Popular Basis of Political Authority
CHAPTER 2|Document 26
James Madison, Public Opinion19 Dec. 1791Papers 14:170
Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.
As there are cases where the public opinion must be obeyed by the government; so there are cases, where not being fixed, it may be influenced by the government. This distinction, if kept in view, would prevent or decide many debates on the respect due from the government to the sentiments of the people.
In proportion as government is influenced by opinion, it must be so, by whatever influences opinion. This decides the question concerning a Constitutional Declaration of Rights, which requires an influence on government, by becoming a part of the public opinion.
The larger a country, the less easy for its real opinion to be ascertained, and the less difficult to be counterfeited; when ascertained or presumed, the more respectable it is in the eyes of individuals. This is favorable to the authority of government. For the same reason, the more extensive a country, the more insignificant is each individual in his own eyes. This may be unfavorable to liberty.
Whatever facilitates a general intercourse of sentiments, as good roads, domestic commerce, a free press, and particularly a circulation of newspapers through the entire body of the people, and Representatives going from, and returning among every part of them, is equivalent to a contraction of territorial limits, and is favorable to liberty, where these may be too extensive.
The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 2, Document 26
The University of Chicago Press
The Papers of James Madison. Edited by William T. Hutchinson et al. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1962--77 (vols. 1--10); Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1977--(vols. 11--).
Easy to print version.
© 1987 by The University of Chicago
All rights reserved. Published 2000
How Media Influences Public Opinion Essay
In our democratic society, mass media is the driving force of public opinion. Media sources such as Internet, newspaper, news-broadcasts, etc, play significant roles in shaping a person’s understanding and perception about the events occurred in our daily lives. As long as the newspapers, internet, network television, etc, continued to be easily accessible to the public, the media will continue to have an influence in shaping its opinions. Factors such as agenda-setting, framing and priming help shape the public opinions. Agenda-setting is when the media focuses their attention on selected issues on which the public will form opinion on, whereas framing allows the media to select certain aspects about the problem and then make them appear more salient. Similarly, priming works by repeatedly exposing certain issues to public. As the issues get more exposure, the individual will be more likely to recall or retain the information in their minds. This paper will discuss these three factors played out systemically by media and how our opinions are constantly being influence and shape by them.
How Media Influences Public Opinion
In our democratic society, mass media is the driving force of public opinion. Media sources such as Internet, newspaper, news-broadcasts, etc, play significant roles in shaping a person’s understanding and perception about the events occurred in our daily lives. But how much influence does the mass media poses on our opinion? Guaranteed by the First Amendment in American Constitution, the media will always be there to inform us about the different events or issues they feel are important for the public. The media constantly bombards us with news, advertisements, etc, wherever we go in society. According to the latest report by Nielson Media Research, the average time an American individual spends to watch television is approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes within a 24 hours time period (Holmes). Researches performed over the years have indicated that media methods such as agenda-setting, priming, and framing are important factors in influencing and shaping of public opinion.
Agenda-setting is one of the most important factors in shaping public opinion. Agenda-setting can be defined as the ability of the media to direct public attentions toward the issues they believe are important to the public. But whose choice is it that determines which issues are more important over others? The news media can set an agenda-setting by focus attention on selected issues on which the public will form opinions from (McCombs). The media can paint a memory in your head by repeatedly repeating the issues on different media sources as Internet, network televisions, newspapers, etc. Since these sources are the cheapest and easiest to access, the information can be view by vast number of audiences. As quoted in a 1922 classic called “Public Opinion” by Walter Lippmann,
“The media are a primary...
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