View Poll Results: Will the media alter someone's political orientations?

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    14 48.28%
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    2 6.90%
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Thread: The Media, does it actually influence?

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    Advisor JoeMama's Avatar
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    The Media, does it actually influence?

    There is some political science term for it (I forgot), but in short it states that:
    The media does not change political orientations, it just influences a person's priorities (like focus should be on economy rather than abortion, etc.)

    Any thoughts? I personally think the theory has some merit; for example, FOX news watchers won't so readily watch MSNBC and vice versa...

    What do you folks think?
    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the former" - Albert Einstein

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    Educator idk's Avatar
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    Re: The Media, does it actually influence?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeMama View Post
    There is some political science term for it (I forgot), but in short it states that:
    The media does not change political orientations, it just influences a person's priorities (like focus should be on economy rather than abortion, etc.)

    Any thoughts? I personally think the theory has some merit; for example, FOX news watchers won't so readily watch MSNBC and vice versa...

    What do you folks think?
    That depends, do you get any information (ANY information) from newspapers, computers, radio, cell phones, podcasts or television? Do you ever make decisions based on that information? Anyone who answers no is either a liar, ignorant, or an ignorant liar.

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    Advisor JoeMama's Avatar
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    Re: The Media, does it actually influence?

    Quote Originally Posted by idk View Post
    That depends, do you get any information (ANY information) from newspapers, computers, radio, cell phones, podcasts or television? Do you ever make decisions based on that information? Anyone who answers no is either a liar, ignorant, or an ignorant liar.
    Point is taken, but you are evading the issue of will a person change his or her political orientations (like liberal ->libertarian or ->republican).

    Obviously people get info from the media, that is the main source, but the question is, does that info (which is coupled with media bias) change their political orientations?

    People have the habit of 'selective perception' - listening to what they only believe in or want to hear - so it's possible that a person will not change his/her ideology.
    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the former" - Albert Einstein

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    Re: The Media, does it actually influence?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeMama View Post
    Point is taken, but you are evading the issue of will a person change his or her political orientations (like liberal ->libertarian or ->republican).

    Obviously people get info from the media, that is the main source, but the question is, does that info (which is coupled with media bias) change their political orientations?

    People have the habit of 'selective perception' - listening to what they only believe in or want to hear - so it's possible that a person will not change his/her ideology.
    Since I can't imagine many people are born with political ideology, the media are bear a great influence on said ideology. I think particular events (9/11 could be one, which probably changed the opinions of many) in a person's life bear responsibility for shaping/changing our ideology, but it is the media which introduce these events.

    Being young, I used to watch only Fox news, unaware that any news media could be biased, or present misleading information. My views were primarily conservative. When I started posting on political forums, I shifted to the left. The internet, and thus the availability of more personalized and specific information, shifted my political beliefs to the left.

    So, while I don't believe (for the average person) political beliefs are a simple reflection of the media, I think they bear an often understated influence on consumers. The media are powerful. If this were untrue, marketing would not be a multi-billion dollar industry.

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    Advisor JoeMama's Avatar
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    Re: The Media, does it actually influence?

    Quote Originally Posted by idk View Post
    Since I can't imagine many people are born with political ideology, the media are bear a great influence on said ideology.
    Again, I understand. Just to let you know (and I'm not trying to be sarcastic), the other ways one would become politically oriented would be through family and school...at least that's what conventional wisdom has said.

    Quote Originally Posted by idk View Post
    The media are powerful. If this were untrue, marketing would not be a multi-billion dollar industry.
    Not to fast
    Can you find other multi-billion dollar industries predicated on misconceptions?
    I think we could all name a few.
    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the former" - Albert Einstein

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    Re: The Media, does it actually influence?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeMama View Post
    Again, I understand. Just to let you know (and I'm not trying to be sarcastic), the other ways one would become politically oriented would be through family and school...at least that's what conventional wisdom has said.
    Agreed. This is definitely not an easy question you've proposed (and in all candor, I've already realized that I probably posted my answer too soon). Valid arguments are to be made claiming family and friends are the singular variable in a person's political ideology. Still, I believe the power of news media and new presentation cannot be trivialized.

    [/quote]
    Not to fast
    Can you find other multi-billion dollar industries predicated on misconceptions?
    I think we could all name a few.
    [/QUOTE]

    Right, but I fully believe the advertising industry cannot be included. If companies didn't have tangible evidence of significant increase in revenue following marketing campaigns or high profile advertisements, they wouldn't spend more dollars per second in super bowl ads than in high-budget, blockbuster films. Advertising works in the subconscious- and it works. News media use the exact same techniques because they understand this.

    An example from a psychological study on false memory is fitting to demonstrate this point. Researchers found that interviewers could plant false memories in eyewitnesses simply through rephrasing a question. Asking the witness to a staged crime, "What color eyes did he have?" yields significantly different results than asking, "And he had brown eyes, right?"

    News media such as Fox and MSNBC blatantly exploit this flaw in human reasoning on a regular basis. We've seen the headlines. A talking head presents a "report" with the title, "Does (Obama/Bush)'s new regulation create terrorism?" That question is then planted in our subconscious, triggering an emotional response and possibly altering our views on the subject. And this is only one of the most blatant techniques borrowed from advertising agencies.

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    Re: The Media, does it actually influence?

    James Carville once said, "Nowadays, people use the media the way a drunk uses a street lamp - for support rather than illumination."

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    Re: The Media, does it actually influence?

    I would wager that a high school where students learned history from regular textbooks will have a different partisan demographic than a high school that uses Howard Zinn's textbooks.
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    Re: The Media, does it actually influence?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeMama View Post
    There is some political science term for it (I forgot), but in short it states that:
    The media does not change political orientations, it just influences a person's priorities (like focus should be on economy rather than abortion, etc.)
    The way it influences is not in political ideologies. People tend to more or less know where they stand on issues and will seek out media that reflects their beliefs.

    What it influences is the very discourse itself, the way people, events, and things are referred to, and the values we place on them. It also affects priorities, like you said. People are prompted by the media to care about certain things that normally they wouldn't even think about. The media defines the appropriate spectrum of discussion. For example, if you scan DebatePolitics daily as I have for over a year now, you begin to see that the range of topics discussed within the sphere of the U.S. is actually limited. The same topics are regurgitated over and over, sometimes with a new face, but the content is the same. The media not only sets priorities for discussion but it also restricts the range of discussion while simultaneously making it appear limitless.

    Media is also an instrument of nationalism. The fact that news reports on all areas of the country implies right from the get go that you should care about the country as a whole. This in turn makes it the perfect dissemination tool for government.

    Once media becomes corporatized as it has in the U.S., journalism becomes vulnerable to executive manipulation and sensationalism. They care more about money than journalism and so will show the most eye-catching stories. What we are seeing now is a shift away from journalism towards salaciousness for the sake of ratings, which in turn influences people to mistakenly believe that there is no major breaking news.

    Right now the news is shifting away from Iraq as is what happened to Afghanistan a year after 9/11, causing the public to maybe believe that nothing big is happening, even though there is. The hot button topic is terrorism and personal safety, which is way more useful to the powers that be.

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    Re: The Media, does it actually influence?

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    I would wager that a high school where students learned history from regular textbooks will have a different partisan demographic than a high school that uses Howard Zinn's textbooks.
    And books aren't a form of media?

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