The Role of Media Advocacy on Public Opinion Formation

Forbes magazine contributor Ryan Holiday stated that, we have to aware about
the manipulation power of media because it influences us in every single step of
life. (Holiday, 2012) This paper stands to show media advocacy role in terms of
formulating public opinion. It will discuss about the different types of advocate
characteristics of media in social and personal arrangement that manipulates
public perception and help public to formulate opinion.
In their annual review paper ‘The Relationships Between Mass Media, Public
Opinion, and Foreign Policy: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis ‘Baum and
Potter(2008) trust that in the light of perfect timing procedure of surrounding
news occupy media for contending necessities of public and political leaders.
They also remarked that the mass media is a unique actor though they
acknowledged index theories of Hallin (1986), Bennett (1990), and Zaller & Chiu
(2000) that clearly indicate the domination of political elite over media. Because
from their perspective, it’s framing process of elite rhetoric has an independent
causal effect on public perceptions of conflict characteristics. (Baum and Potter,
2008: 40).
They also contend that media impacts on each part of the connection between
general conclusion and foreign policy. In addition, any complete hypothetical
structure attempting to represent popular supposition in regard to foreign strategy
and the impacts of general assessment on outside arrangements need an
interdisciplinary approach that fuses general conclusion, elite preferences, and the
mass media as free vital performers with distinct preferences and motivating
forces (Baum and Potter, 2008:40).
In Quinn Thomas paper ‘SOCIAL MEDIA’S INFLUENCE On Public Discourse
in the Pacific Northwest #insight’ Amy Mitchell (2015) stated that, understanding
the subtleties of the online networking news condition is not simple. The
experience differs with one’s own decisions, through the companions in one’s
system and their proclivities, and through calculations – all of which can change
after some time. We are just started to comprehend these perplexing co operations
(Thomas & DHM Research, 2015:2).
In according to, academician Baran and Davis (2010) there are various ways to
consider media as a public opinion reformer. In this paper we consider following

 Media stages its agenda and uses as a propaganda wing.

 Internet era assures comparatively more effective participation of public.

 Media has influential role in socialization issues as agent.

In public opinion, Lipmann ((1922) pointed out the inevitable differences that
necessarily exist between “the world outside and the pictures in our heads.” He
supported Laswell’s statement and believed that general public can’t govern
themselves with rational decision on their own independent judgments (cited in
Baran and Davis, 2010:85). In their paper ‘How Media frames move political
opinion: An Analysis of the Women’s Movement’ Nayda Tarkildsen and Frauke
Schnell(1997) referred Krosnick and Branon (1993),Krosnick and
Kinder(1990),Iyengar and Kinder (1987) , MacKuen(1981) and McComb(1981)
research arena of agenda setting and priming as the recognition of Lipman’s(1922) term “pictures in our heads” .From the research findings in
according to Iyengar and Kinder (1987) , MacKuen(1981) and McComb(1981);
media has authority of setting agenda by calculating the importance of
issues(Nayda& Frauke, 1997:880)
In the context of Iraq war American Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated
that news media appears to need to convey the negative, Rumsfeld (2005) (as
cited in Baum and Potter, 2008:40) found two assumptions. Firstly, policy makers
believe that media needs to push under accusation for their failure of spreading
massage. Secondly, the media shapes public opinion on foreign policy. Pratkanis
and Aronson (1992) (as cited in Baran and Davis, 2010: 76) clarify the term
propaganda as a certain type of communication strategy. It includes the no
nonsense utilization of correspondence to spread particular convictions and
desires. A definitive point of proselytizers is to change the way individuals’
demonstration and to abandon them trusting that those activities are deliberate,
that the recently received practices—and the opinions basic them—are their own.
Baran and Davis argued that an assortment of communication systems is utilized
to manage and change those convictions. Amid the 1930s, the new media of radio
and motion pictures furnished disseminators with capable new instruments. They
mentioned that the propagandist believes that the end legitimizes the means. They
additionally contended that totalitarian disseminators consider media were an
extremely handy methods for mass control—a viable system for controlling
extensive population (Baran and Davis, 2010:77).
Moreover, the head of Nazi Germany’s film propaganda division, Fritz Hippler
advised that represent complex content as simple and continue that
simplification process continuously for effective propaganda and that considers as
golden rule as per Hipper. Moreover, J. Michael Sproule (1994) contends that
viable promulgation is secretive: it “persuades people without seeming to do so.”

features “the massive orchestration of communication”; and stresses “tricky
language designed to discourage reflective thoughts (Baran and Davis, 2010:76).
Baran and Davis (2010) also cited at the point when individuals come to share the
perspectives of the propagandists, they were said to be changed over: they
relinquished old perspectives and went up against those advanced by publicity.
After the formation of agreement, elites could then take the activities that it
allowed or managed. They could carry out the “will of the people,” social critic
Todd Gitlin (1991) marked it as “cognoscenti of their own bamboozlement” in the
words of journalism (Baran and Davis, 2010:77).
In their article Baum and Potter (2008) refer Sniderman (1991) and Popkin (1993)
to argued that an uninformative people can’t freely assess a president’s cases. In general they may beat this constraint by depending on informational easy routes.
Baum and Potter also refer Iyengar & Kinder (1987), Krosnick & Kinder (1990),
Larson (2000) to stated that the sentiments of trusted political elite reflects in
mass media.(Baum & Potter, 2008:44). During the time period of 1920s, radio and
movies provided powerful new media for propaganda messages. Hitler’s ascent to
control in Germany was joined by combination of his control over all types of
media—starting with radio and the film business and closure with daily papers. In
the Assembled States, the fight lines in the purposeful publicity war were rapidly
drawn. In the one side there were the elites ruling significant social foundations
and associations, including the major political gatherings, organizations, schools,
and colleges. On the opposite side was an expansive scope of social developments
and little fanatic political gatherings (Baran and Davis, 2010:80).

