John Robinson’s “Mass Communication and Information Diffusion” reminds me of Nasaw’s portrayal of William Randolph Hearst in “The Chief”. A particular quote that stuck out to me was on page 358, in which Robinson states that “the mass media tend to reinforce and accentuate existing conditions rather than promote egalitarianism or abrupt change, at least with regard to information diffusion”.
In relation to W.R Hearst, he was a newspaper publisher of the Examiner and other important papers. The way he capitalized on profits was by constructing news out of nothing, similar to Ryan Holiday. Hearst would stage spectacles and have his reporters write about it, such as flying an airplane and having it crash or creating a fake war. This is because his papers’ formula for success would include having the front page be filled with articles about crime against the public by the police. News was not a phenomenon that existed in the real world that waited to be discovered because an event becomes news when journalists and editors decide to record it. What determines whether an event is newsworthy was the ease in which it can be written and narrated so that readers will want to read about it. Determining what was newsworthy were news that were violent, involved corrupt government, and crime, which is exactly what we see in the news today, in both print and broadcast media. This makes the public believe that crime rates are high or increasing when in reality, they’re going down or stable. When it comes to the type of news, mass media reinforces existing conditions because it is easily narrated and written by reporters for the mass public to read, watch, or hear while they increase viewership and profits.
Furthermore, Robinson states that it is “one’s interpersonal social contacts”, rather than education, that are “more pervasive than mass media appeals” when it comes to learning anything (358). Hearst is a great example in that he went to Harvard University, but ended up being expelled. But through his experience in Harvard, he was elected as the business manager at the Harvard Lampoon, the school’s magazine, where he gained the experience in successfully running a newspaper in the business world and becoming an influential politician through the mass public's consumption of his papers and the information within it. Robinson states that it is due to “greater credibility and understandability” that social contacts are more pervasive than mass media because mass media are for profit companies and most of the times, the public do not believe they serve their interests whereas social contacts are on the same level as them and share similar general interests. Hearst’s Harvard colleagues and the way they communicate with each other exemplifies Robinson’s claims that “it is the best educated segment of society that keeps itself informed about what is happening in the world and that it is exposure to print media (the favored media mode of the better educated) which is associated with the greater likelihood of being informed…” (356). Although Hearst was never a college graduate, a study described in the book links college seniors no more informed about public affairs than college freshmen, which helps prove that education is not a strong factor in describing the consequences of media usage.