Contemporary Problems of Social Work
INFORMATION AND TELECOMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES..
The impact function of modern mass media
Автор/Author: Skorokhorova E.U., Borodyanskaya E. A.
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mediasredstv v marketingovyh kommunikacijah.//Uchenye zapiski Rossijskogo
gosudarstvennogo social’nogo universiteta. 2014. № 3 (125). S. 96-103.
The reality we see on television, hear on the radio or read in newspapersis not always true.
Quite often the media create a reality that has very little to do with real facts. This applies
not only to Russia, but to other countries as well. “The media generates virtual reality,
artificially created, which often reflects the needs of political and business elite rather than
the audience”. Lately journalistic objectivity has been the focus of both journalists’ and
the general public attention. Mass media often tend to be not just informants and a kind of
educators, but also analysts and advocates who impose their points of view on people. In the
face of fierce competition the media representatives invent new styles to hold the attention of
their audiences, while trying to transformconventional styles.
The audience is becoming the determining factor of any project. Before starting a new
project, “the editors find out, how many people actually read the newspaper, how many of them
subscribe it, and how many buy it retail; if many viewers regularly watch the TV program”;
they estimate the age limit, the education level, material well-being of their potential audience.
Based on the above, they choose a particular pattern, which makes it easier to instilspecific
directives in the audience.
In Soviet times,television, the radio and the pressused to be major contributors to the
formation of ideology for society. Each frame, each performance was well thought out. Much
attention was paid to the party life and stories about production pace-makers. Now we do not
have party ideology. But the media persist in creating some “simulated reality”. If earlier the
state had a unified ideology, now we are experiencingthe multiplicity of opinions, which makes
it difficultto distinguish fact from fiction.
Often people do not realize that a particular point of view is being imposed on them. In
shops they will often buy goods, which they have seen in newspapers or on television.They
discuss issuesthat are blazed all over the country. People live in reality created by others. But
is this reality real? Unfortunately, very few people think about it. People just learn about some
situation and act according to the pattern they have been proposed. “By informing a person
about the state of the world and filling their leisure, mass media make an impact on the whole
structure of their thinking, on their perception style, on the type of today’s culture”.
Every day, when we turn on the TV, we see pieces of reporting about terrorist attacks, murders,
accidents, and, unfortunately, we have got used to it. People are becoming somewhat addicted
to the psychological effects of mass media. This is especially true when we talk about elderly
people who have actually become”information addicts”. They turn on the TV several times a
dayto find out what is happening to the hostages and then go and take medicine to normalize
theirblood pressure.Television and the Internet exert a strong influence on teenagers too. This
is how young people frequently learn about new drugs, ordifferent youth movements. While the
Internet is not completely controlled yet and it is possible to find advertisements of psychotropic
substances, the TV or the radio can actually ‘advertise’ such ‘hobbies’ with no intention to do
so. Such things can easily bring us to the edge. “Now any studentis able to make drugs! –says
the reporter clapping his hands. – You can just go into the pharmacy and buy drugs available
without prescription”. Andthen, the journalist says what particular drugs (medicine) you
need. Just one word used improperly - and the druggets publicityand may become available
to young people. For example, when singers, actors ormusicians are being interviewed they
are not afraid to talk about their past full of drugs or alcohol. They are not afraid to talk about
their present life eitherwhich is associated with pernicious habits and drug addiction. Thus,
young people have the feeling that these addictions are essential attributes of glory, fame and
material wealth. They begin to think that they can get rid of these addictions at any moment,
just like their idols did. “However, journalists tend to describe a drug addict primarily as a
sick person, thereby justifying antisocial acts and crimes committed by the latterdue to drug
addiction. In a teenager’s mind such deviant behaviour will be fixed as acceptable”.
“All means are good when making an impact on mass consciousness, the main thing here is
to get the result,” –this is the opinion shared by a great number of managers in mass media.
The problem of survival in conditions of tough competition forces them to seek new ways of
attracting viewers/readers/listeners. “If the editorialstaffhave decided to present a certain
occurrence as an event, they will employ standard television techniques of”event persuasion”:
a correspondent, reporting with emotion, an image showing us somearticles of everyday life
to make it look trustworthy, a couple of interviews from which you can concludethat onlyone
thingis quite clear: the interviewees saw something and are ready to say something about that.
