How does the media impact our society? Should people stop using social networks like Facebook, twitter etc.?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One needs only to review history to understand the power of the media. For, whoever controls the media, controls the people's knowledge. A simple look at the access a person has to knowing the weather of future days is a telling example of how the media can affect people. If, for instance, people contemplate going out of town on a quick vacation and they check the weather forecast, they may decide not to go because there is bad weather ahead. On another level, what information the news media provides and the political "slant" that is put upon this information clearly determines what individuals will know about their governments, federal, state, or city. Indeed, because Napoleon knew this tremendous control of thought that the media could wield, when he conquered a new country, he insisted that the city and key newspapers be taken over immediately by France's provincial government.

Likewise, Joseph Goebbels of Nazi Germany understood the incredible power of media; for, by exploiting all modern methods of propaganda he enabled Hitler to rise to power. Further, when Hitler did rise to power in 1933, Goebbels controlled the media so that the Germans received only the information and the interpretation of the information that put Hitler in a favorable light. In fact,Goebbels's propaganda machine was so powerful that people began to see Hitler as a minor god. Two of Goebbels's principles of propaganda are as follows:

Credibility alone must determine whether propaganda output should be true or false.

Propaganda must facilitate the displacement of aggression by specifying the targets for hatred.

Propaganda cannot immediately affect strong counter-tendencies; instead it must offer some form of action or diversion, or both

In the United States, major newspapers report the news, but often there is a political slant to what is reported and how it is reported. For this reasons, certain newspapers are considered more liberal that others while others are considered conservative. For example, the Chicago Tribune has long been a conservative paper. Here is one statement of its philosophy:

The Chicago Tribune believes in the traditional principles of limited government; maximum individual responsibility; minimum restriction of personal liberty, opportunity and enterprise. It believes in free markets, free will and freedom of expression. These principles, while traditionally conservative, are guidelines and not reflexive dogmas.

However, the Tribune broke precedent when it supported Barrack Obama for president in 2008 and, more surprisingly in 2012. 

The New York Times, on the other hand, has been more liberal in its approach to the news.

The New York Times has not endorsed a Republican for president since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956; since that year it has endorsed every Democratic nominee.

Television news stations also are classified as liberal or conservative in their news "slants." Therefore, there is a perception that one receives from obtaining information from certain stations such as MSNBC, NBC, and FOXNEWS. Similarly, social media places opinions in a higher status than objective fact as does Hollywood often. With social media, even the uninformed have voices nowadays; another new facet effected by social media is that the unimportant can now become important if enough people express interest in it. Such media as UTube have proven their ability to create propaganda such as the conspiracy theory about the Conneticut school shooting.

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