What Is the Influence of Your Media?

by Jay Deragon on 08/06/2008

The Mass Media is a unique feature of modern society; its development has accompanied an increase in the magnitude and complexity of societal actions and engagements, rapid social change, technological innovation, rising personal income and standard of life and the decline of some traditional forms of control and authority.

However, traditional mass media has shifted from the few to the many.

There is an association between the development of mass media and social change, although the degree and direction of this association is still debated upon even after years of study into media influence. Many of the consequences, either detrimental or beneficial, which have been attributed to the mass media, are almost undoubtedly due to other tendencies within society.

The question of medias influence on society and its cultural framework has often been debated upon from leading theorists to anyone with any form of media connections can have an influence on an audience members attitude, beliefs or interpretations of society is a very simplistic and debatable version of the truth. The media does influence, but using more diverse and subtle roles of impact.

Influence, Society and Individuals

As Jane Root wrote in the book “Open The Box”, which delves into the possibilities of media influence, “It has a role in defining what we think of as a natural…it helps to map out who we think we are”. To look at the media effect and influence, there is an underlying need to define influence as we understand it in relation to society and it’s overall effect.

Media is a major piece within society that is often linked to the notion of social influence. Society understands the notion or concept of being influenced as an “external force” (the media) linking itself or connecting with a personal action or viewpoint of the recipient. (John Corner: 2000: 378)

The forces of influence that have been described as a major power in media effects are those that are circumstantial and directed, those which can be placed within a framework or model, for example “uses and gratifications”, those of a generic function but ultimately those which state perspectives, interpretations, and measurements which can lead to evidence and proof.

Uses & Gratifications Model

A systematic and widely used model in social sciences study of media influence over the effects on an audience concerning behaviour, attitudes and beliefs, is the theory of uses and gratifications.

Blumler and Katz (1974) concluded that audience’s fulfilment of needs came within the broad generalisation of four desires:

  1. Diversion – a form of escape or emotional release from everyday pressures.
  2. Personal Relationships – companionships via television personalities and characters and sociability through discussion about television with other people.
  3. Personal Identity – the ability to compare one’s life with characters and situations within programmes, and hence explore personal problems and perspectives.
  4. Surveillance – a supply of information about what is going on in the world.

The thought that the media is an overwhelming force that influences their audiences through the means of appealing to their desires and needs, must be examined in contrast with the notion that “every one is free”. Meaning that the mass media’s audience can resist being controlled, simply through choice. An individual always has the option of simply not watching that program or not reading that particular newspaper. An individual makes the choice, and the selection that is made will merely underpin the views and inclinations that they already have.

. Since we are all now becoming “the media” we are in fact shaping the views, opinions and influence of many. What influence and impressions do we have on our world of endless connections? Is it good or bad?

What say you?


lynn oliver February 26, 2013 at 10:43 am

I see mass media as having a very real effect only in how we how we view ourselves but also in how we begin to evaluate others around us. While it may be considered breaking integrity in judging persons only by their own actions. I feel society and its complications are such that many persons even myself are seeing events, characters, actions on screen and in print; etc and at attaching subconsciously those traits, whether they be perceived good or bad upon other persons they have real contact with.
For myself, I feel I have been slowly but increasingly more intensely having my values shaped of others based merely on similarities of character, usually those I consider poor or harmful traits. For myself, who has always been one to gauge others more honestly, this has been a change for me. I think I have realized that when I view things, persons, actions, I feel are harmful even in microabrasive ways, my mental energy is taxed. I have now resorted to completely avoiding many persons even some close to me because I feel those persons are comfortable with such abrasive character, perhaps themselves viewing in a more positive light such behaviors from the media.
I feel there could be a very real growing undercurrent of accumulating hurt, anger, wariness, from accumulations of such microabrasive persons displayed in the media, that over time, could create not just mental changes in attitude for protection as I have. I feel there are persons who are not able to cognitively deal with such micro insults, abrasive characters but are never the less increasingly affected in negative ways.
I feel the growing Male Crisis will begin to spill over into the media, which is already using both the allowed freedom of expression by women and the allowed abuse of Males for viewership. I feel when the college entry exceeds 65 percent Female to Male or say the wages for young Females exceeds the earnings for young Males, the media will begin somehow make use of such information to grow viewership. I feel in time such feelings will drive the media and its writers more so create even more power based, more abrasive shows. I feel media in this regard is possibly already damaging relationships as it has mine. However, I feel in time, its power will potentially destroy many relationships among husbands/wives; brothers/sisters; and all other types of relationships.

