Public opinion can be defined as sum of individuals opinions on an issue affecting those individuals but the opinion should be rational to the issue. According to Leornard W. Doob,” public opinion also refers to people’s attitudes on an issues when they are members of same social group. ” Besides that, David Truman also stated out that “public opinion consist of the opinions of aggregate of individuals making up the public under discussion. it does not include all the opinion held by such a set of individuals but only these relevant to the issues or situation that define them as a public. So, public opinion is the complex of beliefs expressed by a significant number of persons on an issue of general importance. (Persuasion In The Media Age. McGrawHill, 2002) Public opinion offer we to knew what is the public thinking, and how the public perceive an issues. that is a lot of agency that can spread the opinion of the public, it can be separates into 2 group which is non-media and media. (Persuasion: reception and responsibility by Charles U. Larson, 10th edition) Compared with others agency, mass media is the most significant to shaped Malaysian public opinion because its have many effective factors.
Mass media can be define as the medium that can influenced the large group of people on a short time, for examples like internet, newspaper, television, and radio. That is a lot of factors that why mass media can shaped the public opinion such as wide coverage, credibility, meet our needs and social influences. The first factors is wide coverage, according to mass communication theory, which is the spiral of silence theory created by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann is individuals who think their opinion conflicts with the opinions of most other people tend to remain silent on an issue, (Cutlip & Center’s Effective Public Relations, Tenth Edition.
GLEN M. BROOM) so they are fear of voice out or isolate from the majority. This shows that by having wide coverage, the public will slowly adapted the opinion that shows unconsciously, while the minorities also will follow the majority. Noelle-Neumann also suggests that highly consonant of media content has a strong influence on one’s opinion. (http://www. docstoc. com/docs/7484310/Theoretician-Profile-Elisabeth-Noelle-Neumann-and-the-Spiral-of-Silence-Theory, Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann and the Spiral of Silence Theory, 2010) With no doubt, nowadays, wide coverage of ass media allows information to be transmitting in the fastest speed and convey into large area. For example is about the prediction of the octopus to the match of FIFA WORLD CUP 2010, people post the video and article to the Facebook, then the people in the coverage will belief the team predict by octopus may win the match. Or others example is the concept of ‘one Malaysia’ is been promoted by our prime minister through mass media, the people of Malaysia knew the concept from the media and then they start practice. Mass media has the most and wide coverage among the public.
Other agents such as family, employment, club and political party need to use mass media to send their message to the public. For example, during election of Malaysia, the politicians use the media such as newspaper, television, internet to get the public voted for them and inattentively shape the public opinion toward the politic. Without having mass media, the message will be difficult to send, and therefore harder to shape the public opinion. Beside that, credibility also is a factors of mass media to shaped public opinion.
Credibility is the quality of being believable or trustworthy. The publics will belief the information send by the media which is having more sources compares to only have few sources, because the more sources can show that they have more accurate information. The publics also will more trust to the company which is has good reputation. From above statement, flow of information can shape public opinion as whenever someone get to know about one situation or event from many source, she or he will trust it easily because mass media provide the same information.
Therefore, again mass media has overcome the other agents to be the most important agents in shaping public opinion. For example the tsunami happen at Indonesia 2004, the whole world was watching and even Malaysia’s our own TV station also has covered this news. Furthermore, based on the meeting of public needs, it can be also considers as a factors, it can be divided into several part. Media can fulfill the audiences needs by provide the information to the public.
For example, the public can get the daily news from newspaper, Television, even internet. The public thinking is change because they rely on the media to give them the information they needs. According to Agenda Setting theory by McCombs & Shaw, 1972, define that mass media do not tell them what to think , but do tell them what to think about. ( Persuasion: reception and responsibility by Charles U. Larson, 10th edition) The thinking of the public will powerfully influence by the media.
Nowadays people are more easily influence by their idol or the people they addict to, especially young generation. This proof that social influence can shaped the public opinion. The opinion leader which is the people the public addict to, what the opinion leaders done, the followers will follow. The opinion leaders very good in using media as a tools to persuade their follower in order to change the follower behaviors and attitudes. Most of the opinion leaders are depend on their self interpretation to influence others.
For example, the Korea artist persuade theirs fans to buy their album at internet with show some album trailer and maybe show some picture about their new style, so the fans will been attracted. In conclusion, by having the four factors on above, which is wide coverage, credibility, meet of public needs and social influence, it’s strongly show that mass media is a significant agent to shaped Malaysia public opinion, that is still got many factors can proof that mass media is the most significant agents compared with others agents in shaping Malaysia public opinion.