Media Power Essay, Research Paper
“Does the media wield too much power in America?”
Today, with all of our advanced technology, the media influences our lives more than ever. Whether it is television, radio, newspapers, magazines or the Internet, the media has a huge impact on American lives. In the last fifty years alone the media has in some way or form shaped just about every aspect of American life. The media tells us everything, from what kind of laundry detergent we should use to who we should vote for for president. The greatest impact the media has is that on politics. The media shapes America s interest in politics, the type of candidates that will run for office, and even tells us what to think about candidates and issues.
The media affects American interest towards politics by only showing us what they want us to see. If there are many issues in a certain campaign, the media will focus on the ones they believe to be the most important, they may leave others out completely. We become interested in certain areas of politics because we hear about them very often, and we lose interest very fast because we are always being bombarded with new bigger things. There is usually always a much greater turn out to vote for president than there is to vote for senate or the House of Representatives. This happens because there is more media coverage of the presidential race than there is of a senate or house of representative race. We focus importance on the things the media shows us more of, instead of the things we do not hear much about, even if they are things of concern. A lot of people do not follow local elections mainly because they don t hear about it on the six o clock news, I m sure a lot of people don t know who their senator, or house rep is. On the other hand, if you try to find one person who does not know anything about the recent presidential election, you would be looking forever. Everyone knows about the Florida ballot disputes only because the media has placed so much emphasis on them.
There is so much media coverage in politics today that in order to be elected one must be appealing to the public. Years ago the only way people had to find out about candidates and the issues they stood for was by reading a newspaper or listening to the radio. Today, anyone can turn on the television or go to a web site on the Internet and see the candidates themselves talking about their issues. With 98-99% of all American homes having at least one television, a candidate must be physically appealing as well as having appealing plans and ideas. Now, more than ever Americans place excessive importance on appearance. This means that a candidate has to appear like they can handle the job, like they are well educated, that they know what they are doing and like people can trust them, as well as not being horrible to look at. When was the last time a horribly ugly president was elected, it was probably in the 1800 s with the election of Abe Lincoln, and look at what a great president he was. It sounds very superficial, but unfortunately is true of our society. Candidates need to appeal to the public as much as possible, they must have a people personality and be able to appear comfortable on camera. But a candidates appearance is not the only thing that plays a part in getting them elected.
A candidate must stand for the issues that people believe in. The media greatly loosens party ties, because they make major candidates appear very moderate, not either liberal or conservative like they used to be. Years ago many people would vote solely based on the party they affiliated themselves with, if they were a democrat they voted democratic along the entire ballot, vise versa for republicans. Today there is no absolute cut and dry line between the two major parties, they overlap, therefore loosening party ties. Although it is more important than ever to follow politics, especially elections, to make an informed vote, there is more uninformed voting than ever.
Political ads lead to a great deal of uninformed voting. The candidate with the most money will be able to run more ads and will most likely have a better chance of winning because they received more exposure to the public. This has nothing to do with if they are the better candidate for the job, it just sells their good points and gets their name known. Ads are made for entertainment, to make a candidate look good and to encourage people to vote for them. Many ads have nothing to do with the issues of a campaign, they just sell a valued character trait. Viewers will see it and think, “that is the kind of person I want running my country”, and they will go and vote with no other knowledge about the election at all. This may seem like a good thing for the candidates who counts on the uninformed voter to be elected, but in reality it is not a good thing. Most Americans don t want someone to be elected to represent them because they look like the kind of person that would do a good job, we want them to have to prove to us that they can do the job and that they can do it better than anyone else.
More than anything else the media shapes public opinion in America. News broadcasts will show the side of the story they want people to know and believe, they do the same things when it comes to politics. When you are watching the news the opinion you come away with is most likely the one the station or the program wanted you to have. They portray events and dialogues in particular ways so that you will think something was said one way when it may have been meant to be taken another way. To sum it up, most American s believe what they are told, and the media takes advantage of this, in a way brainwashing America to believe what they want us to. This happens a lot in politics, when speeches are given and a handful of networks all say that the speech meant something different, they want you to believe what you hear.
Now, more than ever, the media influences and impacts almost every aspect of American lives. They tell us what is important, who should run in an election, how a candidate should appear to the public and even what to think about an issue. With there being so many ways to get information today, we are influenced to believe what we are told and not to question it. In some ways the media influences politics in a good way, by making sure the candidate has some idea of what they are running for. The media also has a lot of bad influences on politics, ads which promote uninformed voting, brainwashing the publics beliefs and only informing the public about what they believe to be important. I do believe that the media does wield too much power in America, they should not be allowed to present biased news to the public and let them make up their own minds on what they want to believe.