Who's in Control of Your Thoughts? You? Media?

Media serves as an important and convenient platform for the people to obtain knowledge and information on activities around the globe. However, the same knowledge and information can also help to influence people's perceptions on events and groups of people.

Repeat, INFLUENCE people's perception.

So a question arises:

Is your perception of events and people your own or is it the

media's perception?

Since the early part of the 20th century media has used multiple theories to sway the masses to certain believes in all aspects of life. We still see many of these theories being used in todays very fast, modern technology.

There are 48 theories that have been used throughout our media history, however, we will look at a few that still affect us today in directing our thoughts, core ideals and perceptions.

Agenda-Setting Theory: the ability to tell public what issues are important

This theory has been used and analyzed since the 1920's in connection with various issues that the media presented as important to the public.

Agenda-setting is the creation of public awareness and concern of issues mandated as important by the media. There are two basis assumptions on agenda-setting:

(1) the press and the media do not reflect reality; they filter and shape it;

(2) media concentration on a few issues and subjects leads the public to those issues as

more important than other issues.

This particular theory is used in politics and we still see this today, such as, Fox News and MSNBC, two news medias that are vastly different in their reporting of issues. Both repeat the same stories they deem important repeatedly, thus influencing many people's perspective. We also see this in Facebook, Twitter, the internet and other social media outlets in the way they filter stories that match what people are currently viewing or information searching.

Media Representation Theory: is an aspect of reality regarding people, places, events, cultural identities

Media representation theory is what and how "realities" are depicted to influence people's perceptions on issues and people outside of their neighborhood, per say. Media no matter how realistic or truthful it seems, is merely constructed representations, like a short story or a condensed version of the true "reality".

Also this theory uses a constant re-use of message, for example, commercials that run repeatedly so that the viewer will buy a product solely based on what the commercial said. The re-use of message begins to seem "normal" and "true", thus having the power that people begin to believe the interpretation of the message, no matter how wrong, untrue or misrepresented it is.

All media represents one version of "reality", not reality itself. In other words, watching a TV show or a news program is not the same as watching something happen before your eyes in real life. In media, its condensed and edited for viewing with a tag line to make it interesting.

Which brings us to the next theory.

Cultivation Theory: shapes concepts of social reality

Cultivation theory (sometimes referred to as the cultivation hypothesis or cultivation analysis) was an approach developed by Professor George Gerbner, dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania.

He began the 'Cultural Indicators' research project in the mid-1960s, to study whether and how watching television may influence viewers' ideas of what the everyday world is like.

Cultivation research is in the 'effects' tradition. Cultivation theorists argue that television has long-term effects which are small, gradual, indirect but cumulative and significant.

This theory in its most basic form, suggests that television is responsible for shaping, or cultivating‘ viewers‘ conceptions of social reality. The combined effect of massive television exposure by viewers over time subtly shapes the perception of social reality for individuals and, ultimately, for our culture as a whole.

This can also be applied to our current technological usage of computers and cell phones as some people's main medium to obtain information, which in turn as TV, controls what "true social reality" is.

So the more people watch TV, surf the internet the more their reality, beliefs and assumptions mirror what media shows vs. real life.

Framing Theory: media and/or people decide how the masses think

Framing is where the media draws the public attention to certain topics, it decides what people think about, the journalists select the topics.

This theory is used in how the news is presented. Thus, a frame refers to the way media controls selection of content or newsworthiness of events and issues they cover, and the way audiences interpret what they see, hear and read.

This form of agenda-setting not only tells what to think about, but also how to think about it.

In conclusion, there is no denying that media has influenced the public since its inception in what we belief, how we behave and what we perceive to be reality. Its theories touch on how to spend, organization structure, political and social beliefs, health behaviors and promoting perceptions of other groups of people or communities to name just a few.

The media's influence can be powerful in not only serving for the good of society but also its darker side. It can nurture how we can help one another or it can teach to abandon others based on social, religious or economic factors.

I am not saying that all media is bad but as a society, we must be ever diligent in how, what and why the media presents a storyline to us. We must always keep our minds open and not be persuaded to think, behave or believe as the media dictates.

And that brings me back to my original question:

Is your perception of events and people your own or is it the

media's perception?