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What Role Do the Media Play in Forming Public Opinion?

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What role do the media play in forming public opinion?
(Choose an example and explore the question with relevance to that example)

Executive Summary page 2
Research Question page 2
Research page 2
Literature Review page 3
Findings page 4
Discussion page 5
Conclusion page 6
Reference List page 6

Executive Summary
This report explores the question of what role the United States (U.S.) television media played in forming public opinion on the Vietnam War. The research, based on reviewing other primary and secondary sources, shows various opposing theories regarding this subject. Firstly, that television media was blamed for the U.S. loss in Vietnam. As Vietnam was the first televised war, it was argued that television swayed public support for the war by projecting the footage of conflict into the lounge rooms of Americans. One counter-theme showed that other factors such as opposition to the prolonged war and military policy were more likely to have changed public opinion. This report discusses how television media during the Vietnam war was just one aspect of how the public would have formed an opinion on such a complex issue, however concludes that further research is required to arrive at a definitive argument on such a controversial topic.

Research Question
This report explores what role the media played in forming public opinion within the U.S., regarding America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The research is particularly focused on the level of influence the introduction of television journalism had on forming public opinion during the war efforts.
Escalation of U.S. involvement from aid to major deployment within Vietnam began after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 (Gifford 2007, p. 18). This period also saw television established as a mass medium across homes in the U.S.

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