The media is a powerful tool to disseminate information, especially today, when even local news has a global reach via the internet. It is ubiquitous, and can have a huge impact on the way the public who views it thinks, acts and votes. Knowing this, those who control the media can use it to influence the public as to who they vote for, what they think are the important factors in an election, or even whether or not they support a war.
In an article discussing the impact of media on the western perception of Islam, Alghamdi acknowledges the power of the media. “The relation between the media, on one hand, and culture, social life, and politics on the other, is an interesting one in which media fulfills dual functions, reflecting and also shaping issues occurring within these three domains.” (Alghamdi, 198). The reflection that Alghamdi posits, though, is often not quite a reflection of the public’s views, but instead is one shaped by the media presenting the story. When discussing the impact of media on a Malaysian election, Arabi writes that his study “found the Chinese media agenda to have a significant … influence among the Chinese readers on what to think about.” In his article, he writes that what the public thought were important issues were not necessarily those promoted by the media, but it was the media-promoted issues that were the important ones in the election. Eva Backoy also highlights the importance of media exposure in an election when she tells the story of a woman who won an election because of digital storytelling, and posits that it was the exposure granted her by this that won her the vote. “During the 2009 electoral campaign she moved from being an unknown politician to becoming a political household name … [the most important reason] probably being that they gave her prime time television coverage.”
One more dangerous way in which media can influence public opinion is shown by Mozohu-Suleiman when he shows how local media is being used to fuel the war in the middle east. He writes: “local media have often been found to be effective in pushing people to engage in conflict and mobilizing public support for war.” (285) Again, media is being shown in this example to fuel a war that might not be as devastating were the media not being used for propaganda.
The influence of media on the general public is profound. This influence is only growing as technology changes media. In his article discussing the impact of search engines on public opinion and perception, Sejev reiterates this. “Media and communications have always been employed by dominant actors and played a crucial role in framing our knowledge and constructing certain orders.” Search engines are simply the newest form of media being used to change the way the public perceives and thinks about the world around it.
- Arabi Idid, Syed, Chang Peng Kee. “The Media and Public Agenda among the Malay and Chinese Communities during the 2008 Malaysian General Elections” Asian Social Science. 2012. Vol 8, no 5. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ass.v8n5p107. Accessed 2 March 2016.
- Alghamdi, Emad A.. “The Representation of Islam in Western Media: The Coverage of Norway Terrorist Attacks.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature [Online], 4.3 (2015): 198-204. Web. 2 Mar. 2016
- Bakoy, Eva and Oyvind Kalnes. “The Hadia Story: Digital Storytelling in Election Campaigns” Seminar. Vol 6, Issue 2. 2010. http://seminar.net/index.php/volume-6-issue-2-2010/147-the-hadia-story-digital-storytelling-in-election-campaigns. Accessed March 2, 2016.
- Ozohu-Suleiman “Local Media in Global Conflict: Southeast Asian Newspapers and the Politics of Peace in Israel/Palestine” International Journal of Conflict and Violence. Vol 8, No. 2. 2014. 284-295. http://ijcv.org/index.php/ijcv/article/view/287/pdf_123. Accessed March 2, 2016.
- Sejev, Elad. “Search Engines and Power: A Politics of Online (Mis-) Information” Webology. Vol 5, No. 2. June, 2008. http://www.webology.org/2008/v5n2/a54.html. Accessed March 2, 2016.