In contemporary society, people are strongly influenced by mass media. Although traditional television watching and newspaper reading are no longer as popular as before, people spend more time in front of computers listening to music and radios, reading news and information, interacting with other people in social network and watching television programmes and films. The developing technology of mobile phone allows people to do almost everything they can do with the computer. Nowaday, people are living in a world ‘saturated by media sounds and images.’ (McQuail, 2008, p.456) In this essay, a general introduction of social change and media influence will be discussed in the first section. The second section will introduce Golding’s four concepts of news media and their effects. The media effect in political area, such as propaganda will be examined in the third section. Next, the methodological research of media violence and its problems will be analyzed. The final section will criticize the problem of early theoretical research of media effects.
The process of industralization accelerated the development of mass media. Mass media continue to develop. At the same time, society modified itself as well. In the late 19th century to the early 20th century, society was changing from a traditional social system ‘in which people were closely tied together’ into a complex system ‘in which individuals were socially isolated.’ (DeFleur & Ball-Rokeach, 1989, p.159) Therefore, individuals are vulnerable to the influence of mass media.
In the first decade of 20th century, ‘public was alarmed about new forms of communication such as daily newspapers, moving pictures and radio broadcasts.’ (DeFleur & Ball-Rokeach, 1989, p.147) Nowadays, the dispute of media effect has never stopped. Many people believe that the media have influence upon people’s social life. Obviously, media have some influence on our decision making, especially on our idea of consumption. John Corner (2000, p.379) named it as ‘circumstantial influence’. ‘A holiday programme may convince audiences to visit Greece in summer; a feature on cancer prevention may finally persuade some people towards a healthier diet.’ Good or bad economic news clearly affect business, consumer confidence and have strong influence on financial market. In special times such as war time, disaster or economic crisis, media are more influential. For example, during the period of the Sichuan earthquake in China, almost all Chinese media content focused on the progress of rescue. The media influence was very important for victims to obtain maximal concern from all over the world. Many people devoted themselves into voluntary work to help the victims. Similar situation also happened in Haiti after the earthquake in last month. Global media are focusing on the poor Caribbean country and gathering people from different countries to lend a hand for those earthquake survivors.
News media is one of the most powerful...