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A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

A Study of Public Opinion on Public


Opinion
-With special reference to Dakshina Kannada District

Akshatha

Reg. No. 280951

DISSERTTION SUBMITTED TO
THE P.G. DEPARTMENT OF MASS
COMMUNICATION AND JOURNALISM,
S.D.M.COLLEGE [AUTONOMOUS], UJIRE,
IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF REQUIREMENT FOR THE
DEGREE OF MASS COMMUNICATION AND
JOURNALISM

May, 2010
P.G. Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, S.D.M.
College [Autonomous], Ujire.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Declaration

I here by declare that the dissertation titled “A Study of Public Opinion


on Public Opinion – With Special Reference to Dakshina Kannada
District”, submitted to the P.G. Department of Mass Communication and
Journalism, S.D.M. College [Autonomous], Ujire, is a research study,
which with the exception of references and quotations that are given the
due credit in the text and bibliography is my original work.

Akshatha
Ujire, May 2010

This thesis was carried out under my supervision.

[Signature of the Guide]


Prof. Bhaskar Hegde,
Head of the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism,
S.D.M. College [Autonomous], Ujire.

THESIS EVALUATION

Rejected/ Accepted Rejected/ Accepted


Internal Evaluator External Evaluator
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Certificate
This is to certify that the dissertation titled “A Study of Public

Opinion on Public Opinion – With Special Reference to Dakshina

Kannada District” is a bonafide work done for the partial fulfillment of

the degree of Mass Communication and Journalism by the candidate Ms.

Akshatha, bearing the Reg. No. 280951.

Place: Ujire Prof. Bhaskar Hegde


Date: (Head of the Department)
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Acknowledgement
Doing this ‘Masters Thesis’ was a great experience through out and I consider
it as my duty to thank all those who have been instrumental in its completion.

My earnest thanks to Dr. B. Yashovarma, Principal, S.D.M. College, Ujire for


providing me an opportunity to carry out this dissertation.

I take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude towards my respected


guide Prof. Bhaskar Hegde, Head of the Journalism Department, S.D.M. College,
Ujire for his timely help and support.

I am greatly indebted to Dr. K. Ramesh Salian, Faculty of Economics


Department, S.D.M. College, Ujire for his excellent inputs in carrying out this
dissertation. I feel extremely grateful to him for the co-operation he extended to
me during the course of this study.

My special thanks to S. Nandagopal, Ex-Senior Correspondent, Times of India,


and Dr. K. Kushal Kumar, Faculty, University of Oman, for their initial
directions.

Infinite thanks to my Dad and Mom for encouraging me all along and
tolerating all my nuisances.

Thanks a ton to my beloved brother Vishakh for his enormous help in my


coding and data tabulation works.

Very special thanks to my dearest friends, Ashwini, Prithvi and Azman for their
unconditional support in carrying out this work.

My words of gratitude to all the Faculty members of the Department of Mass


Communication and Journalism, S.D.M. College, Ujire for their direct and
indirect assistance.

I am grateful to all the respondents for providing me with the necessary data
with out having any complaints.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Contents

Chapter I
Introduction
1.1 Public Opinion – An Introduction 2
1.2 Meaning of the Public 2
1.3 Meaning of the Opinion 3
1.4 Meaning of Public Opinion 4
1.5 Origin of the concept of Public Opinion 5
1.6 Historical phases of Public Opinion 5
1.7 Public Opinion –An over view 7
1.8 Attitudes and Opinion Formation 9
1.9 How the Attitudes change? 9
1 .10 Types of Attitude 10
1.11 Attitudes and Opinions 10
1.12 Formation of Public Opinion 11
1.13 Measurement of Public Opinion 12
1.14 Agencies for the formation of Public Opinion 13
1.15 Factors influencing public opinion formation 15
1.16 Opinion Leaders and formation of Public Opinion 17
1.17 Features of Opinion Leaders 18
1.18 Conclusion 19
References 20

Chapter II
Research Methodology and Review of Literature

2.1 Research Problem 22


2.2 Review Literature 23
2.3 Objectives of the study 25
2.4 Methodology of the study 26
2.4.3 General profile of the respondents 27
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

2.5 Limitations of the study 34


2.6 Relevance of the study 35
2.7 District Profile 35
References 39

Chapter III
Media, Democracy and Public Opinion
3.1 Introduction 41
3.2 Basic functions of the Mass Media 41
3.3 Agenda setting function of the mass media 42
3.4 Media impact on Attitude formation 44
3.5 Contemporary media 45
3.6 Media scenario in India 46
3.7 The role of the media in a democratic set – up 46
Case Studies 50
References 54

Chapter IV
Data Tabulation and Analysis
Tables, Charts and Interpretations 57

Chapter V
Findings, Inferences, Suggestions & Conclusion
Findings 107
Inferences 112
Suggestions 119
Conclusion 120

Appendix – Questionnaire 123

Bibliography 128
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

List of tables and charts with the public’s


responses
Table & Topic Page No.
Chart No.
1.1 Distribution of the respondents by sex and 27 - 28
place
2.1 Distribution of the respondents by age 28 - 29

3.1 Distribution of the respondents by education 29 - 30

4.1 Distribution of the respondents by 31 - 32


occupation
5.1 Distribution of the respondents by income 32 - 33

6.1 Exposure to the mass media 57 - 58

7.1 Exposure level to the various forms of mass 58 - 60


medium

8.1 Inclination towards different forms of mass 60 - 62


medium
9.1 Daily hours spent on the media by the 62 - 64
respondents
10.1 The reason behind spending time on media 64- 66

11.1 Frequency of exposure to the current issues 66 - 68


of significance through the mass media

12.1 Interest level in observing the issues of 68 - 70


public concern given out by the media

13.1 Seriousness of news and views delivered by 70 - 72


the media
14.1 Mass media and objectivity as perceived by 72 - 74
the public
15.1 Formation of the public opinion and 74 - 76
influence of the mass media

16.1 . Primary sources of information 77 - 79


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17.1 Varieties of issues as preferred by the public 80 - 82

18.1 Participation in the opinion polls 82 - 84

19.1 Impact of public opinion on an issue as 84 - 86


viewed by the public
20.1 Opinion on Ruchika‘s case and the role 86 - 88
played by the media
21.1 Role of the public opinion formation in the 89 - 90
formation or defeat of governments
22.1 Necessity level of having a unanimous 91 - 92
public opinion on an issue of public
importance

23.1 The creators of public opinion formation 93 - 94

24.1 Assessment of the statement - ―politicians 95 - 96


are corrupt‖
25.1 Assessment of the statement - ―terrorism is 97 - 98
religiously motivated‖
26.1 Assessment of the statement - ―Indians face 98 - 100
racism attacks in Australia‖
27.1 Assessment of the public‘s opinion on the 101 - 102
statement - ―The current education system in
India is utterly of poor quality‖

28.1 Assessment of the statement - ―Public 103 - 104


opinion is a powerful tool in a democratic
set up‖
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chapter I

INTRODUCTION
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chapter I
Public Opinion – An Introduction

1. 1 Introduction
Public opinion is the most often talked about term in the current scenario. It has
been a subject of interest since a long time. Especially with the growing concern
among the public about various relevant issues and happenings taking place in the
society, formation and measurement of public opinion plays a greater role in any of
the democratic set up. Public opinion in general is nothing but, ‗a common opinion
held by the public over an issue of concern or significance‟. It is a combination of two
factors i.e., the public and the opinion, both of which form the concept called public
opinion.

1.2 Meaning of the ‘Public’


A „public‟ from the viewpoint of public opinion, ‗is a group of people with similar
interests having a common opinion on a controversial subject‟. The group may or
may not have a unanimous opinion on an issue, but the majority of opinion is
considered as the public opinion. For example, a group of workers confronted with a
controversial question of whether to strike or not to strike against the management is a
public with a similar interest in employment, having the power to make a decision
which is called as the public opinion. Where as on the other hand, the same group of
workers standing at a bus stop unanimously agreeing on the smartness of a street
candy seller boy, is not involved in public opinion formation, as no controversial
question confronts the group1.

The public opinion formation depends on the kind of group that is involved in the
process of opinion formation. The group may be an uneducated bunch of people, or a
highly educated group or a mere general public. But very often general public is
believed to be the cluster of people who actively participate in the public opinion
formation. These public play an important role in a democratic set up where they have
the freedom and right to create an opinion, thereby destroying the priorly set agenda.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

To follow the famous words of Abraham Lincoln, the word ‗public‘ originally meant
both “of the people” and “for the people”. It only came to mean “by the people”
much later.

The American Sociologist Herbert Blumer has proposed an altogether different


conception of the term ―public‖. According to Blumer, ―public opinion is discussed as
a form of collective behaviour which is made up of those who are discussing a given
public issue at any one time”. Given this definition, there are many publics; each of
them comes in to being when an issue arises and ceases to exist when the issue is
resolved. Blumer claims that people participate in public opinion in different
capacities and to different degrees. So when it comes to the public opinion an
educated citizen‘s participation is always more important than that of a drunkard.

1.3 Meaning of the ‘Opinion’


According to Webster‘s Seventh New Collegiate dictionary opinion is “a view,
judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter”. It is mass
conclusion given on a dispute or an issue. The opinion must represent the group as a
whole. There may be more than one public opinion formed at a time. But only that
opinion supported by the majority of people is considered as the ruling opinion. An
opinion is stronger than an impression and weaker than positive knowledge. It
implies, conclusions thought out, yet open to dispute. A more or less settled opinion is
a ‗sentiment‘ and a ‗conviction‘ if it‘s held firmly. On the other hand a ‗view‘ is an
opinion more or less coloured by bias.

With regard to opinion there are all chances of prevalence of varied opinions among
the public, as the phrase goes, “my opinion differs from yours”. Opinion is what a
person thinks about something and it is an expression of active attitudes. For instance
one‘s opinion on rural India may be positive and interesting, while another person
might have a very negative opinion about the Indian villages. Most of the times
‗opinions‘ are less valid and are based on observations and information gathered in a
―non-scientific‖ way. Opinions differ from individual to individual and from group to
group, But holding of opinion on an issue is important than what the opinion is.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

1.4 What is Public Opinion?


The concept of public opinion has been a subject of interest since a long time.
Shakespeare called opinion as a “mistress of success”. John Locke pointed out that
men judge the rectitude‘s of their sections according to these laws, namely the divine
law, the civil law and the opinion or reputation, which was also called the law of
passion or private censure.

James Bryce saw public opinion as the opinion of the affluents in Europe and
described the American system around 1800‘s as a government by public opinion and
believed that the popular attitudes were expressed primarily by the press, political
parties and elections.

The concept of public opinion is slippery and elusive as there is no generally


accepted definition. Dr. Bernard Hennessey has synthesized all the available
definitions on public opinion and proposed a broader definition that reflects the basic
assumptions thus, ―Public opinion is the complex of beliefs expressed by a significant
member of persons on an issue of general importance”.

Accordingly the concept of public opinion should comprise the following factors:

1.4.1 An issue
An issue is a situation or occurrence which threatens to disturb the prevailing mores
of a group, creating more or less of a crisis and arousing discussion and the expression
of public opinion. It is a matter with the possibility of disagreement and of some
general concern to the community, not just to the individual.

1.4.2 The public


The public consists of a group of people who are affected by or aware of the issue.
There is no general public as such but there are many publics, each created by an
issue in which they are interested. And the thoughts, ideas, feelings of these public
may differ from one individual to another.

So public opinion in simple is an expression of a belief held in common by


members of a group or public on a controversial issue of general importance. Public
opinion is more like an ice berg. We know only the tip of this iceberg, while a large
amount remains submerged. Public opinion may be a collection of rational and
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

irrational beliefs, illusions, perceptions and views which expresses the attitudes of the
public and en bloc it is a collective behaviour2.

1.5 Origin of the Concept of Public Opinion


The Greek AGORA is traditionally seen as the birth place and location of public
opinion. It was an open space where the citizens gathered to discuss and ideally shape
the affairs of the state. By its nature public opinion lacks the structure of, for
example, ELITE opinion and there are difficulties of both definition and
identification3.

The combination of public and opinion into a single term used to refer to collective
judgments outside the sphere of government that affects political decision making,
occurred following several large scale social, economic and political trends in Europe.
Although at least one historian credits the English with using the phrases “opinion of
the people” and “opinion of the public” as early as 1741. But the French are most
often viewed as the inventors and popularizers of the concept of public opinion4.

Noelle Neumann credits Rousseau with first using the phrase “opinion publique” in
around 1744 as a reference to the social customs and manners of the society. At any
rate by 1780, French writers were making rather extensive use of the term public
opinion to refer to a political rather than a social phenomenon, often in conjunction
with a ―common will‘, ―public spirit‖, ―public conscience‖ and other related terms.
But in the late 18th and early 19th centuries public opinion began playing a more
formal political role in the governmental activities5. Adam Smith, one of the earliest
classical economists, refers to public opinion in his “Theory of Moral Sentiments”,
but it was Jeremy Bentham, the famous Utilitarian philosopher who fully developed
the theories of public opinion. He opined that public opinion had the power to ensure
that rulers would rule for the greatest happiness of the greater number. He brought in
Utilitarian philosophy in order to define theories of public opinion.

1.6 Historical Phases of Public Opinion


Susan Hurbst and James.R.Beniger6 in “The changing infrastructure of public
opinion” explore the connections between the concept of public opinion and the
means by which the public opinion is measured, the one being influenced by the
other. Thus what public opinion is in any situation is to a degree defined by how it is
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

defined and measured. They say that, ‗both polling and voting embrace a conception
of public opinion as the aggregation of individual opinions and both provide means
for elite management of those opinions‘.

Moving further Susan and Beniger identify three historical phases in the evolution
of public opinion infrastructure. They are:

 The concept of public opinion was first located in the salons and coffee houses of
the mid 18th century in the elite nation of France, where a kind of verbal discourse
was taking place that consisted of intellectuals, poets, the statesmen and the
philosophers and was presided by a woman of high birth. Here the matters of the
state were freely discussed. While the other huge section of the society was
completely ignored because their opinion was thought to be uninformed and in
any case irrelevant. And it is believed that this model of public opinion held sway
until the insurgence of American and French Revolutions.

 Towards the middle of the 19th century the Press became the dominant residence
of public opinion. But the news papers were only reflecting the development of
political parties in U.K. and U.S.A. During this time Pressure Groups of all kinds,
including trade unions contributed to the group based model of public opinion.

 In the third phase there happened a shift from the term „public‟ to „audience‟. The
boom of new media technology largely contributed to the shift in these
phenomena. With it the formation of public opinion was accompanied by a degree
of increase in rationalization and there was a raise in the differences of opinion
too.

So it is certain that the invention of new media lead to a drastic change in the very
concept of public opinion itself. At present public opinion is expressed after
controversy, dispute and debate over some controversial question which concerns the
welfare, doctrines and value system of a group. For public opinion to be aroused there
must exist a contemporary issue or question of some concern about which members of
the group are likely to have agreement or disagreement. Civil right in India, notably
after the last ‗national emergency‘, is one such issue which began to confront the
public. Similarly the testing of nuclear materials in the open grounds is also an
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

international issue which causes people through out the world to take affirmative or
negative positions on the question.

1.7 Public Opinion – An Over view


Public opinion is not simply the opinion of the majority of a group. On each issue
the interested public will divide itself into two or more differing points of view which
will not necessarily be contradictory or mutually exclusive. The number of views that
can be differentiated, however, will be a function of the attitudes and previous
experiences of the individuals making up the public as well as a function of the
complexity of the issue. The opinion must be representative of the group as a whole.
Thus, public opinion is the complex of beliefs expressed by a significant number of
persons on an issue of general importance. Public opinion involves a complex social
process involving reason and debate which brings the group to consensus on an issue.
That consensus of members of a public is a true public opinion, and it is not
something that can be easily measured and managed.

Historically, public opinion has had two meanings. In a positive sense, it meant
public consensus. Consensus is formed when people have open discussion and debate
on an issue and when their objective is to discover the truth or to agree on the best
plan. Ideas are stated publicly where they can be challenged and defended. Ideally,
after a period of time in open debate, it will be clear that some ideas are better than
the others. This kind of consensus-forming debate is required of juries, but it can take
place on a much larger scale. The United States, as a nation, debated and reached a
general consensus on issues like independence from England, slavery, and the right of
workers to organize; while on the other hand Indians too came in to a consensus of
fighting against the British in the pre-independence scenario. Not all public debate
results in consensus, but a faith in the public's ability to form this kind of public
opinion is the underlying social principle of democracy.

Where as the critical use of the expression of public opinion refers to an irrational
process resulting in agreement — to the opposite of public consensus. This public
opinion is an agreement arrived at without debate. And it is an agreement among
people who are not being honest and careful. It is the public opinion of propaganda,
mass hysteria and tyranny. The framers of the Indian Constitution wanted citizens to
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

participate in rational consensus formation and to avoid irrational processes resulting


in mere agreement. These people representatives reflect popular sentiment7.

In the final analysis public opinion formation is a qualitative social process. It takes
place with or without assistance from governments, surveys, and public relation
departments. Before the Declaration of Independence or the Indian Constitution was
written, public opinion had formed about the need for independence in the entire
nation. It was formed through conversations in taverns and coffee houses, with the
help of public speeches and printed editorials, and in public meeting places. Public
opinion formation can be inhibited, but it is not created or eliminated by laws or
corporate policy.

There are times when it might pay off for a company to do a quick survey and
respond to an issue with a press release or a speech at a public meeting. But in the
long run, the best way to manage public opinion is to manage relationships with the
public: to treat them with respect, to listen to them even when you do not have to, and
to consider that probably about half of the time they are right and you are wrong.

Public opinion is formed by individuals composing a group, who expresses their


own opinion on a controversial issue. Public opinion is a composite opinion resulting
from the interaction of the individual opinions of members of a group. The
transformation of individual opinion into public opinion, by a group stimuli, is a
distinctive characteristic of the public opinion process. This metamorphosis is
sometimes referred to as the group mind which has the combination of opinions of
individuals in the group, converted into public opinion.

The “Dictionary of Mass Communications” defines public opinion as the


“expression of all members of a group who are giving attention in any way to a given
issue”. The process starts with an interaction of individual attitudes, mind sets and
beliefs concerning an issue. It is essentially the product of a collective mental life,
which in a democracy includes the expression of the majority, if there be a minority
and minority at any given time.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

1.8 Attitudes and Opinion Formation


Attitude plays a major role and acts as a decisive factor in the formation of public
opinion. Attitude is one of the basic requirements for the estimation of public opinion.
An attitude is a way of looking at the situations and an expressed attitude is
considered as an opinion. An opinion is the expression of an attitude on a particular
topic. When the attitudes become strong enough they surface in the form of opinions.
When the opinions become strong enough, they lead to verbal or behavioural actions.

