Archive for the ‘social media’ Tag

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Who is Influencing Whom?   Leave a comment

We live in an age that demands timeliness and instant access to information and the media play a crucial role in informing the public about politics, campaigns and elections. While the media fulfills this role, American culture is cynical about the media and politicians, perceiving a media bias. What is often overlooked is that government has a tremendous influence on the media at least equal to the influence the media exerts on government

Does the media report politics or does it shape political events?

The media helps influence what issues voters should care about in elections and what criteria they should use to evaluate candidates. There’s a belief that the media influences the voting behavior of people. It’s unlikely that someone who takes an active interest in politics is going to be redirected by the media. However, the media can sway people who are uncommitted to a clear position. Since these voters often decide election results, the power of the media can be substantial.

Because I read Barack Obama’s books and saw stances there that I could not support, it wouldn’t have mattered what the media reported in the run-up to the 2008 election. I was going to vote against him. But if you never read the books or you hadn’t met Sarah Palin personally or you thought John McCain was a little old, the media promoting Barack Obama at every turn probably had some influence in convincing you to vote for him.

Successful politicians learn that the media are the key to getting elected. FDR massaged American sentiments with his Fireside Chats. Ronald Reagan used his film skills to communicate very effectively with American voters. Government officials stage media events with the precision of wedding planners. Critics believe too much attention is focused on how politicians look and on the occasional soundbite than on how they have performed in office or the experience they bring to their first crack as a public servant. Media exerts a profound influence on the behavior of candidates and officials.

Most Americans learn about social issues from print or electronic media. Media focused on some issues and ignores others and that can help set what gets done in government. Media sources are often accused of emphasizing scandal and high-interest issues at the expense of duller, but more important political programs. The government’s priorities can be rearranged as a result.

On the other hand, a 2013 Pew report on the state of the media exposes one of the worst-kept secrets in politics: reporters are losing their power to frame presidential contests for the average citizen.

Technology has enables candidates/campaigns to more effectively end-run the mainstream media. President Obama’s campaign team has used everything from Twitter to images on Flickr to sell their preferred image of the nation’s chief executive.

This is exaserbated by their being fewer news reports than there were a decade or so ago. Magazines and newspapers are shrinking and these were the investigative reporters of the past. With fewer reporters and more to cover due to the 24-hour news cycle, there is a tendency to resort to paint-by-numbers reporting for those who are still in the business.

What does this mean for political coverage? Well, political media has less ability to play its traditional referee role at the same time that public distrust of the media is rampant among partisans of both parties. Without the negative influence of the media, some people say, the public can focus on the issues and where the two parties stand.

Or not….

Nearly three-quarters of all statements made about the two candidates’ characters in 2012 were negative, which was a significant rise over 2008, which was the most negative campaign I watched on television … and one reason I no longer use television for political news.

With the news organizations pushed out of the information pipeline, voters are alone in sorting through messages that are tested before focus groups and opposition attacks tailored with great specificity. Is that independence a good thing? Well, I like it, but it is a lot easier to campaign successfully if there’s no one checking a candidate’s facts and increasingly, there is no one checking the facts.

Campaigns have more power to frame both their positive narratives and their opponent’s negative one. If the Pew numbers are right, both sides are spending an inordinate amount of money on the negative side of the ledger.

This is where social media come in. I don’t buy that you can learn anything about a candidate or an issue in a Twitter or Instagram post, but social media does give folks an opportunity to talk about what’s important to them and how a candidate might or might not address those concerns. And, if the current debate on the Keystone Pipeline is any evidence, Facebook is filled with emotional rhetoric lacking the ability to fact-check.

More than that, the Internet has allowed a flood of non-tradition news sources — some with variable trustworthiness. Again it comes back to whether or not we the people should trust any media source on any subject.

Additionally, we should be aware that as much as the media influences government through influencing elections, our government influences us through its manipulation of the media.

Brief History of Mass Media   2 comments

All media has some influence on society, but the degree of influence depends on the availability and pervasiveness of a particular medium at a particular time.

