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These often relate to different political positions and can be seen as ideological if they relate to the legitimation of ways of understanding that are connected to social interests.
1(1), doi:10.5964/jspp.v1i1.96 Received: 2013-06-24. In those cases in which audiences do not possess direct knowledge or experience of what is happening, they become particularly reliant upon the media to inform them.
That is not to say that the media simply tell us what to think – people do not absorb media messages uncritically (Philo, 2008; Philo, Miller, & Happer, in press).
Our method begins by setting out the range of available arguments in public discourse on a specific subject.
We then analyse the news texts to establish which of these appear and how they do so in the flow of news programming and press coverage.
In terms of shaping content, we argue that a number of privileged groups contribute to the production of media accounts, including social and political institutions and other interest groups such as lobbyists and the public relations industry (Miller & Dinan, 2000, 2009).
These different groups intersect to shape the issues open to discussion, but the outcome can also severely limit the information to which audiences have access.In addition, they anticipate the way in which their words will be ‘mediated’ and reproduced in various media outlets.The key point is therefore that all of the elements involved in the communications circuit intersect and are dynamic. content or effects of media) has often been examined separately, we explain here why it is important to analyse the inter-relations of each of these different components in any discussion of the media’s role in social change. Our approach is based on the assumption that in any controversial area there will be competing ways of explaining events and their history.We found other evidence of the way in which media coverage can operate to limit understanding of possibilities of social change.In our study of news reporting of climate change, we traced the way that the media have constructed uncertainty around the issue and how this has led to disengagement in relation to possible changes in personal behaviours.The story is organised around this way of understanding migration, and the different elements of the story such as interviewees, the information quoted, the selection of images and editorial comment, all work to elaborate and legitimise it as a key theme.In past research we have shown, using this method, that news accounts can and do operate to establish specific ways of understanding (Briant, Philo, & Watson, 2011; Philo, 1996; Philo & Berry, 2004, 2011).The media play a central role in informing the public about what happens in the world, particularly in those areas in which audiences do not possess direct knowledge or experience.This article examines the impact the media has in the construction of public belief and attitudes and its relationship to social change.Finally, we discuss the implications for communications and policy and how both the traditional and new media might help in the development of better informed public debate. Handling Editor: Andrew Livingstone, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom *Corresponding author at: Glasgow University Media Group, Adam Smith Building, Bute Gardens, Glasgow G12 8RT, United Kingdom. [email protected] This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 2013, Vol. The media – television, the press and online – play a central role in communicating to the public what happens in the world.