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The impact of the media on public opinion, in countries across the globe, including the United States, is the subject of a growing body of academic and public discourse. The media has grown to become the main conduit for the public's understanding of world events. If the media can be said to provide wide-ranging and balanced coverage of news events there seems little or no problem of negative influence on public opinion. However, the belief in the neutrality of media coverage is not without its critics and the manipulation of news affects the attitudes and behaviours of those it is aimed at, namely the wider American public. The following argument will espouse the view that the media in the current period of time do have an influence on public attitudes and behaviour. Furthermore, the media are in turn influenced by external factors, which can result in the manipulation of public opinion for means preferable to the ruling establishment and business.

Before embarking on a definitive answer to this question one must firmly establish definitions that will be used throughout the essay. The first issue is whether or not we can identify and employ the term 'media' as if it were a single entity. This essay will adopt the position that media in this circumstance pertains to the news media of electronic and print journalism. There are of course vast differences between the coverage of news networks such as CNN and newspaper publication such as The New York Times. However, the argument for the all-encompassing use of the term is persuasive. Timothy Cook, for example, explains that 'the strong similarities of news processes and news content across modalities (television, newspapers, and newsmagazines), size of organization, national or local audiences, etc., point to the news media as a single institution' (Cook 1998, p. 84). Thus, for the purposes of this analysis the term 'media' will be taken to represent a monolithic structure encompassing broadcast, print and digital formats.

On a further point of clarity it is necessary to establish the meaning of 'political attitudes and behaviours'. Without resorting to a dictionary definition the distinction here appears to be with people's thoughts, private or public, and actions, such as the physical act of voting. The measuring of public opinion is complex and has been researched and discussed thoroughly elsewhere. This essay will utilise the existing literature to establish that the media does have an effect on public attitudes and will as such go on to analyse the nature of the influences.

The reliance upon the media for information is a key factor in understanding its influence. In his discussion of the issue Timothy Cook states that 'in the United States, the privately owned news media are relied upon to provide communication from the elite to the public, as well as within the public as a whole' (Cook 1998, p. 82). This reliance places the media in a powerful position of mediating not only between the American public but also between the citizens and the state. Despite the multiplicity of news outlets the content, as noted above also by Cook, is often largely similar.

The effect of dominant stories being emitted across the media spectrum is one of influencing the political and other attitudes and behaviour of the American public. In his article on the subject Donald Jordan reaches the conclusion 'that in both newspaper items and television broadcasts experts and commentators wield heavy influence' (Jordan 1993, p. 191). The crux of their influence comes in the empowering of the media, by the public, who tend to place a great deal of weight upon the importance of the news stories that reach the front page or television screen. In turn the political importance placed upon this by the public comes as the public seek to judge the stance of politicians on the issues in the media, regardless of whether the said politicians are linked to the news event (Cook 1998, p. 126). It is this perceived influence that in reverse drives politicians to respond even if the issue does not react strongly.

In addition to placing a degree of importance on news stories that reach them via the media, there is also reason to suggest that the American public believe what the media say about an issue. Indeed, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt argues that 'many Americans buy into the news's propaganda on a nightly basis' (Flynt 2004, p. 183). If one takes 'buy into' to mean agree with or accept as fact the influence of the media becomes apparent, '[t]he reporter is the recorder of government but he is also a participant' (Cater in Cook 1998, p. 1). The media, under these assumptions, cannot be viewed as the benign distributors of news, but also the selectors of news and the formers of opinion.

The main argument against the above description is that of 'active audience' analysis. This approach contends that audiences routinely interpret corporate messages in ways that suit their own needs, not that of media proprietors or advertisers. However, this argument itself is disputed by those suggesting this dismisses the cumulative effect of repetitive media messages (Herman and McChesney 1997, p. 194).

