It is impossible to underestimate the impact of Modern Mass Media on every single person, and a society as a whole. For many centuries, starting with the invention of first printing machine, public opinion was extensively exposed to the influence of mass media. But who influences mass media? Ideally, mass media should be an independent body, whose main function is to reflect the reality, and provide people with new information, concerning economical, political and cultural aspects of life. However, as everything in the world is influenced by something, mass media is also being influenced, which makes it lose the main purpose which it serves. It is well-known that by means of mass media people’s behavior and beliefs can be adapted to the goals of certain individuals or organizations. However, the dramatic effect of mass media may seem small at the first sight, because it is a long slow process of adding up necessary information in order to modify public opinion. With the invention of the Internet the interaction between public opinion and mass media has become even stronger; hence, the influence on public opinion has also become more intense.
We all know that news programs on TV provide us with the current events going on worldwide; however, it is already a fact that the same events are interpreted and shown differently in different countries. Before the news can be shown on TV they are altered in order to satisfy somebody’s needs. Thus, it is possible to say, that a process of “inventing reality” does really exists.
Who and what influences modern mass media and takes part in the process of “inventing of reality” will be discussed further in the study.
Does mass media influence or is it influenced?
In the book Inventing Reality by Michael Parenti, the author gives the definition of mass media as “weapon” that can be used to protect people and against them . He exposes the dissimulation of the absence of censorship of mass communication media, and the prevalence of right forces in the creation of news today. Parenti convinces the readers that the entire mass media is serving the interests of political and corporate leaders, rather than the interests of average people, whom it should have served indeed. The author is convinced that modern mass media is misleading public opinion and shifts it in the necessary direction.
Actually, mass media should be a mirror of reality, reflecting objectively and independently the given information. Obviously it is not so, and there are multiple factors influencing the process of reflecting information, and the rate of influence of certain factors varies in accordance with the alteration of information. Mass media tries to control people’s mind, thus it doesn’t need independent people. In “Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky”, the authors of the book write that mass media together with educational system “weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on – because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions” . According to Chomsky, people cannot use their brains while working for mass media, because they should be submissive, rather than independent.
There are a lot of political and economic factors that exert corrupt influence on mass media. Money as a source of power has a great impact on mass media. When a certain TV company is profit-oriented and is paid money to attract as much people as possible, it will do its best to attract the audience by fair means of foul. The owners and top mangers of mass media companies may be then referred as an authoritative body, which is equal to higher political or economic bodies. It is also considered that press lords, such as Rupert Merdock in Great Britain or Conrad Black in Canada have a full control over the content of the news, and show in their press mainly the conservative views.
Mass media is influenced by commercial activities of some of the corporations and businesses. Commercially-oriented mass media is to attract as large audience as possible to gain profits for advertising account. Thus, the information given in the news should be interesting for the audience. The presence of such commercial restrictions evidences that the market can bring in rather effective censorship into mass media. As a result, commercial mass media is characterized by certain obstacles faced while reflecting some radical or progressive opinions. However, other researchers believe that mass media reflects not all variety of views, but only the views of the representatives of institutional authority: politicians, governmental officials, economic leaders and etc. This concept assumes that the authorities determine general set of matters, which should be discussed by the media, outlines the main principles of perceiving the reality and determines the rate of possible digressions in views.
Another important view on what might influence mass media is the influence of ideology on the reflection of reality. As many researchers believe, ideology determines all standards of the production of news: professional criteria, the value of information, and especially the rate of “objectiveness”.
According to the authors of the book “Mass Communication in Canada” Rowland Lorimer and Mike Gasher the nature of mass media has changed due to the growing popularity of the Internet and its applications. The Internet is now used in all spheres of life; however, its usage in mass communication is probably most extensive. By means of the Internet people are able to receive and distribute information, which of course has a dramatic effect on mass media as well as society in a whole. To prove this Lorimer and Gasher write “transmission of messages made by many is far surpassing the production and distribution of a limited set of products made by a few …” . Thus, it is necessary to emphasize, that the advent of the Internet into Canadian mass communication has changed the roles and functions performed by all mass media organization and the public.
As it has been mentioned above, mass media influences vast mass people, while it is influenced by a certain group of people who own some sort of power. Politicians, owners of corporations, millionaires influence the quantity and quality of reality that if been reflected by mass media, thus making the latter “invent the reality”. What is the purpose of doing that? This purpose is well-described in the book by George Ritzer “The McDonaldization of Society”. The author treats McDonald’s as the result of bureaucracy influencing the society – the same bureaucracy, which effects mass communication worldwide. From the viewpoint of Ritzer, managers of McDonald’s aim at gaining full control of their employees, and for this reason they hire young people, who maybe more easily influenced and controlled than adults .
Having spoken about modern mass media, and the factors which influence the process of reflecting the reality it is necessary to make a conclusion. From my point of view, the main function of mass media should be just the reflection of reality, without any interpretations, adaptations and other means of misleading the people. With the development of such sciences as psychology and political science, politicians and other authoritative individuals have learned how to control people’s minds by means of mass media.
Though, a lot of states claim to be democratic and have the freedom of speech, censorship is still being exercised there. That’s why the same events are reflected differently in different countries. This is done in order to satisfy the interests of governmental officials, who strive to gain as much power over people as possible. And it seems natural, because it is what government was created for – to rule the people. However, it’s not politically correct, when a country is democratic, but implements undemocratic measures. All of this is done in order to create new reality, to “invent” the correct reality for people.
1. Fan, David P. “Predictions of Public Opinion from the Mass Media: Computer Analysis and Mathematical Modelling. Greenwood Press, 1988
2. Lorimer, Rowland and Gasher, Mike, Mass Communication in Canada, 4th ed. (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2001)
3. Mitchell, Peter R. Schoeffel, John Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky
4. Parenti, Michael. 1986. Inventing Reality: The Politics of the Mass Media. New York: St. Martin Press
5. Ritzer, George, The McDonaldization of Society, Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 1996