Media Bias and Its Effect on Society

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In society, media has a unique place that helps in shaping the image people have gained about social and political issues. Currently, media coverage impacts the public by how it characterizes specific events and provides reliable information relating to numerous topics touching society, such as technology, environment, and risks. According to Herman and Chomsky, media provides potential information and opinion for readers, through the internet, television, radio, magazines, and newspapers (1). The public gains its knowledge base about issues such as science through mass media (Herman and Chomsky 1). While mass media delivers essential information to the public, people can shape it to deliver injustice and misrepresentation through biased coverage of pertinent issues.

Globally, mass media impacts civilization and a closer look at the reputable media sources reveal multiple blatant injustices spread through the internet, print media, and TV networks. According to Kennedy and Prat, news media outlets disseminate biased news to respond to higher demand for such news or to fulfil the political affiliations of their owners (1). According to Warf, corporate consolidation in the telecommunication and global media has resulted in fewer prominent media companies (90).

Consequently, the influence of media bias on economic and political processes largely depends on a media outlet’s popularity (Kennedy and Prat 1; Martin and Yurukoglu 2). For instance, Fox News has over the years gained substantial acceptance globally, and the news disseminated through this platform has a direct effect on its receivers. Biased news from Fox News has a significant potential to sway public opinion. As Meier indicates, the commodification of mass media has resulted in new mechanisms of exploitation rather than acting as avenues of liberalization (265). Thus, media bias has the potential to form opinions that criticize or praise specific events or issues.

News media networks shape the public’s interests in social and political arenas by making or breaking certain events or individuals. In many instances, news media networks present the people with the news they want to be delivered rather than unveiling the whole truth. For example, during a political rally, many issues happen, and the media only focuses on what they consider essential and overlook the rest of the problems. When the public manages to form a coherent, meaningful opinion from such information, adherents to these media outlets enjoy exclusive benefits over their opponents (DiMaggio 20). As Herman and Chomsky inform, the pressure on media giants from stakeholders, corporate communities, prominent individuals “white knights,” among others limit their autonomy (6). With such limitations, these giant media houses orchestrate their news feed based on the demands given. For instance, DiMaggio indicates that for politicians supported by these influential individuals, remaining on the media spotlight provides them with the advantage of public persuasion (20). As Newman and Fletcher inform, what people receive from media networks determine the impression they make (5). However, when the public gets deformed news regarding specific policies or political issues, the perception determines the actions they take. It is crucial for media outlets, such as TVs, radios, newspapers, and other media outlets, to deliver unbiased news. Nonetheless, many instances of biased news have been observed even from giant media houses (Kennedy and Prat 2). Therefore, the news disseminated by media houses should remain not only remain neutral, but also provide all the necessary unbiased details to leave the news consumers to make impartial decisions.

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The current wave of media consolidation shapes the extent of news coverage. With media houses falling in the hands of fewer corporations, business leaders dictate the kind of local and national news coverage priorities rather than journalists (Warf 96). The implication is that in light of the struggle for journalism to remain profitable within a society that embraces press freedom, corporate boardrooms make the financial decisions that affect the kind of news delivered by reporters on news networks. With such a landscape, many issues that the corporate world have no interest in remain uncovered while others deemed profitable and beneficial to the corporate world receive massive attention (Warf 99). The hegemonic theory indicates that media corporations advance the interest of the upper-class corporate world at the expense of democracy (DiMaggio 22). Therefore, by evaluating the existing interconnectedness between the media, powerful elites, dominant social institutions, and the market, media houses have a substantial effect on the political-economic elements that shape public opinion.

The advent of social media and online news has shaped the way people receive their news. However, a Pew research indicates that 57 percent of the American population still rely on television, 25 percent of Americans rely on radio, and another 20 percent rely on newspaper as the source of news (Martin and Yurukoglu 5). These numbers indicate that a considerable population still depend on mass media to access their news. Moreover, large media corporations own most of the online news outlets (Newman and Fletcher 7). Further, there has been an increased onslaught in how journalists receive instructions on what they should prioritize in their news coverage.

Since these journalists come from elite media companies, online news only has a small gap to cover, with a mild impact since they cannot manage to address the omitted issues adequately (Martin and Yurukoglu 6). Thus, with such gaps in news coverage, the people tend to become skeptic about the news they receive from media outlets.
Politically managed news carry substantial dangers to a country’s social, political, and economic landscape. According to DiMaggio, the news reported by media networks provides a material basis for critical analysis and judgment from media consumers (21). However, media reporting molded by special interests only avail the information channeled towards achieving a particular goal. Moreover, the strong ties between the media outlets and the government often render media houses as government subjects (Herman and Chomsky 9). For instance, radio and TV companies require licensing, among other legal processing from the government. With such fundamental soft spots, these companies become potential subjects of harassment and government control (Herman and Chomsky 9). Thus, compromised media networks have become the avenues through which biased news can reach the public.

Distrust of mass media has both political and social implications. While to some extent, skepticism can be healthy for democracy, media presenting the public with distrustful news has the potential to create a higher level of cynicism and disaffection for essential life issues. The consolidation of media houses has played a significant role in creating the continued distrust since it lays a foundation for centralized control of news reaching the consumers. While the media plays a fundamental role in disseminating underlying issues and shaping a country’s democracy, biased reporting has the potential to create a string distrust among recipients of the news from media houses.

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