Mass Media and Public Opinion: Manipulating or Enligthening?

Thursday, 14. October 2010 | 11:00 Uhr


Jörg Matthes


University of Zurich


From the perspective of framing research, Professor Jörg Matthes from the University of Zurich explored the question of whether powerful mass media, in general, and the conditions of opinion formation and opinion change processes, in particular, have to be reconsidered. During the course of his speech, he presented results from several studies (data of social science experiments and real world survey combined with an analysis of news media content) that showed, in fact, that news frames can shape citizens’ attitudes especially when people are uncertain about their opinions. However, this not a threat for democracy, according to Professor Matthes. It is important that several arguments influence the decision-making process. It is further true that the media raises the interest for political decisions. He closed his presentation by discussing the democratic implications of some examples of “uninformed media impact”, that is, when people base their political attitudes on arbitrary or irrelevant information conveyed by the news media.Speech by Prof. Jörg Matthes

Jörg Matthes

He studied Psychology, Communication, Philosophy and Intercultural Business Communication at the Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany. Prior to joining the University of Zurich, he worked as researcher at the Department of Communication Science (University of Jena) in projects about trust in media and the public perception of biotechnology.

His research focuses on the process of public opinion making, confidence in media, news framing, advertising impact and empirical methods. He has published his articles about his research activities in several national and international professional journals. He received the prestigious top dissertation award from the German Communication Association, the Faculty of Arts of the University of Zurich and the Swiss Association for Market and Social Research.

He is head of the Methods Division of the Swiss Communication Association. During July and August 2008, he was visiting scholar at the School of Communication at the Ohio State University. Since August 2009, he holds an assistant professorship for Political Communication and Political Behaviour with the NCCR Democracy.

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