The Power of Mass Media in America
press and mass media
The American public has always depended on mass media to learn about the world around them. After all, mass media is ideal for efficiently transmitting information to a large number of people in a very short period of time.
Until the 1950s, information was disseminated through radio airwaves, newspapers, magazines, and other publications.
With the arrival of television, mass media was adapted to a new way of bringing the information to the masses.
During the past few decades, television has continually proven to be the most efficient means to bring more information to more Americans.
Although this may have positive effects. For many Americans, mass media (especially television) is their only source of news and information. Mass media has the ability to shape and form public opinion on reported events.
This happens in two ways:
* First the media is free to choose which stories to report and which to ignore. This right to select news stories is protected by the Constitution of the United States.
* Second, although journalism is supposed to be objective, the media may be subjective in the coverage of the events.
The presence of any political or sociological bias may have a tremendous effect on the attitudes and perceptions of Americans. When a news story is biased or reported without fairness, the media is abusing its decisions on event based on facts presented fairly, without bias.
One of the best examples of media bias is how the major news organizations reported the Gulf War in 1991. The live broadcast of the war made the American public feel that it was a "clean war" with a minimum amount of destruction and deaths.
As the war came to an end, reports from many soldiers and journalists painted a completely different picture. As a result, public support for the war declined tremendously.
What Critics Say
Critics say that the ability of the media to limit news stories and control information makes its role similar to propaganda. The people who defend the news organizations say that only reason the media organizations have so much power is because the American public has granted them that right.
Some experts believe that giving the public so much information is not a good thing. If the American public had access to unlimited information, they would be inundated with more than they could remember. This overdose of information makes people anxious.
Many news organization try to fix this problem by summarizing the news in brief reports. Instead of telling the whole story, they offer the public an abbreviated version with sound and images that are easier to process and remember. In addition, news reports are often forms of entertainment.
The number of television programs that re-create news stories has grown over the past years. Some news channels mix serious information with light entertainment and gossip. These programs attract a larger audience, and they have become very profitable for the television networks. The amount of time devoted to this type of light news has grown at the expense of traditional news reporting. When news reporting is mixed with entertainment, the news organizations trivialize important topics affecting the American public.
There are ways to avoid biased, limited, and trivial news coverage. Although there is a similar trend among newspapers to offer light news, there are still some world-renowned newspapers that offer fair and complete coverage of national and international events.
Foreign newspapers are also widely available in the United States. If you look closely and with patience, you'll find that there are still some news organizations that offer balanced and professional reporting.