Attitudes are underlying dispositions or mental sets towards some object that are
generally measured in terms of verbal responses to evaluative statements. Attitude is
based upon our expectations and perceptions - our definition of reality. The attitudes
that express the feelings of like or dislike are a product of numerous physical and
mental influences. And they are greatly affected by personal, cultural, familiar,
religious, economic, social and educational factors. In turn these factors do control the
mechanism of opinion formation. For example, the attitude of an American on sexual
morality differs from that of an Indian. Similarly the attitude towards the concept of
development is different from an agriculturist to that of an industrialist.

1.9 How the Attitudes Change?


To arouse and change an attitude is not easy since individuals have many and varied
mental and physical conditions. To arouse an attitude in an individual who is passive
towards a controversial question depends on the media or communication system that
he is exposed to. Many people stick on to the acquired old attitudes, but then good
communication can arouse these old attitudes and thereby bring the change
successfully.

Change in attitude occurs when an existing attitude no longer provides a person with
satisfaction or when the aspirations of the person are raised. Changes may also occur,
when an individual experiences problems, frustrations or dissatisfactions with the
existing beliefs, value system, economic status etc. When organized or structured in a
value system, attitudes become difficult to change, while an unorganized attitude is
more prone to fluctuations. For example, a disease caused by the inorganic use of a
particular fertilizer would develop a negative attitude in the people towards that
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fertilizer leading to an easy shift of attitude. So the attitudes change slowly and are
resisted. They are anchored by each other in a larger outlook of the world.

1.10 Types of Attitude


Basically there are three types of attitudes manifested by an individual. They are:

 Positive attitude: It is nothing but reacting favourably to another person,


issue, policy and the like. When an individual or a group has a positive
response or belief towards an issue then it is called as positive or favourable
attitude.
 Negative attitude: Negative attitude is giving out an unfavourable opinion
of a person, issue or organization which is accompanied by a feeling of
unpleasantness or dissatisfaction.

 Passive attitude: It is a type of attitude where an individual will have no


8
opinion on issues affecting the group and is more of a neutral kind .

The intensity of an attitude is the strength of the belief or feeling of a person toward
a person, objects etc. Research studies have shown that there are a lot of people with
passive or no opinion. It has been proved that only 30% of members in a casual group
have a definite opinion either positive or negative.

Media to a great deal with holds the power to shift the attitude of a person and there
by the society as a whole. It performs two fold functions by lessening antagonistic
attitudes, either through making known facts necessary for a complete understanding
of the issue or through influencing changes in policy affecting the issue so as to
overcome the opposition and secondly, by persuading people with favourable but
passive attitudes to adopt a more positive attitude and to express it as an opinion.

1.11 Attitudes and Opinions


Opinions are the public expression of active attitudes. Public opinion is aroused in
response to motivation arising from the needs, performances and interests of
individuals comprising the public. The principal motive inducing persons to express
their attitudes in the form of opinions are their desire for comfort and convenience,
safety and protection, gain, satisfaction of pride or satisfaction of affection9.
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The opinions of individuals are activated by their attitudes, which are motivated by
mental and physical forces that induce them to express opinions. People generally are
not aware of the motives impelling them to express attitudes in the form of opinions10.

1.12 Formation of Public Opinion


Attitudes and their expression in the form of opinions are the psychological
phenomena of the individual. It results from the interaction of the individual opinions
of the members of a group. The transformation of these individual opinions into
public opinion by group stimuli is a distinctive characteristic of the public opinion
process. It is at times also referred to as the ‗group mind‘. A public opinion might be
said to have emerged, when any set of views was entertained by an apparent majority
of citizens. To quote Bryce, "the term (public opinion) is commonly used to denote the
aggregates of the views men hold regarding matters that effect or interest the
community. The opinion of a whole nation as made up of different currents of
sentiments, each embodying or supporting a view or a doctrine or a practical
proposal. Some currents develop more strength than others, because they have behind
them larger numbers or more intensity of convections; and when one is evidently the
strongest, it began to be called public opinion par excellence, being taken to embody
the views supposed to be held by the bulk of people".

The process of the formation of public opinion starts with an interaction of


individual attitudes, mind sets and beliefs concerning an issue. And there are certain
factors too that control the mechanisms of opinion formation.

The formation of public opinion usually undergoes three distinct phases namely;

 The rise of the issue: It is a preliminary stage of discussion defining the issue
and verbalization of the hope for a solution.

 Discussion of the issue: In this phase hot discussion goes on and the
concerned public come up with various and often divergent solutions.
Proposed alternate solutions are taken for consideration. It is at this stage that
the factors of agreement or disagreement become more relevant.

 The arrival at consensus: When people begin to take sides we say that
opinion is forming or crystallizing. Here the divergent views are debated and
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consensus is reached. The common denominations of consensus in a


democracy would be through the formal opinion poll or voting. Other informal
expressions of consensus are found in letters, petitions and numerical to
legislative bodies, executives, letters to the editors etc.

The opinion thus formed in a democratic society is regarded to be crucial for social
control. It is noted that the public opinion can exercise influence over individual
behaviour, group behaviour and government policy.

1.13 Measurement of Public Opinion


1.13.1 Opinion Polls
The process by which the public opinion is researched, measured and the findings of
which are widely and regularly published, broadcasted and are seen on the basis of the
‗opinion polls‘. An opinion poll is a survey of public opinion from a
particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a
population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in
ratio or within confidence intervals. Verbal, ballot, and processed types can be
conducted efficiently, contrasted with other types of surveys, systematic, and
complicated matrices beyond previous orthodox procedures. Opinion polls for many
years were maintained through telecommunications or in person-to-person contact.
Methods and techniques vary, though they are widely accepted in most areas. For
collecting the opinions a sample population is used and their opinions are studied,
revised and a conclusion is drawn calling it as ‗public opinion‘.

But there is always scope for sampling error occurred in the form of response bias,
non response bias, wording of questions and coverage bias. And this error in sampling
reflects the effects of chance and uncertainty in the sampling process. The uncertainty
is often expressed as a margin of error. By widely disseminating news reports about
opinion poll results, news media give politicians and citizens a particular indication of
people‘s opinions. Problems arise when journalistic statements are based on opinion
polls that do not conform to methodological standards or when a biased image of
public opinion is published. There for many a times the opinion poll out comes or the
so called public opinion surveys do not necessarily reflect the public opinion as a
whole.
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1.14 Agencies for the Formation of Public Opinion


Opinions on any issue are slowly formed to the public. The common people, as
Bryce pointed out, have hardly any interest in the affairs of the state. Some agencies
are needed to excite them. And many a times these agencies themselves act as agenda
setters who not only inform the public about the matters of concern but also enforce
certain thoughts and ideas those are pre-planned. Of these agencies, the following are
of special importance;

1.14.1 Press
As the famous quote goes, “The press is the best instrument for enlightening the
mind of a man, and improving him as a rational, moral and social being”.
This excerpt is a high remark which explains the role of press in the formation of
public opinion. For the facts relevant to the formation of public opinion, almost
everyone has to depend on the newspaper. As the newspapers are available at a very
less price, their influence in moulding opinion, with the spread of mass education, has
increased by leaps and bounds. Most of the newspapers publish the details of
legislative debates, speeches of eminent personalities, announcements of governments
and parties and various other news items in order to inform the public. Not all of them
are political; but still political facts are certainly the best for consumption. So, every
newspaper takes pain to collect political news and make delicious dishes out of them.
The representation of facts is not the only function; their interpretation and
systematization into a particular view point are also undertaken by the newspapers.
The readers avidly read the news and come to align themselves with a particular
paper. Grievances are ventilated and views are expressed by the public through the
newspapers. For this purpose most papers earmark a few columns for its general
readers which are popularly known as “the letter to the editor”. Apart form it the
editorial, articles, features, reviews, columns and opinion polls published in the news
papers do play a major role in the formation or amendment of public opinion. A free
press is certainly an indispensable agency for the formulation of public opinion and
maintenance of democracy.

1.14.2 Television and Radio


For communicating ideas the motion picture and the radio are important agencies.
Only educated people may be influenced by the newspapers. But, owing to the audio-
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

visual method the television and the radio can influence even the illiterates. In the
developing countries such as India where illiteracy is widespread, these media are
very helpful in spreading mass information. The potentialities of these media,
however, can not be marginalized. The television for instance, informs the public
about the ongoing issues in a wide arena. It describes the positive and the negative
aspects of the various matters and thereby helps the public to form their own opinion.
The information put out in the form of news, news analysis, debates and discussions,
interviews, talk shows and the like enables the public to form their opinion on any
issue of significance. In fact television is believed to be one of the very effective
medium of communication that plays a significant role in the formation and
amendment of existing public opinions.

The radio, too, is primarily concerned with the function of entertainment. Yet, it
adds a valuable aid to the dissemination of information and formulation of opinion.
Some observers have even gone so far as to suggest that radio has re-established that
direct contact between political leaders and followers that characterises Athenian
democracy. In most countries as India the radio is however, under government
control. Hence, it has frequently been criticized that the radio has served only the
party in power so that it doesn‘t allow for the formation of unbiased public opinion as
it works in favour of the ruling government. But, as finer points out, "On the whole,
no country - whether, as in England, broadcasting by private enterprise, is really
exploiting the educative potentialities of radio on the grand scale which is possible."

1.14.3 Political Parties


Another most important agency for opinion formation is the political parties. To use
Lowell's oft-quoted phrase, parties are brokers of ideas. Day in and day out they feed
the people with the facts and ideas. Their sole purpose is to rally the people to their
side. For, they want to get the majority in the legislature and hold the reins of
government. The political parties act as the brain washers especially during the time
of election, where they use several election tactics including the formation of political
agenda. Accordingly, parties 'arrange the issue upon which the people are to vote.'
The valuable service rendered by parties is that they organize the people and force
them to choose between alternatives. Various indictments have been made against
political parties. Their honesty and utility have often been questioned. Still, without
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

them public opinion, which is the prime mover of the representative democracy, can
never be formulated and put to its proper use.

1.14.4 Platform
For educating people and formulating opinion platform speeches are very useful
means. Hence, every democratic government guarantees the right to freedom of
assembly. The speeches delivered in public gathering sometimes leave indelible
impression in the minds of the listeners making them to form an opinion which would
later turn out to be a public opinion. All sorts of oratorical skills are employed to
influence the public mind. A Brutus may win temporary admiration, and an Antony, a
durable fame. Nevertheless, eminent political leaders do set in motion the process of
public thinking on important political issues.

1.14. 5 Educational Institutions


The educational institutions play a considerable role in the creation of public
opinion. The way in which students are trained up in schools, collages and
universities greatly influences the future course of their life. The ideas developed in
the early age‘s condition a student's outlook. These educations are intended to
stimulate and increase curiosity. But a method of education that robs students of their
open mindedness and drugs them with the number of political half-truths is certainly
injurious11.

1.15 Factors Influencing Public Opinion Formation

Public opinion has been defined as the expression of all members of a group who
are given attention in anyway to a given issue. In a democracy collective mental life
and the expression of the majority plays a greater role in determining the changes.
Group many a times influences the person, like for example, a less aggressive and
mild employee working in an organization may turn aggressive and be a part of a
boycott due to the influence exerted by the group or his fellow mates.

The opinions are not formed so easily. Instead a whole lot of factors play a decisive
role in the formation of a public opinion. The opinions of people many a times is
influenced by the opinion leaders or the other members of the group, persons outside
the group, what they read in newspapers, magazines and books, watch in television,
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

hear through radio etc. It is also influenced by their needs, emotions, experience,
heredity, education and the like. Out of the interaction of individual attitudes,
opinions and the opinions of the group emerges public opinion.

The factors of ‗culture‘, ‗family‘, ‗religion‘, ‗schools‘, ‗social group‘, ‗economic


class‘ and ‗race‘ interact with the active, direct effects of what people see, hear or read
and so fuse the variety factors forming single opinion. Interaction in primary groups
performs an essential function in the formation of public opinion. Research on small
groups shows their significance for the generation and maintenance of opinion. Some
of the primary factors influencing opinion formation are;

1.15.1 The Family


A necessary process in the formation of public opinion is the communication in
primary groups. Family is the first and the foremost moulder of public opinion. It is
the matrix which moulds the human personality and insists him he do‘s and don‘ts at
every interval. A family may instigate a person to create hatredness towards another
community or issue of significance and vis-à-vis. It has the potentiality to harvest love
and hate, work and play, mild and strong, obedience and revolt. It moulds the human
personality and gives it the initial impetus and direction determining its goal and
means to its fulfillment.

1.15.2 Culture
No man can live alone. From the day he is born till the day of his death he is
dependent and is influenced by others in one or the other way. The family, play group,
school, temple, city, state and nation are organized ways of social relations. To put in
short “man shapes these institutions and, in turn, is shaped by them.” When ever an
individual is confronted to take a decision he is affected by this factor so that his
decision may turn on the basis of the culture he is associated with.

1.15.3 Religion
One basic human trait that binds nearly all people together is religion, the belief in a
supernatural, universal power. An inclination towards a particular religion would act
as a decisive factor in the formation of public opinion to a greater extent. For
example, if the ruling authority of a state brings out a law for the compulsory
implementation of uniform dress code in the schools, then it is likely to arouse
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opposition from the people of a Muslim community as henceforth it does not allow
their children to wear their Islam dress code that is ‗burqa‘ to the school.

1.15.4 School
The influence and importance of the school in the public opinion process is
powerful in a state that regards an educated, enlightened electorate indispensable to a
free society. The beliefs and attitudes are formed in the schools through the
interaction that takes place between the teachers and the students.

1.15.5 Economic Class


The economic associations and status also have their stake in determining the
public opinion formation. A person with status of a labourer is likely to have a
different viewpoint about ‗the price rise‘ phenomena, while a man in a top position,
probably an executive would have a completely different thought about it. Attitudes
of the different income groups towards the role of government are proof of this.

1.15.6 Social Class


Social status influences every phase of one‘s life. One‘s position as a member of
various clubs, say, sports club, literary club or rotary club would determine his
outlook, sources of information and opinion. Those having a wide and liberal friends
circle, with a huge traveling experience are likely to see events differently from those
without these advantages12.

Apart from the primary factors mentioned above there are few secondary factors too
influencing the opinion formation of an individual. They include the identification
criteria, conformity, anonymity, sympathy, emotionalism, nobility and rationalization
that exist in an individual13. These are the inner traits of an individual that differs from
one another. And there by they do play a major role in determining the final opinion
of a person towards an issue of significance.

1.16 Opinion Leaders and the Formation of Public Opinion


Public opinion is shaped not only by events, but also by minds that may be
identified as „opinion leaders‟. Opinion leader is some one who is able to influence
informally other individual‘s attitudes, and/or behaviours in a desired way with
relative frequency. He/she is also a type of informal leader. Opinion leaders are more
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

exposed to all forms of external communication systems, more cosmopolite, of a


higher social status and more innovative. They are widely thought to play a vital role
in the spreading of new ideas, information, values and beliefs13.

Opinion leaders are found in every economic, social and political groups. They
exert a very important influence on the opinions of the group. For a businessman
opinion leaders are found among employees, share holders, consumers, distributors
and dealers. While a common man finds his opinion leader in the form of politicians.
These opinion leaders collect and convey the information that influences the attitudes
of the public and shapes the public opinion of the group14.

1.17 Distinct Features of Opinion Leaders


Opinion leaders are charecterised by few distinct features. Most often it is not
possible to identify an opinion leader as many of the opinion leaders don‘t consider
themselves as opinion leaders.

 According to the noted Sociologist of Columbia University, Paul Lazarsfeld,


about one out of every person in a group may be identified as an opinion
leader.
 The opinion leaders will have the ability to effect the group opinion on
economic, political, social, educational, religious and other such issues of
prominence.
 The opinion leaders will have a good exposure towards the media and absorb
the information‘s readily.
 They have a well-defined value systems by which they appraise the utility and
importance of the information they receive
 They may not necessarily be wealthy and highly educative
 Within different levels of society, there are different opinion leaders.
 Horizontally information is passed from mass media to the opinion leaders and
vertically the message is transformed from the opinion leaders to the general
public.
 It is always a two-step flow of communication.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

1.18 In Conclusion
So, public opinion being very common and important phenomena has a whole lot
of characters, norms and factors attached to it, which makes the public opinion a very
distinct feature of any democratic set up. Large numbers of efforts do take place to
influence the underlying public opinion one or the other day. But irrespective of
everything, public opinion having a long standing historical background still stands as
an essential material for the various study purposes.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

References:
1. Sharma, Seema., “Public Relations”, Anmol Publications, New Delhi, 2005,
p. 47.

2. ibid., p. 48.

3. Watson, James and Hill, Anne., “Dictionary of Media and Communication


Studies”, Hodder Arnold Publications, 2006, p. 234.

4. Seitel, Fraser. P, “The Practice of Public Relations”, 8th edition, Prentice Hall Inc,
2001, p. 53.

5. Price, Vincent, “Communication Concepts 4: Public Opinion”, Sage Publications,


1992, pp. 8-9.

6. Hurbst, Susan and Beniger, James. R., “The Changing Infrastructure of Public
Opinion” published in “Audience Making: How the Media Create the Audience”,
U.S. Sage, 1994, p. 64.

7. Roach, Thomas. J., “The Real Meaning of Public Opinion” available online at
www.rockproducts.com/mag/rock real meaning public/

8. Moore, Frazier and Frank. B. Kalupa., “Public Relations, Principles, Cases and
Problems”, 9th edition, Surjeeth Publications, New Delhi, p. 41.

9. Susan Hurbst, Opcit. p. 75.

10. Brown, J.A.C. “Techniques of Persuasion: From Propaganda to Brainwashing”,


Penguin Books, New York, p. 107.

11. Shivare, Varun., “Public Opinion and democracy”, available online at


http://www.legalservicesindia.com/articles/demo.html

12. Seema Sharma, Opcit. p. 51.

13. Baur, Jackson. E., “Public Opinion and the Primary Group”, published in ―The
American Sociological Review”, Vol. 25, No. 2, Apr., 1960, pp. 208-219.

14. Melvin, DeFleur. D, “Theories of Mass Communication”, 2nd edition, David


McKay, New York, 1970, p. 34.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chapter II

RESEARCH

METHODOLOGY &

THE REVIEW OF

LITERATURE
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chapter II
Research methodology and the Review of
Literature

2.1 Research Problem


Public opinion is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs held by the adult
population. Public opinion can also be defined as the complex collection of opinions
of many different people and the sum of all their views. The rapid spread of public
opinion measurement around the world is reflection of the number of uses to which it
can be put.

Governments and private sectors have increasingly found surveys to be useful tools
for guiding their public information and propaganda programmes and occasionally for
helping in the formulation of other kinds of policies. The US Department of
Agriculture was one of the first government agencies to sponsor systematic and large
scale surveys. It was followed by many other federal bodies, including the US
information agency which has conducted opinion research in all parts of the world.
Public opinion can be influenced by public relations and the political media.
Additionally, mass media utilises a wide variety of advertising techniques to get their
message out and change the minds of people.

With the rapid growth of media industry as a whole, it is quite natural that mass
media has began playing a vital role in the formation and amendment of public
opinion. Media has both positive and negative sides to it. On the one hand, it
disseminates information excessively to the public, and thereby creates awareness in
the public about various issues, where as on the other hand media is blamed for the
creation of the false propaganda by taking unnecessary stand on the controversial
issues. Then there is always a question of objectivity and relevancy with regard to
those formed public opinions.

