|You gotta spin it to win it|
|Stop the presses!|
|We want pictures|
“”It used to be thought that the media was intentionally dumbing us all down so that they could control everything. The internet has proven that they didn't need to bother.
“” The media is the right arm of anarchy.
|—Dan Brown, Angels and Demons|
“” [...] nobody said, "Well, maybe the President had an influence on this violent behavior." Because that's not the way the media wants to take it and spin it, and turn it into fear, because then you're watching television, you're watching the news, you're being pumped full of fear, there's floods, there's AIDS, there's murder, cut to commercial, buy the Acura, buy the Colgate, if you have bad breath, they're not going to talk to you, if you have pimples, the girl's not going to fuck you, and it's just this campaign of fear and consumption, and that's what I think it's all based on, the whole idea of "keep everyone afraid and they'll consume."
|—Marilyn Manson in Michael Moore's 2002 documentary Bowling for Columbine|
Media is the plural form of “Medium” and a catch-all term that refers to all means of communication of information, which could be in video, audio, or literary form and can be spread through broadcasting, the print and the internet. Television, newspapers, magazines, radio, music, and the movie industries are all part of the mainstream media, since they appeal to a very wide variety of audiences, whereas the term media can also refer to Youtube videos, blogs, podcasts, wikis, memes, email, research journals etc. or really any other form of communication.
The term "media bias" implies a widespread bias among media against the standards and ethics of journalism, rather than the perspective of an one individual journalist or article. It aims to either sway public opinion away or towards a particular ideology, candidate or political party to serve the interests of powerful social groups (ideological bias), or just trying to get more views and clicks through sensationalism and clickbait (spin bias). It can take the form of either cherry-picking facts, using loaded language, or simply making stuff up.
Often, ideological bias colours the contents of the media, therefore dividing the population's political beliefs even further down into the two main parties in a particular country, (Labour/Conservative in the United Kingdom, and Republican/Democrat in the United States) ignoring the smaller parties that may sometimes have something good to offer (although, in some cases, not so good).
Viral refers to the spread of information, most notably over the internet, through person-to-person interactions. It is closely related to memes, which are often the unit of information being passed. The exposure patterns to the information look very much like the spread of a biological virus or other infectious agent. It is essentially an exponential growth pattern, with one person showing it to a few friends, who each show it to a few more friends, and so on.
The ease of spreading information in this manner over the internet has led it being the main fertile breeding ground, but similar things can occur through older technologies like fax machines, smoke signals, or, if desperate, face-to-face communication.
In recent years, major corporations have attempted to create artificial viral marketing campaigns to take advantage of the low cost and high exposure. Such viral marketing campaigns have met with mixed success.
Hostile media effect
For example, in the first study done on the topic, a number of subjects watched news clips of the coverage of a massacre of Palestinian refugees by a Lebanese militia during the Lebanese Civil War. The pro-Israeli subjects were more likely to think that the coverage had a pro-Palestinian bias while the pro-Palestinian subjects thought the opposite. This concept probably explains many of the accusations of liberal/"corporate"/Zionist/FSM-biased media. In short, it's impossible to perceive media as unbiased when you, yourself, have a powerful bias.
- Vallone, R.P., Ross, L., & Lepper, M.R. (1985). The hostile media phenomenon: Biased Perception and Perceptions of Media Bias in Coverage of the "Beirut Massacre". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 577-585.