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Posted on June 1st, 2012, by

In the modern epoch Media, being a powerful tool in hands of those who control them, often serve as a source of income which, to a significant extent, defines the modern media environment.

Some specialists have a very interesting and original view on the influence of mass media on consumers and on consumers themselves. For instance, Naom Chomsky treats consumers as product. In order to understand his point of view it would be enough to study his article ďWhat Makes Mainstream Media MainstreamĒĚ where he points out that for a company such as the New York Times it has too sell products to its customers. Consequently, for such companies the audience is the product while customers are the corporate advertisers.

Absurdly it sounds but it makes a sense. Despite the fact that traditionally people think about newspapers and other mass media as products and the audience as consumers but Chomsky points out that readers or audience fit demography and it is this is valuable information that can be used by advertisers. Hence, to the advertisers, the product that the New York Times and such companies bring to them is the audience itself and it is the advertisers that bring the money to the mass media companies, not the audience. Namely, he estimates that The New York¬†Times is a corporation and sells a product. The product is audiences. They don’t make money when you buy the newspaperĒ¶ But the audience is the product. You have to sell a product to the market, and the market is, of course, advertisers. Whether it is television or newspapers, or whatever they are selling audiences. Corporations sell audiences to other corporations.[1]. Taking into considerations these ideas it is possible to presuppose that if the audience is the product then producers can decide what the product will be. In other words they may influence and shape the audience’s ideas, tastes, etc. in such a way influencing human conscious, needs and demands.



On the other hand, the audience remains to be the consumer. Among those who support this point of view may be named Bagdikian, a prominent media critic, who analyzed in details the pressure on media companies to change content and to shape content based on the demographic of the audiences. According to him, the content of media is not as important as the type of person being targeted by media. He has also an interesting idea that the traditional notion of giving the audience of what they want is a bit misleading because it is rather about targeting those readers or audiences that can afford the products that are advertised and consequently it is more like giving advertisers what they want. So, even from the position treating the audience as a consumer mass media influence the audiences according to the needs and demands of advertisers. But is also noteworthy that mass media were also influenced by advertising that is a substantial source of income of many media since the influence of advertising on magazines reached a point where editors began selecting articles not only on the basis of their expected interest for reader but for their influence on advertisements. Serious articles were not the best support for ads and furthermore, the next step, seen often in the mid-twentieth century magazines, was commissioning articles solely to attract readers who were good prospects to buy products advertised in the magazine. After that came the magazine phenomenon of the 1970s Ēď creating magazines for an identifiable special audience and selling them to a particular advertiser.[2]. Thus, there is a trend which demonstrates that media and advertising influences not only consumers, i.e. the audience, but also mass media themselves. But at the same time the changes of mass media would necessarily influence the audience and in such a way it supports the main thesis that has already been mentioned in the paper that media influences consumers and to a certain extent shape pop culture, or at least is its part.

However, economic influence of advertising on consumers that was analyzed above is not the only one. Nowadays more and more specialists state that it has a larger socio-economic and political influence. For instance, some specialists estimate that the trends are all bad worse and worse, moreover, he states that broadcast journalists are under enormous pressures to replace civic values with commercial values[3]. It means that nowadays advertising is changing not only economic preferences of consumers but it also has a larger socio-political impact that may change or even replace the existing set of values by consumer’s values. Such a situation is naturally quite dangerous because such a shift of values may result in the change of traditional basic principles of the existence of modern societies. As a result such traditional values as humanism, democracy, freedom, human rights may be replaced more pragmatic and materialistic ones.

However, economic influence through mass media remains probably the strongest one because advertising is a major mechanism in the ability of a relatively small number of giant corporations to hold disproportionate power over the economy.[4] Naturally, that these corporations need newspapers, magazines, and broadcasting not just to sell their goods but to maintain their economic and political influence[5]. It means that mass media are no longer neutral agents of the merchants but they are essential gears in the machinery of corporate giants which significantly influence consumers, their needs and demands.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned it is possible to conclude that nowadays the role of mass media is extremely high. It is obvious that it has a great influence on consumers. At larger sense, media produce a significant impact not only on certain industries or even economy at large. It definitely influences socio-political aspect of human life as well because it has enough power to change consumers’ preferences and thus in a long-term perspective it may change the consumers’ perception, moral norms and values. Finally, it threatens to transform the society at large through replacement of traditional values by economic ones. A great role in this process play mass media that actually help advertisers to achieve their goals and under certain circumstances they contribute to the transformation of consumers into products which they can sell to advertisers. At the same time consumers being influenced by media can perceived it on a higher, cultural level since media are not only the means of influence on people but it is also a part of the contemporary pop culture.

Thus, the role and influence of media is undeniable but it does not mean that it should develop spontaneously without any regulations because, as it has already been mentioned, media can shape consumers needs, demands, and even values. Consequently, its impact should be carefully studied and then certain Ēėrules of the game’ worked out in order to keep the conscious of individual consumers independent and objective.

[1] Chomsky, Naom. ďWhat Makes Mainstream Media MainstreamĒĚ, Z Magazine, June, 1997.


[2] Bagdikian, Ben H. The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, Beacon Press, 2000.


[3] Bagdikian, Ben H. The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, Beacon Press, 2000.


[4] Bagdikian, Ben H. The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, Beacon Press, 2000.


[5] R. McChesney, R. Newman, and, B.Scott, Eds. The Future of Media, Seven Stories Press, 2005                


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