The traditional argument is that 'the media serves the public well as a force for their democratic 'right to know'' (Taylor 1997, p. 1). The American media, and indeed the media of other western democracies, is heralded as a fundamental component of the virtuosity of free speech. In the conflicts against Iraq the rhetoric in the media contrasted the free speech of the media in democratic countries against the state-run media of Hussein's Iraq. The irony here is the negated recognition of media censorship by western countries during times of conflict. More worryingly this censorship can often be identified as self-censorship as media organisations seek to remain with the official government and military information channels that dominate the flow of news from the battlefield. In this atmosphere the public's 'right to know' appears to be more akin to the public 'right to know what the authorities want it to know'.

Professionalism is also enlisted to support the assertion that the media is acting upon the best interests of the public. The argument purported suggests the individual journalists have professional pride in their work and a moral work ethic that counters efforts to influence their output. However, this does not appear to be the case and tainted news stories emerge that influence the public perception of events. The lack of diversity in news sources, as previously referred to in Cook's account, does not reflect the multiplicity of interpretations that professionalism and personal interpretation by individual reporters would suggest. Despite any well-meaning intentions the most used sources of information by journalists are official channels. Journalists also work within the remit of the editorial policies of their institutions and other dominating factors that shape the news agenda. With conformity of opinion and repetition of news stories, combined with a public willingness to place greater emphasis on the importance of events 'in the news', the power of the American media to influence the public attitudes and behaviour towards issues becomes apparent.

The editorial policies of the media appear to be free-chosen ideals, shaped by the political leanings of those in charge. In the case of newspapers, such overt political leanings are accepted if not expected. However, even with such freedom of choice one can argue that the conservative elements of the American establishment dominate the media agenda. Larry Flynt argues the media is dominated by these influences, which are able to insert their message into the media machine:

Where did these ideas come from, and why are they so popular? The answers lie in our newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, and in the people who run them. On the right, you have media piranhas who lie, distort, and “work the ref” until our heads spin. On the left, you have press poodles who either just do what they're told, or are too reasonable and polite to compete with ranting, conservative lunatics (Flynt 2004, p. 148).

With this in mind one can argue the more conservative elements in politics are managing to portray their version of events. If this is the case and the public place greater faith in those messages purported by the media, then the political attitudes and behaviour of the American public can be said to be influenced. The re-election of George Bush, for example, would appear to substantiate such assertions.

The increased commercialisation of the industry also plays a part in the influencing of public opinion. As has been noted the 'maturing of commercial broadcasting not only substitutes entertainment for public service; the U.S. experience suggests that maturation brings with it a decline in variety of viewpoints and increased protection of establishment interests' (Herman and McChesney 1997, p. 143). News has to be important and interesting, for the viewing public to remain engaged. This brings about the introduction of value-laden assumptions to the selection process as news is filtered by editorial staff to provide entertaining news to keep ratings, and hence advertising revenue, high. Once more the unfiltered, diverse media is actually revealed to be both ideologically and economically sieved to produce a product to engage the public. Any discrepancy from this formula can prove troublesome, as Bernhard asserts, because '[p]ointing to the social costs of capitalism is still mistaken for disloyalty, or for psychosis' (Bernhard 1999, p. 178). The same is true for any criticism of a war effort, with the attackers facing the wrath of media and public criticism if messages are deemed unpatriotic.

It is also argued that commercialisation leads to the isolation of the public from the political system. This view is put forward by Herman and McChesney:

[T]he commercialisation of broadcasting has further weakened democracy by delocalizing (nationalizing) politics, because, as Gerald Benjamin notes, 'appeals made in one place or to one group may be immediately communicated regionally or nationally. Thus the distributive politics of particular appeals to particular groups can no longer be made by candidates without their first calculating the possible effects on other groups in their electoral coalitions.' The individual is more isolated, political participation tends to be reduced, and the idea of collective social action is weakened (Herman and McChesney 1997, p. 147).

The political system is altered by the mass reach of media. The individual is weakened and their political attitudes and behaviours are thus altered. Political action at a local level by determined groups is less possible now and the 'bigger picture' much be considered.

