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Media Reach, Media Influence


The article “media reach, media influence? The effects of local, national, and internet news on public opinion inferences” by Cindy T Christen and Kelli E. Huberty generally seeks to map the effects of media news on public interest and opinion. This it does through carrying out two experiments which come up with a comparison of internet, national as well as local news on twin U.S. policy issues involving the environment.

 A summary

It has been noted in several quarters that in future, online news may become more influential as far as informing public opinion is concerned. This is based on the observed escalation of the internet as opposed to the traditional mass media. This escalation according to Cindy and Kelli has been informed by easy access to topics of interest as websites are now hyperlinked together etc. The authors also use the two experiments as a measure of perceived media reach press inference as far as persuasion is concerned.

 In the recent past, we have had quite a number of news agencies coming up with measures aimed at reaching new audiences. These measures include but are not limited to the World Wide Web site establishments. However, this remains to be an effort by news organizations to enhance their audience bases as studies show that a vast majority of individuals in America source their news items from magazines and newspapers (Bryant et al. 2008). This assertion can be reinforced by the statistics from the U.S. department of Commerce and Mediamark Research, Inc. As per these reports, magazines and newspapers which comprise the traditional mass media remains to be a favorite of many American households as afar sourcing news is concerned. McCombs (2004) however notes that though it is still used as a source if news items, the internet still remains to be a preserve of the younger generation as well as those who are relatively educated. This was the same finding Cindy and Kelli came up with based with sentiments from college students in experiment 2. However, the use of the internet as a source if news items seems to have escalated in the recent past.

 However, according to Bryant et al. (2008), internet users are not exposed to the same news items as opposed to those who source such news items from the traditional mass media including magazines and newspapers. This can be explained by the fact that there is an observed relative trend of similarity as well as uniformity across traditional mass media as far as news items are concerned but when it comes to the internet, users always have a discretion to seek information which in one way or the other reinforce or match their prevailing beliefs and interests. It is important to note that in their piece “media reach, media influence? The effects of local, national, and internet news on public opinion inferences”, Cindy and Kelli note that there may be an over simplification of the media reach assumption which is essentially has its foundation on persuasive press inference. This is based on the fact hat there exists some discrepancy between the prevalent web based news exposure and the ability of the internet to have a nationwide reach.

 An evaluation

It is important to note that when it comes to an analysis of the effect of local, national as well as internet news on public opinion, Cindy T Christen and Kelli E. Huberty are well placed to address the same. As professionals in the journalism with Cindy being an associate professor in journalism and technical communication and Kelli having been a Greenlee school of journalism and communication student, both can be said to be authorities as far as media and information dissemination issues are concerned. The authors extensively review previous literature as far as the topic is concerned and to enhance the reliability of the study, they rely on reliable information sources from authorities in political science, mass communication, social and psychological dimension of new technology etc. The relevance of this study is also enhanced by the author’s efforts to cite from recent sources. Hence the validity of sources used in the study lead to conclusions which can be taken to be valid and hence the authors succeed in making their point.  This also enhances the accuracy of the piece. Cindy and Kelli’s interpretation of materials sourced from outside such as the Gunther and associate study findings is not complicated and this goes a long way to ensure that the reader is not left behind in the analysis. All in all, it can reliably be said that both authors build a coherent as well as logical argument. In addition, Cindy and Kelli present counter arguments in their study.

 It is also important to note that the development f ideas throughout the discussion section is clear and it is also organized it such a way that the reader is able to follow. That is, the discussion section starts with a restatement of the primary purpose of the experiments that were carried out and progresses to explain what each experiment entailed. This section then goes ahead to map out the relevance of the internet in relation to other traditional media such as newspapers and magazines.It is also commendable for the authors to call for additional research on areas they feel need more observation and analysis. For instance, they call for additional research on prediction with regard to the persuasive press inference when it comes to the growing online news influence in directing public opinion. Cindy and Kelli also note that the difference between linked news sources and unlinked news sources should be taken into consideration as far as persuasive press inference is concerned in future research.It is important to note that the study by Cindy and Kelli can be used by a wide variety of institutions to inform policy and decision making. For instance this study would be vital to the public administration for purposes of inferring the best ways to minimize effects of bad publicity as far as policies are concerned. This is because in some instances, inaccurate news items might shape the various citizenry impressions concerning a wide range of policies formulated.


            In conclusion, various scholars as well as authors have hypothesized that there exists a clear link between public opinion sentiments and news coverage. The study by Cindy and Kelli goes a long way to prove, through experimentation, that indeed public opinion inferences are impacted b local national as well as internet news. Though the authors point out the growing influence of the internet as far as exposure to a greater audience mass is concerned, it may be prudent for future research to be focused on the exact influence of internet on shaping public opinion.



Bryant, J & Oliyer, M.R. (2008). Media effects: advances in theory and research. Taylor & Francis

McCombs, M.E. (2004). Setting the agenda: the mass media and public opinion. Polity

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