Public opinion

During the war, the US Government continuously tried to maintain its neutrality, and therefore established the use of ‘propaganda’ to build popular sentiment and public opinion, to invoke a certain concept (Sinclair). In the 1940’s a new angle was created whereby opinion leaders mediated between the media and the wider audience, especially for matters of voting intentions. Influential individuals would form their views from newspapers and radio, and then passed them on to others (Sinclair). It is only through observing techniques and the effects they have, that we come to see how individuals can be influenced in their views, without even consciously realizing sometimes.

The idea regarding ownership of media mediums is not only a political perspective, but also economical. The financing of newspapers, radio and television stations all have an effect on the economy at large. There are some highly publicised cases where executives who sell the advertising space and time in media companies have pressured editors not to run stories which they regard as unfavourable to important advertisers (Windschuttle, 1988).

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By advertising in the media, companies are seen as simply trying to gain profits, however a lot of the time, they are simply trying to establish brand loyalty (Windschuttle). This also ties in with the cultural effect placed on our lives. For many companies, there are many other brand of the same product, and they are therefore generally all around the same price, hence the reason for seeking brand loyalty.

It is extremely hard to differentiate between political and economic influences. On one hand, there is the political side which involves the power hierarchy and why individuals are only shown certain perspectives, depending on ownership of the medium, and on the other hand, there is the economic side which involves politics, how it affects society, as well as selling the industry. Tied into both of these is the cultural aspect which shows us how our lives are becoming progressively controlled by the media.

According to Sinclair (2002), the Australian tradition is seen to be considered as ‘quirky’. This is because it bring bits and pieces from everywhere together to create a certain culture. As a country, Australia continuously compares itself to other cultures, perhaps because it is commonly seen as less significant, geographically being so far away from other continents that dominate the global media.

For the past few decades Australia has been known for its native animals, rural outback and television personalities like Steve Urwin (the Crocodile Hunter) and Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee). It is through the media that stereotypes like this occur and are reiterated (Curran ; Gurevitch, 1996) After the 2000 Sydney Olympics, it is possible that the international image of Australia changed to show a much more advanced country.

Looking more closely at a micro level, media studies can give a clearer idea of our individual identity, as well as the difference between generations (Thompson, 1995). For example, anyone born in the first half of the twentieth century is unlikely to have seen a television until they were about five years old, and have probably never played a computer game (Bazalgette, 2000), whereas today younger generation are brought up on computers, television and other forms of media, and therefore almost everything is done with technology. Through media in general, individuals gain a sense of other lifestyles around the world and use them to compare and critically reflect on their own conditions of life (Thompson).

Media Studies largely focuses on social outcomes, and therefore the social, economic, political and cultural conditions within which the media operate are also closely examined. Through studying such an interdisciplinary subject, individuals gain a greater understanding of how to make sense of the meanings of our lives. The media is now an unavoidable part of everyday activities, therefore understanding the influences of it is invaluable. The media not only provide entertainment, but provide and shape much of the information we act on in our daily lives (Giddens, 2001). Individuals and society are at large subject to what the specific media choose to tell us, and how. It is up to the individual though, to look beyond the first piece of the puzzle and seek a true understanding.

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