While the political power of the individual is weakened so too in the breadth of knowledge they attain from the media. Commercialisation and the modern media system have led to the trivialisation of news. Events are edited and selected to appeal as entertainment. The illusion of an informed American public appears justified by the mention of events from afar but, asks Phil Taylor, to what extent this can be said to be the case is debateable:

In reality, does the practice of covering world events in twelve column inches or a three-minute news segment encourage prejudice rather than empathy, national pride rather than international harmony, and emotional rather than rational judgements? (Taylor 1997, pp. 1-2).

The answer would appear to be yes to each, as while the public are presented with the façade of a multifaceted media machine the content is still highly selective. The outlets may be numerous but the depth is lacking. As the media world moves evermore to the instantaneous and 24-hour news culture the demand to produce a vast quantity of visually-orientated images quickly supersedes any depth of understanding the American public could seek to ascertain. The appeal to emotion does little to stimulate educated discussion upon issues. Instead, if the carefully selected news agenda wishes it can appeal to the public to behave in a way favourable to the government's wishes. For example, during the 1999 Kosovo Conflict the media in the United States and Great Britain played great attention to the human interest stories of Albanian refugees to stir public sympathy for intervention on their behalf. However, the irony was that the chosen form of intervention, solely from the air, while resulting in no politically damaging allied casualties, did little to stem the flow of refugees.

Having referred to conflict one is also inclined to believe that the above interpretation of the media in the context of war may differ. When one takes into account the negative connotations assigned to the media's role during the Vietnam War the relationship would at first appear antagonistic and preclude any bowing on the part of the media to government will. However, the trend for assigning journalists to press pools in the 1990-1 Gulf War demonstrated an effective way of embedding journalists, not only physically, but also mentally with American forces. Cooperation between the media and the government manifested itself in ignoring and attempting to change public opinion, as Phillip Knightley explains:

[S]izable minorities in both the United States and Britain were against such a war and although the mainstream media largely ignored their protests, these had to be dampened down unless they gained strength. Hussein had to be demonised. He was painted as being ruthless, another Hitler, a fanatic, deranged, a psychopath, hated by his own people and despised in the Arab world. Further, from the moment his troops had arrived in Kuwait they had committed unspeakable atrocities (Knightley 2001, p. 486).

In addition to the restriction of information the media echoed government messages demonising Hussein and his actions. In this respect opposition to the conflict became tantamount to support for Saddam Hussein. Opposition was deemed unpatriotic. By ignoring public protest and presenting this interpretation of events the American public were being shamed into non-verbal opposition and the opinions of proponents of the war were bolstered by the apparent large-scale acceptance of their opinions, as witnessed through the media. Such a perception of events in conflict is at odds with the reality highlighted by Flynt in this and the subsequent conflict in Afghanistan:

[W]e had no media with the troops in Afghanistan. Hardly anyone realized that most western reporters were being kept far from the front lines. The war news was being censored. We were being spoon fed commentary and military press releases masquerading as hard news. That was not only an insult to the American people, it was a huge disservice to news coverage in general (Flynt 2004, pp. 162-163).

On a subject as emotive as conflict one would expect a mass media to be rife with opinions and conflicting views, representing the fears and worries of a diverse American public. The reverse was in fact true. The media demonstrated in the most tense of times that not only could and would it shape the perception of the conflict to the American people; it was also willing to gloss over public attitudes and expressions of dissent in a misled quest for patriotism in a manner that had historical precursors:

In joining forces to sell the Cold War to the American people, government and industry professionals clearly knew they violated precepts of a free and independent press, but they justified it to themselves as a necessary patriotic duty in a fearsome age (Bernhard 1999, p. 179).

Military conflict is one arena where the influence of the media is enhanced as the American public thirst for information. However, it also appears to be the occasion when the media is most likely to filter the information it provides.

