Length: 667 words

” The media helps to advance public interest by publishing facts and opinions without which a democratic electorate cannot make responsible judgements. ” Explain this perspective and assess its effects on the audience. The question seems to be taken from a functionalist approach to the media and sees the media as non-problematic. It suggests a Pluralist perspective that we get the media we deserve. It shows the media as a helpful tool in which a person can vote without being influenced by bias or manipulation but can vote knowing both sides of the story and can make a responsible judgement.

It does not take into account who owns the media or who controls it. It also does not broach upon the idea that media messages are inflicted upon us rather than the audience being active. Who owns the media? Marxists would suggest that the media is a capitalist organisation owned by the ruling classes. The alienation of the working classes is due to the filtering of bourgeoisie values and morals through the media that help exploit the workers. The ruling classes that own the media have their own hegemony that allows them to maintain the status quo.

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means of control that allows them to maintain their power economically, politically and ideologically. Marxists would point out that during time of crisis e. g. wartime it is known that the government take full control of all media information, Marxists would use this information to emphasise the relationship between the ruling class and the political elite. A group of neo Marxists from the Frankfurt school suggests the ruling classes use mass media to pacify and manipulate creating a myth of freedom in the media.

This view is known as a hypodermic syringe model. Referring back to the original quote the media is not to the advantage of the public interest so that the public can make responsible judgements but that the media is used to ‘brainwash’ the public with the same hegemonic view of either the owners of the media or the control. This Marxist theory suggesting that the media alienate the audience giving them no control and no freedom strongly contradicts that of a pluralist.

This group of sociologists the audience is given a vast range of choice and therefore have the freedom to watch what they want, hence the audience gets the media it deserves. Pluralists believe that the audience is active and not passive as suggested by the Marxists and have the intelligence to see through small biases. Bias is impossible to exclude altogether and pluralists believe that the human race as an audience should be able to rationally filter through the facts and the opinions, news has to exist before bias distorts it.

This view would suggest that the media does give us facts and opinions and as an active audience we are able to make responsible judgements. This leads on to the uses and gratification of the media. This looks at the audience member more closely. It tries to show what the media does to them but also what they do with the media e. g. An advert for crisps may amuse one member of that audience due to it’s comic value another member of that same audience may instantly want to purchase that product. This theory suggests that the audience do what the want with the message.

So is the audience allowed to make their own responsible judgements or is the media biased to such an extent that the audience is brainwashed? Does it really matter? The media is there and therefore should be used to the audience’s advantage. If the media is bias then the audience should take an active role and try to find out both sides of the story and form their own opinions e. g. papers are either in favour of one or the other political parties. If the audience reads through these papers and then filters through their own opinion they can make responsible judgements.

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