Virtual Kollage: The limitations of Newspapers in molding Public Opinion

Posted by / Monday, 4 April 2016 / No comments

The limitations of Newspapers in molding Public Opinion


LIMITATION OF NEWSPAPERS IN MOLDING  PUBLIC OPINION
Minority View as public opinion
There are some newspaper houses that are under the influence of some vested interests in the country. This gives them the lea-way to control some of the issues that are reported and thus purported to be the opinion of the masses. For this reason, the opinion that is expressed in a particular newspaper may not necessarily be a reflection of the views of the majority of the people. 

Low Level of Literacy
In Africa and other least developed economies of the world, a huge number of the people cannot read. The limitation is that, the newspapers may not be an effective tool in the formation of the opinions of such non-literate people.

Views of Private Individuals
In a free enterprise economy, some newspaper houses are owned by private individuals. Under such a circumstance, the opinions that are expressed in such private newspapers are not necessarily that of the mass of the people but rather those of the paymasters and owners of the newspapers.

Newspaper Sensationalism
The headlines of some newspapers are only to attract attention and therefore may not represent the situation on the ground. What the banner headlines say is not exactly what is in the body of the news article. It is only to promote sales and make profit. That type of newspaper reportage may not carry the real opinions of the majority of the people.

Daily Newspapers
There are newspapers that are published daily and the limitation is that, due to resource handicaps, the issues of the previous day may not have been completely digested before it is time to go to press. What comes out may therefore be described as half-baked and therefore not the real opinion of the people.

Government owned Newspapers
There are countries where the major newspaper houses are owned by government and therefore under the control of the government of the day. It is argued that what may be reported in the newspapers may be the opinion of the government and not a reflection of the opinion of the mass of the people.


Lack of Access to Newspapers
Newspapers are not readily available in all communities at the time they are supposed to be. This may be due to poor transport logistics. In the 1980s, for example, Ghanaian newspapers for Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays were received on Mondays in the Upper East and Upper West regions and those for Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays were received on Thursdays. Under such circumstances, by the time the newspapers get there, the issues may be effectively dead or non-current. 

Price of newspapers
In a country where some people earn less that a dollar a day, buying newspapers could a luxury that cannot be afforded.  For such people, therefore, they prefer to buy food than to buy newspapers so they do not get to read the newspapers often. When some of them finally have the access, the newspapers may have been outdated and the particular issue long buried.

SAMPLE QUESTIONS
1. Highlight six limitations to the use of newspapers to mold public opinion. [12 marks]
2. a. Discuss three ways in which newspapers are used to mold public opinion. [6 marks]
    b. Explain three limitations to the use of newspapers to mold public opinion. [6 marks]


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