When seeking meaning, society may look up to institutions. Previously institutions such as church may have been the ‘go to’ for answers. In Ireland we can see the church has lost a large majority of its following in recent decades. This results in a need for a replacement institution. Society will constantly seek answers to how they should behave, act, feel, think. Without the church, many may turn to the media to gratify their need for answers.
As a result, we should consider the media and it’s role as the creator and distributor of the message.
The Marxist approach considers the mass media and it’s agenda. The hegemonic model suggests that society is shaped from the top down. The ideals and opinions of the dominant class are fed to society through mass media. Any alternative ideals are denied. It should be considered, who are those with power over the media? The wealthy and the powerful can shape the mass media’s message in the mold of their own ideology. Ultimately this message that is disseminated serves their interests.
The message becomes naturalised and almost common sense to the point where society may not recognise the need to question it. An extream perspective on this could be the Propaganda Model. The media’s dominant message communicated to the user without questioning has had a detrimental effect in history and continues to cause tension in countries such as North Korea.
So while we have mass media with its own agenda, the audience has a choice from content received. They can accept it, reject it or negotiate with it. The choice of alternative perspectives has led to many differing opinions in the media. However, it is important to note that no content produced is without an agenda, even if that agenda is to create content that opposes the mainstream media.
An example of this alternative perspective is the recent air strike ordered by US President Donal Trump on Syria. MSNBC discusses the air strike as a triumphant step for the President and a beautiful sight to see.
Whereas John Oliver, A satirical cable news reporter, criticized how the media discussed the air strike. He offers an alternative perspective of the story as to how many have lost their lives in the attack.