So from “sunflower seeds” of almost any occurrence they squeezean oily teleimpression of the
event, in other words, this is the way they produce another news hoax”.
Media texts are becoming more uninhibited. “The fusion of literary and colloquial styles,
blurring boundaries between formal and informal, public and everyday communication is explained,
asresearchers say, by journalists’ desire to implement the basic strategy of modern mass media –the
strategy of proximity to the addressee”. Journalists want to tell the audience about who the
media figure lives with, whatthey do, what they eat, where they relax and so on. But do people
really need to know that? Celebrities are gaining popularity in this way, while people just learn
about where this or that pop-star has had dinner today. Journalists create a reality in which, in their
opinion, people are interested in private lives of stars. However, if you look at itobjectively, such
informationis not important or relevant at all. Although itis just background information, many
channels turn it into sensation and report it as if it is vitalfor the audience.
The media should pay attention to the moral component of their content. This relates to
issueswhich are unethical to be discussed in the daytime (e.g., sex), when children can watch
CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS OF SOCIAL WORK VOLUME 1, No. 2, 2015
TV. Also the media should not cause panic where it should be avoided. For example, before
the new 2015 year, the main theme of all television news was economic information about
fluctuating exchange ratesof the dollar and the euro. Journalists engaged financial analysts in
discussions andthey talked about what to do during the crisis facing the country and its people.
As a result, the people who listened to them, rushed to buy 5-7 TVs, 3-4 fridges. There were cases
when bank depositors drew out their money, spent it on buying appreciated currency, and then
had to sell it when the dollar and euro were falling in price. If that news had not been reported
as sensational and extraordinary, such a mass panic could have been avoided. Therefore,
journalists from the very beginning should take into accountall possible repercussions of
their stories and programmes. After all, public opinion is in journalists’ hands and words. And
“thereflection of public opinion generally aims at making animpact on this opinion “. While
talking about rising price on buckwheat, one should considerwhat an ordinary man will do, when
he receives this information. Soon after the news about rising price on buckwheatappeared on
TV, the shelves in shops and supermarkets emptied, and prices on newly supplied buckwheat
soared several times. Demand creates supply. In such cases, entrepreneurs cash in on people’s
Today sensation is the basis of success. It allows the media to keep their audiences informed.
The winner is the one who was the first to report the “hot news”. In the pursuit of news,
journalists employ any means, up to apetroaie and appealing to base instincts. Therule of SDL:
sex, death, laughter, is one of the fundamentals in the impact function of the media. Some TV
channels and periodicals actively use this rule, while neglecting professional ethics.
The language of modern mass media has a number of specific features. Arranging events,
journalists “play with the headlines”, express irony in their texts. But “it iscurrently the model,
which the majority of Russian native speakers try to follow in communication process”.
Speech stamps invented by journalists seem to have beenimprinted on people’s mindsand are
used now all over the country. Using cliché is a typical feature of the mass media language. If
you are talking about a jury, it must be “strict”; about a family - it is a “firm unit of society”.
There are many other examples of speech stamps, such as“it is not a secret to anybody”;
“hundreds of cars are held in snow captivity”; doctors are “people in white coats” and others.
The media representatives have been talking lately about objectivity of journalistic material.
But starting from the very first step - receiving the news about some event– they decide if it is
worth covering or not. Moreover, a journalist is a human being, so he/she has their own opinion
on a certain situation and no matter how hard they are trying to cover it objectively, their
subjective point of view will be felt. Still, it is good enough if they have no editorial assignment
to express a certain point of view. But, “the audience expectsthe truth, accurate information,
appropriate assessments and reliable forecasts from journalists”.
Often journalists give unverified information in the pursuit of sensation; they appeal to
the so-called factoids, rather than facts. Significant social problems remain out of sight of the
media. And whichever reality journalistsconstruct, our society will be living in it.