As with military confrontations the influence of media affects not only US public but also beyond. As Edward Herman and Robert McChesney point out the American model for global media is the likely ideal for other world media, as is, arguably, the democratic system of government (Herman and McChesney 1997, p. 137). This also includes cultural infiltration of the American way of life with publics of other nations.
Herman and McChesney go so far as to state that:

We also think it very important to recognize that media effects are inseparable from broader economic, political, and cultural influences, such as external military occupation and rule, foreign indirect rule through sponsored authoritarian regimes… military and police aid and training, economic and financial linkages, and tourism and educational exchanges, all of which are at least as imbalanced as media exports and imports (Herman and McChesney 1997, p. 155).

In a mass media world, where the reach of information is global, perhaps one should consider not only the influence on the American public, but also the worldwide cultural influence.

The impact of the American media on public attitudes and behaviour is great. The media have an unparalleled hold over information dissemination to the wider public and the message, according to many commentators, is all too readily accepted. However the messages portrayed are not the result of individual reportage and endeavour on the part of journalists. The mass media is shaped by government and commercial interests that combine to reduce diverse outlets to the same messages. In times of heightened national interest in the news agenda, such as during conflict, the process is more restricted than normal. In essence the media present the contradiction of a mass, diverse organism that through the widespread regurgitation of similar messages, lends credence to those messages, influencing the public's judgement as to their infallibility.

Bibliography

Articles

Jordan, Donald, 'Newspaper Effects on Policy Preferences', Political Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 57, 1993, pp. 191-204.

Books

Bernhard, Nancy, U.S. Television News and Cold War Propaganda, 1947-1960, (Cambridge: 1999).

Cook, Timothy, Governing with the News. The News Media as a Political Institution, (London: 1998)

Flynt, Larry, Sex, Lies and Politics. The Naked truth about Bush, Democracy and the War on Terror, (London: 2004).

Herman, Edward and McChesney, Robert, The Global Media. The New Missionaries of Corporate Capitalism, (London: 1999).

Knightley, Phillip, The First Casualty. The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from the Crimea to Kosovo, (London: 2001).

Taylor, Philip, Global Communications, International Affairs and the Media since 1945, (London: 1997).

The impact of the media on public opinion, in countries across the globe, including the United States, is the subject of a growing body of academic and public discourse. The media has grown to become the main conduit for the public's understanding of world events. If the media can be said to provide wide-ranging and balanced coverage of news events there seems little or no problem of negative influence on public opinion. However, the belief in the neutrality of media coverage is not without its critics and the manipulation of news affects the attitudes and behaviours of those it is aimed at, namely the wider American public. The following argument will espouse the view that the media in the current period of time do have an influence on public attitudes and behaviour. Furthermore, the media are in turn influenced by external factors, which can result in the manipulation of public opinion for means preferable to the ruling establishment and business.

Before embarking on a definitive answer to this question one must firmly establish definitions that will be used throughout the essay. The first issue is whether or not we can identify and employ the term 'media' as if it were a single entity. This essay will adopt the position that media in this circumstance pertains to the news media of electronic and print journalism. There are of course vast differences between the coverage of news networks such as CNN and newspaper publication such as The New York Times. However, the argument for the all-encompassing use of the term is persuasive. Timothy Cook, for example, explains that 'the strong similarities of news processes and news content across modalities (television, newspapers, and newsmagazines), size of organization, national or local audiences, etc., point to the news media as a single institution' (Cook 1998, p. 84). Thus, for the purposes of this analysis the term 'media' will be taken to represent a monolithic structure encompassing broadcast, print and digital formats.

On a further point of clarity it is necessary to establish the meaning of 'political attitudes and behaviours'. Without resorting to a dictionary definition the distinction here appears to be with people's thoughts, private or public, and actions, such as the physical act of voting. The measuring of public opinion is complex and has been researched and discussed thoroughly elsewhere. This essay will utilise the existing literature to establish that the media does have an effect on public attitudes and will as such go on to analyse the nature of the influences.