Quinn Thomas and DHM Research found majority portion of social media
users in Oregon and Puget Sound region believe social media has equivalent or
more prominent incentive than conventional levers of community engagement
(2015:5).In their surveying, half said online networking is as or more significant
to sanctioning change as voting, 65% said it’s as or more viable than customary
news-casting, and 57% states that it has to such an extent or more effect than
giving to a non-benefit. 58% said it is especially valid for online networking’s
capacity to direct support or resistance for open strategy (2015:5).
A 27 years old young from Washington, Kenny believes that social media is a
perfect area where anyone can plant a seed and uncover people to new
information. It’s a great area to be exposed to new information, but not
necessarily form new opinions. It plants a seed. Then anyone can go from there
(as cited in Thomas & DHM Research, 2015:11). Social media is considering as a
primary news source on education purpose for 50% respondent from high school
diploma or less and compared to 36% respondent from College degree or more
(Thomas and DHM Research, 2015). Thomas& DHM found little bit interesting
that depending on time variation of connectivity with social media influences on
perspective from the content experience and 59% respondents asserted that social
media activities have an important influential role on directing political leaders in
the Pacific Northwest to support or opposite public policy.58% people believe
social media impact a lot for their support on public policy (2015:20).38% young
people marked social media as an effective arena for journalism(2015:30) ,25
years old Josh can’t really recall a time before the Internet. As per his
assessment, individuals have to swim through the overflowed place of
information where we can make the argument that we need to raise our voice
louder to find legitimate ground of our opinion. Social media generation is a good
swimmer but they are not fixed in one direction (2015:31). Technological
accessibility assures African-American more chances to create consciousness against racial violence and discrimination. Now anyone can demand justice very
rapidly by evidence sharing in social media (2015:42).

Baran and Davis (2010) argued that new generation researchers mark media as
a wing for young to formulate provocative thoughts beyond social institution.
Media introduces itself as harmful object for children’s socialization by making
them indifferent to their practical life. Parents and churches were primary
socialization agent in America before 60’s but after that media is controlling
socialization process as a crucial factor as per Bronfenbrenner research (Baran
and Davis, 2010:190). In terms of social learning of public, media influences
audience in their behavioral pattern. People are learning by observation and in the
context of consuming media mediated thoughts are reflecting in imitation and
identification process (Baran and Davis, 2010:194)
Baran and Meyer (1974) concluded that imitation from media is very dramatic
and observable but identification model is more lasting and significant effects on
public opinion formation (as cited in Baran and Davis, 2010:193-94). Bandura
(1971, 1994) argued for three ways to identify the impact of media roles in socialization by introducing media content –

 Audience can receive new thoughts by observing media content only.
Crime content is available in media but we large portion of audience use it
for knowledge creation.

 A model content of punishment of media reduces audience likelihood and
reflects negative notions in opinion formation.

 Media content representation of rewards for any prohibited or threatening
behavior creates more chance of involvement or somewhat ‘positive’ sayings in favor of that. It reduces fear and increases aggression by limiting inhibitory effect.

Baran and Davis concluded that media content shapes our behavioral hierarchy
forcefully (Baran and Davis, 2010:196).

Baran and Davis (2010) contended that researchers find casual linkage between
violent content and active user’s aggression. Gentile (2004) videogame violence
compares with mentality of enmity (2010:203). In 2010, Craig Anderson and his
colleagues stated that it is a matter of concern about video game risk factors. It
influences emotionally and psychologically. It spread provocative thoughts of
anti-social involvement (as cited in Baran and Davis, 2010:203).
Baran and Davis refers many researchers as like Rideout, Foehr, Roberts (2010),
Joshua Meyrowitz (1985) to clarify that reliability on all forms media is
increasing in the recent time. Media is primary window to shape notion of outside
world for premature children. Media introduces children as a mini adult in front of
the society. There has no unique arena for children in media. For that, children
shape their understanding before traditional advocacy by family or society

Before drawing finishing remarks I would like to identify media is an
alternative power source that influences on all structure and construct realism
under its circumstances. It formulates and spreads its own version of opinion
through its content in public sphere. As a consumer of content, people try to
bargain with two versions of reality but it is hard to refuse all and out control of
As this paper tries to draw a line media has an unavoidable impression on public
opinion. I want to sum up this paper by stating that. We need to more cautious
about media’s influencing ability on the process of public opinion and perception
formulation. Our existing media theories are old enough but not nullifying. For
better understanding of media’s in and out domination, we need to investigate and
analysis more through academic discourse.



  • Stanley J. Baran and Dennis K.Davis (2010) Mass Communication Theory:
    Foundations, Ferment and Future (Sixth Edition). Wadsworth Publishing Co Inc.
  • Mathew A .Baum and Philip B. K Potter ‘The Relationships Between Mass
    Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis’.
    Annual Review of Political Science Vol.11 (2008)


  • Nayda Tarkildsen and Frauke Schnell. ‘How Media frames move political
    opinion: An Analysis of the Women’s Movement,’ Political Research Quarterly
    Vol.50:4 (1997)


  • Quinn Thomas and DHM Research. ‘SOCIAL MEDIA’S INFLUENCE On
    Public Discourse in the Pacific Northwest #insight’. A project of Quinn Thomas
    in partnership with DHM Research (October 2015).



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