Books were once supremely influential because they were really the only printed media. The few people who could read and write based what they believed and the decisions they made on those books. Since the literate were often the rulers of society, those who could not read and write sometimes viewed these people with awe, giving them enormous influence over society.

Reading and writing were never outlawed in post-Roman Europe, but all the books were typically written in Latin, limiting reading and writing to those who were educated as effectively as a ban. Many of the proto-Protestants – the Waldesians, the alpine anabaptists, Wycliff, etc. – ran crosswise of the Catholic Church not because of their beliefs so much as because of their insistence upon reading the Bible for themselves and translating it into vernacular language, which allowed them to decide for themselves what the Bible actually said. That’s a separate topic that I might pursue later.

The introduction of the printing press made popular dissemination of reading materials far easier and led to the rise of newspapers, which could rapidly spread news across the countryside and, in time became so prevalent that they could be in competition with one another in a particular region, allowing for differences of opinion and views on facts.

The development of sound recordings and film, then radio and television changed the face of media entirely. No longer did you have to sit down and decipher symbolic code on paper. You could access news, knowledge, opinion and the like while going about your daily activities. Just as books allowed for information by only a few channels at a time, and then were replaced by newspapers and magazines, network television’s oligopoly on broadcast media was slowly undermined by cable television until the many channels exposed us to untold numbers of images of advertising and marketing, suffering and relief, sexuality and violence, celebrity, and much more.

New and influential media-distribution channels have appeared in the 21st century via via the World Wide Web across the Internet, so that we are daily influenced by blogs, wikis, social networks, vitual worlds and myriad forms of content sharing.

We ought to be the most-informed generation in the history of humanity.

Sadly, we are not!

Introduction to Mass Media Influence   1 comment

My friend Joe Attanasio suggested that my next big theme should be how media influences the whole of society (morality, fashion, racism, politics, spending habits, economics, parenting, etc) and how we can learn to think for ourselves and disseminate truth from hpe and lies.”

Wow, what a great topic and one that I am actually qualified to discuss. Often when I go researching a topic, my only expertise comes from reading and researching, but I was a journalism major in college and I wrote my Masters on a similar subject. Not that I think you need a degree to express an opinion or even to become an expert on a subject, but I actually do have a degree in this stuff.

The influence of mass media on society has grown exponentially with the advance of technology over the last half millennia.

It’s really hard for us today to imagine a time when news was the town crier who got it from the traveling minstrel, who got it from a castle bard, who maybe overheard it being discussed by his lord and another over cups of mead. We are so saturated in media that we struggle to conceive of a time when there were few books, no newspapers, magazines, photography, recordings, films, radio, television, the Internet or social media.

Today, our whole lives and the lives of almost everyone in the developed and many of the developing nations depend information and communication to keep us moving through daily activities like work, education, health care, leisure activities, entertainment, traveling, personal relationships, and shopping.

A lot of people I know wake up, check the cellphone for messages and notifications, look at the TV or newspaper for news, commute to work listening to the radio where they read emails, take meetings and makes phone calls, eat meals recommended on websites, and make decisions based on the information that we gather from those mass media and interpersonal media sources.

What does it matter?

We are so saturated in media that we may not even be aware that the values we hold, the beliefs we espouse and the decision we make are based on assumptions and information largely gathered from media sources rather than on our own experiences and what we know for a fact.

Think about it. We rely on mass media for the current news and facts about what is important. We trust the media as an authority for news, information, education and entertainment. Considering that powerful influence, then, we should know how it really works.

My Expanding Social Circles   Leave a comment

I am not an extremely social person, so social media is really not my thing. Yes, I can write articles about subjects that interest me, but I generally am not that comfortable chatting about nothing.

Writers who want to be successful these days must be engaged in social media and I’ve been dutifully obeying my publisher in this.  I have a presence here, on Facebook and Twitter, Google and Tumblr. And now — two new places. Sigh!

I am only reprinting what already runs here, but it’s out there — increasing the reach … in time.

Rebel Mouse

Niume

Posted December 11, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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