Media plays a major role in informing people about happenings all around the world i.e., from Asia to Australia we know everything through media today. With media getting digitalized in the 21st-century people can find out anything, and they buy the information they are getting through a click on their smart devices.

It’s human nature that we all have the curiosity to know everything happening around us. For centuries human beings rely on information, but little they know the consumption of information affects our perception related to things. Media is an important part of our life has the power to shape and build our perception, as the news we consume from media tends to form a public opinion.

What is perception?

To know about how media shapes and builds public opinion, it is very important to know what is perception. Perception is a state of getting aware through the senses. Human perception is shaped on basis of how they interpret various sensations.

Media Perception Theories:

Media perception theories were introduced by scholars, these theories i.e., agenda-setting and cultivation theory defines how media influences public perception.


Agenda-setting is the most important media perception theory which refers to the media’s coverage of a particular issue that becomes the focus of public attention. In simpler words, the media gives importance to a particular topic to shape public opinion. Agenda setting was introduced in 1972 by two professors Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw.

The two main assumptions of agenda-setting theory are media filters the news instead of directly reporting it without filtering it. The media often chooses the topics and news which creates more sensation. Media sets a topic and gives most coverage to a particular topic which becomes vital in eyes of the audience. The most recent example of agenda-setting theory is the media’s attention on covid19.  When the coronavirus became the talk of the town, media all around the world covered different stories on it which helped to spread awareness in people regarding the virus.

Cultivation theory:

Cultivation theory was introduced by George Gerbner in the 1960s. cultivation theory explains people who spend most of their time-consuming information from media are more likely to interpret world social reality which is getting presented on media. People get influenced to an extent that the things presented on media can influence their attitude and behavior.

The theory argues that the perception media gives through television is not true it does not reflect reality. The constant exposure of people to content media is portraying through television shapes their perception of the world.

How the media shapes public opinion?

The dynamics of Mass media has changed over time from the conventional medium of reporting news to digital news and mobile journalism. Human beings buy everything they are being told in the 21st century through new forms of media. The transmission of information from television and social media can impact the human way of thinking in both positive and negative aspects that’s why it is said every coin has two faces. The most recent example of media’s role of how media shapes the public’s opinion is when people consumed information regarding the coronavirus from social media without verifying it, some people around the world started to refer to coronavirus as the Chinese virus because of fake information on social media.

How the media shaped public opinion during the Vietnam war?

When the American troops were fighting a war against Vietnam, most of the American population was in favor of government policies. The American government never knew the perception of Americans regarding the war with Vietnam will change and they will turn against the war.  Media played a major role in shaping public perception during the Vietnam war when Americans were shocked to see pictures of marines battling the Vietcong commandoes for the US embassy. Media coverage led the Americans to question their government and develop a perception that the government is lying regarding the progress in the war.

Media’s influence through political campaigns:

Media is considered an important pillar of democracy, politicians around the world use media as a tool to shape public opinion regarding their agenda. Media helps political parties around the world to reach out to the masses. Politicians often hire PR and media team who handles their public campaigns, press conferences to get the most coverage on mainstream media to shape public opinions regarding their policies.

Political candidates during elections often use media as a tool to blame and spread rumors regarding the opposing candidates i.e., politicians launch public campaigns on various mediums of media like television, and in recent times there has been a record increase in political campaigns on social media. To shape public opinion politicians have much more control over what to report and how how to report.

Media’s influence through advertisements

People all around the world rely on mass media a lot, all sorts of information are accessible by a click on their smart devices. In the 21st century, media rely on advertisements a lot as it is one of the major sources of earning for mediums of media. The advertisements have the power to shape people’s opinions regarding their buying behavior. Advertisements hire celebrities to have an impact on consumer’s minds by giving out a message that the products they are selling are used by celebrities, which encourages consumer behavior to buy that particular product.

Media’s influence through Public service messages:

Media is used as an important medium to build perception regarding public awareness, as today the message media delivers is accessible to the masses. Public service messages are often advertised in newspapers, television, radio, and social media. Messages regarding health and safety are regularly advertised by the government and various Ngo’s

A very recent public service message to build public perception was awareness content regarding Covid-19 on almost all mediums of media. Government and NGOs both started a campaign through media to spread awareness about what is coronavirus and how to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.


It won’t be wrong to say that influence of media is increasing day by day, the message we are getting through media shapes our opinion to an extent that it changes both our attitudes and behavior. The influence of media can be positive and negative it all depends on how people around the world are perceiving the messages.