The Power of the Media

Isn’t it always fascinating how powerful the media can make or break anything? From people, business, and products. Reading the article on Kiva it was interesting to see how the media is such a powerful influential organization.

Overnight, our loan volume went from approximately $3K per day to approximately $30K per day…The Frontline piece was fundamental in making this happen.

As strange as it is to say I started thinking of Oprah when I read that line. Oprah always does a show on her “favorite” things and overnight products, that the common household never had, suddenly went flying off the shelves and into homes all across the nation. All because one woman, during one hour of television said something she liked, and the rest of the world just had to have it. I guess no one can live without his or her Claus Porto Soaps from Lafco New York, as mentioned in her 2007 favorite things episode (wikipedia, Oprah’s favorite things). But why does one women have the ability to say something and it happens? Is it all because she is on TV, or is she really a powerful individual who is influential to so many?

If more companies, such as Kiva would use the media to their advantage people might take notice of the great things going on in the world, instead of the “favorite” soap of the moment. It would be a great change of news instead of the oh so typical, what celebrity is a train wreck this week, that is splashed all over the headlines and main pages of sites like yahoo and aol.

The media is such a powerful resource that is not always, in my opinion, used most effectively. There was an interesting article about how mass media influences society, located on hubpages, another blog site. The article talks about how watching a commercial, teenagers are more inclined to buy a product with their extra spending income. Television and ads influence who we vote for as president, where we go on vacation, and etc.

Again, it would be great to see what would happen if you made a flashy commercial about community service projects, volunteer work in the local community, or more organizations such as Kiva. Would teenagers, or adults for that matter, think twice about donating their time or money, instead of buying that third pair of UGG boots?


6 Responses

  1. Kristen, I’m really glad you wrote this post as the power of the media is also something I have thought about a lot in the past. I actually think that the media is a large reason of why the recession has been as bad as it has been and why it has lasted so long. Fear trading is a huge issue and you can almost predict the closing of the market by the stories (positive or negative) that are posted on the front cover of websites like The New York Times, MarketWatch, or CNN. Another thing I have thought a lot about is which way the causal relationship works. Is it that something important happens and then the media covers it, or does the media make events important?

  2. I think it is a combination of both. The media covers events that happen, and by doing that they become important in the eyes of the american people. I think that there also may be times where the media creates something out of nothing. Take the ever so memorable spinach epidemic, yes there was a lot more behind that and people did get sick, but if it would have been the year of the presidential election would it have been such a hot topic on the 6 o’clock evening news? People just stopped consuming and buying the product because Tom Brokaw and Matt Lauer made it national news for weeks. However, if you were just careful with how you handled and cooked the product you were fine. But what would we do with Matt and Tom? The evening news makes for interesting discussions in any office on a Monday morning.

  3. This post got me thinking about how easily people can be influenced. If you ever talk with someone about why they bought something or why they want/need something, I find that most of the time that person never takes into account the amount of influence that society has on that person. I recently watched a documentary named “Kicking It”. It was a documentary partly sponsored by ESPN that shadows different people around the world and the Homeless World Cup. Each year 48 countries around the world find homeless people, train them for 10 months and then they all compete in a Soccer tournament. One member was a man from Afghanistan. Throughout his segment he talks about how much he loves Cape Town (where the tourney was), and how he has now realized after leaving Afghanistan that many of his laws, culture, and beliefs are “wrong”. He talks about how he ever imagined a world outside of Afghanistan and that the things he lived through was all he knew. How was he supposed to know his life was be better, half a million people around him live in the same manner?

  4. I think that is why it is so hard to change the way a culture functions, there are so many things that people think are the norm, because it is what that saw and how there culture influenced them. The documentary sounds very interesting, in how it showed the affects that being exposed to a different culture have on people.

  5. Greta post.

    One of the more interesting sociologists of the last thirty years, Manuel Castells, who theorizes what is most significant about the network society, describes media as “the new public space.” Like town squares and open air markets of old, the mediascape (landscape+media) is where culture unfolds, ideas spread, and influence works its magic.

    But non-media culture still exists, don’t you think, it is just permanently hybridized with media process.

    There is some article I read awhile ago that argued (before he won) that Obama owed his victory to Oprah. He was the first candidate she had ever endorsed. Moreover, the article contrasted her audience and influence to that of the te right wing talk radio hsost, mostly Rush Limbaugh. They are often on at the same time, I think, and their demographics split pretty nicely along the Obama-MCain coalition lines. I can track it down if you like.

  6. […] reading through blogs from Professor Jordi’s previous classes, I came across a blog titled “The Power of the Media”, by Kristen.  In her introduction she says, “Isn’t it always fascinating how powerful the […]

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