First, read this about Gate Keeping theory and Lewin:
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Second, read this about Agenda Setting theory and about Maxwell McCombs and Donald L. Shaw:
Finally, grab some unhealthy salty snacks and a sugary beverage, settle down and watch Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent Documentary (recorded in the early 90s but still very relevant):
Now, this is pretty intense stuff, so you might want to watch and re-watch the first 30 minutes of this especially until you get the general points that Chomsky is trying to make. (Psst – the really important part starts at 23:35 when Chomsky offers an explanation of his theory).
A notable part is when Chomsky says “The point is you have to work. And that’s why the propaganda system is so successful. Very few people are going to have the time or the energy, or the commitment, to carry out the constant battle that’s required, to get outside of MacNeil/Lehrer, or Dan Rather, or somebody like that. The easy thing to do [is] come home from work, you’re tired, just had a busy day, you’re not going to spend the evening carrying on a research project, so you turn on the tube, say it’s probably right, look at the headlines of the paper, then you watch sports or something. That’s basically how the system of indoctrination works. Sure, the other stuff is there but you’re going to have to work to find it.”
These three theories, gatekeeping theory, agenda-setting theory and manufacturing consent theory are presented here in chronological order. Each theory is interested in how the media is used or created to influence or affect public opinion and knowledge on certain issues. Each theory is a building block of all issues concerning media and society. Indeed, feel free to do some Google searches on these theories to supplement what is presented here.
You will have to read carefully their assertions and really think about whether you believe that these theories deserve merit, or whether they are akin to being outlandish conspiracy theories in what they say about those who control and create the mass media. There are indeed flaws to these theories, and you can probably identify them if you really think about it. However, the question that I am asking you is pretty straightforward:
According to Lewin, McCombs with Shaw, and Chomsky, what do their theories say about how the viewers or consumers of media are manipulated by what they see, hear and read?
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