With Particular Reference to Television News, Assess the Role That the Mass Media Have in Shaping "Reality"
"The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace." (Herman and Chomsky, 1994: 1). From surfing the worldwide web to picking up a newspaper in the morning, from watching the nighttime news to switching on our mobile phones mass media is all around us, in everything we do and we can't escape it. We are in a period of media saturation. Television is the best media example to use because, "watching television is the most common home based leisure activity for men and women in the UK [and other western countries as well]" (Macionis and Plummer, 2002: 712). This indicates that television is likely to have an impact on the way people shape their ideas and how they view reality. The mass media has been around since the printing press and since newspapers started becoming commonplace. Since the beginnings of mainstream media those at the top have tried to shape our views through its use. I'm going to try and show in this essay, using the 1991 Gulf War as a case study, that the ruling class i.e. big business, through overseeing the media, try and make us believe what they want us to believe about the world, outside our immediate social milieu. This management of the media, though, may not always be able to shape 'reality' to everyone's satisfaction (even though it leaves little scope for debate and follows already perceived social norms). For example as Kellner (1995) points out only 1% of the mainstream television coverage of the 1991 Gulf War offered dissenting voices towards the war, yet there was still a significant percentage of Americans concerned about / opposed to the war against Saddam.…
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