The reliance upon the media for information is a key factor in understanding its influence. In his discussion of the issue Timothy Cook states that 'in the United States, the privately owned news media are relied upon to provide communication from the elite to the public, as well as within the public as a whole' (Cook 1998, p. 82). This reliance places the media in a powerful position of mediating not only between the American public but also between the citizens and the state. Despite the multiplicity of news outlets the content, as noted above also by Cook, is often largely similar.

The effect of dominant stories being emitted across the media spectrum is one of influencing the political and other attitudes and behaviour of the American public. In his article on the subject Donald Jordan reaches the conclusion 'that in both newspaper items and television broadcasts experts and commentators wield heavy influence' (Jordan 1993, p. 191). The crux of their influence comes in the empowering of the media, by the public, who tend to place a great deal of weight upon the importance of the news stories that reach the front page or television screen. In turn the political importance placed upon this by the public comes as the public seek to judge the stance of politicians on the issues in the media, regardless of whether the said politicians are linked to the news event (Cook 1998, p. 126). It is this perceived influence that in reverse drives politicians to respond even if the issue does not react strongly.

In addition to placing a degree of importance on news stories that reach them via the media, there is also reason to suggest that the American public believe what the media say about an issue. Indeed, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt argues that 'many Americans buy into the news's propaganda on a nightly basis' (Flynt 2004, p. 183). If one takes 'buy into' to mean agree with or accept as fact the influence of the media becomes apparent, '[t]he reporter is the recorder of government but he is also a participant' (Cater in Cook 1998, p. 1). The media, under these assumptions, cannot be viewed as the benign distributors of news, but also the selectors of news and the formers of opinion.

The main argument against the above description is that of 'active audience' analysis. This approach contends that audiences routinely interpret corporate messages in ways that suit their own needs, not that of media proprietors or advertisers. However, this argument itself is disputed by those suggesting this dismisses the cumulative effect of repetitive media messages (Herman and McChesney 1997, p. 194).

The traditional argument is that 'the media serves the public well as a force for their democratic 'right to know'' (Taylor 1997, p. 1). The American media, and indeed the media of other western democracies, is heralded as a fundamental component of the virtuosity of free speech. In the conflicts against Iraq the rhetoric in the media contrasted the free speech of the media in democratic countries against the state-run media of Hussein's Iraq. The irony here is the negated recognition of media censorship by western countries during times of conflict. More worryingly this censorship can often be identified as self-censorship as media organisations seek to remain with the official government and military information channels that dominate the flow of news from the battlefield. In this atmosphere the public's 'right to know' appears to be more akin to the public 'right to know what the authorities want it to know'.

Professionalism is also enlisted to support the assertion that the media is acting upon the best interests of the public. The argument purported suggests the individual journalists have professional pride in their work and a moral work ethic that counters efforts to influence their output. However, this does not appear to be the case and tainted news stories emerge that influence the public perception of events. The lack of diversity in news sources, as previously referred to in Cook's account, does not reflect the multiplicity of interpretations that professionalism and personal interpretation by individual reporters would suggest. Despite any well-meaning intentions the most used sources of information by journalists are official channels. Journalists also work within the remit of the editorial policies of their institutions and other dominating factors that shape the news agenda. With conformity of opinion and repetition of news stories, combined with a public willingness to place greater emphasis on the importance of events 'in the news', the power of the American media to influence the public attitudes and behaviour towards issues becomes apparent.

The editorial policies of the media appear to be free-chosen ideals, shaped by the political leanings of those in charge. In the case of newspapers, such overt political leanings are accepted if not expected. However, even with such freedom of choice one can argue that the conservative elements of the American establishment dominate the media agenda. Larry Flynt argues the media is dominated by these influences, which are able to insert their message into the media machine:

Where did these ideas come from, and why are they so popular? The answers lie in our newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, and in the people who run them. On the right, you have media piranhas who lie, distort, and “work the ref” until our heads spin. On the left, you have press poodles who either just do what they're told, or are too reasonable and polite to compete with ranting, conservative lunatics (Flynt 2004, p. 148).