The “TV people”, in contrast to newspaper and radio journalists, have yet another tool to
influence the audience – videoshot. For example, how or where a video camera is installed in
the interview process. In order to disparage the interviewee, the camera is set abovehis eye
level, but to raise somebody in people’s eyes, the camera is set below the eye level. Let me give
you another example: a journalist is “recording stand-up”while reporting on a meeting. If the
journalist is walking with the protesters inthe same direction, it means he sympathizes with
them, if he is walking in the opposite direction, it means he does not support them. Often such
records are made on purpose, in order to entice the audience to your side. Moreover, this side
of impact is the most hidden from the viewer. It works on a psychological level. If the viewer
may be able to realize from the written text that something is being imposed on them, they will
hardly understand it froma videoshot or after editing.
“Different types of editing help to achieve the desired effect on the audience. Editing can do
a lot: to shift the focus - to makesomething important secondary and vice versa, to change the
course of events (to swap them), to remain silent about the “unnecessary”...Editing is one of
the most effective means of influence on mass consciousness, with the help of which you can
create new life values for the viewer”.
Properly chosen sequence of stories can inspire a certain mood. For example, the central
television channelsalways start by broadcasting a “hot topic”, the urgent news that will
interest the viewer. Immediately after the first story, it is important not to lose the viewer’s
In Soviet times there was a certain idea of the layout. Here is an example of the layout of the
main Union news program “Vremya” (“Time”):
– Party life (in the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, information from party forums)
– Soviet life (sessions of the Supreme Council, government’s decisions)
– Economy (news about production, work achievements)
– News from abroad (first from brotherly countries, then from the capitalist ones)
– Science news and culture
– The weather.
Outwardly,today’s news programmes “Vremya” and “The News” on channel 1 have preserved
their original layout.
– Der Spiegel (Brief news announcement)
– The most important events in Russia
– The most important international events
– Events of social and cultural agenda
– Sports news
– Weather forecast.
What determines the layout of the program? First, planning: ’Tomorrow’must be thought
out beforehand. And secondly, the information picture of the day. To compile this picture the
following ways are used:
– summaries of news agencies about the events taken place recently, announcements of
– announcements (sometimes in the form of an invitation for shooting groups) of various
institutions, primarily public, or those which are proceeding, from the general context of the
last days, to become a source of news (for example, suppose some statement, which promises to
be sensational, is being expected, and so on);
– applications of correspondents from other countries, regions forthe topics which they are
The time when the programme appears on the air is essential . Often on federal channels the
teams preparing morning news releases start workingat 2 o’clock in the morning, and the first
broadcast isat 6 o’clock. Then new information starts to arrive. As for the evening news release,
it is rich in analytics. It summarizes theevents of the day. The main news may be reported
in severalscenes, which complementeach other contributing tospectators’ vision of the event.
Before broadcasting,briefings and meetings are held where they decideon the sequence of
subjects and composition of the information block.
Also, the layout depends on editor’s preferences, the concept of the programmeand the style
of the channel. Conventionally, there are three basic traditional stylesofprogrammes: classical,
domestic and publicistic. Classical style focuses on the events of the day. Domestic
style may start with a story which is not necessarily online, but is of interest to the audience.
Publicistic style is characterized by specific presentation of information, when one event or
story can become the core of the whole issue.
CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS OF SOCIAL WORK VOLUME 1, No. 2, 2015
Not long ago there appeared yet another style - infotainment - a special style of presenting
information using elements of entertainment, or show elements. This style is often employed
in youth programmes.
So, if you manage to identify correctly the audience of your channel and a particular
programme, as well as choose the most appropriate style, you can achieve significant results in
affecting the audience.
An important role is played by dramatic composition of release. Since antiquity it has been
known that a drama consists of three compulsory stages: outset, peripeteia and outcome. One
newscast consists of a few dramatic scenes. The program itself has its own drama. The more
intense a separate story or a separate release is, the longer the viewer will sit in front of the
For example, I. N. Kemarskaya, talking about dramatic compositionof a television programme,
uses the image of a “bunch of sausages”, which, in her opinion, very clearly reflects the structure
of any modern television product. “On average, every ten minutes there is a pause on air - an
advertising insert. What is between the ads is a content bank - “sausage”. If the programme
formatis designed for 26 minutes, it has 2-3 content banks. If the format is 52 minutes, then
When preparing a news programme, you should also consider such factors as:
– The concept of the programme andviewers involvement with it. For any TV company rating
is always in the foreground.