It is believed that media is the generator of opinion; the public take keen interest and
be a part of this process of opinion formation. But the question is that whether the
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

people are really interested in observing the information‘s given out by the media?
Are they really bothered about the issues of significance and do they participate in the
opinion making process in any way? It is also important to know if the people are
enough exposed to the mass media as speculated by the big wigs or not. And if they
are exposed to the mass media then what are the forms of mass medium that occupies
the most preferred list of the people? Along with finding key answers to these
problems, more importantly the thesis tries to reveal the stand of selected public about
the already existing ―popular public opinions.‖

In brief the present study has been undertaken with a fond hope of studying the
public attitude on the existing public opinions, media exposure and the media
perception level of the public. There is also an attempt at drawing a comparison
between the media exposure and perception level of the urban and rural public.

2.2 Review of literature


Susan Herbst in her book titled “Reading Public Opinion – How the Political Actors
View the Democratic Process”, mentions about the strong forces that drive the social
construction of public opinion. According to her the model of democracy shared by
the members of a nation, the types of methodologies available for the assessment of
opinion, the rhetoric of the leaders and the evaluation of public opinion by journalists
are the four most important forces determining the type of public opinion
construction1.

The 16th celebrated President of the United States of America in his very popular
speech delivered on December 10, 1856 at Chicago gave out a favourable statement
on public opinion by saying, ―our government rests on public opinion. Who ever can
change the public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much2.‖

Rayuso in his article called “Mass media influences on society”, reveals that after
the attacks of 9/11 the media gave a huge coverage of the event and exposed Osama
guilty for the attack as they were told by the authorities. This shaped the public
opinion to support the war on terrorism, the same happened with the war on Iraq. The
problem is that if media receives inaccurate information and so the public opinion
supported a wrong cause3.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Maxwell E. McCombs, in his book “Setting the agenda: the mass media and public
opinion”, believes that there is a substantial correlations between the media and the
public agendas was found in most of the analyses undertaken. There is a significant
degree of cause and effect relationship found between the two agendas that is the
cause precedes the effect in time4.

Esther Duflo in her research article “Does the mass-media have political
influence?”, concludes that, high quality empirical evidence shows that mass media
influences voters but it is not clear that the media imparts a bias. It could be that
improving access to any media informs voters and prompts them to turn against an
embattled incumbent5.

Angela Stephens in her survey research conducted by the World Public Opinion
Organization comes out with a study of some of the prevailing public opinions in
India and America. She reveals that the November 2006 poll for BBC World Service
found 66 percent of Americans asserting their positive attitude towards India. Where
as in the November 2005 BBC poll, 44 percent of Indians said China‘s influence in
the world is mainly positive while on the other hand, 53 percent of Americans said
China‘s influence is mainly negative, while just 35 percent of them said it was mainly
positive6.

Benjamin I. Page and Robert Y. Shapiro in their scholarly article “What moves
public opinion?” published in “The American Political Science review” speak about
the interesting factors that influence the formation of public opinion. They say that the
citizen‘s preferences play a great deal in the formation of public opinion. That is the
policies are judged in the expected costs and benefits for the individual, and for his or
her family, friends, favoured groups and the nation or the world as a whole7.

J. David Kennamer in his book “Public Opinion, the Press, and Public Policy”,
speaking about the polls and public opinion observes that the polls seem to portray
whatever response gets a majority as ―public opinion‖, ignoring the problem of
participation. A President may get a majority of the voting, but when even the
President is elected by 30% of all eligible voters it is not possible to believe that the
effective public opinion and majority opinion is not one and the same8.
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A study conducted in North eastern and North Western part of India, available
online at www.iimc.nic.in/Ex-summary-Media-penetration.pdf revealed that among
2000 respondents 78.8% of them found TV as a ‗very effective‘ form in imparting
information and in educating masses. Making a choice between the national and
foreign media, people found that the national media provided more up-to date
information than the foreign media. The study also revealed that the urban people are
more exposed to TV and news paper while the rate of rural respondents was high as
for as radio listener ship is concerned9.

2.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of any research is to find answers to the problem or certain
questions that have aroused, through the application of scientific procedure. It is like
any other human activity; it is goal directed and involves a clear cut methodology. To
obtain an applicable and precise result the study must undergo a scientific and
objective methodology. The research can‘t be considered as accurate and valid if the
scientific methodology is not provided.

This section of the report attempts to explain as clearly as possible the steps and
procedures followed in understanding this work. It explains the objectives of the
study, methods and tools used in data collection, sample design, distribution of study
areas etc.

2.3.1 General Objective of the study


To understand the public attitude on created public opinion based on the media
exposure level of the public with special reference to Dakshina Kannada district.

2.3.2 Specific Objectives


 To evaluate the media exposure of the public.
 To examine the perception of media by the public.
 To study the public opinion issues concerning the public.
 To understand the relevancy of public opinion formation on specific issues
based on the case studies.
 To draw a comparison between the perception of public opinion issues by
urban and rural population.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

2.4 Methodology of the Study

2.4.1 Study design


The present study approaches the problem through a systematic survey method
which is very popular in the field of communication research.

2.4.1.1 Sample areas


The study was conducted in Mangalore city [urban] and rural areas of Belthangady
and Putter Taluk of Dakshina Kannada district.

2.4.1.2 Audience sampling


A total number of 160 respondents were taken in to consideration for the study, out
of which 80 were from the urban background and the rest 80 members were from the
rural background. Again, among each group male and female respondents were taken
in an equal ratio so as to reduce any of the major short comings. And the care was
taken to cover different groups of population they belong to.

2.4.1.3 Sample Design


Stratified random sampling method has been adopted for the study where urban and
rural stratums are taken in to consideration.

2.4.1.4 Tools for data collection


The study was conducted by undertaking both the field and the library research.

Primary data-
The primary data was gathered through questionnaire method that is filed research.
And the questionnaire consisted of 28 close ended questions, out of which the initial 5
questions where formed to obtain the profile of the respondents and the rest of the 23
questions aimed at achieving the priory set research objectives.

Secondary data-
The secondary data was gathered through information available in the books, the
internet, magazines, journals, and previously conducted researches.
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2.4.2 Period of the study


The secondary data was collected through books, journals, websites etc initiating
from the month of December 2009. And the primary data was collected in the form of
questionnaire between the months of February 2010 to March 2010. And the process
of data analysis and interpretation was conducted in the month of April 2010. So on
the whole research duration went on for a span of about 5 months from December
2009 to April 2010.

2.4.3 General profile of the respondents


The following tables show the distribution of respondents used in the study based
on the various factors like sex, place, age, education, occupation and income.

Table No.1.1 showing the distribution of the respondents by sex and


place

Sl. No Sex Urban[%] Rural [%] Total [%]


1 Male 40 [100] 40 [100] 80 [100]
2 Female 40 [100] 40 [100] 80 [100]

Analysis of Table and Chart No. 1.1


The table and chart 1 shows that among both the urban and rural respondents group,
40 members belong to male and the rest 40 belong to the female community, hence
leading to an equal distribution of respondents based on the gender category.
Similarly an equal of ratio of respondents i.e., 80:80 is considered for both the urban
and rural categories amounting to a sum of total 160 respondents for the study.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart No.1.1 showing the distribution of the respondents by sex and


place

45
40
35
30
Count

25
20
Urban
15
10 Rural
5
0
Male Female

Gender ratio

Table No. 2.1 showing the distribution of the respondents by age

Sl. No Age Urban [%] Rural [%] Total [%]


1 18 – 30 46 [57.5] 33 [41.25] 79 [49.37]

2 31 – 40 14 [17.5] 21 [26.25] 35 [21.87]

3 41 – 50 9 [11.25] 15 [18.75] 24 [15]

4 51 and above 11 [13.75] 11 [13.75] 22 [13.75]

Analysis of table and chart No. 2.1


Table no.2 shows that among the urban and rural respondents 57.5% [46] and
41.25% [33] belong to the age group of 18-30, while 17.5% [14] and 26.25% [21] fall
under the age group of 31-40, 11.25% [9] and 18.75% [15] belong to the age group of
41-50 respectively. Where as 13.75% [11] fall under the age 51 and above in both
urban and rural categories.

Therefore, a total percentage of 49.37 [79] belong to the age group of 18-30, where
as the medium amount of population i.e., 21.87% [35] fall under the age group of 31-
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

40. And a total percentage of 15 [24] and 13.75 [22] belong to the age group of 41-50
and 51 and above respectively.
Chart No. 2.1 showing the distribution of the respondents by age

50
45
40
35
Count

30
25
20 Urban
15
10 Rural
5
0
18 - 30 31 - 40 41 - 50 51 and above

Age wise distribution

Table No. 3.1 showing the distribution of the respondents by education

Sl. No Education Urban Rural Total


1 S.S.L.C and below 5 [6.25] 4 [5] 9 [5.26]

2 P.U.C 7 [8.75] 10 [12.5] 17 [10.62]

3 Graduation 21 [26.25] 37 [46.25] 58 [36.25]

4 Post Graduation 42 [56.25] 27 [33.75] 69 [43.12]

5 Others 5 [6.25] 2 [2.5] 7 [4.37]

Analysis of table and chart No. 3.1


Table no.3 shows the number of respondents belonging to different education
groups. Out of 80 urban respondents 6.25% [5] and 5% [4] of rural respondents
belong to S.S.L.C. and below education level group, while 8.75% [7] urban
respondents and 12.5% [10] rural respondents have the Pre University Education and
26.25% [21] of urban respondents and 46.25% [37] of rural respondents are
graduates. There is the highest number of post graduates in the urban group, as the
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

score of 56.25% [42] have completed or pursuing their post graduation, while 33.75%
[27] of rural respondents are post graduates. Among the urban and rural respondents
6.25% [5] and 2.5% [2] of population fall under the ‗other‘ educational category.

As a whole, a total percentage of 5.26 [9] fall under the category - ‗S.S.L.C and
below‘, while 10.62% [17] have passed Pre University Education. In both the
categories on an average of 36.25% [58] are graduates, and a highest average score
of 43.12% [69] are post graduates, where as a small percentage of 4.37 [7] belong to
the other educational group.

Chart No. 3.1 showing the distribution of the respondents by education

80
70
60
50
Count

40
30 Urban
20
Rural
10
0
S.S.L.S and P.U.C Graduation Post Others
below Graduation

Education level
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Table No. 4.1 showing the distribution of the respondents by occupation

Sl. No Classification Urban Rural Total


1 Private sector 30 [37.5] 15 [18.75] 45 [28.15]

2 Government Sector 10 [12.5] 15 [18.75] 25 [15.62]

3 Businessmen 10 [12.5] 15 [18.75] 25 [15.62]

4 Professionals 10 [12.5] 15 [18.75] 25 [15.62]

5 Housewives 10 [12.5] 10 [12.5] 20 [12.5]

6 Students 10 [12.5] 10 [12.5] 20 [12.5]

Total 80 80 100

Analysis of table and chart No.4.1


Table no.4 shows the classification of respondents based on various occupation
groups. In the cluster, 37.5 [30] of urban respondents and 18.75% [15] of rural
respondents work in private sectors while 12.5% [10] of urban respondents and
18.75% [15] of rural respondents are the employees in public sector. Among the
urban respondents 12.5% [10] each are businessmen, professionals, housewives, and
students. Where as 18.75% [15] of the respondents are the government sector
employees and businessmen each. And the remaining 12.5% [10] of respondents are
housewives and students each.

On an average 28.15% [45] of the total respondents are the employees in private
sector, while 15.62% [25] of respondents are government sector employees,
businessmen and professionals each. And a total percentage of 12.5 [20] among the
respondents are housewives and students in the respondents group.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart No. 4.1 showing the distribution of the respondents by occupation

35
30
25
Count

20
15
Urban
10
5 Rural
0

tor tor me
n
na
ls ive
s
en
ts
Sec Sec ss io ew u d
t e s s St
r iva
te
G ov usin r of es H ou
P B P
Distribution by occupation

Table No. 5.1 showing the distribution on the basis of annual income

Sl. No Income level Urban Rural Total


1 Rs.1,00,000 10 [12.5] 22 [27.5] 31 [19.37]
and below
2 Rs.1,00,001– 21 [26.25] 27 [33.75] 48 [30]
Rs.2,00,000
3 Rs.2,00,001 – 24 [30] 16 [20] 36 [22.5]
Rs.3,00,000
4 Rs.3,00,001 15 [18.75] 5 [6.25] 20 [12.5]
and above

* Among the above respondents 20 of them are students so they do not belong to the
income group.
* Income level per annum
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Analysis of table and chart No. 5.1


Table no.5 shows the number of respondents based on the income category. Among
the urban respondents, 12.5% [10] belong to the income category less than Rs.1,
00,000 per annum and 27.5% [22] rural respondents belong to the same income
group. 26.25% [21] of urban respondents and 33.75% [27] of rural respondents fall
under the income category ranging form Rs. 1,00,001 to Rs. 2,00,000. Then 30% [24]
urban respondents and 20% [16] of rural respondents come under the income set
falling between Rs. 2, 00,001 to Rs. 3, 00,000. While 18.75% [15] of the urban
respondent and 6.25% [5] of the rural respondents are part of a high income group of
that is Rs. 3,00,001 and above.

On an average 19.37% [31] of the total respondents fall under the low income
category of Rs. 1,00,000 and below, while a maximum 30% [48] of respondents fall
under the middle income group ranging from Rs.1,00,001 to Rs. 2,00,000. And an
average percentage of 22.5 [36] come under the income group ranging from Rs.
200,001 to Rs. 3, 00,000 and a least percentage of 12.5 [20] belong to the income
category of Rs. 3,00,001 and above.

Chart No.5.1 showing the distribution on the basis of annual income

30

25

20
Count

15

10 Urban

5 Rural

0
Rs. 1,00,000 Rs. 1,00,001 - Rs. 2,00,0001 - Rs. 3,00,000
and below Rs. 2,00,000 Rs. 3,00,000 and above

Annual Income
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2.4.5 Data analysis procedure


While tabulating and analysing the public‘s response the independent variables
considered were;
 The gender based [Male / Female]
 Location based [Urban / Rural]
These variables were cross tabulated with responses for every question, and this data
was further analysed for inference.

The test
The test was exploratory in nature, examining the various aspects of media
exposure, media perception, and public opinion as a whole. However finally, the
inferences drawn are on the basis of sample data studied.

Level / Scale of analysis


The level of measurement and analysis used for this study was ‘nominal’. And
analysis is done through cross tabulation.

Statistical test
Basic statistics of percentages was applied for tabulation purpose.

2.5 Limitations of the study


The usual limitations of the survey method, namely recollection, communication
problem, human inadequacies and resource inadequacies were experienced by the
researcher in this research too. The major limitations of this study were:
 The results of the study are completely dependent on the data provided by the
respondents.
 The results shown are limited to Dakshina Kannada district and may vary
across different places in India and also globally.
 The size of the respondents group is 160

In spite of every limitation, the researcher has made a tough attempt towards
answering the fundamental questions like,
 What is the study
 Why it has been undertaken and
 How it has been conducted.
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2.6 Relevance of the study


The media scenario in India has observed a traverse since a decade. The emergence
of various forms of mass medium including the internet has made it quite easy for the
public to receive the information as well as to diffuse the information. As per the
article 19 [A], the Indian Constitution provides for the freedom of speech and
expression to every citizen of the nation. Accordingly, India being a democratic
country gives opportunity for the formation of public opinion where the general
public are allowed to form their own opinion based on the various available sources
and are also given the opportunity to share their opinion when ever it is relevant.

It is a well known fact that the current media comes up with one or the other issue
everyday and standing in a privileged position it plays the role of advocacy by
concentrating on certain issues in the name of ―public opinion‖. So it is in fact an
obligation to study what the public really think about the media, the news and views
delivered by them and their stand on the already existing public opinion which are the
result of media activity. With having the priory mentioned objectives, this study
proves to be very relevant as it reflects the mind of the public who are exposed to the
media in one or the other way.

2.7 District Profile


Dakshina Kannada district, earlier known as South Canara is a coastal Karnataka
district located in Karnataka, with Mangalore as its headquarters. It consists of two
geographical regions namely: 1)The coastal region consisting of Mangalore taluk with
a costal line of 60 kms and 2) The Malnad region consisting of Belthangady, Puttur,
Sullia, and Bantwal taluks. The area of Dakshina Kannada encompasses for about
4866 Sq. kms, where as Belthangady taluk covers for nearly 1375.52 Sq.kms and
Puttur spreads over 995.19 Sq.kms. While Mangalore taluk, that consists of both the
urban and rural geographical area is stretched for about 842.72 Sq.kms. In the whole
of the district though there is a slight urban look in all the taluk head quarters, yet the
completely urbanised approach is to be found in the Mangalore city, which is the only
place in the district that has seen a transition from the village set up to a current
modern urbanised system.
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Some of the important statistics of the district are as follows:

 The total population of the district is 18, 97,730.


 The male population is 9,38, 434 and the female population is 9, 59, 296
 The total rural population is 11, 68, 428 [61.56%] and the urban population
accounts for about 7, 29, 302 [38.43%].
 The total population of Mangalore taluk is 8, 82, 856, Belthangady taluk is 2,
46, 494 and Puttur taluk is 2, 66, 072.
 The total literacy rate in Dakshina Kannada district is 79.7%, where 87.1% of
the male are literates and 72.7% of the female population is literates.
 82.0% of the Mangalore population come under the literate category, while
77.5% of the population in Belthangady taluk and 78.4% of the population in
Puttur taluk are literates.

* General particulars of the district as per 2001 census.


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Map: Dakshina Kannada District

2.7.1 Media Scenario in the District


Dakshina Kannada being one of the literate regions in Karnataka state has a huge
number of media audiences with it. Media exposure to the public in this region is
satisfactorily good, as the news papers and magazines reach even the interior places of
the district.

News Papers-
Apart from the state and national dailies that are circulated in the region like Deccan
Herald, The Hindu, The New Indian Express, The Times of India, Vijaya Karnataka,
Udaya Vani, Kannada Prabha and Praja Vani, there are other news papers too which
have emerged exclusively in this soil. The news papers like Karavali Ale, Jaya
Kirana, Vartha Bharathi, Sanje Vani, Suddi Bidugade, Jai Kannadamma are solely
found in this region, encouraging the reading habits of the people.
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Magazines-
The magazines like Tharanga, Sudha and Mangla are very popular in this region,
apart from the smaller quantity of the population who also read the magazines like
Mayura, Thushara, Kasthuri, Roopa Thara, O Manase, Sakhi and the other English
magazines including The week, Out look, India Today etc.

Television-
Television as a medium of communication is quite popular in the regions of Dakshina
Kannada, as the public are exposed to various technologies of viewing television from
antenna to dish and from cable TV to the recent DTH services. Quite naturally most
of all the global, national and state level channels found their broadcasted in this
region and along with that there are a quite a few number of local channels too. The
channels like V4 Networks, Namma Kudla, Namma Bantwala, Namma Ujire, Request
TV are widely popular in this area among the cable network users.

