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The Role and Significance of Mass Media

After this semester, I now better understand how important media are, especially in who the source is and the way they frame the news.

On the one hand, elites often serve as important media sources and define media agendas. This link between the government and the media consists of ownership by elites, propaganda, regulation, and the varying types of censorship. As we wrote about in our final paper, media technologies also have important effects on politics. Especially in the MENA region, the ruling elite prioritizes remaining in power and either uses or challenges the media in order to do so. We also read about media as foreign policy, where ‘hearts and minds’ can be won by providing or silencing media coverage of certain news.

On the other hand, journalists are also very significant to the lives of the public; where often they can circumvent or challenge the existing political order and government. Journalists can serve society through investigation or activism, reporting on issues the ruling elite may be distorting or hiding from the public. Often media also crosses the boundary of public and private, changing people’s opinions who later discuss and debate with others in the public sphere. This helped build foundations for a pluralistic political culture by demonstrating the legitimacy of disagreement and challenging the message of the government.

In general, journalists and media outlets dictate what is the focus, or what is “inside the frame,” how it’s portrayed, what information is left out, as well as its headline. This bias of presentism also demonstrates how mass media rarely gives context or history focusing on the present, which can distort one’s understanding.

Finally, one of the overarching lessons I have learned from this class is checking the reliability of one’s media sources in order to make sure you are accessing unbiased news and thus gaining accurate information about the issue or event.


Webb, Edward 2022. Lecture, Dickinson College, 1 September, 6 September, 13 September.


Regulating Religious Expression in MENA


Anderson’s “Searching Where the Light Shines: Studying Democratization in the Middle East”

1 Comment

  1. Mass media also shaping public opinion and shaping political and cultural values.
    It is often controlled by a small group of large corporations, leading to concerns about media consolidation and bias.
    The internet and social media have greatly expanded the ways in which people can access and share information, but also raise concerns about the spread of misinformation and echo chambers.

    Very informative article!


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