Michael Pokocky October 30, 2007 at 2:34 pm

[authors note: tried to post this to Tipping Point or Burnout but won’t let me]

my comment:

It’s neither a tipping point or a burnout. It’s simply a misunderstanding or a lack of knowledge or plain ignorance. The whole point is that most individuals have no idea about what is really going on behind the social networking phenomenon.

But here is an exerpt from Doc Searls and David Weinberger in their paper on World of Ends: What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else [ see http://worldofends.com/ to read more],

” There are mistakes and there are mistakes.
Some mistakes we learn from. For example: Thinking that selling toys for pets on the Web is a great way to get rich. We’re not going to do that again.

Other mistakes we insist on making over and over. For example, thinking that:
* …the Web, like television, is a way to hold eyeballs still while advertisers spray them with messages.
* …the Net is something that telcos and cable companies should filter, control and otherwise “improve.”
* … it’s a bad thing for users to communicate between different kinds of instant messaging systems on the Net.
* …the Net suffers from a lack of regulation to protect industries that feel threatened by it.

When it comes to the Net, a lot of us suffer from Repetitive Mistake Syndrome. This is especially true for magazine and newspaper publishing, broadcasting, cable television, the record industry, the movie industry, and the telephone industry, to name just six.

Thanks to the enormous influence of those industries in Washington, Repetitive Mistake Syndrome also afflicts lawmakers, regulators and even the courts. Last year Internet radio, a promising new industry that threatened to give listeners choices far exceeding anything on the increasingly variety-less (and technologically stone-age) AM and FM bands, was shot in its cradle. Guns, ammo and the occasional “Yee-Haw!” were provided by the recording industry and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which embodies all the fears felt by Hollywood’s alpha dinosaurs when they lobbied the Act through Congress in 1998.

“The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it,” John Gilmore famously said. And it’s true. In the long run, Internet radio will succeed. Instant messaging systems will interoperate. Dumb companies will get smart or die. Stupid laws will be killed or replaced. But then, as John Maynard Keynes also famously said, “In the long run, we’re all dead.”

All we need to do is pay attention to what the Internet really is. It’s not hard. The Net isn’t rocket science. It isn’t even 6th grade science fair, when you get right down to it. We can end the tragedy of Repetitive Mistake Syndrome in our lifetimes — and save a few trillion dollars’ worth of dumb decisions — if we can just remember one simple fact: the Net is a world of ends. You’re at one end, and everybody and everything else are at the other ends.

Sure, that’s a feel-good statement about everyone having value on the Net, etc. But it’s also the basic rock-solid fact about the Net’s technical architecture. And the Internet’s value is founded in its technical architecture.

Fortunately, the true nature of the Internet isn’t hard to understand. In fact, just a fistful of statements stands between Repetitive Mistake Syndrome and Enlightenment ”

The Essential Links
End-to-End Arguments in System Design (Clark, Reed, Saltzer) http://www.reed.com/Papers/EndtoEnd.html
Rise of the Stupid Network (Isenberg) http://www.isen.com/stupid.html
The Internet (Washington Internet Project) http://www.cybertelecom.org/internet.htm
10 Right Choices (Bradner) http://www.nwfusion.com/columnists/2003/0120bradner.html
The Cluetrain Manifesto (Levine, Locke, Searls, Weinberger) http://www.cluetrain.com/
End Game (Lessig) http://www.tnr.com/061900/lessig061900.html
Open Access to the FCC, (Lessig & Lemley) http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/works/lessig/cable/fcc/fcc.html
Electronic Frontier Foundation http://www.eff.org/
Center for the Public Domain http://www.centerforthepublicdomain.org/
Why Open Spectrum Matters (Weinberger) http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/framing_openspectrum.html
Open Spectrum FAQ http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/OpenSpectrumFAQ.html

About the Authors
Doc Searls http://www.searls.com/
David Weinberger http://www.evident.com/

The Nutshell
1. The Internet isn’t complicated
2. The Internet isn’t a thing. It’s an agreement.
3. The Internet is stupid.
4. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.
5. All the Internet’s value grows on its edges.
6. Money moves to the suburbs.
7. The end of the world? Nah, the world of ends.
8. The Internet’s three virtues:
a. No one owns it
b. Everyone can use it
c. Anyone can improve it
9. If the Internet is so simple, why have so many been so boneheaded about it?
10. Some mistakes we can stop making already

My comments,
In short I do not see an end to this growing conversation, but I do see some head way for the future where an ideal of some sorts can be achieved and when this happens I think Post Traumatic Networking Syndrome will be a thing of the past. But I have always been an optimist, then turned into a pessimist and then realized its all just a conversation and as such one shouldn’t judge and thereby attach themselves emotionally to their ideas and their ideals. Simply one is either an Experiencer or a Revivalist. I choose the Experience.

Kind Regards,

Michael Pokocky

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