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The Pros And Cons Of Media Influence Of Public Opinion During War

4561 words - 18 pages

Media Influence of Public Opinion during War: A Good or Bad Capability?

Introduction

“More people get their news from ABC News than from any other source,” ABC News proudly boasts. But what exactly do they get? As America delves deeper into the 21st century with an array of social and technological advancements, one facet that continues to impress, revolutionize, and greatly impact American society as we know it comes from the evolution of communication, most notably the digital media. The manner and speed in which news reaches its audiences is even more remarkable than the saturation of the media on the American public. War and the Media, authored by Miles Hudson and John Stanier enlighten the reader with an example of the antiquated system of communication during wartime, revealing that often times news would take days if not weeks. They explain, “The news of the victory at Waterloo in 1815 was brought by a young officer, still wearing his battle-stained uniform, who burst into the house in Grosvenor Square where the Prince Regent was being entertained to dinner” (Hudson, xii). In contrast to the battle weary messenger of 1815, the sensational changes over the decades now reveal the war as it unfolds (or perhaps with a minor second or two delay). The most recent example of this immediate on-site reporting is no more evident then America’s war on Iraq. In this 2003 “see it as it happens” experience, buildings are being bombed, innocent civilians are running for their lives, and soldiers are engaged in gun battles. Understandably, Americans tune in to be shocked, entertained, and informed of the on going crisis. But sadly, citizens have increasingly become subjects of the media’s influence resulting in a potentially dangerous control of public opinion, especially in times of war. Information has yet to factually support or deny the now common stance that media reports over the year have provoked or prevented wars, or have prolonged or curtailed them. But one statement not often contended, recognizes the media’s ability to not only alter public opinion but shape it. The people of this nation too often accept the information provided by the media to be factual and true rather than as it really is – an entertaining 15 second clip of an issue or event through a reporter’s or news channel’s bias perspective, created to best capture and maintain the attention of its audience. This paper will attempt to explain the impact that the media has attained over the years in significantly affecting public opinion, especially in times of terrorism and war. Secondly, whether the media’s positive role as a source of public information outweigh the negative aspects, including control of public opinion and consequent governmental influence. And finally, at what point should action be taken to censor or limit the ability of the media industry to cover an issue of great national importance. The United States communication system is one of the...

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