The Role of the Mass Media on Shaping the Public Opinion about the Enlargement of the European Union

The Role of the Mass Media on Shaping the Public Opinion about the Enlargement of the European Union

Ebru Nergiz
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8125-5.ch014
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The pictures in people's minds about the outside world are significantly influenced by the mass media, both what those pictures are about and what those pictures are. The agenda-setting effects of the mass media also have significant implications beyond the pictures created in people's heads. The media are the principal means by which a majority of people receive information about policy issues in general, and the EU in particular. The role of information provided by the mass media is substantially important to public opinion formation and change, especially on critical issues such as European Union enlargement. This chapter investigates why and how mass media affects the public opinion about the enlargement of the European Union.
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Public opinion can be defined as the complex of preferences expressed by a significant number of people on an issue of general importance (Hennessy, 1981). The role of the mass media on shaping the public opinion is called ‘the agenda setting role of the mass media’ shortly. Agenda-setting theory points out that elements that are prominent on the press agenda, both “objects” and their “attributes”, frequently become prominent on the public agenda. This idea of an agenda-setting role of the press has its origins in Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion, which begins with a chapter titled “The World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads.” He argues that the press is a major contributor to those pictures in our heads (Lippmann, 1922). His thesis that the news media, our windows to the vast world beyond direct experience, determine our cognitive maps of the world. Public opinion, argued Lippmann, responds not to the environment, bot to the pseudo-environment constructed by the news media.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Framing: Selecting some aspects of perceived reality and making them more remarkable in a communicating text.

European Union: An economic and political partnership between 28 European countries that together cover much of the continent.

News Media: The elements of the mass media such as newspapers, radio, television and online newspapers that focus on delivering news to the public.

Mass Media: Diversified media technologies that are designed to reach a large audience such as television and newspapers.

Agenda Setting Role of the Mass Media: The role of the mass media on shaping the public opinion.

Enlargement of the European Union: The process of expanding of the European Union through the accession of new member states.

Public Opinion: Share opinion of many people on a specific issue or event.

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