Radio-
In Dakshina Kannada district earlier only the AIR stations where available for the
listeners, but with the boom of FM radio stations, three FM channels where situated in
the district 3 years ago. The radio stations that are available in this region are,
Mangalore Akashavani, Madikeri Akashavani, Dharwad Akashvani, Vivid Bharathi,
Radio Mirchi FM, S FM and Big FM.

Online Journalism-
Online journalism too is getting popularity in the recent past in the regions of
Dakshina Kannada district. The web site like Daiji World, Mangalore Today, That‘s
Kannada, Gulf Times are some the online websites that are slowly making their way
in this place.
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References
1. Herbst, Susan., “Reading Public Opinion – How the Political Actors View the
Democratic Process”, University of Chicago Press, U.S.A, 1998, p.14.

2. http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/quotes.htm

3. Rayuso, “Mass media influences on society” available online at


http://hubpages.com/hub/Mass-Media-Influence-on-Society

4. McCombs, Maxwell. E., “Setting the agenda: the mass media and public
opinion”, Polity Press, U.K, 2004, p. 10.

5. Duflo, Esther., “Does the mass media have political influence?” available
online at http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/841

6. Stephens, Angela., research article available online at


http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/brasiapacificra/

7. Page, Benjamin. I. and Robert. Y. Shapiro, “What moves Public opinion?”


published in “The American Political Science Review”, Vol. 81, No. 1, March
1987, p. 23.

8. Kennamer, David. J., “Public Opinion, the press, and public policy”, Praegar
Publishers, 1994, p. 43.

9. PDF file available online at www.iimc.nic.in/Ex-summary-Media-


penetration.pdf.
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Chapter III

MEDIA, DEMOCRACY

&

PUBLIC OPINION
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Chapter III
Media, Democracy and Public Opinion
3.1 A Brief Introduction
Since the 17th Century the role of the press as a fourth estate and as a forum for
public discussion and debate has been recognized. Today despite the mass media‘s
propensity for sleaze, sensationalism and superficiality, the notion of the media as
watch dog, as guardian of the public interest and as a mediator between the governors
and the governed deeply remains ingrained. The media pervades our lives and is
something we all know about. We all watch or listen to broadcast media and read
newspapers. Media helps the people to know what is happening in the out side world
and at the same time it also informs the rulers of a nation as to what is happening in
the normal public life. Usually, mass media aims to reach a very large market, such as
the entire population of a country. By contrast, local media covers a much smaller
population and area, focusing on regional news of interest, while specialty media is
provided for particular demographic groups1.

The media is believed to shape public opinion but they are in turn manipulated and
influenced by different interest groups in the society. The media can promote
democracy among other things, educating voters, protecting human rights, promoting
tolerance among various social groups and ensuring that the government is
transparent and accountable. The media however can sow anti democratic roles as
well. They can so fear, divide and create violence.

3.2 Basic Functions of the Mass Media


Almost everyone gets his or her information about the world, national and local
affairs from the mass media. Mass media is aimed to give, to cater lots of help to the
common public. The media influences public opinion, determines the political
agenda, provides a link between the government and the people and affects
socialization. The major functions of mass media are;
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3.2.1 Information
Surveillance of the environment relates to information or news about happenings in
society. The mass media carry out these functions by keeping us posted about the
latest news in our own region and around the world which otherwise would have
taken a longer time to reach the people.

3.2.2 Entertainment
Entertainment has been a legitimate function of the traditional folk media, but the
mass media provide it with vengeance. They help to pass the time, and to relax with
family and friends. The media devotes much space to cover the events of the day
gossip, humour, comics, sports, cinema and general entertainment features. At the
same time the mass media also gives „infotainment‟ and there by fulfills our
psychological and social needs.

3.2.3 Education
Along with the above two functions, mass media educates the people about diverse
issues. The programmes like ―Radio Rural Farming‖ on AIR, ―Krishi Darshan‖ on
Door Darshan, information‘s related to competitive exams published in magazines
like the ―Competition Success Review‖ is aimed at educating the public. So the mass
media is of an immense help in educating the mass especially the under privileged
section of the society.

3.2.4 Creating Public opinion


The mass media not only report the results of the public opinion surveys conducted
by outside organizations but also increasingly incorporate their own opinion polls in
to their news coverage. More importantly, news papers, television channels and
internet helps to mould the public opinion as well. Researches have shown that the
positions Americans take on critical issues are influenced by the media especially
when the media air divergent views and provide in depth analysis.

3.3 Agenda Setting Function of the Mass Media


Media is said to influence the creation of personal attributes as well as alter pre-
existing ones. The media can implant ideas either directly or through adopters. And
that is why agenda setting is considered as a very powerful function of the mass
media. The term agenda setting was coined by Maxwell McCombs and Donald L.
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Shaw [1972] in the context of election campaign where politicians seek to convince
the voters about the party‘s most important issues. An agenda is a selection of items
arranged to give some items more important than others2.

Agenda theory says that the news media present the public net with a picture of the
world as it is but with an agenda of their own - a selection of reports about what is
happening in the world. Accordingly, media makes an attempt to suggest ideas or
indicate the relative importance of certain thoughts or issues. Upon receiving these
messages the audience then makes a selection in terms of their own preferences and
priorities. How this agenda or theme is taken up and responded is done by audience in
keeping with their needs, interests, exposure, attitudes and so on. Setting the agenda is
like bringing into focus certain issues. Once this is done then the audience act on the
suggestions that have been made3.

The effect of agenda setting is epitomized in the famous quote by Bernard Colen,
saying that the press, “may not be successful much of the time in telling people what
to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about” 4.

As per the agenda setting theory, if a particular news is presented prominently and
frequently by the press, the public will come to believe that the news is important.
The media houses receive abundance news in their offices and only a few of them are
selected. This process is called gate keeping. It results in some stories being in the
news and some not, in some being given strong emphasis and others being buried. It
is because the media has the power and the freedom to choose the news that appeals
the public.

Thus the study established agenda–setting as an important influence on our political


process. At the same time, the researchers concluded that the influence of the media‘s
agenda must be interpreted in long-range terms and depends on social categories,
changing patterns of media use and frequency of media exposure. Generally, then,
agenda setting appears to be one indirect way in which the media can change society
over a long period of time.
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3.4 Media Impact on Attitude Formation


There is no doubt that the media have had enormous impact on our society and on
the nations around the world. The media do not simply transmit information; they also
aimed to produce favourable attitudes towards products, behaviours and political
candidates. More over the fact is that the attitude formation can often occur in the
absence of conscious awareness and recognition. Perhaps, even more important, the
media select, emphasize and interpret particular events and publicize people‘s
reactions to those events. By doing so they help to structure the nature of ―reality‖ and
to define the crucial issues of the day, this in turn impels the public to form attitudes
on these new issues.

Media have a strong effect the first time a new issue is discussed. Several studies
have found that media effects are stronger for issues that people are unfamiliar with.
The news media contain huge amount of information much more than any person can
possibly handle. So the human economize the processing of information they receive
from news media as well as from the other sources.

The first step in handling of information is selection. People choose which news
media to read, watch and listen to, according to their needs and preferences. They
screen the media for interesting information ignoring topics that appear to be
irrelevant to them.

The early years of media research accepted the direct effect model of mass media
influences on audiences, where as the recent research have favoured indirect effects
model, wherein audience members are seen as active processors of media
information, not simply passive recipients of persuasive messages.5 So the over all
research findings indicate that mass media messages are more likely to reinforce
existing attitudes, rather than to change them. Thus the mass media are often an
effective means of creating new attitudes, but less effective in modifying existing
attitudes.
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3.5 Contemporary Media


Media today as a whole involves more than one aspect to be dealt with. Media
forms an integral part of the lives of all. The world of media is irrespective of age and
outlook as well as regardless of nationality and creed. In the media industry,
limitations are limited! The media sector is estimated to be one of the most expansive
and booming industries. Media persons play the noteworthy job of letting the masses
know what is happening round the world and that too within minutes of the outbreak6.

The concluding decades of the 20th century witnessed revolutionary developments


in the mass media, telecommunications and information technologies. With the
booming of the concept called media convergence where a lot many media are
clubbed together and are formed under a single roof the scope of media has become
more significant and vast. The Internet or the web media is one of the newest and
largest forms of mass communication given that it has no precincts; it is available
uniformly throughout the world. Information is disseminated in the form of blogs,
websites, online journals etc that has in a way made the media more eco-friendly, cost
effective ending up in gigantic and speed reach of the media.

Along with the new media goes the traditional media such as print, electronic, radio,
and cinema. Mass media in the form of newspapers and television proved to be the
right medium. The news papers contain an editorial page giving the public a platform
to raise their thoughts and ideas. There are special sections nowadays dedicated to the
youth, their opinions, their problems and their viewpoint. The same applies to
television news channels where various kinds of debates and discussions are held
giving an opportunity for the public to receive as well as disseminate information.
While the latest platform to voice out public opinion is the internet. Today, blogging
is a powerful tool that is utilized fully for expressing thoughts, views and
disagreements.

At the same time few efforts have been made to combine the different print and
electronic media; cinema films were shown on the small screen with the help of a
‗telecine chain‘, but then one could not read the news papers on television, or listen to
the radio on television7.
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3.6 Media Scenario in India


The current decade has been yet another year of proliferation of mass media in
India. However the media scene has gone through significant paradigm shifts in so
many different ways. The prominent ones include proliferation of regional and local
news T.V. channels mostly satellite based. As a result of this expanded reach of T.V.
including in rural India, T.V. is emerging as a primary source of news to the extent of
depriving news papers as ‗agenda setters‘. In the process, T.V. has transformed itself
in 2001 from that of a „mere entertainer‟ to that of a primary source of news and
current affairs, including regional and local. But the multiplicity of news channels and
their by and large similarities and hyping phenomena have added referral status to
news paper as viewers would like to go over what they had heard or seen.

Print media on the other hand, has suffered a set back – marginal to significant.
Although in terms of number of daily news papers and periodicals, there was a
marginal increase but a significant decline in growth of circulation and readership of
so many dailies and most magazines, much more in the case of business ones. Over
all the competition between television channels as well as between newspapers,
nationally and regionally, has not only sustained growth but expanded the reach and
the size of media markets in India8.

FM radio has seen a large revival of radio as a popular media particularly of the
young and affluent. More over cheaper FM radio sets are available in the market
paving way for the high competitive spirit in the broadcasting section too.

Media today is the entity that has made life easier, bridges the gap, fills all voids
and makes communication at all levels extremely simple, remarkable and substantial.
Yes, at times the media do make use of a little something in order to sensationalize
but that small bit of swindle is part of every job definitely. ‗The fourth estate‘ is what
journalists are designated as. That indeed leaves little for us to say to what extent the
media is indispensable.

3.7 The Role of the Media in a Democratic set-up


Democracy is impossible with out a free press. This is a percept that is deeply
ingrained in democratic theory and practice. As early as the 17th century, the
Enlightenment theorists had argued that the publicity and openness provide the best
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protection against tyranny and the excesses of arbitrary rule. Thomas Jefferson, for all
his bitterness about journalistic criticism celebrated the press, arguing that only
through the exchange of information and opinion through the press the truth emerges.
Thus the famous Jeffersonian declaration: ―Were it left to me to decide whether we
should have a government without news papers or a news papers without government,
I should not hesitate to prefer the latter 9.‖

Modern-day democrats are as hyperbolic in their praise of the press. Despite the
present-day mass media‘s propensity for sleaze, sensationalism and superficiality,
they are still seen as essential democratic tools. Contemporary democratic theory
appreciates the media‘s role in ensuring governments are held accountable. In both
new and old democracies, the notion of the media as watchdog and not merely a
passive recorder of events is widely accepted. Governments, it is argued, cannot be
held accountable if citizens are ill informed about the actions of officials and
institutions. The watchdog press is guardian of the public interest, warning citizens
against those who are doing them harm.

On the other hand free press flourishes in a country where democratic space is
provided for it, and as a matter of fact freedom of the press is vital for democratic
functioning. The press provides a platform for the free political discourse essential for
proper functioning of a government in a democracy. The media supply the political
information that voters base their decisions on. It helps the people to identify
problems in a society and form the public opinion and there by use the medium for
deliberation.

The role of public opinion in a democracy is of particular significance on two


grounds10.

 In the first place, when free play of opinion is assured, the whole process acts
as a check on the overgrowth of power. A government, whatever is its
structure, is, after all, an organization of power. Democracy is distinguished
from other forms of government by the fact that it is built on the assumption of
diffusion of power rather than its concentration in one centre. It functions best
when, as Mannheim expresses, a balance in the structure of the community is
secured, by allowing opinions to complete peacefully and freely, a democratic
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structure strives, as it were, to set a thief to catch a thief. It ensures an


interlocking system in which no power group can seize an opportunity to
outbid others and exert undue pressure on the government.

 This brings us to the second important function discharged by public opinion


in a democracy. When law becomes a reflection of public opinion, it offers an
easy solution to the problem of political obligation. The citizens obey the law,
as it rests on their will to obey. The whole process of lawmaking serves to
obliterate the distinction between the law-giver and the law- receiver. To quote
Macler, "when opinion is free to determine government, policy is not of the
acquiescence that submits to force, but of active consent. The level of strength
is thereby raised and other goals than those that depend on force are given a
higher valuation. To make opinion the basis of government is to appeal to
reason- whether you win or lose. It is to assume a common good - whether or
not your conception of it prevails."

Opinions may be reflected in an election, a policy decision, or formal legislative


enactment. Once it is accepted that opinion determines political action, the opinion
conductors may be found in formal as well as informal agencies. The formal role is
played by the governmental agencies like the legislative, executive, judicial and
administrative machineries, while the latter may be illustrated by the role of political
parties and interest groups.

Today, in most countries that have undergone a democratic transition since the
1980s, the press is an important player on the political stage. Journalists are often
feared by politicians because they have succeeded in uncovering corruption, the abuse
of power and assorted malfeasance. They are also relentlessly wooed because a bad
press can mean the end of a political career. Policies have been changed, reforms
initiated and corrupt officials – including presidents and prime ministers – ousted
partly because of media exposes. In many new democracies, an adversarial press is
part of the political process and it is hard to imagine how governments would function
without it. Yet, despite constitutional guarantees and in many cases, also wide public
support, the media in fledgling democracies have been hobbled by stringent laws,
monopolistic ownership and sometimes, brute force. In 2002, 20 journalists were
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killed because of their work and 136 were in prison because authorities were
displeased with their reporting. Many of these victims were reporting in new
democracies.

The media can be effective only if they are accessible to a wide section of the
population. Otherwise, they only exacerbate the marginalisation of social sectors that
have access neither to the media nor to the centers of wealth and power. Efforts to
democratise access include subsiding community and local media, especially in poor
and remote areas or in places where groups, such as indigenous peoples, have
traditionally been at the margins of social life.

In the recent years a lot many changes have taken place in the media scenario,
giving a platform for more and more debate over various issues, questioning and
grilling the wrong doers and the like. Indeed a free press flourishes in a country where
democratic space is provided for it, and as a matter of fact freedom of the media is
vital for democratic functioning of a nation.
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Case Studies
- The two best examples illustrating the effectiveness of public opinion
in bringing out change in the mode of functioning of the system.

Case 1-
Ruchika Girhotra’s suicide case and role of the media
One of the best examples in the recent past that reflects the power of media in
creating public opinion and thereby bringing about a twist in the otherwise tedious
story is the aftermath of the death case of a young girl called Ruchika.

Ruchika Girhotra, a teenage girl from Haryana was sexually harassed by the then
Director General of Police of Haryana, S.P.S. Rathore in the year 1990. The trauma
continued with her being expelled from the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association and
also her school where she was pursuing her high school education. The incident shook
the lady to a greater extent which ultimately ended up in Ruchika committing suicide
in 1993. After Ruchika‘s death Rathore standing in a privileged position made every
attempt to torment her parents and there by to close the case as he wished to get away
from being tagged as default. More over the culprit Rathore secured a job promotion
in 1994 which proved that his crime was ignored by the authorities. It was then that
the media took the side of Ruchika‘s parents and severely criticised Rathore by
openly suggesting him as a guilty. The more and more coverage‘s given by both print
as well as the electronic media in the form of debates and discussions, interviews,
articles, news reports, editorials and letter to the columns, under the label „Justice for
Ruchika‟ succeeded in creating a strong public opinion in favour of Ruchika‘s friend
and her parents, bringing Rathore on the door steps of law.

The news papers like The Hindustan Times and Indian Express, the electronic
media like Times Now and ND TV lead the campaign in support of Ruchika and
made it an issue of concern for decades together.
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Though it was disheartening to note that the 19 years long judiciary procedure
finally awarded only a 6 months jail term and a fine of Rs.1, 000 to the culprit, this
would stand no where for the extent of suffering underwent by the family of Ruchika.
But then media again took a dare decision to criticize the judgment of the judiciary,
demanding for a more severe punishment following the judgment and bail out by
Rathore. Though media is being criticised of vigilantism for its stand of disparaging
the judiciary, yet the role played the media in forming a strong public opinion against
the political clout, money and power and acting in favour of a less privileged family
of the victim is worth the applauds. Be it the case of Priyadarshini Mattoo, Jessica
Lall or any other middle class citizen, media has played a crucial role in giving an
outlet to the shrinking voices and bringing the issue into the lime light.
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Case 2-
Defeat of the Congress party in the 1989 general elections – The
effect of public opinion
An example that stands as an all time testimony for the defeat of a political party
due to the creation of media prompted public opinion are the incidents that followed
after the break up of Bofors issue. The Bofors scandal was a major corruption scandal
in India in the 1980s; the then powerful Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and several
others were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors AB for winning a bid to
supply India's 155 mm field howitzer. The scale of the corruption was far worse than
any that India had seen before, and directly led to the defeat of Gandhi's ruling Indian
National Congress party in the November 1989 general elections.

The case came to lime light during Vishwanath Pratap Singh's tenure as Defense
Minister, and was revealed through investigative journalism by Chithra Subramaniam
and N. Ram of the newspapers, The Indian Express and The Hindu. The media played
a crucial role in bringing out the scan and informing the public about the significance
of the issue. The media‘s role in forming the public opinion was so strong that the
Congress party lost its vote bank in the 1989 general elections. In the 1989 elections,
the Congress suffered a major setback. With the support of Indian communists and
the Bharatiya Janata Party, Singh and his Janata Dal formed a new government. By
June 1988, the independent media investigation had gained and published a large
number of authoritative Bofors documents. And by late-1989, a great deal of further
evidence and information, notably from the Martin Ardbo diary entries and notes for
1987 seized by the Swedish police and from The Hindu investigation's interaction
with the Hindujas, revealed further information about the scam. The whole process
was given wide coverage in the mass media, specially the print media that did not
succumb to any vested interests. The dark side of the Indian politicians was disclosed
by the media giving away for the decline of Congress government in the election
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By June 1988, the independent media investigation had gained and published a
large number of authoritative Bofors documents. And by late-1989, a great deal of
further evidence and information, notably from the Martin Ardbo diary entries and
notes for 1987 seized by the Swedish police and from The Hindu investigation's
interaction with the Hindujas, revealed further information about the scam. The whole
process was given wide coverage in the mass media, specially the print media that did
not succumb to any vested interests. The dark side of the Indian politicians was
disclosed by the media giving away for the decline of Congress government in the
election.
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References
1. Coronel, Sheila. S., “The Role of the Media in Deepening Democracy”, available
online at
http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/UN/UNPAN010194.pdf

2. Ross, Stewart., “Propaganda”, 3rd edition, Thomson Learning, New York, 1993,
p. 23

3. Chandra, Ramesh.., “Analysis of Media and Communication Trends”, Isha


Books Publication, 2004, p. 40

4. ibid., p.169

5. Oskamp, Stuart and P. Wesley Schultz., “Attitudes and Opinions”, 3rd


edition, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers, 2004, p. 175.

