The Role Mass Media Plays in Shaping It Public Opinion
What is Public Opinion? • Ideas and attitudes that most people hold about government, its officials, and its policies • What shapes public opinion? • Personal Experience • The media • TV has changed elections forever • JFK beat Nixon (1960) • Media shapes public agenda v. people and events • The media can “create” and “destroy” politicians • Works as a “watchdog”
What comprises public opinion? • Direction- positive or negative? • Intensity- strongor weak feelings about the issue? • Stability- how embedded is your feeling about the issue?
How do you measure public opinion? • We poll!!!! • Pollsters construct surveys (and questions) to find out what people feel about specific issues • Your responses are analyzed to find out what you (and others) feel about a given issue. The group surveyed is called the sample. The people they are to represent are called the population. • Random samples across the entire population are the best source of predicting what the population feels about an issue.
Who doesn’t like polling? • Critics! They claim it doesn’t accurately represent the entire population’s stance on issues (it is a sample) • If used as exit polling, it can discourage later time zone voters or those getting off work late on election day from coming out if they think the other time zones or early results have determined the outcome. • It can provide a way for our leaders to try to make decisions based on what the polls say v. what’s best for the country.