Another social component that determines voter choices are the conversations that individuals have with their family members, peers, etc. And these conversations are usually related to the top media stories of the day. Hence, the mass media directs individual actions in a social context. And the dynamic of these interactions have further say in whether opinions are retained, modified or discarded (Brown 1997, p. 481). When it comes to selection of programming, media executives simply go by audience preferences, as this is essential for making profits. The basic motto is“whatever sells”. This phenomenon is valid across television, radio and print. Even in news media, newsworthiness is really about catching audience’s attention through presentation of sensational, extra-ordinary and emotionally pitched news stories. The actual relevance of these stories to the daily lives of the audience is highly questionable.
The individual is lead to believe that he has freedom of choice. While he may think that a conscious decision is being made, as a matter of fact it is the media corporations who set the agenda and control the content to fit the agenda. The mass media obstructs the development of autonomous, independent individuals who could carry out critical thinking and decide for themselves. In this sense, the mass media impedes progress and emancipation of the individual (Gardels 1997, p. 26).
The information flow in traditional media is generally top-down. For example, the advertisers, government agencies, etc, “push” their message across due to their influence over the corporate media. Whereas in the Internet-based media, the users are free to “pull” relevant information, modify or comment on it, endorse or disapprove of it, etc, which gives the individual more power than was erstwhile possible. This is a shift towards bottom-up and lateral flow of information and from “mass” to “individual” audience (Boutie 1996, p. 51).
The reach of the media into people’s lives had become deeper and more pervasive with the growth of newer technologies. Access to information had turned from being available to limited and socially privileged members of the public to practically everyone today. The new digital media will radically change the way messages are communicated to the audience (Boutie 1996, p. 52). Some social institutions that would be profoundly affected include the corporations, public relations agencies, the press, etc. The indications are that their wielding of power and control over the public mind would be significantly weakened. The new digital media, mainly in the form of Internet, is the big hope for the individual to retain uniqueness and decide his own values.
List of References:
Boutie, Philippe. Fall 1996, “Will this kill that? (effects of new digital media).” Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol.13, no.4, pp. 49-58.
Brown, Robin. Oct 1997, “American influences: the cult of spin. (American political campaigns).”, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, vol.17, no.4, pp. 481-484.
Gardels, Nathan. Wntr 1997, “Ancestral territory vs. the global nomenklatura. (Samuel Huntington)(Silent Masses, Global Nomenklatura)(Interview).” New Perspectives Quarterly vol.14, no.1, pp. 26-29
Leigh, James H. June 1991, “Information processing differences among broadcast media: review and suggestions for research.” Journal of Advertising, vol.20, no.2, pp. 71-75.
McLeod, Jack M. Scheufele, Dietram A. Moy, Patricia., 1999, Community, Communication, and Participation: The Role of Mass Media and Interpersonal Discussion in Local Political Participation, Political Communication, Vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 315-336.
McQuail, D. 1993, Media Performance, Mass Communication and the Public Interest, Canadian Journal of Communication, vol.12, no.3, pp. 36-39
Schmitt-Beck, Rudiger. April 2003, “Mass communication, personal communication and vote choice: The filter hypothesis of media influence in comparative perspective.” British Journal of Political Science, vol.33, no.2, pp. 233-260.