6. Bunia, Abhirup., “Role of media in contemporary India” available online at


http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2010/01//role-of-media-in-contemporary-india/
7. Kumar, Keval. J., “Mass Communication in India”, 3rd edition, Jaico Publishing
House, 2005, p. 384.

8. Rao, Bhaskar. N., “Emerging Monopoly Trends” published in ―Vidura”, Volume


No.39, Issue No.1, Jan-March, 2002, p. 4.
9. Coronel Sheila., opcit.
10. www.legalserviceindia.com., opcit.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chapter IV

Data Tabulation
&
Analysis
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chapter IV
Data Tabulation and Analysis

In order to obtain a clear picture of the public opinion on the existing public
opinions in Dakshina Kannada district, questionnaires were administered to two
categories of people, who are presumed to have different levels of media exposure.
They are:

a) Urban population and


b) Rural population

The above mentioned group was further divided in to two sub-categories namely,

a) Male and
b) Female

for the purpose of analysis and interpretation. A total of 160 public were approached
to find out their exposure and perception level of the media and to understand their
views on the existing, dominant public opinions.

Their responses have been recorded, tabulated and analysed in detail in the
following pages.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Tables, charts and analysis of public’s response

1. Exposure to the mass media


Table 6.1
Table showing the media exposure level of the public

Sl. Respons URBAN RURAL


No es
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Yes 40 [100] 40 [100] 80 [100] 40 [100] 40 [100] 80 [100]

2 No --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---------

Analysis of table & chart 6.1


When the respondents were asked whether they are exposed to the mass media,
100% response obtained by the respondents showed that they are all exposed to the
mass media giving away a complete rejection to the option ‗no‘. Respondents
belonging to all the given categories i.e., rural, urban, male and female went on to say
‗yes‘ they are exposed to the mass media.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 6.1 showing the media exposure level of the public

90
80

70

60
Count

50
40
30 Urban
20
Rural
10

0
Yes No

Response

2. Exposure level to the various forms of mass medium


Table 7.1
Table showing the exposure level of the public on various forms of
mass medium

Sl. Forms URBAN RURAL


of mass
No
medium
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Print 15 13 28 [35] 28 [70] 21 49
[37.5] [32.5] [52.5] [61.25]
2 Televisi- 30 [75] 30 [75] 60 [75] 21 30 [75] 51
-on [52.5] [63.75]
3 Radio 3 [7.5] 8 [20] 11 11 4 [10] 15
[13.75] [27.5] [18.75]
4 Cinema 2 [5] 4 [10] 6 [7.5] 5 [12.5] 5 [12.5] 10
[12.5]
5 Internet 2 [5] 2 [5] 4 [5] 2 [5] 4 [10] 6 [7.5]
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Analysis of table & chart 7.1


When the respondents were put forth with a question as to find out which medium
they are more expected to, 37% [15] of the male and 32.5% [13] of the female
respondents in the urban category answered in favour of the print media, while 75%
[28] of the male and 52.5% [21] of the female respondents in the rural category held
that they are more exposed to the print media. When it comes to the TV, maximum
percentage of 75 [30] male and female respondents said that they are more exposed
to television. Where as a small percentage of 7.5 [3] male and relatively larger
percentage of 20 [8] female respondents suggested that they are more exposed to
radio and among the rural population 27.5% [11] of the male and 10% [4] of the
female respondents are said to be more exposed to the radio. In urban area, 5% [2] of
total male population and 10% [4] of female population responded of being more
exposed to the cinema, where as an equal amount of 12.5% [5] of rural male and
female category are more exposed to cinema. Only 5% [2] of the urban male and
female respondents are exposed to internet, while 5% [2] of the male 7.5% [6] of the
female respondents in the rural population are more exposed to the internet.

On an average 35% 28] of urban respondents and 61.25% [49] of rural respondents
are more exposed to print media, while the maximum amount of 75% [60] of urban
respondents and an average rate of 63.75% [51] rural respondents said that they are
more exposed to television. As for as the radio exposure rate is concerned, only
13.75% [11] of the urban respondents and 18.75% [15] of the rural respondents are
more exposed to radio. Cinema as a form of mass medium has proved to be of having
a least rate of audience, with a total percentage of 7.5 [6] urban respondents and
12.55% [10] of rural respondents marking in its favour. As per the table quite
surprisingly, only 5% [4] of the urban respondents and slightly higher 7.5% [6] of the
rural respondents are more exposed to the internet.

As per the data revealed in the table and the chart both the male and female
respondents in urban as well as rural strata are more exposed to television compared
to the other forms of mass medium.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 7.1
Chart showing the exposure level of the public on various
forms of mass medium

70

60

50
Count

40

30

20 Urban

10 Rural

0
Print Television Radio Cinema Internet

Forms of medium

3. Inclination towards different forms of mass medium


Table 8.1
Table showing the forms of mass medium most liked by the
Respondents

Sl. Forms URBAN RURAL


of mass
No
medium
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Print 10 [25] 8 [20] 8 [22.5] 21 13 34
[52.5] [32.5]] [42.5]
2 Televisi- 25 25 [62.5] 50 12 [30] 18 [45] 30
-on [62.5] [62.5] [37.5]
3 Radio 1 [2.5] 3 [7.5] 4 [5] 5 [12.5] 5 [12.5] 10
[12.5]
4 Cinema 2 [5] 2 [5] 4 [5] 2 [5] 2 [5] 4 [5]

5 Internet 2 [5] 2 [5] 4 [5] --------- 2 [5] 2 [2.5]


A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Analysis of table & chart 8.1


The above table reveals that among the urban respondents 25% [10] of male and
20% [8] of female respondents like the print medium, while an increased rate of
52.5% [21] of the male and 32.5% [13] of the female rural respondents hold their
preference towards print medium. As for as the TV is concerned, a large amount of
62.5% [25] of both male and female urban respondents are in favour of TV. On the
contrary only 30% [12] of male respondents and 45% [18] of female respondents in
rural areas have liking towards TV. When it comes to radio, 2.5% [1] of male and
7.5% [3] of female urban respondents enjoy tuning into the radio, while 5% [2] of the
rural male and female respondents like to hear the radio. Cinema as a mass medium is
least loved by the respondent group with only 5% [2] of urban and rural male and
female population signing in its favour. So is with the internet where again only 5%
[2] of the male and female urban respondents, and rural female respondents like to be
net savvy, with a clear ‗no‘ from the side of the rural male population.

However on the whole, 22.5% [18] of urban respondents and 42.5% [34] of rural
respondents have interest towards the print media, while on the contrary a high
percentage of 62.5% [50] urban population have liking towards television where as
only 37.5% [30] of rural population like it. As for as the radio is concerned 5% [4] of
the urban population and double the percentage of rural population are keen about
radio. Cinema again on an average gains the interest of 5% [4] of both the urban and
rural respondents. Finally the internet bags the interest of urban population for about
5% [4] and 2.5% [2] from the side of the rural respondents.

The data shows that among the urban respondents both men and women like
television as a medium; where as in the rural juncture both the men and women have
affection towards print media than the other forms of medium.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 8.1
Chart showing the forms of mass medium most liked by the
respondents

60

50

40
Count

30

20
4. Time spent on media Urban

10
Rural

Forms of medium

4. Daily hours spent on the media


Table 9.1
Table showing the daily amount of hours spent by the respondents on
media like for reading news papers, watching TV etc

Sl. Hours URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Less 4 [10] 3 [7.5] 7 [8.75] 6 [15] 5 [12.5] 11
than an
[13.75]
hour
2 1–2 16 [40] 16 [40] 32 [40] 23 19 42
hours [57.5] [47.5] [52.5]
3 2–3 9 [22.5] 11 [27.5] 20 [25] 6 [15] 8 [20] 14
hours [17.5]
4 3–4 7 [17.5] 6 [15] 13 3 [7.5] 6 [15] 9
hours [16.25] [11.25]
5 4 hours 4 [10] 4 [10] 8 [10] 2 [5] 2 [5] 4 [5]
and
above
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Analysis of table & chart 9.1


The above table and chart shows that 10% [4] of the urban male and 7.5% [3] of
urban female respondents spend less than an hour on media, while 15% [6] of the
male and 12.5% [5] of the female rural respondents spend their minimum time on
media. The maximum percentage of 40 [16] of the both male and female urban
respondents spend their time for about 1 – 2 hours on media, while comparatively a
larger % of rural respondents, that is 57.5% [23] of the male and 47.5% [19] of the
female respondents spend the same amount of time on media everyday. 22.5% [9] of
male and 27.5% [11] female respondents from the urban area dedicate their time for
about 2 -3 hours on media which is quite an appreciable amount. With regard to the
rural population 15% [6] of male and 20% [8] of female respondents dedicate their
same amount of time on media daily. 17.5% [7] of male and 15% [6] of the female
urban respondents spend between 3-4 hours on media everyday. Where as 7.5% [3]
and 15% [3] of the male and female rural respondents spend 3- 4 hours on media
everyday respectively. Only 10% [4] of both the male and female urban respondents
and 5% [2] of the rural male and female respondents dedicate their time on media for
more than 4 hours daily.

So on an average 8.75% [7] of the urban respondents and 13.75% [11] of the rural
respondents spend less than an hour on media everyday. While a maximum
percentage of 40 [32] urban respondents and 52.5% [42] of the rural respondents
spend between 1 to 2 hours on media daily. 25% [20] of the total urban respondents
and 17.5% [14] of the rural respondents spend for about 2 – 3 hours on media while,
16.25% [13] and 11.25% [9] of the urban and rural respondents spend 3 – 4 hours
everyday on media respectively. Only 10% [8] of the urban respondents and 5% [2] of
the rural respondents dedicate more than 4 hours on media each day.

As per the data revealed above, most of the urban and rural respondents spend
between 1 - 2 hours everyday on mass media for obtaining information, entertainment
etc.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 9.1
Chart showing the daily amount of hours spent by the respondents on
media like for reading news papers, watching TV etc

45
40
35
30
Count

25
20
15 URBAN
10
5 RURAL
0
Less 1–2 2–3 3–4 4
than hours hours hours hours
an and
hour above

Hours

5. The reason behind spending time on media


Table 10.1
Table showing the reasons behind the respondents spending their time
on media
Sl. Reasons URBAN RURAL
No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Information 27 [67.5] 20 [50] 47 34 [85] 29 63
[58.75] [72.5] [78.75]
2 Education 11 [27.5] 9 [22.5] 20 [25] 15 7 [17.5] 22
[37.5] [27.5]
3 Entertainment 15 [37.5] 14 [35] 29 10 [25] 19 29
[36.25] [47.5] [36.25]
4 Others, if any --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Analysis of table & chart 10.1


The data in table and chart 5.1 shows that among the urban male respondents 67.5%
[27] of them spend their time on media for gaining information while 50% [20] of the
female too spend their time on the media for the same reason. Where as 85% [34] of
the male respondents and 72.5% [29] of the female respondents in the rural area too
spend their time on media for gaining information and to know about the current
affairs. In urban population, 27.5% [11] of the male and 22.5% [9] of the female
respondents use their time on media for the purpose of education. Among the rural
population, 37.5% [15] of the male and 17.5% [7] of the female respondents do spend
their time on media for the same purpose. As for as the entertainment factor is
concerned 37.5% [15] of the male and 35% [14] of the female urban respondents
spend their time on media for entertainment, and 25% [10] of the male and 47.5%
[19] of the female respondents in rural population too spend their time on media for
the same reason.

On an average 58.75% [47] of the urban population spend their time on media for
the purpose of education while a large number of 78.75% [63] of the respondents
from the rural sector spend their time on media for the sake of information. 25% [20]
of the urban respondents find education as the purpose behind their time spending on
the media where as 27.5% [22] of the rural folk too feel the same. Entertainment is
regarded as the basic reason for spending time on media by 36.25% [29] of both the
urban and rural respondents.

Bird‘s view of the above table reveals that highest amount of the rural population
especially the male category find ‗information‘ as the key factor that encourages them
to spend their time on media. Though the maximum number of urban respondents too
find the same purpose behind spending their time on media, but comparatively the
rural percentage strikes the chord higher than the urban population.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 10.1
Chart showing the reasons behind the respondents spending their time
on media

70

60

50
Count

40

30

20 URBAN

10 RURAL

0
Information Education Entertainment Others, if
any

Reasons

6. Frequency of exposure to the current issues of significance through


the mass media
Table 11.1
Table showing the frequency with which the respondents are exposed
to the current issues of significance through mass media

Sl. Frequency URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Frequently 29 26 [65] 55 27 21 48 [60]
[72.5] [68.75] [67.5] [52.5]
2 Sometimes 10 [25] 11 21 10 [25] 17 27
[27.5] [26.25] [42.5] [33.75]
3 Rarely 1 [2.5] 3 [7.5] 4 [5] 3 [7.5] 2 [5] 5 [2.5]

4 Not at all --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---------


A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Analysis of table & chart 11.1


The above table and chart illustrates that among the urban male respondents 72.5%
[29] of them frequently get the opportunity to observe the current issues of
significance through the mass media, while 65% [26] of the urban female respondents
too said that they get the frequent exposure to the issues. Then 67.5% [21] of the male
and 52.5% [21] of the female respondents from rural area too revealed about their
frequent opportunities in getting to observe issues. Among the urban population 25%
[10] of the male and 27.5% [11] of the female said that they get to observes the issues
only ‗sometimes‘ and among the rural population 25% [10] of male and 42.5% [17]
of the female respondents too went with the same option. Only 2.5% [1] of the male
and 7.5% [3] of the female from urban population and 7.5% [3] of the male and 5%
[2] of the female from the rural population supposed that they rarely get any
opportunities to observe the issues of significance through the mass media. And on a
positive note none from the respondents group commented that they never get any
opportunity to observe the issues through mass media.

On an average 68.75% [55] of the urban population and 60% [48] of the rural
population agreed that they get frequent opportunities to observe the current hot issues
through mass media, while 26.25% [21] of the urban respondents and 33.75% [27] of
the rural respondents said that they get chance to observe the issues ‗sometimes‘.
Only 5% [4] from the urban population and 2.5% [5] from the rural population said
that they ‗rarely‘ get any opportunity to observe the issues through mass media.

In brief the data reveals that maximum number of urban as well as the rural
respondents meet the opportunity to watch the issues of significance and only a
minimum number of people rarely get the chance to observe such issues.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 11.1
Chart showing the frequency with which the respondents are exposed to
the current issues of significance through mass media

60

50

40
Count

30
Urban
20

10 Rural

0
Frequently Sometimes Rarely Not at all

Frequency

7. Interest level in observing the issues of public concern given out by


the media

Table 12.1

Table showing the respondent’s interest in observing issues of public


concern given out by the media

Sl. Reasons URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Yes 39 35 [87.5] 74 [92.5] 32 [80] 31 [77.5] 63
[97.5] [78.75]
2 No 1 [2.5] 5 [12.5] 6 [7.5] 4 [10] 5 [12.5] 9
[11.25]
3 Don‘t --------- --------- --------- 4 [10] 4 [10] 8 [10]
know
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Analysis of table & chart 12.1


When the respondents were asked if they are interested in observing the issues of
public concern given out by the media, the maximum percentage of 97.5 [39] of the
male urban respondents said ‗yes‘ they do take interest in observing the issues, while
87.5% [35] of the female urban respondents too followed the queue. As for as the
rural respondents are concerned, 80% [32] of the male and 77.5% [31] of the female
respondents agreed that they too are interested in observing the issues of concern.
Only a minimum percentage of 2.5 [1] male urban respondents followed by 12.5% [5]
of the female respondents straight away differed by saying that they are not bothered
about observing such issues. Among the rural respondents 10% [4] of the male
respondents and 12.5% [5] of the female respondents too agreed that they show no
interest in observing the issues of concern. No respondents from the urban group
declined the question by responding ‗don‘t know‘, while 10% [4] of both the male
and female respondents from the rural category marked ‗don‘t know‘ indicating they
are not much aware of the concept in itself.

On an average 92.5% [74] of the urban respondents and 78.75% [63] of the rural
respondents completely went on to say that they do take interest in observing the
issues of public concern delivered by the media. Where as, only a bare minimum of
7.5% [6] of the urban respondents and 11.25% [9] of rural group declined saying, they
don‘t take any interest in observing the issues of public concern. As said above none
from the urban group choose the option - ‗don‘t know‘ while 10% [8] of the rural
respondents went on to say that they don‘t know whether they are interested in the
issues or not.

Over all the data shows that the maximum percentage of public from both the urban
and rural category take keen interest in observing the issues given out by the media
while, a very less number of people take no interest in observing it.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 12.1
Chart showing the respondent’s interest in observing issues of public
concern given out by the media

80

70

60

50
Count

40

30
Urban
20
Rural
10

0
Yes No Don’t know

Interest

8. Seriousness of news and views delivered by the media


Table 13.1
Table showing the perception of the respondents about the seriousness
of the information delivered by the media

Sl. Reasons URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Yes 16 [40] 13 29 17 19 36 [45]
[32.5] [36.25] [42.5] [47.5]
2 No 4 [10] 3 [7.5] 7 [8.5] 3 [7.5] 5 [12.5] 8 [10]

3 Sometimes 20 [50] 24 [60] 44 [55] 20 [50] 16 [40] 36 [45]


A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Analysis of table & chart 13.1


The evaluation of the respondent‘s seriousness level in perceiving news and views
or rather the informations delivered by the media displayed that among the urban
respondents 40% [16] of the male and 32.5% [13] of the female respondents reaction
was that they do take the issues delivered by the media seriously. As for as the rural
population is concerned 42% [17] of the male and 45% [36] of the female respondents
also said that they too take the information on a serious note. While a 10% [4] of the
male respondents and 7.5% [3] of the female from the urban category gave a passive
reply by declaring that they don‘t take the information seriously and 7.5% [3] of the
male and 12.5% [5] of the female from the rural class too abided by the same answer.
50% [20] of the male and 60% [24] of the female respondents from urban category
said that they take the information seriously only at times. While again 50% [20] of
the male and 40% [16] of the female respondents from the rural category too
responded by saying that they take the information seriously ‗sometimes‘.

