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Many people now get their news on their tablets or smart phones.

The most visible mass media-delivered information is news. People look to newscasts and news sites—even talk show hosts like Steven Colbert, Bill Maher, and David Letterman—to know what’s going on beyond the horizon. If not for mass media, people would have to rely on word-of-mouth from travelers to know what’s happening in Afghanistan, Hollywood, or their state capital.

Information creates awareness in many forms—not just news and health brochures. For example, advertising offers information to help consumers make intelligent decisions. In a democracy, media comprise an essential forum for news and information and the exchange of ideas that promote intelligent citizen participation.

1.2.2 To Persuade 1. Objective: Compare the ways by which mass media persuades people

The study of mass communication is primarily concerned with how mass media persuades people receiving the information to in some way change their opinions, beliefs, perspectives, attitudes and/or behavior.

Persuasion is defined as causing someone to think or behave in a certain way. Persuasion within the context of mass communication and mass media involves the process of convincing the audience of something, such as swaying their opinion or causing them to act in response to new information. Persuasion can be negative, particularly if the information is shared in propaganda. On the other hand, persuasion can also be good, particularly if the impact on the audience is a positive one, such as persuading the general population to get a flu shot.

Persuasion in the absence of diversity of ideas can be dangerous, such as in a religious cult or political dictatorship. But the use of persuasion in an environment with a free exchange of ideas can be an effective way of gaining a consumers’ attention and articulating an important message, such as how to stop child abuse, or what direction our country should head politically.

People come to conclusions on pressing issues by exposing themselves to competing ideas in what’s called the marketplace of ideas. In 1644 the thinker-novelist John Milton eloquently stated the concept of the value of competing ideas: “Let truth and falsehood grapple; whoever knew truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter.” Today more than ever, people look for truth by exposing their views and values to those of others in a mass media marketplace. Milton’s mind would be boggled by the sheer volume of differing ideas with which to grapple. Consider the diversity of ideas expressed through talk radio, newspaper editorial pages, anti-war lyrics from iTunes, blogs, and tweets, to name a sliver of the array of ideas in the marketplace.

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