The Greek philosopher Plato understood opinion as an intermediate point between knowledge and ignorance. Opinion is not episteme (science), but Doxa (belief), it is a partial knowledge of the majority, unlike science, which is knowledge reserved for a few. Later, in the Middle Ages, authors such as Nico Machiavelli understood opinion as the image that subjects have of the prince, so to govern it will only be necessary to know the image that the people have of the rulers and offer it to them.
“Public Opinion” is a concept with many definitions, so it would be somewhat unconscious to try to give it a specific definition. After having carried out the present work, my definition of public opinion would be “what is known that the vast majority of society thinks about a current issue”.
Public opinion can be what the public thinks about matters of general interest, but it can also be what the media say it is, that is, those opinions that for one reason or another are dominant in the news space. In this sense, the media can become creators of public opinion and, by extension, creators of ideological currents sympathetic to those owned by the owners of said media
The media have more power than we imagine. The mass media are vehicles through which socially shared cognitions and ways of interpreting reality are constructed. They feed the flow of public opinion creating trends in it. They provide it with objects of attention and thought, as well as explanations relating to them.
The media make the viewer feel a participant in the events they observe, which are what the media shows them, since at the same time they are hiding others that are happening at the same time. Some media outlets are in the hands of multi-million dollar companies that only look out for their interest. For example, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the OECD affiliate research centres, universities and foundations at the service of their ideas through their financing.
These centres propagate and refine the information financed through these multi-million dollar entities, creating a unique thought in society in accordance with the interests of these entities. The information will be collected and reproduced by the mainstream media in the hands of powerful industrial and financial groups that create messages and repeat them ad nauseam, through satellites to reach the whole world, modifying the words and behaviours of the rulers,
Until recently, reporting was describing an event and establishing a series of parameters that allow the viewer to understand its significance, but today reporting is showing the story in progress, making us attend the event live. The image of the event is enough to give it all its significance, the objective of the citizen is no longer to understand the event, but to see it. With this, television condemns all those events that do not have images to silence.
Awareness existing in the members of a group of forming a community that holds similar opinions regarding a subject, the discrepancies around an event between two audiences or between all and power, or the same mediatisation of opinion, constitute the public opinion.
Information is what makes it possible to pass from a set of individual opinions to a single public opinion. The information creates an agglutination of individual opinions and determines among the opinion-makers the awareness of being part of a group that has its own force of pressure in social reality.
Normally, a feedback process takes place. Information is introduced through a medium within a climate of opinion. This information is transformed into public opinion, which gives rise to a series of reactions resulting in the acquisition of certain behaviours. These behaviours will be the subject of new information, and so on.
The environment in which a social group develops also intervenes in the formation of public opinion. Individual opinions, cultural patterns and power decisions contribute to creating a public opinion that can be oriented one way or another. There are also those who say that Public Opinion arises as an object of study as human communities become complex enough to give rise to the emergence of thinkers, so that, according to this, public opinion as such has existed even in times BC.
The war efforts of the early twentieth century required the population to feel united by some sentiment such as loving the homeland or hating the enemy. In this regard, propaganda played an essential role. The messages transmitted through brochures, newspapers and other media, managed to persuade the Public Opinion of those opinions that interested the power, and examples of this are found in the Nazi era, where German society came to have a high degree of conviction that what Hitler said about the superiority of the Aryan race was true.
Public opinion is (or is a function of) what political leaders decide, and especially the people who control the media. Their interests move public opinion, using methods of persuasion and manipulation. There are also those who say that the media, rather than creating opinions in the population, what they do is reinforce those that already exist. Thus, for example, television is not going to give us reasons to vote for a party that we did not intend to vote for from the beginning, but rather it will give us more reasons to vote for the one we already had in mind.
In modern context where political polarization is rife, masses are required to make a distinction between information which qualifies as consumable and which is not. In this regard, media outlets should be carefully approached for the true essence of their news coverage.
For example, British Herald, leading news platform in the UK, continues to draw public interest due to their unbiased, unprejudiced, and impartial reporting and news coverage. In the digital landscape, the British Herald eMagazine is specially followed by the millennial and Generation Z. The media source remains a one-stop shop for the world’s breaking news, viral stories and trends. The circulation of the British Herald has reached record highs since its inception with distribution through the Magzter channel, which has in excess of 50 million users. Magzter ‘s channel also remains the country’s largest Digital News Stand.