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The Mass Media

Essay by   •  August 28, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  3,584 Words (15 Pages)  •  1,729 Views

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In today's world, we depends on information and communication to make daily decisions and go on with our daily activities like work, entertainment, traveling and anything else that we have to do. Everyday, before they you leave the house to go to work or school, they listened to TV news or read the newspaper, to make personal decisions such as what cloths to wear, traffic news, weather, etc. What we need to be aware is that most of our decisions, beliefs and values are based on what we know for a fact, our assumptions and our own experience. In our work we usually know what we have to do based on our experience and studies, however on our daily lives we rely on the media to get the current news and facts about what is important and what we should be aware of. The problem is that too often, we put our trust on the media as an authority to give us news, entertainment and education. However, the influence of mass media on our kids, teenagers and society is so big that we should know how it really works, their hidden messages and the manipulative ways of trying to control our thinking and therefore our lives. The Mass Media not only promotes products, but moods, attitudes, and a sense of what is and is not important, it is a significant force in today's culture.

Today we live in a world, which has been closely knit with a wide network of different types of mass media. Although many people blame the media for invasion of privacy and even trivializing of news, we fail to realize that media is a mere reflection of the society we live in, the society we created ourselves. The development of the mass media during the last several decades is characterized by the following main tendencies:

 Convergence: Different media like newspapers, radio, television, telephone and internet are increasingly being fused together, technologically as well as economically.

 Concentration: Media companies are being merged together and controlled by fewer owners. This concentration is horizontal as well as vertical Different media bring news from the same sources.

 Globalization: The media are owned by multinational companies broadcasting across borders.

 Commercialization: Advertisements are sneaked into entertainment as well as news stories. The distinctions between advertisements, news and entertainment are increasingly blurred. Audience groups with less spending money are not considered.

 Commercial influence: Advertisers and owners have influence on editorial decisions.

 Trivialization: More sex and violence. More prying into the private lives of celebrities. The media avoid controversial issues and serious debates. Debates are reduced to an entertaining clash between personalities, resembling a boxing match, where the issue of controversy has only secondary importance. Several media scholars agree that the main cause of these tendencies is the liberalization of the media market. Stories are selected for profitability rather than relevance. (Bagdikian 1983; Baker 1994; McManus 1994; Humphreys 1996; Shoemaker and Reese 1996; Herman and McChesney 1997).

Media has several advantages as well as disadvantages in day-to-day life. Here are some of the effects of the media:

 Shaping the public opinion: The media is an important medium which informs the people about the latest news and happening around the world. According to the agenda-setting theory of mass communication, the media plays an important role in shaping the public opinion.

 Providing Entertainment: According to the uses and gratification theory of mass media, it is believed that the audiences use the media according to their own needs and requirements. Many media users make use of media as a form of entertainment by means of television shows, movies, or even music.

 Disseminating Information: Media is an extensive resource of information for millions of people across the world. whether it is the Internet, television or the humble radio and newspapers, media is an extensive source of information on a wide range of topics, which broadens the horizons of knowledge. whether it is world news or general useful information about any topic under the sky, it is the media which has it all.

 Link between Government and the People: In addition to being a news provider, the media is also considered as a link between the government and the people. It informs the public about the general developments by the government and simultaneously serves as a voice of the general population, expressing their opinions and ideas.

 Delivering Justice: There have been ample number of examples wherein the media has been instrumental in creating public awareness about several criminal cases, which has led to speedy justice delivered to the victims. Thus, media plays an important role in publicizing cases, which require public attention.

What role does mass media play? Legislatures, media executives, local school officials, and sociologists have all debated this controversial question. While opinions vary as to the extent and types of influence the mass media wields, all sides agree that mass media is a permanent part of modern culture. Three main sociological perspectives on the role of media exist: the limited-effects theory, the class-dominant theory, and the culturalist theory.

The limited-effects theory argues that because people generally choose what to watch or read based on what they already believe, media exerts a negligible influence. This theory originated and was tested in the 1940s and 1950s. Studies that examined the ability of media to influence voting found that well-informed people relied more on personal experience, prior knowledge, and their own reasoning. However, media "experts" more likely swayed those who were less informed. Critics point to two problems with this perspective. First, they claim that limited-effects theory ignores the media's role in framing and limiting the discussion and debate of issues. How media frames the debate and what questions members of the media ask change the outcome of the discussion and the possible conclusions people may draw. Second, this theory came into existence when the availability and dominance of media was far less widespread.

The class-dominant theory argues that the media reflects and projects the view of a minority elite, which controls it. Those people who own and control the corporations that produce media comprise this elite. Advocates of this view concern themselves particularly with massive corporate mergers of media organizations, which limit competition and put big business at the reins of media, especially news media. Their concern is that when ownership is restricted, a few people then have the ability to manipulate

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