So on an average a total of 36.25% [29] of the urban respondents and 45% [36] of
rural public are said to receive the information provided by the media on a serious
note, where as 8.5% [7] of the urban respondents and 10% [8] of the rural respondents
stated that they don‘t take the information seriously. Then 55% [44] of the urban and
45% [36] of the rural respondents have showed that they take the information
seriously ‗sometimes‘.

Therefore the facts and figures related to the particular query reveals that maximum
percentage of the urban respondents sometimes take the informations delivered by the
media seriously, while among the rural respondents an equal amount of people have
answered that they perceive the issues delivered by the media seriously and also a
similar amount of people have said that they take the matters seriously only at times.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 13.1
Chart showing the perception of the respondents about the seriousness
of the information delivered by the media

50
45
40
35
30
Count

25
20
15 Urban
10
5 Rural

0
Yes No Sometimes

Response

9. Mass media and objectivity


Table 14.1
Table showing the objectivity level of the information’s delivered by the
mass media as perceived by the public

Sl. Response URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Totally 3 [7.5] 1 [2.5] 4 [5] 1 [2.5] 2 [5] 3 [3.75]
disagree

2 Disagree 12 [30] 13 25 9 [22.5] 11 20 [25]


to some
[32.5] [31.25] [27.5]
extent
3 Agree to 25 26 [65] 51 25 22 [55] 47
some
[62.5] [63.75] [62.5] [58.75]
extent
4 Complete --------- --------- --------- 5 [12.5] 5 [12.5] 10
ly
[12.5]
agree
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Analysis of table & chart 14.1


When the respondents were confronted with a statement – ―Mass media delivers the
information objectively‖, among the urban respondents 7.5% [3] of the male and 2.5
[1] of the female respondents said that they totally disagree with the statement, while
2.5% [1] of the male and 5% [2] of the female rural respondents too followed the
same opinion. When provided with an option ―disagree to some extent‖, 30% [12] of
the male and 32.5% [13] of the female respondents from the urban scenario and
22.5% [9] of the male and 27.5% [11] of the female from the rural background went
by that option saying they disagree with the statement to certain extent. Again the
respondents were given with another option that is, ―agree to some extent‖ which
showed that 62.5% [25] of the male and 65% [26] of the female urban respondents
and 62.5% [25] of the male and 55% [22] of the female rural respondents were in
support of the statement to some extent. As for as the last option of completely
agreeing with the statement is concerned, none from the urban background went in
complete favour of the statement, where as 12.5% [5] of both the male and female
rural respondents rested saying they completely agree with the statement.

Looking into the average percentage scores of urban and rural respondents based on
male and female combination shows that 5% [4] of the urban respondents and 3.75%
[3] of the rural respondents totally disagree with the statement and 31.25% [25] of the
total urban respondents and 25% [20] of the rural respondents disagree to the
statement to some extent. While 63.75% [51] of the urban respondents and 58.75%
[57] of the total rural respondents to some extent agree that mass media delivers the
information objectively. None from the urban respondent group completely agree
with the statement while 12.5% [10] of the rural respondents do agree with the
statement completely.

So an overall observation of the data reveals that the maximum number of


respondents from both the urban and rural category to some extent agree that the mass
media delivers the information objectively, while only a minimum number of total
respondents completely believe that the mass media provides the information with out
any objectivity in it.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 14.1
Chart showing the objectivity level of the information’s delivered by the
mass media as perceived by the public

60

50

40
Count

30

20 Urban

10 Rural

0
Totally Disagree Agree to Completely
disagree to some some
extent extent

Response

10. Formation of the public opinion and influence of the mass media
Table 15.1
Table showing the respondents opinion about the role of mass media in
the opinion formation process on an issue of significance
Sl. Responses URBAN RURAL
No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Always 1 [2.5] 4 [10] 5 [6.25] --------- --------- ---------

2 Most of 14 [35] 17 31 19 17 36 [45]


the times
[42.5] [38.75] [47.5] [42.5]
3 Sometimes 15 10 [25] 25 16 [40] 19 35
[37.5] [31.25] [47.5] [43.75]
4 Rarely 9 [22.5] 8 [20] 17 4 [10] 2 [5] 6 [7.5]
[21.25]
5 Not at all 1 [2.5] 1 [2.5] 2 [2.5] 1 [2.5] 2 [5] 3. [3.75]
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Analysis of table & chart 15.1


When the respondents were asked if they form the opinion on an issue based on the
news and views delivered by the media, 2.5% [1] of the male and 10% [4] of the
female urban respondents stated that they always form their opinion on an issue based
on the information disseminated by the media, while none from the rural group
favoured the option. Then 35% [14] of the male and 42.5% [17] of the female urban
respondents and 47.5% [19] of the male and 42.5% [17] of the female rural
respondents agreed that they form their opinion on an issue based on the media
exposure most of the times. As for as the urban category is concerned 37.5% [15] of
the male and 25% [10] of the female respondents said that sometimes they form their
opinion based on the media revelation, while 40% [16] of the male and 47.5% [19] of
the female rural respondents too agreed with the former one‘s. When they were given
with the option ‗rarely‘, 22.5% [9] male and 20% [8] of the female urban respondents
and 10% [4] male and 5% [2] of the female rural respondents affirmed that they rarely
form their opinion on any issue based on the news and views delivered by the media.
Among the urban category 2.5% [1] of the male and female respondents each and
2.5% [1] male and 5% [2] female rural respondents said that they never form their
opinion based on the media portrayal of issues.

Considering of the average score reveals that 6.25% [5] of the urban respondents
always build their opinion based on the media‘s attitude while none from the rural
category follow the path. 38.75% [31] of the urban and 45% [36] of the rural
respondents affirmed that they most of the times form their opinion based on the
media‘s delivery of news and views, where as 31.25% [25] of the urban and 43.75%
[35] of the rural respondents said that they sometimes do so. Then 21.25% [17] of the
urban and 7.5% [6] of the rural respondents revealed that the above process rarely
happens with them. Finally 2.5% [2] of the urban and 3.75% [3] of the rural
respondents acknowledged that they not at all form their opinion on an issue based on
the news and views delivered by the media.

So on the whole maximum number of respondents from both the groups agree that
they form their opinion on an issue based on the media‘s work most of the times.
While only a bare minimum percentage of respondents completely ignore the media
during the opinion formation process.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 15.1
Chart showing the respondents opinion about the role of mass media in
the opinion formation process on an issue of significance

40
35
30
25
Count

20
15 Urban
10
Rural
5
0
Always Most of the Sometimes Rarely Not at all
times

Response
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

11. Primary sources of information


Table 16.1
Table showing the primary sources of public opinion formation as opined
by the respondents

Sl. Responses URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Opinion 5 [12.5] 3 [7.5] 8 [10] 4 [10] 5 [12.5] 9
[%]
polls [11.25]
2 News 15 14 [35] 29 15 13 28 [35]
reports and [37.5] [36.25] [37.5] [32.5]
articles
3 Editorials 2 [5] 7 [17.5] 9 8 [20] 3 [7.5] 11
[11.25] [13.75]
4 Debates and 8 [20] 7 [17.5] 15 10 [25] 8 [20] 18
discussions [18.75] [22.5]
5 Letters to 5 [12.5] 2 [5] 7 [8.5] 4 [10] 5 [12.5] 9
the editor [11.25]
6 Columns --------- 2 [5] 2 [2.5] 13 13 26
[32.5] [32.5] [32.5]

7 All the 11 12 [30] 23 5 [12.5] 3 [7.5] 8 [10]


above [27.5] [28.75]
8 Any other, --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---------
specify

Analysis of table & chart 16.1


The above table shows that the respondents were asked to select the primary sources
of opinion formation amongst the list of few options displayed in their front, out of
which 12.5% [5] of the male and 7.5% [3] of the female urban respondents found
opinion polls as the source of opinion formation, while 10% [4] of the male and
12.5% [5] of the female respondents too agreed on the same. 37.5% [15] of the male
and 35% [14] of the female urban respondents and 37.5% [15] of the male and 32.5%
[13] of the female rural respondents believe that news reports and articles largely
contribute in the opinion formation process. Then 5% [2] of the male and 17.5% [7]
of female urban respondents and 20% [8] of the male and 7.5% [3] of the female rural
respondents consider that editorials support the opinion formation process. Among
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

the urban respondents, 20% [8] of the male and 17.5% [7] of the female respondents
and 25% [10] of the male and 20% [8] of the female rural respondents think that
debates and discussions play an active role in the opinion formation of the public. As
and when it comes to letters to the editor 12.5% [5] of the male and 5% [2] of the
female urban respondents and 10% [4] of the male and 12.5% [5] of the female rural
respondents do agree that letters to the editor has its share in forming the public
opinion. None from the urban male group considered columns as a tool of moulding
public opinion, but 5% [2] of the female urban respondents believed columns to be
the primary sources of opinion formation. And 32.5% [13] of the rural male and
female respondents too believe that columns do play a major role in the opinion
formation process. Interestingly 27.5% [11] of the urban male and 30% [12] of the
urban female respondents went on to say that all the above mentioned options are the
opinion makers while 12.5% [5] of the male and 7.5% [3] of the female rural
respondents also followed the former respondent group. None from the entire
respondent group felt that there is any other source of opinion formation device used
by the mass media.

So on an average 10% [8] of the total urban respondents and 11.25% [9] of the rural
respondents think opinion polls as the major source of opinion formation, and 36.25%
[29] of the urban and 35% [28] of the rural respondent group too feel the same. As for
as news reports and articles are concerned 35% [14] of the urban and 35% [28] of the
rural respondents feel that they are the primary source of information. Then 11.25%
[9] of the urban and 13.75% [11] of the rural respondents believe editorials to be the
primary sources of information while 18.75% [15] of the urban and 22.5% [18] of the
rural population think debates and discussions as the source of opinion formation.
8.7% [7] of the urban and 11.25% [9] of the rural respondents perceive letters to the
editor as primary sources of opinion formation and 2.5% [2] of the urban and 32.5%
[26] of the rural respondents consider columns as the device of opinion formation.
28.75% [23] of the urban strata and 10% [8] from the rural strata deem all the above
mentioned devices as the primary sources of information. None form the respondents
group believe that there is any other sources of opinion formation than those
mentioned in the list.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Over all maximum amount of respondents from the urban group agree that news
reports and articles play a major role in the opinion formation process while a
minimum percentage of the respondents believe columns as the major source of
opinion formation. As for as the rural population is concerned again the maximum
number of respondents agree that news reports and articles are the primary sources of
opinion formation and only a minimum respondents have considered all the devices as
the primary sources of opinion formation.

Chart 16.1
Chart showing the primary sources of public opinion formation as opined
by the respondents

35

30

25

20
Count

15

10 Urban

5 Rural

pol
ls les ls ns tor ns ve eci
fy
n a rtic ditor ia ussio e edi olum abo sp
inio and E dis
c th C t he er,
Op ts s to All oth
r ep
or
s and e tter A ny
t e L
ws eba
Ne D
Opinion formation sources
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

12. Varieties of issues as preferred by the public


Table 17.1
Table showing the interest level of the public on various issues discussed
in the media [Rank order from I-V]

Issues Rank URBAN RURAL


order
Male Female Total Male Femal Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] e [%] [%]
Political II 9 [22.5] 11 20 [25] 14 [35] 7 21
[27.5] [17.5] [26.25]

Social I 18 [45] 16 [40] 34 14 [35] 18 [45] 32 [40]


[42.5]
Economic III 8 [20] 7 [17.5] 15 7 [17.5] 5 12 [15]
[18.75] [12.5]
Religious IV 3 [7.5] 4 [10] 7 [8.75] 4 [10] 7 11
[17.5] [13.75]
Others V 2 [5] 2 [5] 4 [5] 1 [2.5] 1 [2.5] 2 [2.5]

Analysis of table & chart 17.1


When the questions were asked with the respondents as to find out the preference
order of the issues discussed in the media based on their interests, 22.5% [9] of the
male and 27.5% [11] of the female urban respondents showed their interest towards
the political issues while, 35% [14] of the male and 17.5% [7] of the female rural
respondents also carried their interest towards the issues related to politics. When it
comes to the social issues, 45% [18] of the male and 40% [16] of the female urban
respondents and 35% [14] of the male and 45% [14] of the female rural respondents
intended their interest towards social issues discussed in the media. In relation to the
economic issues among the urban respondents, 20% [8] of the male and 17.5% [7] of
the female respondents portrayed their interest towards it, while 17.5% [7] of the male
and 12.5% [5] of the female rural respondents too leaned towards the economic
issues. 7.5% [3] of the male and 10% [4] of the female urban respondents and 10% [4]
of the male and 17.5% [7] of the female respondents showed their interest towards the
religious issues discussed in the media. As for as the other issues are concerned that
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

includes cultural, educational, sports, cinema and the like 5% [2] of both the male and
female urban respondents and 2.5% [1] of both the male and female rural respondents
assigned their interest towards such issues.

When we take the average scores, 25% [20] of the urban and 26.25% [21] of the
rural respondents showed their interest towards political issues while, 42.5% [34] of
the urban and 40% [32] of the rural population denoted their interest towards the
social issues. In relation to the economic issues 18.75% [15] of the urban 15% [12] of
the respondents among the rural population proved their concern towards the
economic issues, while 8.75% [7] of the urban and 13.75% [11] of the rural
population showed their interest in issues related religion. Only an average of 5% [4]
among the urban respondents and 2.5% [2] among the rural respondents proved their
interest in other issues.

In brief, the maximum numbers of respondents in the total group have voted in
support of the social issues followed by the political issues. And the next highest
ranked issue is economic preceded by religious issues and the minimum percentage of
vote is in support of other issues like cultural, sports, cinema and the like. Therefore I
rank as per the respondents reply is bagged by social issues, followed by the II rank in
favour of political issues. The III rank is in support of economic issues and the IV
rank is in favour of religious issues and the least favoured by the group are the other
issues ranking V.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 17.1
Chart showing the interest level of the public on various issues discussed
in the media [Rank order from I-V]

40
35
30
25
Count

20
Urban
15
10 Rural
5
0
Political Social Economic Religious Others

Issues

13. Participation in the opinion polls


Table 18.1
Table showing the respondents participation level in the opinion polls

Sl. Frequency URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Frequently 4 [10] 3 [7.5] 7 [8.75] 2 [5] -------- 2 [2.5]

2 Sometimes 12 [30] 10 [25] 22 18 [40] 10 [25] 28 [35]


[27.5]

3 Rarely 14 [35] 15 29 8 [17.5] 10 [25] 18


[37.5] [36.25] [22.5]
4 Not at all 10 [25] 12 [30] 22 12 [15] 20 [50] 32 [40]
[27.5]
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Analysis of table & chart 18.1


The above table and chart reveals the frequency level of the respondents
participation in the opinion polls. Among the urban respondents 10% [4] of the male
and 7.5% [3] of the female and among the rural respondents 5% [2] of the male
respondents have agreed that they frequently participate in the opinion polls, while no
female from the rural set up have marked this response. 30% [12] of the male and
25% [10] of the female urban respondents and 40% [18] of the male and 25% [10] of
the female rural respondents have said that they participate in the opinion polls
‗sometimes‘. When they were given with the option ‗rarely‘, 35% [14] of the male
37.5% [15] of the female urban respondents and 17.5% [8] of the male and 25% [10]
of the female rural respondents have told that they rarely participate in the opinion
polls. As for as the option ‗not at all‘ is concerned 25% [10] of the male and 30% [12]
of the female urban respondents and 15% [12] of the male and 50% [20] of the female
rural respondents have confirmed that they don‘t take part in the opinion polls at all.

On an average a sum total of 8.75% [7] of the urban respondents and 2.5% [2] of the
rural respondents have said that they frequently participate in the opinion polls while
27.5% [22] of the urban and 25% [28] of the rural population have said that they
sometimes participate in the opinion polls. Then 36.25% [29] among the urban and
22.5% [18] among the rural respondents have said that they rarely participate in the
opinion polls and 27.5% [22] of the urban and 40% [32] of the rural population have
agreed that they never take part in the opinion polls.

So the data shows that maximum number of the urban respondents rarely participate
in the opinion polls and the maximum number of rural respondents doesn‘t take part
in the opinion polls at all. A very minimum percentage of population among both the
groups have said that they frequently participate in the opinion polls.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 18.1
Chart showing the respondents participation level in the opinion polls

35

30

25
Count

20
15
Urban
10
Rural
5

0
Frequently Sometimes Rarely Not at all

Frequency level

14. Impact of opinion on an issue


Table 19.1
Table showing the respondents view about their opinion on an issue
making any difference in terms of impact

Sl. Response URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Yes 10 [25] 3 [7.5] 13 5 [12.5] 2 [5] 7 [8.75]
[16.25]

2 No 6 [15] 9 [22.5] 15 14 [35] 15 29


[18.75] [37.5] [36.25]

3 Sometimes 10 [25] 8 [20] 18 10 [25] 9 [22.5] 19


[22.5] [23.75]

4 Don‘t 14 [35] 20 [50] 34 11 14 [35] 25


know [42.5] [27.5] [31.25]
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Analysis of table & chart 19.1


When the respondents were posed with a question whether their opinion on an issue
makes any difference in terms of impact, 25% [10] of the urban male and 7.5% [3] of
the urban female respondents have agreed that it brings some change there after.
Where as, 12.5% [5] of the male and 5% [2] of the female rural respondents too have
supported the view. 15% [6] of the male and 22.5% [9] of the female urban
respondents and 35% [14] of the male and 37.5% [15] of the female rural respondents
have firmly said that their opinion does not make any change in context to the issue.
Then 25% [10] of the male and 20% [8] of the female respondents among the urban
category and 25% [10] of the male and 22.5% [9] of the female among the rural
category have went on to say that impact is made only ‗sometimes‘. Finally, when
they were given with the option ‗don‘t know‘, 35% [14] of the male and 50% [20] of
the female urban respondents and 27.5% [11] of the male and 35% [14] of the female
rural respondents have replied saying that they are not aware of whether it is going to
make any difference in terms of impact or not.

On an average 16.25% [13] of the urban and 7.75% [7] of the rural respondents
have agreed that their opinion on any issue makes some difference in terms of impact.
18.75% [15] of the urban and 36.25% [29] of the rural respondents have said that their
response would make no difference in terms of impact while, 22.5% [18] of the urban
and 23.75% [19] of the rural respondents have stated that their opinion makes
difference only at times, not always. And 42.5% [34] of the urban and 31.25% [25] of
the rural respondents have simply replied that they don‘t know whether it brings any
change or not.

