Media and communication have changed and gone through multiple revolutions throughout history and the revolutions have more similarities than most people realize. A common theme in all the disruptions has been the forming of large communities, the toppling of old authorities, and the creation of new authorities (Kovach/Rosenstiel, 2011 pg. 13). An example of one of these disruptions is the creation of the printing press. When this occurred, public opinion became more venerated (Kovach/Rosenstiel 2011, p. 16). The Revolutionary War in the United Sates has a background of printing presses giving the revolutionaries a voice and allowing them to share thoughts and form groups. This led the fall of the British empire and rise of the United States. At that time, the printing presses printing articles against the crown must have seemed radical. Later in United States history, television came along and created a larger and more democratic community (Kovach/Rosenstiel 2011, p. 19). Television has the ability to reach large numbers of people at the exact same time and for them to receive similar messages. Politics in the United States has been influenced and changed to do the rise of television. Politicians had to learn how to look and act appropriately on television to be electable. This brought about changes in power. Fast forward to today’s internet age and all of these same forces are factoring in the media changes. The new authority has allowed citizens to be even more involved with media and to be the creators of media (Kovach/Rosnstiel 2011, p. 25). Even though a new authority is arising and this new era seems radically different, it is important to take note that people have felt this way each time new media and technology arises. The important point is for an individual to learn to master and leverage the new media to be successful.
Media has always influenced people’s perspective on world events and shaped people’s beliefs. People rely on mass media for current news and facts about what are important (Curits, 2012). Before the internet, people’s only source of news was television or print. This form of media was one directional and had very little room for people to voice thoughts, ideas or concepts that differed from what was on TV or printed. An argument can be made that with the internet, media may have less of an influence on people’s perspectives or beliefs than in the past. The internet is an unrestricted medium that you can get explanations at any level (Gladstone 2012). One can research on the internet enough to find multiple answers to questions.
In today’s world of online news and social media, people are exposed to a wider variety of opinions, not just those created by the television or print news. They can also access news from across the globe and view stories that may have been extremely difficult to find in the past. People are shaped by what is in the media, but with exposure to a wider assortment of ideas, stories and values, they can have an increased likelihood to form their own opinions versus ones portrayed in mainstream media. The wider access to content on the internet is a positive thing. People can leverage this power to change social issues and make a difference in the world.
Upon doing some self-reflection about social media and how I leverage it, I realize that I am heavily influenced by what I read on the internet but that I may filter out views that differ from my current opinions. Daily I look at Facebook, Twitter, watch TV news, read on-line news and receive messages via email. Two daily news related emails I receive are Skimm and Global Voices. Skimm is a brief summary of the “hot” news topics of the idea and Global Voices is a summary of interesting news articles from across the globe. I enjoy both of these daily emails, but I suspect they are such small chunks of news, that they are not able to tell complete stories. Media also affects me indirectly via friends and co-workers. Frequently friend’s or coworkers will text or email me stories or items that they saw on social media that they think I would enjoy or find interesting. One thing I have done a lot lately is hide or unfriend people who have opinions that I find offensive. In this sense, I am filtering my social media news feed to only receive opinions that align with my current ones. When I read news online or watch news, there is one station I will not watch or read because I think their opinions are so biased. I believe this new station is biased in a direction I do not agree with. So, even though it is true we have access to more information and different views on social media, we may opt to not listen to those other voices.
Curtis, A. (2012) Mass Media Influence on Society. Retrieved on December 18, 2015 from https://web.archive.org/web/20131207222642/http://www.uncp.edu/home/acurtis/Courses/ResourcesForCourses/PDFs/Mass_Media_Influence_on_Society.pdf
Gladstone, B. (2012) The Changing Nature of Knowledge in the Internet Age. Retrieved on December 18, 2015 from http://www.onthemedia.org/story/187775-changing-nature-knowledge-internet-age/transcript/
Kovach, B. and Rosenstiel, T. (2011) Blur . (2nd ed., pg. 1-25). Bloomsbury