International media as a form of effective influence on the public consciousness audience

Public Opinion (1922), by Walter Lippmann, is a critical assessment of functional democratic government, especially the irrational, and often self-serving, social perceptions that influence individual behavior, and prevent optimal societal cohesion. The descriptions of the cognitive limitations people face in comprehending their socio-political and cultural environments, proposes that people must inevitably apply an evolving catalogue of general stereotypes to a complex reality, rendered Public Opinion a seminal text in the fields of media studies, political science, and social psychology.

Walter Lippmann describes how, for a given event, all of the pertinent facts are never provided completely and accurately; how, as a fraction of the whole, they often are arranged to portray a certain, subjective interpretation of an event. Often, those who know the “real” (true) environment construct a favorable, fictitious pseudo-environment in the public mind to suit his or her private needs. Propaganda is inherently impossible without a barrier of censorship — between the event and the public — thus, the mass communication media, by their natures as vehicles for informational transmission, are immutably vulnerable to manipulation.

The blame for this perceptual parallax does not fall upon the mass media technology (print, radio, cinema, television) or logistical concerns, rather, upon certain members of society who attend to life with little intellectual engagement, because “they suffer from anemia, from lack of appetite and curiosity for the human scene. Theirs is no problem of access to the world outside. Worlds of interest are waiting for them to explore, and they do not enter”, thus:

1. The buying public: The bewildered herd must pay for understanding the unseen environment through the mass communications media. The irony is that — although the public’s opinion is important — they must pay for its acceptance. Hence, people will be selective, and will buy the most factual media at the lowest price: “For a dollar, you may not even get an armful of candy, but for a dollar or less people expect reality/representations of truth to fall into their laps”. Hence appears the media’s duality, i.e. their social function of transmitting public affairs information and their business profit role of surviving in the market.

2. Nature of news: People publish already-confirmed news that are thus less disputable. Officially available public matters will constitute “the news”, and unofficial (private) matters either are unavailable, less available, or are used as “issues” for propaganda.

3. News truth and conclusion: The function of news is to signal an event, and that signaling, eventually, is a consequence of editorial selection and judgement; thus does journalism create and sow the seeds (news) that establish public opinion.

There are three groups of characteristics that make an effective tool for communication power of persuasion and control audience: credibility, attractiveness, amount of power.
The theory of agenda-setting can be traced to the first chapter of Walter Lippmann’s 1922 classic, Public Opinion

Agenda-setting theory describes the "ability [of the news media] to influence the salience of topics on the public agenda." Essentially, the theory states that the more salient a news issue is - in terms of frequency and prominence of coverage - the more important news audiences will regard the issue to be. Agenda-setting theory was formally developed by Dr. Max McCombs and Dr. Donald Shaw in a study on the 1968 presidential election.

Rogers and Dearing identify three types of agenda setting:

1) public agenda setting, in which the public's agenda is the dependent variable (the traditional hypothesis)

2) media agenda setting, in which the media's agenda is treated as the dependent variable (aka agenda building)

3) policy agenda setting, in which elite policy makers' agendas are treated as the dependent variable (aka political agenda setting)

Mass communication research, Rogers and Dearing argue, has focused a great deal on public agenda setting - e.g., McCombs and Shaw, 1972 - and media agenda setting, but has largely ignored policy agenda setting, which is studied primarily by political scientists. As such, the authors suggest mass communication scholars pay more attention to how the media and public agendas might influence elite policy maker's agendas (i.e., scholars should ask where the President or members of the U.S. Congress get their news from and how this affects their policies). Writing in 2006, Walgrave and Van Aelst took up Rogers and Dearing's suggestions, creating a preliminary theory of political agenda setting, which examines factors that might influence elite policy makers' agendas.