In brief, the urban respondents have taken the safer side by saying they are not
aware of the changes that their opinion are likely to bring while the majority of the
rural respondents have affirmed on passive note saying it wont make any difference.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 19.1
Chart showing the respondents view about their opinion on an issue
making any difference in terms of impact

40
35
30
25
Count

20
15 Urban
10
Rural
5
0
Yes No Sometimes Don't Know

Response

15. Opinion on Ruchika’s case and the role played by the media
Table 20.1
Table showing the respondents opinion about the twist in Ruchika’s
suicide case and the role played by the media in strengthening the public
opinion [in context to the case]

Sl. Frequency URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Femal Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] e [%] [%]
1 Always 9 [22.5] 5 [12.5] 14 4 [10] 4 [10] 8 [10]
[17.5]
2 Most of 13 16 [40] 29 17 16 [40] 33
[32.5] [36.25] [42.5] [41.25]
the times
3 Sometimes 18 [45] 16 [40] 34 18 [45] 17 35
[42.5] [42.5] [43.25]

4 Not at all 2 [5] 3 [7.5] 5 [12.5] 2 [5] 3 [7.5] 5 [12.5]


A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Analysis of table & chart 20.1


When the respondents were asked if they feel it is because of the strong public
opinion that cases like Ruchika‘s suicide have taken a twist, 22.5% [9] of the male
and 12.5% [5] of the female urban respondents and 10% [4] of both the male and
female rural respondents have completely agreed to the question saying that the twist
has taken place ‗always‘ because of the public opinion formation. 32.5% [13] of the
male and 40% [16] of the female urban respondents and 42.5% [17] of the male and
40% [16] of the female rural respondents have profoundly agreed to it marking on the
option ‗most of the times‘. Where as, 45% [18] of the male and 40% [16] of the
female urban respondents and 45% [18] of the male and 42.5% [17] of the female
respondents have said that the twist has taken place only at times. Then 5% [2] of the
male and 7.5% [3] of the female urban respondents and 5% [2] of the male and 7.5%
[3] of the female rural respondents have denied the statement saying no such kind of
twists have taken place at all owing to the formation of public opinion.

Of the entire respondent group, 17.5% [14] of the urban respondents and 10% [8] of
the rural respondents have agreed that every twist have taken place because of the
formation of strong public opinion. While 36.25% [29] of the urban and 41.25% [33]
of the rural population have said that the twist taken place ‗most of the times‘. 42.5%
[34] of the urban respondents and 43.25% [35] of the rural respondents slightly go
with the statement saying the changes have taken place only ‗sometimes‘. And at last
12.5% [5] of both the urban and rural population have affirmed saying no twists in the
cases similar to Ruchika‘s have taken place due to the strong public opinion
formation.

Succinctly, maximum amount of the urban and rural respondents believe that the
twists in the cases like Ruchika‘s suicide have taken place due to the formation of
strong public opinion only at times, while a minimum percentage of respondents
passively urged that no twists have taken place at all due to the public opinion
formation formed in favour of an issue.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chart 20.1
Chart showing the respondents opinion about the twist in Ruchika’s
suicide case and the role played by the media in strengthening the public
opinion [in context to the case]

40

35

30

25
Count

20

15 Urban
10
Rural
5

0
Most of the times Always Sometimes Not at all

Frequency
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

16. Role of the public opinion formation in the formation or defeat of


governments
Table 21.1
Table showing the respondents reaction about the role of public opinion
played, resulting in the formation or defeat of the governments

Sl. Response URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Totally 2 [5] -------- 2 [2.5] 2 [5] 2 [5] 4 [5]
disagree
2 Disagree 8 [20] 10 [25] 18 8 [20] 8 [20] 16 [20]
to some [22.5]
extent
3 Agree to 23 22 [55] 45 23 20 [50] 43
some [57.5] [56.25] [57.5] [53.75]
extent
4 Complete 7 [17.5] 8 [20] 15 7 [17.5] 10 [25] 17
ly [18.75] [21.25]
agree

Analysis of table & chart 21.1


When the respondents were given with a statement asking their view on the public
opinion formation resulting in the formation or defeat of the governments 5% [2] of
the male urban respondents said that they totally disagree with the statement while no
female from the urban background supported the same opinion. As for as the rural
respondents are concerned, 5% [2] of both the male and female respondents too said
that they totally disagree with the statement. 20% [8] of the male and 25% [10] of the
female urban respondents and 20% [8] of both the male and female rural respondents
said that they disagree with the statement to some extent. Where as, 57.5% [23] of the
urban male and 55% [22] of the urban female respondents, and 57.5% [23] of the
rural male and 50% [20] of the rural female respondents said that they agree to some
extent with the statement. Then 17.5% [7] of the male and 20% [8] of the female
urban respondents and 17.5% [7] of the male and 25% [10] of the female rural
respondents completely supported the statement saying they fully agree with what
was given.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

On an average 2.5% [2] of the urban population and 5% [4] of the rural population
have completely disagreed with the statement, while 22.5% [18] of the urban and 20%
[16] of the rural respondents have chosen the option ‗disagree to some extent‘ going
almost in support of the agreeing part. 56.25% [45] of the urban and 53.75% [43] of
the rural respondents have said that they agree with the statement to some extent. And
18.75% [15] of the urban respondents and 21.25% [17] of the rural respondents have
completely supported the view saying public opinion formation results in the
formation or defeat of the governments.

Scrutinizing the above data shows that maximum number of respondents from both
the urban and rural categories agree with the statement to some extent while, there are
only a minimum number of respondents in both the groups who totally disagree with
the statement.

Chart 21.1
Chart showing the respondents reaction about the role of public opinion
played, resulting in the formation or defeat of governments

50
45
40
35
30
Count

25
20
15 Urban
10
Rural
5
0
Totally disagree Disagree to some Agree to some extent Completely agree
extent
Response
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

17. Necessity level of having a unanimous public opinion on an issue of


public importance
Table 22.1
Table showing the respondents opinion on having a unanimous public
opinion over an issue of public importance

Sl. Opinion URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Not at all 8 [20] 4 [10] 12 [15] 13 5 [12.5] 18
necessary [32.5] [22.5]
2 Necessary 16 [40] 22 [55] 38 15 17 32 [40]
at times [47.5] [37.5] [42.5]
3 Quite 9 [22.5] 12 [30] 21 6 [15] 12 [30] 18
necessary [26.25] [22.5]
4 Very 7 [17.5] 2 [5] 9 6 [15] 6 [15] 12 [15]
necessary [11.25]

Analysis of table & chart 22.1


The above table shows that 20% [8] of the male and 10% [4] of the female urban
respondents and 32.5% [13] of the male and 12.5% [5] of the female rural respondents
think that it is not at all necessary for the public to have a unanimous public opinion
over an issue of public importance. 40% [16] of the male and 55% [22] of the female
urban respondents and 37.5% [15] of the male and 42.5% [17] of the female rural
respondents predict it is necessary to have a unanimous opinion at times. When it
comes to the option ‗quite necessary‘, 22.5% [9] of the male and 30% [12] of the
female urban respondents and 15% [6] of the male and 30% [12] of the female from
the rural population do think that it is quite necessary to have a unanimous opinion.
17.5% [7] of male and 5% [2] of the female from the urban population and 15% [6] of
both the male and female respondents from the rural category do believe that it is very
necessary to have common public opinion on any issues.

On an average 15% [12] of the urban respondents and 22.5% [18] of the rural
respondents consider it is not at all necessary for the public to have a unanimous
public opinion on an issue of significance. Then 47.5% [38] from the urban category
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

and 40% [32] of respondents from the rural category think it is necessary at times to
have a unanimous public opinion. And 26.25% [21] of the urban respondents and
22.5% [18] of the rural respondents assume it is quite necessary to have a unanimous
public opinion while, 11.25% [9] of the urban and 15% [12] of the rural respondents
have affirmed that it is very necessary to have a unanimous public opinion about the
issues of public importance.

Largely, maximum amount of respondents from both the urban and rural category
agree that it is at times necessary to have a unanimous public opinion on an issue of
public importance, while only a minimum number of respondents believe that it is
very necessary to have a unanimous public opinion.

Chart 22.1
Chart showing the respondents opinion on having a unanimous public
opinion over an issue of public importance

40
35
30
25
Count

20
15 Urban
10
Rural
5
0
Not at all necessary Necessary at times Quite necessary Very necessary

Opinion
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

18. The creators of public opinion formation


Table 23.1
Table showing the respondents opinion about the creators of public
opinion formation

Sl. Classes URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Educated 15 12 [30] 22 14 [35] 11 25
class [37.5] [27.5] [27.5] [31.25]

2 General 30 [75] 28 [70] 58 30 [75] 28 [70] 58 [72.5]


public [72.5]

3 Uneducat -------- -------- -------- -------- 1 [2.5] 1 [1.25]


ed class

Analysis of table & chart 23.1


When the respondents were posed with the question about the creators of public
opinion, 37.5% [15] of the male and 30% [12] of the female urban respondents and
35% [14] of the male and 27.5% [11] of the female rural respondents said that it is the
educated class who play a major role in the formation of public opinion. Where as
75% [30] of the male and 70% [28] of the female urban and rural respondents agree
on saying it is the general public who participate to a greater extent in the formation
of public opinion. Except 2.5% [1] of the rural female group none from any of the
categories consider uneducated class as the makers of opinion formation.

So on an average 27.5% [22] of the urban respondents and 31.25% [25] of the rural
respondents believe that educated class play a major role in the formation of public
opinion process, while 72.5% [58] of both the urban and rural respondents think that it
is the general public who are part of the public opinion formation. None from the
urban category consider uneducated class as the opinion makers, while only 1.25% [1]
of the rural respondents voted in favour of the uneducated class.

Observing the available data shows that among both the urban and the rural
respondents maximum percentage of them consider general public as the framers of
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

opinion formation, while none from the urban group and a bare minimum from the
rural set up consider uneducated people as the framers of opinion formation.

Chart 23.1
Chart showing the respondents opinion about the creators of public
opinion formation

70

60

50
Count

40
30
Urban
20
Rural
10

0
Educated class General public Uneducated class

Class
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

19. Assessment of the statement - “politicians are corrupt”


Table 24.1
Table showing the public’s opinion about the statement –
“Politicians are corrupt”
Sl. Opinion URBAN RURAL
No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Totally 2 [5] 1 [2.5] 3 [3.75] 2 [5] 1 [2.5] 3 [3.75]
disagree

2 Disagree 3 [7.5] 8 [20] 11 9 [22.5] 8 [25] 17


to some [13.75] [21.25]
extent
3 Agree to 22 [55] 13 35 17 17 34
some [32.5] [43.75] [42.5] [42.5] [42.5]
extent
4 Complete 13 18 [45] 31 12 [30] 14 [35] 26
ly [32.5] [38.75] [32.5]
agree

Analysis of table & chart 24.1


The above table shows that among the urban and the rural respondents 5% [2] of the
male and 2.5% [1] of the female population respectively totally disagree with the
statement that politicians are corrupt. Where as, 7.5% [3] of the male and 20% [8] of
the female urban respondents and 22.5% [9] of the male and 25% [8] of the female
rural respondents disagree to some extent with the statement. Then 55% [22] of the
male and 32.5% [13] of the female urban respondents and 42.5% [17] of both the
male and female rural respondents agree to some extent with the statement while,
32.5% [13] and 45% [18] of the urban male and female respondents respectively and
30% [12] of the male and 35% [14] female rural respondents completely agree with
the statement.

While taking their average scores into consideration 3.75% [3] of both the urban
and rural respondents totally disagree with the proclamation, while 13.75% [11] of the
urban and 21.25% [17] of the rural respondents said that they disagree with the
statement to some extent. Then 43.75% [35] of the urban and 42.5% [34] of the rural
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

respondents agree to some extent with the statement and 38.75% [31] of the urban and
32.5% [26] of the rural respondents are said to completely agree with the statement.

In brief, maximum percentage of the urban and the rural respondents agree to some
extent with the statement and a very minimum amount of both the urban and rural
respondents totally disagree with the statement.

Chart 24.1
Chart showing the public’s opinion about the statement –
“Politicians are corrupt”

40
35
30
25
Count

20
15 Urban

10
Rural
5
0
Totally disagree Disagree to some Agree to some extent Completely agree
extent

Opinion
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

20. Assessment of the statement - “terrorism is religiously motivated”


Table 25.1
Table showing the public’s response about the statement –
“Terrorism is religiously motivated”

Sl. Opinion URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]

1 Totally 6 [15] 6 [15] 12 [15] 4 [10] 4 [10] 8 [10]


disagree

2 Disagree to 5 [12.5] 8 [20] 13 8 [20] 8 [20] 16 [20]


some [16.25]
extent
3 Agree to 21 13 34 17 17 34
some [52.5] [27.5] [42.5] [42.5] [42.5] [42.5]
extent
4 Completel 8 [20] 13 21 11 [30] 11 [30] 22
y [27.5] [26.25] [27.5]
agree

Analysis of table & chart 25.1


As per the table and chart, 15% [6] of both the male and female urban respondents
and 10% [4] of both the rural male and female respondents totally disagree with the
statement that ―terrorism is religiously motivated‖. Where as, 12.5% [5] of the male
and 20% [8] of the female urban respondents and 20% [8] of both the male and
female rural respondents disagree to some extent with the statement. Then 52.5% [21]
of the male and 27.5% [13] of the female urban respondents and 42.5% [17] of both
the male and female respondents agree to some extent with the statement. As for as
the completely agree part is concerned 20% [8] of the male 27.5% [13] of the female
urban respondents and 30% [11] of the male and female rural respondents have
agreed on saying that they completely agree with the statement.

On an average 15% [12] of the urban and 10% [8] of the rural respondents totally
disagree with the statement while, 16.25% [13] of the urban and 20% [16] of the rural
respondents disagree to some extent with the statement. With reference to ‗agree to
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

some extent‘ option 42.5% [34] of both the urban and rural respondents have revealed
that they agree to some extent with the declaration and 26.25% [21] of the urban and
27.5% [22] of the rural respondents have said that they completely agree with the
statement.

Over all the maximum number of both the urban and rural respondents have said
that they agree to some extent with the statement – ―terrorism is religiously
motivated‖. And a minimum number of the both the urban and rural respondents have
replied by saying that they totally disagree with the statement.

Chart 25.1
Chart showing the public’s response about the statement –
“Terrorism is religiously motivated”

40
35
30
25
Count

20
15
Urban
10
5 Rural
0
Totally disagree Disagree to some Agree to some Completely agree
extent extent

Opinion
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

21. Assessment of the statement - “Indians face racism attacks in


Australia”
Table 26.1
Table showing the public’s opinion about the statement –
“Indians face racism attacks in Australia”

Sl. Opinion URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Totally 1 [2.5] 1 [2.5] 2 [2.5] 3 [7.5] 3 [7.5] 6 [7.5]
disagree

2 Disagree to 6 [15] 8 [20] 14 6 [15] 9 [22.5] 15


some [17.5] [18.75]
extent
3 Agree to 20 [50] 24 [60] 44 [55] 24 [60] 16 [40] 40 [50]
some
extent
4 Completel 13 7 [17.5] 20 [20] 7 [17.5] 12 [30] 19
y [32.5] [23.75]
agree

Analysis of table & chart 26.1


The above table shows that among the urban respondents 2.5% [1] of both the male
and female population and 7.5% [3] of both the male and female rural respondents
totally disagree with the statement that ―Indians face racism attacks in Australia‖.
Where as, 15% [6] of the male and 20% [8] of the female urban respondents and 15%
[6] of the male and 22.5% [9] of the female rural respondents disagree to some extent
with the statement. Then 50% [20] of the male and 60% [24] of the female urban
respondents and 60% [24] of the male and 40% [16] of the female rural respondents
agree to some extent with the statement while, 32.5% [13] and 17% [7] of the urban
male and female respondents respectively and 17% [7] of the male and 30% [12] of
the female rural respondents completely agree with the statement.

While taking their average scores into consideration 2.5% [2] of the urban and 7.5%
[6] of the rural respondents totally disagree with the proclamation, while 17.5% [14]
of the urban and 18.75% [15] of the rural respondents said that they disagree with the
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

statement to some extent. Then 55% [44] of the urban and 50% [40] of the rural
respondents agree to some extent with the statement and 20% [20] of the urban and
23.75% [19] of the rural respondents are said to completely agree with the statement.

In brief, maximum percentage of the urban and the rural respondents agree to some
extent with the statement and a very minimum amount of both the urban and rural
respondents totally disagree with the statement.

Chart 26.1
Chart showing the public’s opinion about the statement –
“Indians face racism attacks in Australia”

50
45
40
35
Count

30
25
20
Urban
15
10
Rural
5
0
Totally disagree Disagree to some Agree to some Completely agree
extent extent

Opinion
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

22. Assessment of the public’s opinion on the statement - “The current


education system in India is utterly of poor quality”
Table 27.1
Table showing the public’s response about the statement –
“The current education system in India is utterly of poor quality”

Sl. Opinion URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Totally 6 [15] 6 [15] 12 [15] 2 [5] 5 [12.5] 7 [8.75]
disagree

2 Disagree 18 [45] 8 [20] 26 8 [20] 11 19


to some [32.5] [27.5] [23.75]
extent
3 Agree to 12 [30] 19 31 20 [50] 15 35
some [47.5] [38.75] [37.5] [43.75]
extent
4 Complete 4 [10] 7 [17.5] 13 10 [25] 9 [22.5] 19
ly [16.25] [23.75]
agree

Analysis of table & chart 27.1


As per the above table and chart, 15% [6] of both the male and female urban
respondents and 5% [2] of the male and 12.5% [5] of the rural female rural
respondents have said to totally disagree with the statement that ―current education
system in India is utterly of poor quality‖. Where as, 45% [18] of the male and 20%
[8] of the female urban respondents and 20% [8] of the male and 27.5% [11] of the
female rural respondents disagree to some extent with the statement. Then 30% [12]
of the male and 47.5% [19] of the female urban respondents and 50% [20] of the male
and 37.5% [15] of the female respondents agree to some extent with the statement. As
for as the completely agree part is concerned 10% [4] of the male 17.5% [7] of the
female urban respondents and 25% [10] of the male and 22.5% [9] of the female rural
respondents have agreed on saying that they completely agree with the statement.

On an average 15% [12] of the urban and 7% [8.75] of the rural respondents totally
disagree with the statement while, 32.5% [26] of the urban and 23.75% [19] of the
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

rural respondents disagree to some extent with the statement. With reference to ‗agree
to some extent‘ option 38.75% [31] of the urban and 43.75% [35] of the rural
respondents have revealed that they agree to some extent with the declaration and
16.25% [13] of the urban and 23.75% [19] of the rural respondents have said that they
completely agree with the statement.

Over all the maximum number of both the urban and rural respondents have said
that they agree to some extent with the statement – ―Current education system in India
is utterly of poor quality‖ and a minimum number of both the urban and rural
respondents have replied saying that they totally disagree with the statement.

