Monday, September 17, 2012

Media's Influence

In his article “Mass Communication, Popular Taste, and Organized Social Action,” Leo Lazarsfeld explains that, “The mass media bestow prestige and enhance the authority of individuals and groups by legitimizing their status.”  This is a valid point in the sense that topics are covered in the media because newpapers, magazines, and television think it will bring in the most views.  If there is a particular individual that is covered in the media millions of people will have access to that information.  However, media covers only a small part of what goes on in the world.  There are many times when things go unnoticed.
On the other hand, in addition to giving people “prestige and authority”, media can also cast a negative light on people.  For example, there are sound bites that are played over and over again to turn people against politicians.  They might “summarize” their opinions and be misleading.  This is seen in the recent debate of the current political election.  Like Professor Retzinger discussed in class, the media and the Republicans took an aspect of President Obama’s speech and spread it amongst the population.  “You didn’t build that.”  As much as media can spread the authority of individuals and legitimize their popularity and status, media can also destroy targeted people. 

1 comment:

  1. Laney, your post makes me think back to the Ryan Holiday and the strange bind that these mass media functions put us in today--we are used to ascribing a certain amount of validity or trustworthiness to mass media like The New York Times. Instead of the bank bailout theme ("It's too big to fail") it's more like "It's too big to be wrong." But clearly, there's always the danger of "snowball effects" or positive reinforcement.