The media has significant power in influencing public opinion. This translates in pop culture, which is what the general public most often consumes, but this also translates into politics. The media has a lot of power as a consensus and conflict maker, and I believe that the government uses the media to propagate its own interests. We see that on Fox News as well as CNN and MSNBC. Each news station supports its own bias while still maintaining the position that it’s “fair and balanced.” However, I would say that the public knows that each news station isn’t 100% fair and balanced. This article gives a great overview of the public opinion of news stations. It seems that the respondents do not trust the news stations as much as you might think.
This website shows a research project on the role of the media in the construction of public belief and social change. The article asserts that the “findings across these areas show the way in which the media shape public debate in terms of setting agendas and focusing public interest on particular subjects.” In other words, it is proven that the media shapes public opinion on particular subjects, which encompasses political issues that the government deals with. Therefore, because the media has this type of power, it can be used to influence the public opinion of the masses on political issues.
The biblical worldview is evident in multiple communication theories such as the Mean World Syndrome and the Agenda Setting Theory.
The Mean World Syndrome is the idea that when a person consumes large amounts of media, they uphold the belief that the world is a dangerous place. In previous posts, I have discussed this concept and asserted my opinion that I think this is a very true statement, especially knowing how my parents react to watching the news.
However, the question is: could the Mean World Syndrome utilize a biblical worldview? My answer to that question is: yes, but not in the way one might think.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. How could viewing the world as a dangerous place be biblical in any way? Christians are supposed to advocate peace and God’s love to the world, but the Mean World Syndrome asserts that the world is a dangerous place, fueled by the violence we see in the media. Where does the biblical worldview come into play.
I think that the Mean World Syndrome is a direct example of the fallen world that we live in. The media portrays the violence and cruelty of humanity. We are visually confronted with our sin every time we turn on the television. It broadcasts the evils of humanity and the acts that we are capable of committing – murder, theft, slander, gluttony (advertising).
I also see a biblical worldview represented in the Agenda Setting Theory. This theory is the idea that if a topic is covered frequently and prominently, then the public will regard this topic as more important. This is a perfect method for Christians to spread the gospel! If we are able to talk about our Savior more frequently and show how prominent God is in our lives, then we will be more effective evangelizing to others! Of course, you shouldn’t get annoying and hassle people by shouting the good news at them, but I do think there is something to be said about sharing God with others often and boldly.
What came first: the TV networks or the consumers? In other words, do TV networks and movie studios lead the consumers or do the consumers lead the networks and studios? I would argue that the TV networks and movie studios lead consumers by influencing what they think. This is done by the networks and studios by producing films and broadcasting reports that have particular angles and biases attached to them. The consumers, in turn, see that media and are influenced by it whether or not they even know it.
This website touches on the idea of whether entertainment media leads or follows society. Of course, we would love to say that the entertainment industry follows the demands of the public. That would make the most sense. However, I truly believe that it is the opposite. The networks and studios produce media and consumers form beliefs based off of that.
Therefore, when it comes to the religious and moral values of the people who run the TV networks and the major movie studios, I believe that they do not share the same religious and moral values of the most Americans. If the networks and studios were producing for the consumers then I would say they would share these same values. However, because the networks and studios are leading the pack, they have to have different values than the rest of the general public. They are forging the way and the only way to do that is to be different than the rest of society.
This other website discusses a little bit about how media shapes people’s perception of reality. This, again, supports my idea that media does not follow the general public’s beliefs or values because in order to shape something, you have to be set apart from it. Overall, I think there is no way for the media to uphold the same beliefs and religious values as the general public, especially because of how Christians are portrayed in mass media.