Examining the dynamics of how social problems are addressed, significant influence can come from digital media.  Typically, the media become involved in addressing social problems when claims and/or events occur that are in line with their goals of reaching, influencing, and expanding viewership.  A critical component in understanding the media is the occurrence of bias, stated by Best, 2017 “Analyses of the mass media’s role in the social problems process often focus on the issue of bias”.  A great deal of discussion of bias circulates around arguments by both democrats and republicans, that the media portrays phenomena from the opponents’ point of view.  Digital media has revolutionized how media coverage is shared, allowing for social problems coverage, in close to real time across the globe.  Conservative and liberal networks alike can broadcast news work from the online arena 24/7.  Instead of an objective approach, digital media reaches millions of online viewers with heavy bias, using typifying examples, novelty, balance, and consideration of competitors stories, and in some cases even “in house” claimsmaking.  News networks use digital techniques and attractive language to encourage viewers, consider for example the following:

 

http://www.foxnews.com

 

 

https://www.cnn.com

 

 

https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news

With exception to valence issues, how does an individual refer to digital media for better understanding and construction of social problems when presentations differ dramatically.  A current example of how digital media provides exhaustive, partisan coverage of a social problem is the FISA memo released- causing stress between Republicans in the House Intelligence Committee and the FBI and Justice Department.  Although not as directly reflective of a social problem as other “hot topics” currently, the FISA memo situation reflects instability and mistrust between the president and federal lawmakers, which jeopardizes the integrity of our democracy.  Those seeking information regarding the FISA memo who reference various sources are confronted with partisan viewpoints that vary enough for a reader to consider if they are even examining the same event.

The media oftentimes will shift to audience segmentation as an alternative to a more general approach to increasing awareness of their stories.  Appealing to more homogenous groups helps ensure that the audience is vested in the message being presented.  Media also creates influence through the coverage of landmark narratives and packages, with typical partisan issues including a rival package.  These packages are carefully shaped by news workers and presented via digital media, persuading audiences to their cause, as stated by Best, 2017 “It is relatively easy for the public to become familiar with the packages presented by the news media, and considerably harder for people to learn other ways to think about social problems”.  Although there is evidence to support that a portion of the public is not persuaded by media’s agenda setting  and partisan news presentation, and that these individuals are seeking the objective knowledge to socially construct social problems, digital media continues to reach even broader audiences.  There is even consideration for including social media as part of the larger arena of digital media, and there is no doubt that social media influences people’s understanding of social problems.  There is a tremendous amount of resources included in the presentation of digital media, and those involved in the processes strive to have their message heard before and above that of others.

 

Reference(s):

Best, J. (2017). In Levitt S. (Ed.), Social Problems (3rd ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Business Wire. (2015). How Your News is Made-An Inside Look at News Releases and News Distribution. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jtEn2M5cZQ

 

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