The power of media is far reaching and has the ability to sway public opinion, influence social issues, and determine the outcome of major issues. Often, the media is more concerned with the performance and producing a desired effect, such as shock, rather than providing accurate information on a particular issue. Gay marriage is one such example in which the media has taken other perspectives and approaches to presenting on the topic, rather then being informative. The media is, more often than not, skewed in its presentation on the issue of gay marriage, hence compromising the accuracy of information provided to viewers.
An example of the media’s tendency to skew information is illustrated in recent news press releases in response to the states’ decisions to legalize gay marriages. In one such article, the repercussions of the Supreme Court’s lack of religious protections being installed is discussed, forecasting several negative outcomes and backlash responses. While the article makes some valid points about the benefits of religious protections, the author is not necessarily neutral in presenting the information, and warns that many “could be in for a big shock” (Wilson, para 1).
The material presented by Wilson, additionally, does not focus on the presentation of factual information. Instead, the focus is on predictions of negative effects, stating that “It doesn’t have to be this way,” emotionally appealing to viewers (Wilson, para 8). The opinions of the writer are presented consistently throughout the article, instead of factual information showing the two sides of the debate: why the Supreme Court is withholding from granting religious protections, and why people wish to have the religious protections in their respective states.
Similarly in Christianity Today, issues are presented in regards to the recent rulings for same sex marriages in the states. While several Supreme Court members’ opinions are provided with extensive quotations throughout the article, the authors continually refer back to the government’s imposition of their views and opinions on the country as a whole, and how states should be allowed to decide whether gay marriage is permissible. Much like the previous article in which one side was taken and continually reiterated using tactics such as emotional appeal, this article takes a similar stance. Additionally, the author returns to their beliefs of marriage between a man and woman, and how religious liberty has been threatened, but capitulates with the statement: “Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today” (Morga, para 12).
Articles such as these are pivotal to swaying the public’s opinion, and the authors and corporations behind them realize this. Techniques such as social proof, in which uncertainty in beliefs and our opinions force us to look towards more confident figures and views, such as the news’, are often employed. For many Americans, gay marriage forces people to reevaluate their own beliefs in the institution of marriage, and also forces them to reflect on their biases. This creates significant uncertainty that leaves the public’s opinions vulnerable to the media, and therefore, easily swayed.
In Zoll’s “Freedom of Religion?,” similar themes are evident. However, unlike the previous article discussed, the author argues against traditionalist views on marriage: “The religious liberty fight isn’t about what happens inside the sanctuary. First Amendment protections for worship and clergy are clear” (Zoll, para 3). In this way, the author dismisses the other arguing side’s views, and quickly establishes a skewed representation of the debate. The tactic of dehumanization is also utilized, as it assumes a single approach to be applied to everyone in interpreting religious protections, though every citizen is entitled to their own beliefs and interpretation of what it means to have religious protections. Propagandist approaches such as this sheds light on the not-readily-noticeable power of the media, and how much influence they can have.
The misrepresentation of the gay marriage debate, as shown in these three articles, is misleading and unethical. More often than not, personal opinions are harped on throughout the article, with not a semblance of neutrality presented. Some facts are present, but the article’s side of the debate or argument quickly overwhelms them, with little reference to the other side’s opinions or beliefs, or the actual facts. The media is largely propagandistic in that it is used to influence attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs for the purpose of either benefitting or harming a person, cause, or institution. Gay marriage, in this research, has been shown to be a threat to the institution of marriage, and has also been shown to be threatened by more traditionalist views. With the increasing number of modes of media interfaces, the media is capable of influencing an entire nation. While propaganda is not always immediately noticeable, it acts in less obvious ways to influence attitudes through subtle references, biases, and presentation of skewed information.
In conclusion, the media has the power to profoundly influence public opinion, social issues, and effectively determine the outcome of major issues. Propagandistic tactics are often employed to circumvent the truth and neutrality, and instead present skewed or biased information. Gay marriage, an ongoing and heated debate, is one such example in which the Media has presented one-sided arguments and information, rather that focusing on presenting neutral information to the public. As a result, the accuracy of information on such major issues is severely compromised.
- Lee, Morgan. “Here’s What Supreme Court Says about Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom.” Here’s What Supreme Court Says about Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom. Christianity Today, 26 June 2015. Web. 20 July 2015. http://www.christianitytoday.com
- Wilson, Robin. “Flashback: Gay Marriage Debate Shouldn’t Be Winner-take-all.” USA Today. Gannett, 26 June 2015. Web. 20 July 2015. http://www.usatoday.com
- Zoll, Rachel. “Freedom of Religion?” US News. U.S.News & World Report, 29 June 2015. Web. 20 July 2015. http://www.usnews.com/