Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Public Opinion/The Phantom Public

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Public Opinion/The Phantom Public

Walter Lippmann who was known by his outstanding accomplishments as a writer, reporter and political commentator suggest that some of problems of a reality and relationship between mass media and public through his articles, “Public Opinion/The Phantom Public”.

He points out several problems in his articles about the facts, stereotype, preconceptions and symbols in our culture. Those factors convince us to view the wrong conception of the public opinion. This phrase, from his article, “Public Opinion”, explains the importance of the preconception in our consciousness:

“The subtlest and most pervasive of all influences are those which

create and maintain the repertory of stereotypes. We are told about

the world before we see it. We imagine most things before we experience

them. And those preconceptions, unless education has made us acutely

aware, govern deeply the whole process of perception.”

Western world has improved various mass media, such as the word picture, the narrative, the illustrated narrative, and finally the moving picture and the talking picture. Among those things, he insisted that the photographs are the real and the pictures have always been the surest way of conveying an idea.

After seeing the motion picture, “The Birth of a Nation” I was confused by my preconception about the Ku Klux Klan because the movie described the Klan as a hero with cross and white horsemen. If I did not know the true history of the America, I would not have known the truth about the racial tension between African American and White people. Therefore I agree that the author, Walter Lippmann suggest that the idea conveyed is not fully our own until we have identified ourselves with some aspect of the picture.

Another main idea from his article, “Public Opinion” is the symbol to hold and keep the authorities and rank for the leaders and mass media. He concluded that the symbol is both a mechanism of solidarity, and a mechanism of exploitation in the article, “Public Opinion”. Another article, “The Phantom Public” as the title implies shows that the general opinions of the public vary vaguely and confusing but when the leader and mass media wish to make one general will they use of symbols that assemble emotions.

To become intellects and wise a member of public, we need to learn the critical view of the public opinion. As students improving the public opinion and making the better world, we need to avoid being a stereotypical mind and perceiving preconception and symbols that were made by narrowed, prejudiced or wrong idea from the leaders or politicians and mass media. I think it is obviously worthy for me to study this article, “Public Opinion/The phantom Public”.


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