It is an understatement to say that Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump has received a disproportionate amount of media coverage.
He won’t in this blog today. But why people believe him is my topic.
Several facts emerge –yes, I said facts—from this Washington Post story about fringe media.
First, the media have always been good at informing but not persuading. Past and present research confirms that fact.
It not surprising, therefore, that persons who don’t attend legacy media (contemporary buzzword word for traditional) would get their information from other sources. Those sources then spread disinformation widely. And many recipients don’t bother to verify the assertions through reliable sites such as RealClear Politics , FactCheck or Snopes that debunk rumors and lies.
Second, social media have more persuasive power because they are similar to interpersonal communication –face-to-face conversations with persons whom you trust. Again, research confirms that interpersonal communication is more persuasive that media.
You read, see or hear on media about a new car, different software or police killing an unharmed person. You first learn about it from news organizations.
You’re looking for a new vehicle, considering an updated digital editing program or different cell phone, or you live in a neighborhood accustomed to violence and perceived police bias.
So you ask people you trust (friend, family, work colleague) about the car, software or shooting. Their opinions—trustworthy persons with perhaps firsthand experience because they bought the car, software or have encountered police—convince you that the reports are true.
The end results are not surprising. They once again support the decades of scholarship that show the impact of media (information) and interpersonal communication (persuasion).
What is new but not different is that social media have expanded the number of persons whom you trust. The fact that they often are online anonymous Facebook Friends doesn’t matter in many cases for many people.
That is the third sad fact here.