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Volume :31 Issue : 124 2013      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

The Role of Mass Media and Secondary Groups in the Formation of Public Opinion (in Arabic)

Auther : Jamal Al-Menayes

The formation of public opinion is influenced by the media especially when they have high credibility in the eyes of the masses. The news media's major function is to shed light on public issues without adopting any particular point of view. The process of emphasizing certain issues in the media is called "agenda setting". The more emphasis an issue gets, the more important it becomes to the public. In contrast, advocacy journalism, which does take a position on issues, tends to lead public opinion towards polarization causing public opinion to split on opposite poles. Political advertising also influences public opinion, but not towards positions, but rather towards promoting politicians and it is usually done by professionals who are paid to do the job. Political advertising is similar to commercial advertising in that it tries to promote a specific product which in this case is the candidate. And, although the mass media does influence public opinion, people's opinions are not formed in a vacuum. This is where primary and especially secondary groups come into play. The group acts as an intermediary between the mass media and the audience. Groups come in different shapes and sizes from the small, such as the family, to the large, such as labor unions. Furthermore, the reasons groups form differ. Some groups form to satisfy a social identity, while others are formed based on mutual interests. The structure of groups also affects how they function. Some group members are leaders, while others are followers. Group structure sometimes leads to dysfunctional dynamics such as the phenomenon of "Groupthink".

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