– Efficiency ofthe news service (the editorial staff like sayings: “Yesterday’s news is no
longer news”, “news is the most perishable commodity”).
– Priority of domestic events in Russia over other events, except extraordinary ones.
– Where there are mysteries, victories and defeats, where you see the positive features of a
negative hero, or vice versa - it is easier to put “hooks” for the audience and thereby to hold
their attention to the screen.
– The creative potential of the team, as well as talents of each member of the staff, the
quality of scenes prepared for broadcasting, and planning.
Strategies employed byfederal channels in arranging information programmes include:
– The main news “opens” the newscast.
– Minor, but still important news, goes between interesting news so that it can attract the
– Domestic news, which has a negative connotation, is not usually reported alongsidethose
involving top government officials, so that the viewer does not have any unwanted associations.
– “The rule of the edge”. People usually remember the first and the last. Therefore, the best
position in the layout is at the beginning and at the end of the programme, which is widely used
– It is always better to finish with something positive. During the newscast, viewers get a
lot of negative information - reports of serious emergencies, problems, crime in the city etc.,
therefore, the newscast concludes with something pleasant, for example, a story about some
unusual scientific discovery, or an exhibition, or the premiere of a film.
– A significant share of audience attention is attracted by the so-called “der Spiegel”. The
success of thisprogramme to a great extent depends on how interesting and intriguingthis kind
of announcement is written.
– There are twomoments when the programme isat risk of losing its audience: the beginningof
release (if its contents seem boring) and the beginning of the ad unit (if there is nothing of
interestleftthat could make the viewer continue watching the programme). Therefore, before
these moments come, it is necessary to interest the audience with what will happen next.
Modern viewers prefer the formin which the news is reported to the news itself.
The layout of the news programme is an effective tool of information policy. And if it is
properly used, it is possible to control the number of its viewers, as well as to manipulate public
Live broadcast and ban of censorship lifted many restrictions imposed on journalists.
This resulted in coarsening speech and spreading foul language. If earlier a journalist was
considered a man who possessed perfect knowledge of language, now anyone can try himself in
Unfortunately, Russian television is losing its national identity in pursuit of Western pattern.
Today the Western way of presenting material is considered to be ideal for Russian journalists.
It can be seen in the manner of speaking, manner ofshooting, manner of arranging scenes. It
can clearly be traced by comparing the newscasts, for example, in 1980 and 2014. The difference
in presentation of material is evident. In Soviet times, famous TV and radio presenters were
distinguished by clear articulation with clear pronunciation. Today’s presenters can make
wrong emphasis or make mistakes in texts. They speak very fast, use appropriate intonation
with logical emphasis in the right places. But local TV presenters seem to have “mush mouth”
and a wide variety of speech defects.
As for manipulation, it may be of different types, ranging from withholding information to
covert lies, while essential information is given in parts.
So what can be done in order not to yield to manipulation? Firstly, you should not trust
everything that is said on TV, written in newspapers or magazines or broadcast on the radio.
Secondly, you should be critical to any information. And we must remember that “emotional
and gullible viewer is an ideal object for manipulation”.
In this work we have considered some methods of influencing mass consciousness used by
themedia. The media are becoming a major factor influencing people. And those politicians
and businessmen, who understand this, buy whole mediaholding companies. Throughout the
history of journalism there have been a number of intensive canvassing campaignswithin the
media, sometimes developed into real struggle, to support the ideas of their owners. Moreover,
this happens not only at Federal level, but also at local levels. Nowadays, we are witnessing
worldwide information warfare. Thereby, we admit the fact that information can be equated to
arms in terms of its impact on the audience. In the early 20th century, no one could imagine
that the media would become such a powerful tool of handling people. But now we cannot but
take into account this role of the media in modern society, in order to arrange the information
flow with maximum effect.