Media manipulation is a series of related techniques in which partisans create an image or argument that favours their particular interests. Such tactics may include the use of logical fallacies and propaganda techniques, and often involve the suppression of information or points of view by crowding them out, by inducing other people or groups of people to stop listening to certain arguments, or by simply diverting attention elsewhere. In Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes, Jacques Ellul writes that public opinion can only express itself through channels which are provided by the mass media of communication-without which there could be no propaganda. It is used within public relations, propaganda, marketing, etc. While the objective for each context is quite different, the broad techniques are oftentimes similar. As illustrated below, many of the more modern mass media manipulation methods are types of distraction, on the assumption that the public has a limited attention span.

Stereotypes are generalizations about a group of people whereby we attribute a defined set of characteristics to this group. These classifications can be positive or negative, such as when various nationalities are stereotyped as friendly or unfriendly.

The purpose of stereotypes is to help us know how to interact with others. Each classification has associations, scripts and so on that we use to interpret what they are saying, decide if they are good or bad, and choose how to respond to them (or not).

It is easier to create stereotypes when there is a clearly visible and consistent attribute that can easily be recognized. This is why people of color, police and women are so easily stereotyped.

We often accept stereotypes from other people. This helps us agree on how to understand and act towards various groups of people in a consistent way.

People from stereotyped groups can find this very disturbing as they experience an apprehension (stereotype threat) of being treated unfairly.

We change our stereotypes infrequently. Even in the face of disconfirming evidence, we often cling to our obviously-wrong beliefs. When we do change the stereotypes, we do so in one of three ways:

· Bookkeeping model: As we learn new contradictory information, we incrementally adjust the stereotype to adapt to the new information. We usually need quite a lot of repeated information for each incremental change. Individual evidence is taken as the exception that proves the rule.

· Conversion model: We throw away the old stereotype and start again. This is often used when there is significant disconfirming evidence.

· Subtyping model: We create a new stereotype that is a sub-classification of the existing stereotype, particularly when we can draw a boundary around the sub-class. Thus if we have a stereotype for Americans, a visit to New York may result in us having a ‘New Yorkers are different’ sub-type.

We often store stereotypes in two parts. First there is the generalized descriptions and attributes. To this we may add exemplars to prove the case, such as 'the policeman next door'. We may also store them hierarchically, such as 'black people', 'Africans', 'Ugandans', 'Ugandan military', etc., with each lower order inheriting the characteristics of the higher order, with additional characteristics added.

The media also plays an important role in both perpetuating and in breaking down stereotypes. If they characterize particular groups of people in certain ways, their viewers (or readers) are likely to do the same. So if a movie -- or the motion picture industry in general -- characterizes a group of people negatively, they are likely to be perpetuating negative stereotypes and making conflicts worse. If they emphasize the positive aspects of groups that contradict prevalent stereotypes, they can have a significant role in building mutual understanding.

Steps the media can take to reduce stereotypes are dealt with elsewhere in this system, but fundamentally, it is important that the media paint as accurate a picture of both sides of a conflict as is possible. This generally means painting a complex picture. While extremists tend to make the most noise and hence the most news, the media can do much to lessen conflict by focusing attention on moderates and peacebuilders as well. Heartwarming stories of reconciliation can replace or at least stand side-by-side with heart-wrenching stories of violence and loss. Showing that there is hope -- helping people visualize a better life in a better world -- is a service the media can do better than any other institution, at least on a large scale.


1. Konev E.F. International Journalism: Introduction to: studies. Tutorial: 3 hours - Minsk: BSU, 2002. - Part 3.
2. Mikhailov S.A. Modern foreign journalism rules and paradoxes. - St.: Izd Mikhailov, VA, 2002.

3.Sachenko I.I. International Journalism: Introduction to: ucheb. method. Tutorial: 3 hours - Minsk: BSU, 1999. - Part 1.
4. Sachenko I.I. International Journalism: Introduction to the special sion: ucheb. method. Tutorial: 3 hrs / Sachenko II, EF Konev. - Minsk: Belarusian State University, 2001. - Part 2.

5. Kira-Murza S.A. Manipulation of consciousness. - M., 2000.


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