Mass Media and Public Opinion

The generalized idea of every individual's personality is "I have my own thoughts." When this statement is examined closer, the question arises of what influences one to believe the things they do? Mass media plays an immense role in the form shaping of people's opinions and views through means of ownership, commercialization and news coverage.

The rich keep getting richer, including corporations. One way they do so is through owning and merging media outlets. Because single monopolies are illegal, five shared monopolies have conquered over fifty percent of the market. This benefits corporations immensely because the focus is only on the products they choose to advertise. It also gives them the key opportunity to define the importance and necessity of their product or idea. They create images and identities so one will evolve a desire to invest in their product. Seven corporations own all of the television networks, and of those, four produce ninety percent of all sitcoms and films. This exclusive possession of the market distorts social reality and gives misleading perceptions by fluffing the "truth" and never revealing a negative side.

Commercials are a primary focus in advertising. The idea of "selling the American Dream" and "buying is the answer to fulfillment" is what corporations aim for in distributing their goods. The way they go about catching one's attention is through emotional association between the viewer and the product. Reaching the consumer is a task in itself. Sex, happiness and upper class values are often used to do so, which becomes rather repetitive but seems to still work. No one needs ten pairs of jeans or a certain brand of computer. It's the idea of luxury and necessity portrayed in advertisements that effect the decisions of the consumer. Society has acquired the idea that "to live is to buy," everyone with a credit card debt beyond his or her life savings can partially blame this.

News broadcasting is another form of mass media. "If it bleeds, it leads" is a commonly used motto from critics. Violence overall is down in the United States but is up in the news. This is because it creates a sort of fear in the viewer and initiates a feeling of necessity for police, weapons, prisons, etc. Corporations get giant tax cuts and assistance from the government and therefore must support its actions in return. This unfortunate bond between monopolies and the government constructs a cocoon from reality. Revealing all of the necessary news to promote a more beneficial corporation, and instilling a satisfaction in the viewer while subjecting everything to censorship is what occurs. Anything too exposing is usually discovered and denied before it reaches majority of society. An example of this is the Iraqi war. As people watched the goings on in front of their television like a sitcom, the actual reality of the war was a supreme nightmare where the U.S. military were not heroes, nor saviors. Seventy percent of the bombs dropped on Iraq missed their targets and eighty percent killed were civilians. This incident doesn't support or promote our military and therefore was never really revealed.

Although society tends to form their own views on certain ideas and opinions, the influence provided by mass media is much stronger than traditionally believed. With the growth of shared monopolies taking over the media more and more, we can expect to become burrowed deeper into our cocoon unless we do something about it. This problem is not a priority of our society's to change but if we did, many important issues would be revealed more thoroughly without censorship.

Related Essays on Media