Mass media is an ideal source of information relied upon by many. It plays a critical role in public opinion since it disseminates information and facts concerning various topics that the people should know. If the mass media reports inaccurate information, then the people would have wrong information regarding different issues in the society. As such, they would end up making uninformed decisions. Media has influenced public opinion for over 500 years (McCombs, 2011). The information is disseminated through books, magazines, newspapers, sound recordings and the internet. This discussion will therefore focus on the importance of honesty of media and advantage and disadvantages of honesty of media to the public.
Since the media is charged with the responsibility of enlighten the public on the states of affairs in the country and the world as a whole, it should take the responsibility of delivering a 100 percent honest information, without adding or subtracting any relevant information that is of great desire to the public. While doing so, it is expected to maintain an indifferent mode, without being partial on the analysis and its reports of information. In so doing, there will be a sense of accountability and responsibility to the public.
The importance of maintaining honest will ensure that accurate information is passed to the public which does not consist of any manipulated information. This will give the public the opportunity to judge and analyze the information they receive from their point of view without being manipulated by the any other force. This is because, there exist many instances that the media have reported information based on their judgment and hence created misunderstanding in the public. Therefore, it plays a significant role in influencing the people’s decisions on different themes in the community based on their personal opinion and not the influence of the media. In this case, the main role of the media is pass an accurate information, since, wrong information is likely to lead to inaccurate interpretation by the public.
The role of mass media in public opinion cannot be overlooked. It plays a significant role in shaping the minds of the people. It is usually considered as the 4th pillar of the society apart from the judiciary, the executive, and the legislature. It plays a significant role in the societal welfare by shaping and promoting a healthy democracy. Media is considered as the backbone of democracy in several countries in the world. Media makes people aware of various political, social, environmental and political issues taking place in the world (McCombs, 2011). However, such opinion should be based on the accepted norms of the society without undermining individuals or groups of individuals who also have a right provided by the democracy. This shows that opinion should be based on individual’s perspective, and not the entire media. In this case, responsibility of opinion should be taken by an individual.
The media is very crucial in influencing public opinion. It provides people with essential information about what is happening in the world. This depends on how such information is communicated through the mass media (Lewis, 2001). The information plays a significant role in shaping the people’s perceptions or opinions on political and social issues affecting the members of the society. The judgment, therefore, should be left to the public, without being manipulated by the media. This will make the opinion to be objective and not subjective.
When media gives the information as expected, based on accuracy and non-judgmental point of view, there are advantages that come with it. One of such is the fact that it gives the public the opportunity to analyze the information and make their personal judgment without being manipulated. In this case, the public will respond by giving their personal opinion and hence the decision to take any action based on the information delivered by media will be based on the judgments of the public, and not the media. This help to promote democracy in the country and gives opportunity for proper use of the information.
Furthermore, the role of media in delivering accurate information has an advantage of promoting creativity and critical analyst in the society. In this case, the public will be given the responsibility to analyze the information delivered without relying on the media to digest the information unto them, a case, which has always led to wrong reaction by the public. It is therefore necessary to allow the public to make their own analysis and give their opinion on a reported mater by the media. In so doing, the society will have an opportunity to be enlightened rather than manipulated.
The media can influence the information which is reported to the public. Such information which is disseminated to the people are accommodated into the cognitive structures of the individuals who read or view the information. Therefore, how the media decides to report or comment on issues impacts on the way people think. This therefore brings the disadvantage of accurate information passed to the public by media on sensitive issues.
One of the cons is that, the accurate information disseminated by the press can lead to communal riots. This is usually caused by excessive coverage of sensitive issues. It is important to note that the illiterate people are very susceptible to provocations compared to the literate. The impact of media on public opinion is noteworthy (Lewis, 2001). However, repetition of sensitive issues or news usually does breed into insensitivity or apathy. For instance, in the case of Sadam Hussein, some children who tried to imitate the hanging procedure ended up losing their lives (Siegmund, 2008). Therefore, the media should take utmost care of the content that they air or publish as this can significantly impact on the public opinion. It makes people question the authority and validity of the existing laws. It may also affect the political career of the current national leaders. This is one of the cons of media on public opinion.
Moreover, the publication of accurate, but violent or dirty information to attract readers to cope with the competition in the industry is another major cons of publication of accurate information by the media. Today, the television, the internet, and the print media are making fast money by airing and publishing violent content which in true sense are accurate. They do not consider ethical standards of the people they serve. The ability of the press to influence masses especially the youth affects public opinion. People have to think about the future of social media since it no longer publishes useful and friendly information that suits the interest of the majority of people as before. As such, various people view the media as an agent that promotes immorality and other social evils in the society.
In conclusion, a free and independent press has always influenced the public opinion in several ways (Martin, 2002). This depends on the effectiveness of journalists in selecting the right methods and tools to use. Journalism has developed over the years especially in the democratic countries. It is more concerned with the welfare of the people it serves. Journalists are committed to ensuring that the basic social and ethical standards are maintained. As such, it is considered as the backbone of public opinion in any democratic country. The media has helped to solve various controversial issues in the society. It ensures that such information is transparent and well refined. Therefore, it influences how the readers view the topic or the story.
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- Lewis, J. (2001). Constructing public opinion: How political elites do what they like and why we seem to go along with it. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.
- McCombs, M. (2013). Setting the Agenda: The Mass Media and Public Opinion. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
- McCombs, M. E. (2011). The news and public opinion: Media effects on civic life. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
- Siegmund, C. (2008). How far, if at all, do the media and public opinion influence us foreign and. Place of publication not identified: Grin VerlagOhg.