Does the media influence the political behavior of citizens

Does the media influence the political behavior of citizens

Outside of academia, a fierce and seemingly ever-growing debate has emerged about how the media distorts the political agenda. Few would argue with the idea that mass media institutions are important to modern politics. In the transition to liberal democratic politics in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the media was a key battleground. In the West, elections increasingly center around television, with an emphasis on spin and marketing. Democratic politics emphasizes the mass media as a place for democratic search and formation of “public opinion”. The media is seen as empowering citizens and subjecting the government to constraints and compensation. Yet the media are not just neutral observers, they are themselves political actors. The interaction of mass communication and political actors – politicians, interest groups, strategists and others who play important roles – in the political process is obvious. Within this framework, the American political arena can be characterized as a dynamic environment in which communication, especially journalism in all its forms, significantly influences and is influenced by it.

According to the theory of democracy, the people rule. The pluralism of different political parties provides people with ‘alternatives’ and if and when one party loses their trust, they can support another. The democratic principle of “government of the people, by the people and for the people” would be nice if everything was that simple. But in a medium-sized modern country, things are not exactly like that. Today, several elements contribute to shaping society’s political discourse, including the goals and success of public relations and advertising strategies used by politically engaged individuals and the growing influence of new media technologies such as the Internet.

It is a naive assumption of liberal democracy that citizens have adequate knowledge of political events. But how do citizens acquire the information and knowledge they need to use their votes other than by blind guesswork? They cannot possibly witness everything that happens on a national stage, much less on the level of world events. Most of them are not students of politics. They really don’t know what’s going on, and even if they did, they would need guidance on how to interpret what they do know. Since the beginning of the 20th century, this has been done through mass media. Few in the United States today can say they don’t have access to at least one form of mass media, but political knowledge is extremely low. Although political information is available through the dissemination of mass media, various critics argue that events are framed and packaged, frames are constructed by politicians and news anchors, and ownership influences between political actors and the media provide important shorthand for this how to interpret and understand the news.

We should not forget another interesting fact about the media. Their political influence extends far beyond newspaper reports and articles of a directly political nature or television programs relating to current events that have a bearing on politics. In a much more subtle way, they can influence people’s thought patterns through other means, such as “goodwill” stories, entertainment and popular culture pages, movies, television “soaps,” “educational” programs. All these types of information shape human values, concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, reasonable and senseless, what is “fashionable” and “unfashionable” and what is “acceptable” and “unacceptable”. These human value systems, in turn, shape people’s attitudes toward political issues, influence how they vote, and therefore determine who holds political power.

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