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How does mass media affect public opinion?

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Quick Answer

Mass media affects public opinion by making it possible for large groups of widely dispersed people to develop collective attitudes regarding public affairs; mass media tells people what issues are important and motivates the public to action. Exposure to media activates people's convictions or causes them to form new ones. As a result, those who control the mass media have the capacity to sway public opinion.

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How does mass media affect public opinion?
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Full Answer

Mass media is intended to be informative. Public opinion depends on knowledge about what is going on in the country and the world. The media provides the public with this knowledge through a variety of means: radio, print journalism, television and the Internet. Thus, the media makes national politics possible. Without mass media, candidates would only be able to run at the local level, where they could communicate personally with the electorate. Media makes it possible for voters to familiarize themselves with candidates and platforms even when they are far away.

Mass media is a major determinant of national discourse. Media institutions select what news to report and what issues to cover. In this way, they affect what the public sees as important. Moreover, those in the media use angles and commentary to sway public opinion in favor of their stance on the issues.

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