Mass media and public opinion
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Mass Media and Public Opinion. Chapter 8. The Formation of Public Opinion. Public Opinion: it is a complex collection of the opinions of many different people. Usually refers to the attitudes held by a significant number of people on matters of government and politics.

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The formation of public opinion
The Formation of Public Opinion

  • Public Opinion: it is a complex collection of the opinions of many different people. Usually refers to the attitudes held by a significant number of people on matters of government and politics.

The formation of public opinion1
The Formation of Public Opinion

  • Public opinion is only concerned with public affairs; those events and issues that concern the people at large.

Public affairs 2008 2009
Public Affairs 2008- 2009

  • Economy

  • Iraq

  • Gas Prices

  • Health Care

  • Terrorism

  • Election order

The family
The Family

  • Help you to form your public opinions. Have a monopoly on children in their young formative years.

The schools
The Schools

  • A lot of formal and informal learning occurs at school.

    • Group association, friends, teachers.

Other factors
Other Factors

  • Mass Media: forms of communication that reach large, widely dispersed audiences simultaneously.

  • Peers: made up of people with whom one regularly associates.

Other factors1
Other Factors

  • Opinion Leaders: a person who has an unusually strong influence on the views of others.

  • Historic Events: Great Depression, Civil Rights movement, $700 Billion bailout, Watergate.

Measuring public opinion

Chapter 8 Section 2

Measuring Public Opinion

Measuring public opinion1
Measuring Public Opinion

  • How is it measured?

    • Polls

    • Elections

  • Candidates will frequently claim to have received a mandate; instructions or commands a constituency gives to its elected officials.

Interest groups
Interest Groups

  • Are private organizations whose members share certain views and work to shape the making and the content of public policy.

    • AKA special interest groups

    • How many people are represented, and how strong are their views?

The media
The Media

  • Not always good indicators of public opinion, often only of a reflection of the views of a minority.

    • Jimmy “The Greek”

Personal contacts
Personal Contacts

  • Often road tours, or trips back home to gauge the response of the constituency.

Polls the best measure
Polls- The Best Measure

  • Devices that attempt to collect information by asking people questions.

  • Straw Vote: polls that seek to read the public’s mind simply by asking the same question of a large number of people.

    • can be risky and inaccurate

Scientific polling
Scientific Polling

  • The Gallup Organization and the Louis Harris and Associates.

  • Essentially they are highly sophisticated polls


Limits on the impact of public opinion
Limits on the Impact of Public Opinion

  • Polls must be evaluated for their accuracy.

  • Polls are not elections!

The mass media

Chapter 8 Section 3

The Mass Media

The role of mass media
The Role of Mass Media

  • Medium: is a means of communication; it transmits some kind of information. Media is the plural of medium.

    • Television

    • Newspapers

    • Radio

    • Magazines

    • Internet  more important now


  • 98% of homes in the U.S. have at least one television.

  • Major news networks.

    • CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, C-Span, PBS

  • Local News

Newspapers radio and magazines
Newspapers, Radio, and Magazines

  • Declining forms of media, but still largely used.

  • Almost all will be biased, or supportive of certain candidates or ideologies.



  • Highly used in the most recent campaign

    • Even local elections used internet

    • Facebook, MySpace, blogs, and many more.

    • 24% got their news here in 2008, 9% in 2000

The media and politics
The Media and Politics

  • Public Agenda: the societal problems that political leaders and citizens agree need government attention.

  • Electoral Politics: candidates no longer as dependent on parties because of media. News relies on quick exciting stories and sound bites.

Limits on media influence
Limits on Media Influence

  • People do not follow political events very closely.

  • Estimates of around 10-15% of those voting are well informed.

  • Broadcast news is quick and hard hitting, newspapers more detailed, but less used.



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