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Priming Theory Essay

Mass media has the capability to influence people to think based on the media concepts that have been presented to them. In thousands of images that people see on media sources everyday, the strong recall of each image leave marks on the minds of the viewers or readers which often lead to the conclusion that mass media is the influential and powerful tool to deliver messages to the mainstream. From entertainment to business purposes, media plays a very important role in the society.

The public does not always notice the strong effects of persuasive advertisements or well-narrated news story presented by media; however, the increasing demands determine the impacts of these media concepts to the people in all aspects. People buy a certain product because of the appealing commercial on television. People conform to the latest fashion trends because the models and endorsers on the magazines. People vote for a certain politician because of constant release of propaganda through newspapers. These are just few of the many examples showing the strong effects of mass media to the public.

Even though the people are often unaware of these influential demands and plain consumerism, the society still relies on the ability and credibility of mass media for providing information that would help each cluster function well in the society. This concept has an accurate explanation from the mass communication theorists. The pictures that people see on screen and magazine pages and the attitude of people prior to and upon seeing those images have been discussed and given explanations for the society’s better understanding.

Priming is one of the theories that would explain the media concepts and effects of media images to the public. Apparently, the concept of priming will be most effective to examine in the light of other theories in the field of communication like framing and agenda setting. These theories would help the people to understand the concept of priming and its focus on media messages. The Priming Theory During election campaign period, much propaganda are being released on popular media sources like television, radio, newspapers, and even magazines to inform and update the public about the event.

Typically, this is the hardest period for the politicians because this is the time when they need to build a rapport with the mainstream and make them aware about their candidacy. This is also the period when the mass media plays a very important role to make them reach the anticipated position in the society (Burstein, 1991). The dissemination of information creates a strong recall to the mainstream and the salient issues on media become the center of attention of the public.

Since the awareness of the people is being determined on their level of media exposure and participation, the constant release of advertisements and promotions are done by the politicians to reach all the target people. It has been mentioned that the concept of priming can be explained with the use of other theories; in fact, agenda setting theory serves as the umbrella of priming. Agenda setting suggests that mass media may not be successful in telling the people what to think; however it has been successful in telling the mainstream what to think about.

Mass media may not tell people to buy a certain product but the advertisements on television and billboards would affect the behavior of the consumers because of its persuasive appeal. In agenda setting, the media does not command people to conform but rather present the idea alone and let the people do the rest (Birkland, 1998). In other words, the media shows images in a way the people would easily get the messages that are being conveyed on media concepts.

According to agenda setting theory, the media highlight a certain issue or certain part of the controversy to make the people put too much attention on the salient issues rather than to those issues that media considers as less important. Apparently, issues help to develop the perceptions of people toward reality. They provide typical categories which organized the knowledge of the mainstream and their experiences in a large semantic framework relevant for communication in the community.


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