Critical Analysis: The Effect of Media Content

James Curran and Jean Seaton ask in Power Without Responsibility whether newspapers, broadcasting, and mass entertainment change society. They argue that it has an independent influence and consider arguments from different traditions. They conclude that on one hand, the media appears to have no influence on what people know and on the other that media reflects the balance of forces within society.

Marx also analysed the effect of media content. He asserted that media “reproduced the viewpoints of dominant institutions not as one among a number of alternative perspectives, but as the central and ‘obvious’ or ‘natural’ perspective.” This also links to the view discussed by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel that journalism can be seen as a ‘gatekeeper’ where journalists have power in what they write which has a huge effect on their readers.

An important problem which links to each of these arguments and occurs in both Jan Moir’s A Strange, Lonely and Troubling Death and Robert Kilroy-Silk’s We Owe Arabs Nothing is opinion verse truth. Rather then being factual and informing the public, the articles used journalism as a means of conveying their opinions. We should believe everything a journalist writes which emphasises the problem. Both articles give no evidence to back up what they express.

Marx states that there is a tendency to avoid the unpopular and unconventional in the media which these articles contradict. Society has come a long way to build equality within sexuality and cultural matters. If society believed Kilroy’s and Moir’s articles as truth, there would be a huge effect on society.


Power Without Responsibility: The Press and Broadcasting in Britain by Curran and Seaton, 4th edition, London: Routledge, 2001. [Accessed: November 2009]

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