One can view how society gets its information in three main ways. The first way is that individuals or society are gullible and will almost listen to, read or watch anything. The second is that most individuals need an intermediary who is informed to show and tell them what is right, meaningful and important, the third is that individuals are smart and knowledgeable, and given the means, they understand and find out things for themselves and find their own truth version (Rayuso, 2011). This paper will mainly focus in the second way to view how people are informed, the fact that individuals need an intermediary that is informed to show and tell them what is meaningful and right. This informed intermediary, in this case, is the media, which holds all the information the public needs. The paper, therefore, will examine ways in which the media, playing the part of an informed intermediary, affects and influences the American culture by looking at the responsibility it has to the people and the influences it has on politics and journalism.
In the past fifty or more years the effects and influence of the media on the society have grown exceedingly chiefly with the progress in science and technology. First, there were telegraphs and then radios, magazines, newspapers, TV and currently the internet. Today’s society depends on communication and information to move towards the right direction and do everyday tasks like entertainment, work, education, health care, traveling, personal relationships and any other activity. The average American person wakes up each day and checks information and news on the TV and newspapers before going to work where he or she makes several phone calls in a day and makes contact with their family when it is possible and basically, leaves his or her life based on the information and knowledge derived from the media (Rayuso, 2011).
The mass media have essential tasks and roles in modern society as the main communication channel. The populations depend on the media as the central source of information and the foundation on which they base their opinions and election and voting decisions. As the cultural selection theory argues, any choice of messages and information in the mass media will, therefore, have a momentous consequence on the rest of the society. There is an increasingly interesting situation in the current society: on one side, the media have a significant influence on individuals and their decisions, conscience, and activities, but on the other side, the media are the institution least trusted to have any social weight (Rayuso, 2011). There are several reasons as to why the condition is like this. For instance, the media are seen to have a significant influence on individuals because of its ability to influence the actions of individuals and even children. There have been several of surveys that have pointed out the paramount influence media have had on the American culture. These influences range widely and they include the influence on lifestyle, clothing, style, manner of speaking, and violence when it comes to the younger generation (Baker, 2004).
Alternatively, the media are viewed as the most untrustworthy institution because of their ability and tendency to exaggerate, violate privacy and feed the society with unsuitable and at times inappropriate information. For instance, the media are blamed and untrusted when it comes to vulgar and sexual material usually aired on the television and witnessed in movies and films. Because of these two sides or faces of the media, that are not positive, the mass media today has to assume a number of responsibilities because it is much recognized and followed by a large percentage of the population (Baker, 2004).
The mass media, for instance, has to be careful on the kind of information they avail through TV programs, movie, films and information on magazines, internet, and the newspaper as it influences the society largely. It is also the responsibility of the media to feed society with all the relevant information that they need to live their lives comfortably. Hiding significant information or releasing only a part of it is not responsible. Another responsibility the media have is to inform individuals about elections, political leaders and parties, and their visions. This way, the media have a huge influence on the decisions the society has during elections. The media does this by dispensing specific information to either favor a candidate or tarnish their reputation. Either way, the media play significant roles in American politics today (Baker, 2004).
The media do not only have impacts on politics and society alone but they also significantly affect journalism and techniques and methods informed. With the emergence of advanced technology, journalism has taken a new course that does not just require the TV, radio or newspaper to spread information. Today’s America receives information from a wide range of channels most of which are online. As it follows, journalism has had to advance its methods of communication to remain at par with the rest of the world (Rose, 2010).
The above are only a handful of instances of how the current mass media affects and influences the American culture.
Baker, M. (2004). The media and social responsibility. Mallenbaker.net. retrieved from http://www.mallenbaker.net/csr/page.php?Story_ID=1210
Rayuso. (2011). Mass media influence on society. HubPages. Retrieved from http://rayuso.hubpages.com/hub/Mass-Media-Influence-on-Society
Rose, C. (2010). The Security Implications of Ubiquitous Social Media. EABR & TLC Conference Proceedings. Dublin: Ireland.
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