With this in mind one can argue the more conservative elements in politics are managing to portray their version of events. If this is the case and the public place greater faith in those messages purported by the media, then the political attitudes and behaviour of the American public can be said to be influenced. The re-election of George Bush, for example, would appear to substantiate such assertions.

The increased commercialisation of the industry also plays a part in the influencing of public opinion. As has been noted the 'maturing of commercial broadcasting not only substitutes entertainment for public service; the U.S. experience suggests that maturation brings with it a decline in variety of viewpoints and increased protection of establishment interests' (Herman and McChesney 1997, p. 143). News has to be important and interesting, for the viewing public to remain engaged. This brings about the introduction of value-laden assumptions to the selection process as news is filtered by editorial staff to provide entertaining news to keep ratings, and hence advertising revenue, high. Once more the unfiltered, diverse media is actually revealed to be both ideologically and economically sieved to produce a product to engage the public. Any discrepancy from this formula can prove troublesome, as Bernhard asserts, because '[p]ointing to the social costs of capitalism is still mistaken for disloyalty, or for psychosis' (Bernhard 1999, p. 178). The same is true for any criticism of a war effort, with the attackers facing the wrath of media and public criticism if messages are deemed unpatriotic.

It is also argued that commercialisation leads to the isolation of the public from the political system. This view is put forward by Herman and McChesney:

[T]he commercialisation of broadcasting has further weakened democracy by delocalizing (nationalizing) politics, because, as Gerald Benjamin notes, 'appeals made in one place or to one group may be immediately communicated regionally or nationally. Thus the distributive politics of particular appeals to particular groups can no longer be made by candidates without their first calculating the possible effects on other groups in their electoral coalitions.' The individual is more isolated, political participation tends to be reduced, and the idea of collective social action is weakened (Herman and McChesney 1997, p. 147).

The political system is altered by the mass reach of media. The individual is weakened and their political attitudes and behaviours are thus altered. Political action at a local level by determined groups is less possible now and the 'bigger picture' much be considered.

While the political power of the individual is weakened so too in the breadth of knowledge they attain from the media. Commercialisation and the modern media system have led to the trivialisation of news. Events are edited and selected to appeal as entertainment. The illusion of an informed American public appears justified by the mention of events from afar but, asks Phil Taylor, to what extent this can be said to be the case is debateable:

In reality, does the practice of covering world events in twelve column inches or a three-minute news segment encourage prejudice rather than empathy, national pride rather than international harmony, and emotional rather than rational judgements? (Taylor 1997, pp. 1-2).

The answer would appear to be yes to each, as while the public are presented with the façade of a multifaceted media machine the content is still highly selective. The outlets may be numerous but the depth is lacking. As the media world moves evermore to the instantaneous and 24-hour news culture the demand to produce a vast quantity of visually-orientated images quickly supersedes any depth of understanding the American public could seek to ascertain. The appeal to emotion does little to stimulate educated discussion upon issues. Instead, if the carefully selected news agenda wishes it can appeal to the public to behave in a way favourable to the government's wishes. For example, during the 1999 Kosovo Conflict the media in the United States and Great Britain played great attention to the human interest stories of Albanian refugees to stir public sympathy for intervention on their behalf. However, the irony was that the chosen form of intervention, solely from the air, while resulting in no politically damaging allied casualties, did little to stem the flow of refugees.

Having referred to conflict one is also inclined to believe that the above interpretation of the media in the context of war may differ. When one takes into account the negative connotations assigned to the media's role during the Vietnam War the relationship would at first appear antagonistic and preclude any bowing on the part of the media to government will. However, the trend for assigning journalists to press pools in the 1990-1 Gulf War demonstrated an effective way of embedding journalists, not only physically, but also mentally with American forces. Cooperation between the media and the government manifested itself in ignoring and attempting to change public opinion, as Phillip Knightley explains:

[S]izable minorities in both the United States and Britain were against such a war and although the mainstream media largely ignored their protests, these had to be dampened down unless they gained strength. Hussein had to be demonised. He was painted as being ruthless, another Hitler, a fanatic, deranged, a psychopath, hated by his own people and despised in the Arab world. Further, from the moment his troops had arrived in Kuwait they had committed unspeakable atrocities (Knightley 2001, p. 486).

