Who is shaping you opinion?

If you are into nanotechnology, which medium will be your first choice to get the news about it? Newspaper or Internet?

A study explored the coverage and thematic content between newspaper and online media (including Google New search and Google Blog search) on nanotechnology (Cacciatore et al., 2012), and here are several main findings:

  •  The newspaper and Google News coverage of nanotechnology has stared to decline, while Google Blog coverage is still growing.
  • Newspaper readers are more likely to encounter health related content about nanotechnology, while online readers are more likely to see environment related topic.
  • Consumer’s preferred information sources will shape the different opinions upon related issues.

Different media have different agendas, like how we write this blog is definitely different from how we write a news article, from topics to writing styles. From the study, the circulation of the topic “nanotechnology” are more similar between newspaper and Google News, but dramatically different in Google Blog.

We often think that the internet has everything; it offer news as well as background, comments, related stories, and multimedia sources. However, have you ever realized that all that you’re reading are your choices?

This study discovered that online coverage of nanotechnology is more diverse on thematic content.  The difference amount between health, environment, business, regulation, and research are not so dramatic, which means internet users are exposing to more various content than to newspaper.

But that doesn’t always lead to “heterogeneous perceptions”. We are selecting the content! Studies showed that people are more likely to read something support their previous opinions (Iyengar and Hahn, 2009; Sunstein, 2001). And for blog writers – like us- often link to other articles that support our messages, which increases the possibility of getting information of limited aspects.

Recently, Google changed their privacy policies, and going to alter the search engine. The most used search engine is going to come up the results more significantly based on your search history and geographical location. While we can get more feeds of our interest, we are missing the diversity.

This TED talk has more profound thought on personalizing online news feed:

By contrast, newspapers are more competent to draw attention to a specific aspect of an issue. Put in another word, they are more likely to shape a clear opinion on a broad topic.

So based on your personal experience, which medium has more influence on shaping your opinion? Do you feel your opinion are shaped by media, or by your own selections?


Cacciatore, M. A., Anderson, A. A., Choi, D.-H., Brossard, D., Scheufele, D. A., Liang, X., . . . Dudo, A. (2012). Coverage of emerging technologies: A comparison between print and online media. New Media & Society, 14(6), 1039-1059.

Iyengar S and Hahn K (2009) Red media, blue media: Evidence of ideological selectivity in media use. Journal of Communication 59: 19–39.

Sunstein C (2001) Republic.com. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


3 comments on “Who is shaping you opinion?

  1. That was a good question posed;
    So yes, while we do and rely on internet and media a lot, they tend to influence our opinions in a way. Personally I cannot deny that both online media and my selections influence my opinions, because I have a vast bundle of information to selectively choose from. However, that doesn’t make my opinions any better. The source credentials are one thing we have to be aware of when deciding our opinions.
    This was a good post though. Be mindful of opinion influences.

  2. Honestly, I haven’t turned on a TV for more than a year and have never purchased a newspaper in my life. But I do get these TED talk delivered direct to my phone every day (along with a stack of other podcasts). I think this is the way that it is going, far from being the wealth and diversity of knowledge that everyone touted in the 90’s the internet is now so big that people don’t even ‘surf the web’ anymore. I can’t keep up with reading all the blogs I subscribe to that are delivered into my google reader let alone look for new information – even on the internet.

    I am most certainly exposed to a smaller diversity of views these days than I was 5 years ago.

    • Thanks for the comments guys.

      I agree so much with Rhian that I’m exposed to a smaller diversity of information than 5 years ago. I used to read a lot of newspapers and watch various TV programmes, but now I use Flipboard to get article feed which chosen according to my interest, and I don’t watch TV any more either. Instead, I subscribe some video streams online that, again, match my interest.
      The mass media we have today are still powerful after developed for centuries, but noticeably customer preference are getting increasingly influential. The information we get everyday are tailored based on our interest. On the other hand, as a communicator, the power of framing is still curtail, whiles a user-involved agenda setting are becoming important for shaping public opinion.

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