How important has mass media been in history?

/ 20 February 2010

Mass media has been one of the most influential forces behind what the public knows across history. At the start of the press/newspapers there wasn’t that much that could be considered mass media as there is today. But given that for the average citizen this mass media is their primary source, and a source they trust, of news they are looking for it manages to shape the beliefs of these citizens. So, even if the press is telling lies about one thing or another you will find that the average citizen believes those lies as the truth. I’ll admit to thankfully growing up around parents who have, even if subconsciously, taught my brother and I to be quite skeptical of what we read in the newspaper or hear on the radio/television. Therefore I don’t take any news article for what I’d like to call its “face value”. Instead, I will compare one article to another, and do this up against my own past knowledge of the relevant events, so that in the end I will find the truth of the story instead of just one person’s point of view on it. But sadly I’m just one individual, even my entire extended family (not just my immediate family) is a very small portion of those who are immersed in the mass media. Most people will believe what they read/hear, and as a result rumors or lies become truth and we end up in a position of seeing multiple realities that aren’t real existing alongside the truth and reality of the day. These odd realities then drive certain individuals into action that could lead to potentially disastrous outcomes. In direct answer to this question I would say that the mass media is quite important in history as well as the present because of its influence on the public. This influence hasn’t always been and isn’t always now a positive one in the long run, but it’s nonetheless an influence that is noticeable. I happen to be taking a constitutional law course in high school at the moment, we have just finished talking about the freedom of press. So, I do recognize quite powerfully the importance of a free press, and the positive repercussions that has created in our government. But what most citizens don’t realize is that as a result they need to be constantly on the lookout for what isn’t the truth. They trust their mass media instead of scrutinizing every article they read for the parts of truth in it. For mass media to gain a solidly positive influence on the present and future we as citizens need to uniformly be critical instead of most of us trusting what we read/hear like ants following their queen.