In addition to the restriction of information the media echoed government messages demonising Hussein and his actions. In this respect opposition to the conflict became tantamount to support for Saddam Hussein. Opposition was deemed unpatriotic. By ignoring public protest and presenting this interpretation of events the American public were being shamed into non-verbal opposition and the opinions of proponents of the war were bolstered by the apparent large-scale acceptance of their opinions, as witnessed through the media. Such a perception of events in conflict is at odds with the reality highlighted by Flynt in this and the subsequent conflict in Afghanistan:

[W]e had no media with the troops in Afghanistan. Hardly anyone realized that most western reporters were being kept far from the front lines. The war news was being censored. We were being spoon fed commentary and military press releases masquerading as hard news. That was not only an insult to the American people, it was a huge disservice to news coverage in general (Flynt 2004, pp. 162-163).

On a subject as emotive as conflict one would expect a mass media to be rife with opinions and conflicting views, representing the fears and worries of a diverse American public. The reverse was in fact true. The media demonstrated in the most tense of times that not only could and would it shape the perception of the conflict to the American people; it was also willing to gloss over public attitudes and expressions of dissent in a misled quest for patriotism in a manner that had historical precursors:

In joining forces to sell the Cold War to the American people, government and industry professionals clearly knew they violated precepts of a free and independent press, but they justified it to themselves as a necessary patriotic duty in a fearsome age (Bernhard 1999, p. 179).

Military conflict is one arena where the influence of the media is enhanced as the American public thirst for information. However, it also appears to be the occasion when the media is most likely to filter the information it provides.

As with military confrontations the influence of media affects not only US public but also beyond. As Edward Herman and Robert McChesney point out the American model for global media is the likely ideal for other world media, as is, arguably, the democratic system of government (Herman and McChesney 1997, p. 137). This also includes cultural infiltration of the American way of life with publics of other nations.
Herman and McChesney go so far as to state that:

We also think it very important to recognize that media effects are inseparable from broader economic, political, and cultural influences, such as external military occupation and rule, foreign indirect rule through sponsored authoritarian regimes… military and police aid and training, economic and financial linkages, and tourism and educational exchanges, all of which are at least as imbalanced as media exports and imports (Herman and McChesney 1997, p. 155).

In a mass media world, where the reach of information is global, perhaps one should consider not only the influence on the American public, but also the worldwide cultural influence.

The impact of the American media on public attitudes and behaviour is great. The media have an unparalleled hold over information dissemination to the wider public and the message, according to many commentators, is all too readily accepted. However the messages portrayed are not the result of individual reportage and endeavour on the part of journalists. The mass media is shaped by government and commercial interests that combine to reduce diverse outlets to the same messages. In times of heightened national interest in the news agenda, such as during conflict, the process is more restricted than normal. In essence the media present the contradiction of a mass, diverse organism that through the widespread regurgitation of similar messages, lends credence to those messages, influencing the public's judgement as to their infallibility.

Bibliography

Articles

Jordan, Donald, 'Newspaper Effects on Policy Preferences', Political Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 57, 1993, pp. 191-204.

Books

Bernhard, Nancy, U.S. Television News and Cold War Propaganda, 1947-1960, (Cambridge: 1999).

Cook, Timothy, Governing with the News. The News Media as a Political Institution, (London: 1998)

Flynt, Larry, Sex, Lies and Politics. The Naked truth about Bush, Democracy and the War on Terror, (London: 2004).

Herman, Edward and McChesney, Robert, The Global Media. The New Missionaries of Corporate Capitalism, (London: 1999).

Knightley, Phillip, The First Casualty. The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from the Crimea to Kosovo, (London: 2001).

Taylor, Philip, Global Communications, International Affairs and the Media since 1945, (London: 1997).

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