The influence of opinions conveyed through mass media: Focusing on commentators in Japanese news show
Marina Kitagawa (Master’s Student, Graduate School of Sociology, Kwansei Gakuin University)
In today’s Japanese media environment, news coverage provides more and more entertainment and the form of news programs has changed. Although previous studies have reported that people are influenced by interpersonal communication rather than by mass-communication, recently in Japan, the effect of both forms of communication cannot be clearly distinguished. In this research, I focused on “commentators” and explored the influence of their presence through two studies.
First, I designed a survey to clarify whether commentators’ remarks were recognized as information conveyed by the mass media or as the opinions of others to whom people feel close. In this research commentators were distinguished experts compared to non-experts, depending on their attributes. The survey was conducted online, and the results demonstrated that: 1) people considered experts to be authentic and reliable, 2) people considered non-experts to be ordinary and close, 3) people who have less political knowledge tend to be more favorable towards commentators in general, regardless of their attributes.
Second, I conducted a laboratory experiment in order to investigate the influence of opinions on the formation of public opinion. The hypothesis that being exposed to comments crystallized people’s opinions more was NOT statistically significant. However, in additional analysis, there were gender differences in the degree of influence. The results were considered to be subject to the obtrusiveness of the issues. The results revealed that for every citizen there is the possibility to appropriately predict the media influence on the acceptance of unobtrusive issues.
Japanese news media, mass communication, public opinion, soft news, commentator