be newsworthy. Another key component in the formation of public opinion is framing. Framing is when a story or piece of news is portrayed in a particular way and is meant to sway the consumers attitude one way or the other. Most political issues are heavily framed in order to persuade voters to vote for a particular candidate. For example, if Candidate X once voted on a bill that raised income taxes on the middle class, a framing headline would read "Candidate X Doesn't Care About the Middle Class". This puts Candidate X in a negative frame to the news reader. Social desirability is another key component to the formation of public opinion. Social desirability is the idea that people in general will form their opinions based on what they believe is the prevalent opinion of the social group they identify with. Based on media agenda setting and media framing, most often a particular opinion gets repeated throughout various news mediums and social networking sites, until it creates a false vision where the perceived truth can actually be very far away from the actual truth.

Many people actually form opinions on a given issue, as well as what sorts of opinions they form, depends partly on their immediate situations, partly on more-general social-environmental factors, and partly on their preexisting knowledge, attitudes, and values. Because attitudes and values play such a crucial role in the development of public opinion, scholars of the subject are naturally interested in the nature of these phenomena, as well as in ways to assess their variability and intensity. No matter how strongly they are held, attitudes are subject to change if the individual holding them learns of new facts or perspectives that challenge his or her earlier thinking. The most important concept in public opinion research is that of values. Values are of considerable importance in determining whether people will form opinions on a particular topic; in general, they are more likely to do so when they perceive that their values require it. Values are adopted early in life, in many cases from parents and schools. They are not likely to change, and they strengthen as people grow older. They encompass beliefs about religion—including belief (or disbelief) in God—political outlook, moral standards, and the like. Values are relatively resistant to ordinary attempts at persuasion and to influence by the media, and they rarely shift as a result of positions or arguments expressed in a single debate. Yet they can be shaped—and in some cases completely changed—by prolonged exposure to conflicting values, by concerted thought and discussion, by the feeling that one is “out of step” with others whom one knows and respects, and by the development of significantly new evidence or circumstances. MASS MEDIA’S SIGNIFICANCE

Mass media communication—whether written, broadcast, or spoken—that reaches a large audience. This includes television, radio, advertising, movies, the Internet, newspapers, magazines, and so forth. Mass media is a significant force in modern culture. Sociologists refer to this as a mediated culture where media reflects and creates the culture. Communities and individuals are bombarded constantly with messages from a multitude of sources including TV, billboards, and magazines, to name a few. These messages promote not only products, but moods, attitudes, and a sense of what is and is not important. Mass media makes possible the concept of celebrity: without the ability of movies, magazines, and news media to reach across thousands of miles, people could not become famous. In fact, only political and business leaders, as well as the few notorious outlaws, were famous in the past however in recent times have actors, singers, and other social elites become celebrities and keep an influence and exclusive following when it comes to their views or perspectives about something.


Newspapers, radio, television, and the Internet—including e-mail and blogs—are usually less influential than the social environment, but they are still significant, especially in affirming attitudes and opinions that are already established. The news media focus the public’s attention on certain personalities and issues, leading many people to form opinions about them. Government officials accordingly have noted that communications to them from the public tend to “follow the headlines.”Exchange model—government and media relationship is transactional with almost equal give and take. Media has substantial impact on public opinion. Also public opinion responds to shifts in media content; all media have effect. The mass media can also reinforce latent attitudes and “activate” them, prompting people to take action. The mass media play another important role by letting individuals know what other people think and by giving political leaders large audiences. In this way the media make it possible for public opinion to encompass large numbers of individuals and wide geographic areas. It appears, in fact, that in some European countries the growth of broadcasting, especially television, affected the operation of the parliamentary system. Before television, national elections were seen largely as contests between a number of candidates or parties for parliamentary seats. As the electronic media grew more sophisticated technologically, elections increasingly assumed the appearance of a personal struggle between the leaders of the principal parties concerned. In the United States, presidential candidates have come to personify their parties. Once in office, a president can easily appeal to a national audience over the heads of elected legislative representatives.

In areas where the mass media are thinly spread, as in developing countries or in countries where the media are strictly controlled, word of mouth can sometimes perform the same functions as the press and broadcasting, though on a more limited scale. In developing countries, it is common for those who are literate to read from newspapers to those who are not, or for large numbers of persons to gather around the village radio or a community television. Word of mouth in the marketplace or neighbourhood then carries the information farther. In countries where important news is suppressed by the government, a great deal of information is transmitted by rumour. Word of mouth (or other forms of person-to-person communication, such as text messaging) thus becomes the vehicle for underground public opinion in totalitarian countries, even though these processes are slower and usually involve fewer people than in countries where the media network is dense and uncontrolled.

Mass media affects public opinion in various ways. There is information that is offered to a large group of the public. This will definitely influence their opinions on various issues through different mediums or mass media instruments such as radio, television, internet, newspaper etc.

First of Mass Media
Powerful, believable
Portable & convenient

Lingering Effects.
Deceptively easy access to information.
Cool and thus attractive.
Time Consuming. Could distract one off task.
Misused as source of important information.
Lacks authenticity.
Asserts influence.

-Print Media:


Exposing the bias inherent in all media is always a priority for disinformation. As per a quotation by forbes magazine: “Media manipulation currently shapes everything you read, hear and watch online. Everything.” – Forbes magazine article on mass media influence, 7/16/2012 The influence of the mass media on public perception is widely acknowledged, yet few know the incredible degree to which this occurs. Key excerpts from the rare, revealing mass media news articles below show how blatantly the media sometimes distort critical facts, omit vital stories, and work hand in hand with the military-industrial complex to keep their secrets safe and promote greedy and manipulative corporate agendas. Once acclaimed as the watchdog of democracy and the political process, these riveting articles clearly show that the major media can no longer be trusted to side with the people over business and military interests. Together, we can make a difference.


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