Critically assess the proposition that the media ‘frames’ social reality.
Roughly developing processes in modern society touch all aspects of life. In the end, it highlights the importance of the development of public consciousness of people, their communication, interaction and relationship at all levels of activities.
In our time, such thing as mass media renders huge psychological influence on consciousness of the person all over the world. Unfortunately, today’s media presented by reality which is substantially mediated by someone’s opinion. Moreover, it is simplified and doesn’t offer any reflection or the analysis. Entman (2007: 164) suggests that in certain way this information can be dangerous, as the person accepts processed information without personal reflection. In such case, media can inspire and change a lot of things. Therefore, for us it is much easier to plunge into the flow of information, than critically try to perceive it.
Today, media is a powerful factor of influence on a mental condition of people. For the last decade there was a set of researches on the matter of media in absolutely various spheres (press, television, advertising, radio, internet). After all, as Hodkinson (2011: 109) states, the distinctive features of any media in the world have always been such things as publicity and ambiguous inconsistent tool of media itself. This fact stimulates new growth of researches about possible ways and consequences of integration of media in social life of people.
Media “framing” of public consciousness
“Mass media became the main tool for distribution of the messages that influence public consciousness” (Hodkinson, 2011: 111).
The modern person can’t evade mass media influence. In other words, impact of media on public opinion often described as mind manipulation. This phenomenon, as Hodkinson (2011: 113) insists, is very widespread in Great Britain, United States and the developed countries of Asia. For greater success, such thing as mind control should always remain imperceptible. The success of manipulation is guaranteed, when the viewer believes that all events are natural and inevitable.
It is important, that people’s trust is neutral to all main social institutes. Audience should believe that the government, mass media and science are behind a framework of clashing social interests. So, at that point, institutes can settle different situations and protect interests of citizens. Entman (2007: 167) believes that the government takes the main place in the myth about neutrality. On the one hand, the myth assumes honesty and impartiality of the government and its components. On the other hand, such things as corruption, deception and fraud, which were showed from time to time, are accepted to move to human weaknesses. Institutes are higher than suspicions. Fundamental durability of all system is provided with careful thought about the work of its components. It is considered that media is also should be neutral for giving the publicity the realistic analysis of life. Any deviations are admitted, but mass media assures us that it is no more than the mistakes of certain people that can’t be considered as a whole reliable institute of distribution of information. One of the most important rules of mind manipulation is the success that depends on how fully you will isolate the addressee from extraneous influence. Ideal situation is the total absence of alternative sources of information and opinion. Mind control is incompatible with dialogue and public debate.
Hodkinson (2011: 117) mentioned that the main role of mind manipulation is not only about the control of public opinion, but also about its integration into society. It is important to send public consciousness to the necessary point and to give installation on certain reactions to different events. The integrated opinion should be perceived as personal and it should be real, not imposed, created by the natural way that has arisen from the person’s mind according to the analysis of received information. It looks like deception. But it is not always necessary to perceive mind manipulation as a negative factor. Today, provision of integrity to state and need of reforms are the parts of any country’s policy. It follows that it is necessary to prepare society for any changes. Therefore media in this case are irreplaceable assistant and powerful control tool. The main thing is to be able to dispose it wisely.
Mass media cover various actual public problems. As a result, they influence opinion and behavior of people both in society and in person. Media today is a powerful tool of impact on a social and psychological condition of people. Greatest degree of influence is the audience with the weak consciousness which has not have personal outlook. Nevertheless, the sides of influence can be both positive, and negative.
Long and Wall (2013: 359) agree that it is possible to allocate direct aspects of main functions of media: information transfer, the entertainment, informative and educational tool. But there is also some deeper influence that can be imperceptible for the first time. For example, with the help of the media, the public opinion was created – the condition of the mass consciousness comprising the hidden or obvious relation of various social problems. That is how reality events formed. It is important to note that right now there is accurately formulated public opinion about such global universal issues as prevention of ecological accident, nuclear and biological warfare and many more. As there is an accurate opinion in world consciousness about these problems, it is possible to say that media can observe some objective information which is not contradicting values of society, both allowing to create rather long-term and affirmed view. Internet is much extended now as well. Media system of searching and sending information around the globe, generated by technologies, undoubtedly, got an absolute degree of freedom. This phenomenon opens huge possibilities for creativity, training and modeling. In addition, the virtual technologies created on the basis of understanding social reality, will bring doubtless advantage both for individual person, and the state system as a whole. Certainly these are the positive sides of media influence on public opinion and human activity.
One of negative impacts of media is advertising, or, to be more precise, disinformation method. It is considered at the moment of making any serious decision. Sometimes media give news that considered as lie. As a matter of fact, disinformation goes from untrusted channels and stay in the mind of the person. Even though this method is useful because it is used at the moment of making any crucial decision, this method is clearly not fair, and when the person will understand the truth, the result of disinformation will be already achieved. Fortunately, disinformation method observed not so often in modern media. Unfortunately, the method of “framing” used much more obviously.
The frame method includes strict and careful selection of information, causing a variety of emotions. This method allows media to monitor and influence the audience, by manipulating different associations which built on typical person’s thoughts. Stereotypes operate effectively all processes of perception of information. ”Perceiving process is the manual regulation of the obscure fact under an unchangeable common law” (Entman, 2007: 170). Therefore media prune down all submitted information or put it in a framework or common idea. The person should perceive the message without any efforts, thinking that information from mass media source is the unique and only right possible way of perception of reality.
Media makes the person think stereotypically. It reduces intellectual level of messages, turning itself to ideal stupidity tool. It is possible only with the “frame” method of fixing unnecessary stereotypes in the mind of people.
Thus, by means of various methods, influence of media is extremely important. It is possible to make the idea, that skillful manipulation of public consciousness can cause not only direct changes in cultural development and behavior of society, but also in a certain role of each social class and person separately.
A variety of mass media (the press, the Internet, radio, television) should conduct to an individualization of social activity and consciousness of the person and to give him the chance of a choice: to watch or not watch TV, to read or not read the press, to listen or not listen to broadcasts. But, after long studying of a question of media framing, the sad conclusion has been drawn. In fact, it is only illusion, the person has no choice. The great number of people is watching the same channels on television, the programs which are confirmed by state regulations. They read the same articles in magazines and newspapers, listen to the same radio and information releases, looking for typical affairs, views, problems.
Current situation generates ambiguity of media. As Hesmondhalgh (2013: 39) reported, the development of mass communication services positively affects awareness of individuals about the world, but in the same time there is a factor which is actually manipulating consciousness of masses behind all this development process. Media is standing still among the first provocateurs of individual degradation, standard views and behavior of people and developing uniformity of their reactions.
Great British politician once said that the one, who owns information, owns the world. Today, it is possible to say with confidence that the one, who control media flow, is capable to influence the modern world.
Entman, R. (2007) “Framing Bias: Media in the Distribution of Power”, Journal of Communication, vol. 57, no. 1, March, pp. 163–173.
Hesmondhalgh, D. (2013) The Cultural Industries, London: Sage. pp. 37-633.
Hodkinson, P. (2011) Media, Culture & Society, London: Sage. pp. 105-26.
Long, P.and Wall, T. (2012) Media Studies, London: Sage. pp.344-69. Bibliography:
Curran, J. (1986) Bending Reality, London: Pluto.
Marris, P. and Thornham, S. (1999) Media Studies: A Reader, 2nd edition, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Hall, S. (1997) Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Rojek, C. (2013) Event Power, London: Sage. pp. 112-121.
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