How the Media Influence Our Thoughts
There’s a very heated debate on if media influences our thinking patterns. I am going to take an example of the very controversial, yet hit movie of India titled “Kabir Singh”. The movie has received immense criticism regarding its glorification of abusive behavior towards women, however a lot of people, including the creators of the movie said that it’s just fiction, something that can be avoided. This movie also gained fans as the story was “romantic” and I had a conversation with a fan who said that the movie Kabir Singh actually encourages people to NOT be abusive. Yet, the movie ended with the abuser getting his way with the girl and living happily ever after. The movie clearly showed that abusive behavior can be ignored if someone “loves” you, and also holds potential for normalizing that belief.
Moving on, last year the death of Sushant Singh Rajput was one of the most talked about topic. A suicide case of a celebrity, which gained so much heat that so many other people got involved in it and a suicide case became a planned vicious murder from ex-girlfriend, it was obviously due to the over-exposure of the situation. When media sets an agenda, it does not influence what people think; rather, the media coverage influences what people think about. The media did not influence whether people thought that the Sushant’s death was just a suicide case or a murder, but the excessive media coverage of this issue resulted in people thinking that the Sushant’s case is an important one. Several hundred studies in the United States and in Europe have demonstrated that the media do set the public’s agenda. Furthermore, media coverage of an issue can result in the public becoming more concerned about the issue even when real-world indicators of the problem may suggest that the problem is declining or sometimes, does not exist. The idea that the media can shape what issues we think about or what issues we think are important is referred to as agenda setting. When discussing agenda setting, it is important to keep in mind that there are really three kinds of agenda that are important. The public agenda involves the issues that the public thinks are important. The policy agenda involves the issues that government officials and policy makers think are important. The media agenda involves the issues that the media are covering extensively. Research suggests that the policy agenda can influence the media agenda as well.
The reason why the media can influence the public’s agenda is that extensive media coverage of an issue makes that issue salient. Research suggests that people make judgments based on how easy it is to recall instances of something from memory. For example, if someone calls you as part of a survey and asks what is the major problem facing the country, you will answer with the issue that comes to mind first. Consequently, anything that makes an issue more salient to you increases the likelihood that you will recall it and report it as an important issue. When you read the newspaper and the front-page headlines report a drought in a distant country, they will make the issue more salient. If the media include graphic pictures of starving children, they will also increase the salience of the issue. Likewise, if all of the media are covering the issue, that will increase the likelihood that you will see multiple stories about the issue and will increase its salience. Also, if the media continue to cover the issue over weeks or even months, that will further increase the salience of the issue. So, there are a lot of different ways in which the media can increase the salience of an issue. All of these different elements of how the media cover the issue work to make you think that the issue is important.
Another important concern is Political priming, it is the idea that the issues that the media are covering influence the information that people use to judge the president and other politicians. The idea behind political priming is that the media do not influence what you think specifically; rather, they influence what information you use to make your judgment of the president. For example- if the media are focusing primarily on international affairs, then people will use their impressions of how well the government is doing in international affairs to judge how well the government is doing overall.
FRAMING OF STORIES
Framing refers to how the story is presented. For example- think of the BLM protests last year. I am an active social media user who kept myself up-to-date with all activities of protests and everything was peaceful, and whatever violence that started was by cops as if protests were happening, that means the government is doing something wrong that doesn’t interest or favor the public, hence putting the government in the bad light and them possibly losing elections next time. Therefore, the cops were made to or atleast they themselves were being violent just to stop the protests but the media, which had the agenda of favoring the government, showed protestors as being violent; which also resulted in clash among public.
Bottom-line being, we have the privilege to look into the relevance and truth behind every news or anything that media shows because we have social media. It’s the biggest platform a lot of people where concerns can be raised and actual happenings of events can be witnessed, so my advice is to just not accept whatever media shows you but to also fact check its relevancy through social media and seeing both sides of a situation and make beliefs or arguments yourself!