A recent point of discussion in one of my courses was whether we thought the media influenced public opinions or the other way around. And though the opinions varied, the majority believed that it was the public who held the power on what makes it on the news.
Most argued that the news, much like everything else we see on TV, print, or radio is a product. A product that must be sold to the masses in order to be deemed successful and by extension lucrative. There is of course truth in this, but I believe that it is not such a black and/or white issue. I agree that the news outlets must satisfy their audience, but I think that there are those who go to the news to be told what to think. Unfortunately not everyone has strong enough opinions so they turn to their most trusted sources, often the media, to form and shape how to view the world around them. Much like the retail shopper going shopping for nothing in particular, waiting to find something that will catch their eye.
I would like to think that the media isn’t just churning out stories based on what they feel is the most popular. Let’s face it, if that were true then all we would have are entertainment magazines. I would like to think that there are editors out there that recognize the importance of certain stories. Ones who will publish articles that they feel would affect people and make a difference. But then one could argue that if editors used purely personal opinions to make decisions, then they would be the ones directly influencing the huddled masses. But that’s a rant for a different day.