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The conditions under which people accept or reject a message when they are aware of a range of alternatives are fundamental to this process, and are discussed in depth.We then discuss the ways in which such attitudinal shifts facilitate changes at the level of policy.
The media can effectively remove issues from public discussion.
The analysis of media content – of what we are told and not told – is therefore a prime concern.
In terms of shaping content, we argue that a number of privileged groups contribute to the production of media accounts, including social and political institutions and other interest groups such as lobbyists and the public relations industry (Miller & Dinan, 2000, 2009).
These different groups intersect to shape the issues open to discussion, but the outcome can also severely limit the information to which audiences have access.
The story is organised around this way of understanding migration, and the different elements of the story such as interviewees, the information quoted, the selection of images and editorial comment, all work to elaborate and legitimise it as a key theme.
In past research we have shown, using this method, that news accounts can and do operate to establish specific ways of understanding (Briant, Philo, & Watson, 2011; Philo, 1996; Philo & Berry, 2004, 2011).Drawing on findings from a range of empirical studies, we look at the impact of media coverage in areas such as disability, climate change and economic development.Findings across these areas show the way in which the media shape public debate in terms of setting agendas and focusing public interest on particular subjects.Our method begins by setting out the range of available arguments in public discourse on a specific subject.We then analyse the news texts to establish which of these appear and how they do so in the flow of news programming and press coverage.Finally, we examine the way in which audience beliefs and understandings relate to changes in commitments to alter individual behaviours in their intersection with structural support – and the impact of such changes for wider social change.The advent of digital media has shown that the world is made up of a mass of circulating, disjointed, and often contradictory information.1(1), doi:10.5964/jspp.v1i1.96 Received: 2013-06-24. In those cases in which audiences do not possess direct knowledge or experience of what is happening, they become particularly reliant upon the media to inform them.That is not to say that the media simply tell us what to think – people do not absorb media messages uncritically (Philo, 2008; Philo, Miller, & Happer, in press).For example, in our work on disability we showed the relationship between negative media coverage of people on disability benefit and a hardening of attitudes towards them.Further, we found that the media also severely limit the information with which audiences understand these issues and that alternative solutions to political problems are effectively removed from public debate.