It is known that media is a powerful tool in our political world. Media is considered to be the main source of information that is used to inform people about politics. Today media is one of the social institutions that guarantee freedom of speech and expression. Ā Media has its “power to set the agenda”¯ or, in other words, to define the most important topics in politics for discussion. 1 That is why the effect of media in our political world is that different politicians and political parties have to take actions in response to the media that has always had the power of the agenda. It means that today media promotes not only politics in our country, but also it promotes democracy. As the U.S government guarantees the freedom of speech under the First Amendment, this fact gives media an opportunity to convey any message to their audience as long as this information doesn’t violate the laws and put the country in danger.2
Diana C. Mutz discusses the impact of television on the current political processes, and proves the fact that televised political discourse provides on oppositional political views. She is sure that “political discourse that reaches citizens through television is widely believed to be the major means by which citizens learn the rationales for opposing perspectives”¯.3 In the article, Effects of “In-Your-Face”¯ Television Discourse on Perceptions of a Legitimate Opposition, Diana C. Mutz states that television as a key source of mass media has both positive and negative effect on oppositional perspectives. She argues that today television is effectively used to transcend “time and space to reach large, heterogeneous audiences”¯.4
Many experts agree with the fact that media shapes public opinion. According to Cohen, “the press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about”¯.5 It means that people depend on the media which dictates what issues in politics are of great importance. It is clear that political issues are rather difficult to understand, and media helps people to evaluate the significance of this or that political issue in order to make the proper political judgments. For example, one of the recent issues concerning the rising of gas prices was widely discussed in the media. Another important fact is that media focuses on one of the multiple elements of this or that political issue. It means that these elements can receive much attention of the public and “the resulting debate regarding moral and policy implications”¯ around these elements.6
According to Mutz (2007), today television has completely changed American politics. Many experts and scholars consider that television differs from other media in its serious political content and its implications. However, it is not proved that television has more powerful effect in persuading the public that print media, such as newspapers and magazines. Nevertheless, Diana C. Mutz states in her article, that television gives an opportunity to develop a so-called sense of intimacy with different political figures. She argues that “visual intimacy and the arousal it brings with it serve to intensify preexisting feelings”¯.7 It means that the televised political discourse can have enormous influence on the viewers, intensifying their negative feelings regarding the opposition. In addition, Mutz agrees with Sennet, who considers that today the United States is overwhelmed by a so-called “tyranny of intimacy”¯. 8 This fact is very important as it gives an opportunity to understand the power of television as medium in political world. According to Mutz, emotions of the viewers, their reactions and feelings concerning this or that political issue put political television on the highest level. Television carries the same information as any other type of media, but it provides the highest emotional impact of televised political discourse. The public is interested in politics and wants to take part in discussions and express opinions. It means that television can shape the world of politics in some way. Today television is considered to be a more powerful tool than printed media.
Taking the above mentioned information into consideration, it is necessary to notice that today media influences what people think about this or that political issue. Moreover, media has enormous impact on how people think, or their personal opinions. The numerous studies prove the fact that media influences the political attitudes of the people. Martha L. Cottam, Beth Dietz-Uhler and Elena Mastors (2009) argue that “people are influenced by opinions expressed by reporters, by experts and by popular presidents”¯.9 According to Geoffrey Craig, many people in the United States become the participants or active players who can choose what they hear in the streets, watch on TV or read in the printed media and respond to this information correspondingly.10
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that media is focused on different forms of communication. Newspapers and magazines, television and radio, online media and movies have enormous impact on the public opinions and political world. Today television is considered to be the most powerful tool in shaping the world of politics. More and more people become the participants of the different TV programs that give them an opportunity to express their own opinion concerning this or that political issue and to learn the opinions of other people. In addition, media helps to understand some difficult political issues and evaluate the work, ideas and goals of different political figures.