Chart 27.1
Chart showing the public’s response about the statement – “The current
education system in India is utterly of poor quality”

40
35
30
25
Count

20
15 Urban
10
5 Rural
0
Totally disagree Disagree to some Agree to some Completely agree
extent extent

Opinion
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

23. Assessment of the statement - “Public opinion is a powerful tool in a


democratic set up”
Table 28.1
Table showing the public’s response about the statement –
“Public opinion is a powerful tool in a democratic set up”

Sl. Opinion URBAN RURAL


No
Male Female Total Male Female Total
[%] [%] [%] [%] [%] [%]
1 Totally 5 [12.5] --------- 5 [6.25] 2 [5] 1 [2.5] 3 [3.75]
disagree

2 Disagree 5 [12.5] 6 [15] 11 2 [5] 3 [7.5] 5 [6.25]


to some [13.75]
extent
3 Agree to 14 [35] 14 [35] 28 [35] 17 13 30
some [42.5] [32.5] [37.5]
extent
4 Complete 16 [40] 20 [50] 36 [45] 19 23 42
ly [47.5] [57.5] [52.5]
agree

Analysis of table and chart 28.1


The above table shows that among the urban respondents 12.5% [5] of the male and
none of the female respondents totally disagree with the statement - ―Public opinion is
a powerful tool in a democratic set up‖, where as, 5% [2] of the male and 2.5% [1] of
the female rural respondents totally disagree with the statement. Then 12.5% [5] of
the male and 15% [6] of the female urban respondents and 5% [2] of the male and
7.5% [3] of the female rural respondents disagree to some extent with the statement.
When it comes to agree to some extent 35% [14] of both the male and female urban
respondents and 42.5% [17] of the male and 32.5% [13] of the female rural
respondents agree to some extent with the statement while, 40% [16] of the male and
50% [20] of the female urban respondents and 47.5% [19] of the male and 57.5% [23]
of the female rural respondents completely agree with the statement.

Taking their average scores into consideration 6.25% [5] of the urban and 3.75% [3]
of the rural respondents totally disagree with the proclamation, while 13.75% [11] of
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

the urban and 6.25% [5] of the rural respondents said that they disagree with the
statement to some extent. Then 35% [28] of the urban and 37.5% [30] of the rural
respondents agree to some extent with the statement and 45% [36] of the urban and
52.55% [42] of the rural respondents have been said to completely agree with the
statement.

In brief, maximum percentage of the urban and the rural respondents completely
agree with the statement and a very minimum amount of both the urban and rural
respondents totally disagree with the statement

Chart 28.1
Chart showing the public’s response about the statement –
“Public opinion is a powerful tool in a democratic set up”

45
40
35
30
Count

25
20
Urban
15
10 Rural
5
0
Totally disagree Disagree to some Agree to some Completely agree
extent extent

Opinion
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chapter V

Findings, Inferences,
Suggestions &
Conclusion
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Chapter V
Findings, Inferences, Suggestions &
Conclusion

“The best government rests on the people, and not on the few, on persons and not
on property, on the free development of public opinion, and not on authority.”
- George Bancroft

The concept of public opinion is consistently in use since the beginning of the 18th
century and it has widened its role and significance with the growth of the media as an
industry. Public opinion is closely associated with the media, as mass media is
believed to be the creator or shaper of public opinion.

Definitely we can‘t claim media as the only source behind the formation of public
opinion, but it is impossible to deny the role played by the media in understanding the
process of public opinion formation. Therefore whenever the formation of public
opinion takes place it is quite evident to observe the presence or absence of the media,
the exposure level and perception of the media by the public. More over the study of
public opinion on public opinion is relevant as it happens many a times that the so
called ‗popular‘ public opinions are framed with out the involvement of the entire
population. At times media may act as a tool to deploy the opinion of the public as per
its needs. Having these thoughts in mind, this research was conducted essentially in
the rural and urban areas, as there are chances of differing media exposure, perception
level and attitudes on the popular, existing public opinions among the two different
publics, as for as the media and public opinion is concerned.

With the increased growth of media industry and media‘s entry into the nook and
corner‘s of the nation it is natural that even the rural population are exposed to one or
the other forms of media and they too are aware of the issues taking place in the day
to day scenario. But then the slightest of the changes that are still prevalent between
the rural and urban public are studied in this research.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

In order to study the public opinion on the existing public opinions and the
surrounding aspects, questionnaires were brought out to get the responses of both the
urban and the rural population.
Their responses have been recorded, tabulated and analysed in the previous pages.
Logical analysis and reasoning followed this stage where by each response was
studied in detail. Some suggestions have been given at the end of this chapter, in order
to form unbiased public opinions and related aspects. There is also an attempt to draw
inferences from the data analysed, to understand the result and the concept of public
opinion in more descriptive manner. Throwing light on the public‘s attitude on media,
democracy and public opinion may help in the days to come, in connection with the
formation process of public opinion.

Summary of the findings


Overall it is quite evident that the public consider public opinion as an essential tool
in a democratic set up and they partially abide by the existing public opinions.
Though there is no hard and fast rule that a mere public opinion could change
everything by over night, but the role of public opinion in the current scenario can‘t
be overlooked. Some of the most important findings obtained from the responses of
the urban and rural respondents [general public] are given below, each of them done
question wise. [Please refer appendix for questionnaire].

Major Finding of the Study


 The respondents that is, the general public, go with the already existing public
opinions to a larger extent, though not completely.

 There is no much difference between the media exposure and perception level
between the urban and the rural public.

 The urban population have passive opinion towards the media and the creation
of public opinion compared to that of the rural public.

Minor Findings of the Study

 All the respondents irrespective of gender difference and urban and rural
background are exposed to one or the forms of mass media.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

 The highest number of urban population is more exposed to television while


there is a neck to neck competition between the print media and television as
for as the mass media exposure of rural population is concerned. Radio,
cinema and internet as forms of mass media at present don‘t belong to the list
of ‗highly exposed‘ medium.

 Television emerged as the most sought out form of mass medium among the
urban respondents, while print media scored over the television among the
rural public. Both the male and female population among the urban
respondents are equally inclined towards television while the rural men are
fond of print media, unlike the female rural respondents who vote in favour of
television.

 Most of the urban and rural respondents spend between 1 – 2 hours on media
everyday. Quite naturally the female group, especially the rural ones, is found
to spend more time on media compared to the working men folk.

 The rationale behind public spending their time on media is for gaining
information, followed by the ‗entertainment‘ factor and the last motive behind
spending time on media is for the purpose of education. Among both the urban
and rural respondents, male stress on information as the reason for spending
time on media, while the female crowd replace it with the entertainment.

 Most of the urban and rural respondents frequently get the opportunity to
observe the issues of significance through the mass media, though the
opportunity is found to be slightly lesser among the rural respondents.
Compared to the male population, female respondents among both the urban
and the rural respondents get the opportunity to observe the issues sometimes,
rather than frequently.

 The maximum amount of the respondents among both the urban and rural
population are interested in observing the issues of public concern given out
by the media, though the rate is little lower among the female respondents of
both the groups.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

 Most of the urban respondents sometimes consider the news and views
delivered by the media seriously, while as for as the rural respondents are
concerned, there is an equal distribution of the number among the respondents
who claim that they ‗always‘ and ‗sometimes‘ consider it seriously.

 The objectivity test of the media in the eyes of the general public showed the
presence of a very small number of population who believe the informations
delivered by the media as impartial and truth. Most of the urban and rural,
male and female respondents agree to some extent with the statement - ―Mass
media delivers the information objectively‖, indicating that the major part of
the statement is disagreed. Compared to the urban population there is high
percentage of rural respondents who assume that media delivers the
information objectively.

 In spite of the distrust on the objectivity status of the media, a large number of
respondents most of the time do form their opinion on an issue based on the
news and views delivered by the media. The rate of opinion formation based
on the media coverage is slightly higher among the rural respondents
compared to that of the urban group.

 As and when it comes to the sources of public opinion formation, both the
urban and the rural public strongly believe news reports and articles as the
primary sources of public opinion formation irrespective of the gender
differences. While the urban population also believes all the mentioned
options including opinion polls, news reports and articles, editorials, debates
and discussions, letters to the editor, columns as a whole, too are the sources
opinion formation in one or the other way. But the rural audiences recognise
columns as one of the primary sources of opinion formation only next to that
of news reports and articles.

 There is a strong preference of both the urban and rural respondents for social
issues discussed in the media, followed by the political issues, again
irrespective of gender differences. Economic, religious and other issues are not
the choice of the public at the moment.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

 Though opinion poll is regarded as the best way to assess the public opinion
on an issue, it is significant to note that the major part of urban respondents
rarely participate in the opinion polls, while the maximum number of
respondents from the rural population don‘t participate in the opinion polls at
all.

 The urban respondents are not sure whether their opinions on an issue makes
any difference in terms of impact, while the rural respondents strongly believe
that their opinion will not make any difference in terms of impact. A passive
attitude of the public towards the significance of their opinion is found here.

 In relation to the socially relevant cases like Ruchika‘s suicide, the public
consider it is only sometimes that the creation of public opinion has lead to the
twist in the cases, but not always. Compared to the men folk female
respondents strongly believe that twists have taken place vowing to the strong
public opinion.

 The concept of strong public opinion resulting in the formation or defeat of


governments is partially agreed by both the urban and rural respondents,
though not completely. Both the male and the female respondent‘s responses
are mostly similar in this regard.

 The respondents, especially the female community feel it is necessary at times


to have unanimous public opinion over an issue of public importance. While,
though the majority of men go with the similar attitude, there is also a larger
group than the female respondents who adhere that it is not at all necessary to
have a unanimous public opinion on any kind of issues.

 Among the three different classes given, most of the respondents, irrespective
of categorical differences, think it is the general public who are the creators of
public opinion formation rather than the educated – affluent class and the
another contrasting - uneducated class.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Assessment of the public opinion on public opinion - Summary of the


finding
 A large number of respondents do agree to some extent with the popularly
held public opinion that the politicians are corrupt. There is only a minimum
amount of respondents in both the urban and the rural strata who completely
agree with the concept.

 As for as another popular public opinion of linking religion to terrorism is


concerned, the public again don‘t go with the statement completely. Instead
they agree to some extent with the statement and the major part of their mind
leans towards the disagree part.

 Both the urban and the rural respondents agree to some extent that the Indians
face racism attacks in Australia, indicating their unwillingness to comply with
the concept of racism in Australia completely.

 The respondents, both the urban and the rural, don‘t completely agree that the
education system in India is utterly of poor quality, having set their opinion
that it is poor to some extent.

 When it comes to the significance of public opinion in a democratic set up the


majority of the respondents fully agree with the necessity of the formation of
public opinion in a democracy.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Inferences drawn form the responses of all the


respondents
Based on the various findings mentioned so far, some inferences have been drawn, by
examining the possible reasons for certain obtained responses. Responses for most of
the questions have been interpreted separately, and they are done question wise.
[Please refer appendix for questionnaire]

Inferences

 21st century having seen a huge information and media revolution, has made it
possible even for the rural public to get exposed to one or the other forms of
media. It is not astonishing to find all the rural respondents too being exposed
to the media in an age where the media organizations have made it a point to
have their reach in the nook and corners of the society.

 The urban people as expected are more exposed to television, as the TV is a


medium that is available in almost each and every urban household. Earlier,
radio was the only medium that had its reach in rural areas, but today the
environment has completely changed. In a state like Karnataka where news
papers had no reach in interior places a decade back, met a twist with the
revolution laid down by the popular Kannada daily Vijaya Karnataka that
made it possible even for the rural audience to get opportunity to read the
news papers every morning. As for as the television is concerned, from
antenna to dish, and from the cable television to DTH, a lot of innovations
took place enabling the rural crowd to get easy access to television. So it‘s
quite natural to see the rural population tagged between TV and print when it
comes to the exposure of media.

 Television obviously is the most sought after medium in the urban areas, as
most of the urban working forces spend their time watching TV rather than
reading news papers for hours together. But with reference to the rural
population, even though there is an increased exposure to television, yet they
have stick on to the traditional print media for various reasons:
a) Attachment with the traditional print medium
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

b) More leisure hours


c) Increasing literacy rate
d) Easy to access and economically feasible

 Mass media does a lot many functions out of which dissemination of


information, providing entertainment and education are considered as the chief
functions. The general public have insisted on the ‗information‘ factor of mass
media as the main reason behind them spending their time on media. While
there is a slight increase in the female respondents who have voted in favour
of entertainment. Quite evidently this is because, the male community spend
their time more on media reading serious issues, watching news channels etc,
while the women are said to watch the soap operas, read serials and stories in
the magazines and news papers, perhaps it appeals to their emotional nature.

 In both the urban and rural population men are said to get frequent
opportunities to observe the issues of significance through mass media, while
the women community is seemed to get opportunities only ‗sometimes‘. This
could be supported by the inference drawn to the previous finding where in the
female spend their time on media for the purpose of entertainment rather than
pure information. So when they are interested towards entertainment
programmes, naturally they may get fewer chances to observe the serious
issues discussed in the media. And apparently the women are perceived to
look after the house holds and so being exposed to entertainment after the
busy schedules would give them the necessary relaxation at the end of the day.

 The issue of public concern always draws the attention of the public in the
name of the ‗hot news‘, paying no heed. In a time when the news papers are
sold because of the issues they come up with, televisions are watched due to
the breaking news aired by them, it is clear that the public are interested in
knowing the unknown issues that exerts their attention. The TRP‘s of
television news channels are hiked vowing to the audience who take keen
interest in watching the issues discussed and telecasted by them. So there is
nothing new in having come across with the finding that public take interest in
observing the issues of public concern.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

 The urban respondents sometimes consider the news and views delivered by
the media seriously, unlike the rural population who take always take the
issues seriously. This might be because they are exposed to various forms of
mass medium, surrounded by opinion leaders and are comparatively more
educated than the rural population so that they get higher chances to interpret
the issues delivered by the media. More over there is a little negative feeling
and a kind of negligence by the urban population towards the issues discussed
in the media, as the media too has been playing shabby games now and then
all in the name of news. Where as the rural population are much more
sentimental and could be vulnerable in front of the media. So that might be the
reason for urban population to not to take the issues seriously always unlike
the rural public.

 The same above inference possibly applies to the perception mode of the
public as for as the objectivity status of the media is concerned. With the
growing malpractice entering even into the media industry, entry of paid news
phenomena, artificial creation of news, commencement of blunders in the
name of breaking news etc has likely made the media to lose its credibility
status in the eyes of the public, in the recent past. The public have shown that
they don‘t believe to a greater extent that media provides news and views
objectively, which is the result of the media not functioning its role of fourth
estate in a proper way.

 Media though having lost its credibility status in the eyes of the public to some
extent, yet the public have agreed that the news and views delivered by the
media is one of the basis for their opinion formation on an issue at times, if not
always. Media supplements an issue with lots of information from various
angles that enables the public to form their own opinion as per their choice.
The decline of media credibility would not affect this cause as the role of
media in opinion formation can never be ignored. More over, again as
expected the rural folk are said to form their opinion based on the media
revelation as they are less exposed to the other instigating forces of opinion
formation.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

 Both the rural and the urban population claim news reports and articles as the
primary sources of information, rather than opting the other alternatives like
columns, editorials etc. The possible reason could be that the news reports and
articles are more straight forward, depicting the facts, and are more objective
than the other sources. While the rural respondents also consider columns as
another effective source of opinion formation as columns generally are
subjective in nature and easily exploit the sentiments of the pubic, likely the
rural population.

 The social issues delivered by the media interests both the urban and rural
public the most probably because of the presence of human interest elements
and appealing nature. More importantly social issues connect the matter to the
audience in one or the other way unlike the rest of the issues. Significantly, the
respondents are interested towards the political issues, economic issues,
religious issues and the other issues in a rank order. This is because the
political issues appeal to only those who are interested in politics, usually men,
and the economic issues generally don‘t appeal to the common audience as it
requires the understanding of economic issues to some extent. And the
religious issues though sometimes end up in igniting the people‘s attention, on
a regular basis they are neglected by the audience.

 On a general note, opinion polls are considered as the effective forms of


assessing the opinions of the public, but unfortunately the public have said that
they don‘t take any interest in participating in the opinion polls. Though the
urban respondents have agreed that they participate in the opinion polls rarely,
if not ever, but the rural population have completely denied the participation in
opinion polls perhaps due to the lack of awareness of the role played by the
opinion poll in creation of opinion formation. There could be one more
rationale behind it i.e., ‗who cares?‘ or ‗how can my opinion make any
difference?‘ kind of attitude, leading to the complete ignorance of the
necessity of participation in opinion polls.

 Once again the public have shown their ignorance towards their role in the
opinion formation process as they don‘t believe that their opinion on any issue
would make any difference in terms of impact. This must be because of a
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

passive notion that ‗I alone can do nothing‘ or could also be because of


stagnate system where no much importance is given to an individual‘s
preference.

 With so many cases like Ruchika‘s happening, may it be Jessika Lall‘s murder
case or that of Priyadrashini Mattoo‘s death incident, where the fight between
the middle class victimized family and the affluent culprit continues, the
media has made it a point to support the cause by bringing out campaigns. But
the respondents only agree to some extent with the role played by the media in
bringing out twist‘s in such cases may be vowing to the few cases were justice
could not be sought out over money power. They might have notion that at the
end of the day media can‘t play the role of advocacy and what it matters is the
decision taken by the judiciary which may not necessarily meet the media
expectations. Probably this would have been the basis for the public to not to
agree with the statement completely.

 While the media, public opinion and formation or defeat of governments are in
close association with one another, public partially agree with the role played
by the media in the creation of public opinion during the formation of
government. The instances like the triumph of UPA government, holding its
power at the centre for the second time in spite of the strong public opinion
created against it in the 2009 elections, or may the 2010 BBMP elections in
Bangalore where expectation was the fall of BJP candidates as per the created
public opinion, which was knocked down on the floor with a complete reverse
result pouring out, would have made the public to partially agree with the
statement.

 The respondents group doesn‘t firmly insist on the necessity of the creation of
unanimous public opinion as they believe it is necessary only at times, that
could be because they may not find every issue worth accumulating public
opinion.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Assessment of the public opinion on public opinion – Inferences


drawn
 Though the popularly held public opinion – ―politicians are corrupt‖- is
believed to be an accepted truth, the respondents did not take a chance to
generalise the concept and consider all the politicians as fully corrupt. Instead
they have taken a diplomatic side by agreeing to some extent with the
statement. When the ‗clean‘ politicians like A.K. Antony, Suresh Kumar and
such other politicians stand as testimony being free of corrupt in front of the
public, might have made the respondents not to agree with the popular opinion
completely.

 Similarly the public have also not agreed completely with the concept of
linking terrorism with the religion. When the issue of terrorism is emerging
beyond religion in one or the other way, the public might have taken the
concept of terrorism in a much wider sense than restricting it to a particular
religion. There is also a chance for them to consider the kind of mass murders
and violence with abstract motives also as terrorism.

 With the media publishing and showing different kind of stories related to the
racism attacks in Australia on Indians, it would have lead to a certain level of
confusion among the public as to decide whether racism could be connected to
Australia or not. Some Indian origin residents in Australia support Australia
saying it is the safest place for Indians to live in, accompanied by the
argument that Indians are harassed in Australia just like the harassments
committed on any other communities, but only the plight of Indian crowd is
highlighted. So all this would have made the public not to go in support of the
statement completely.

 As for as the public opinion on the education system in India is concerned,


public again did not a take a chance to speak completely against the Indian
current education system. Vowing to lots of experimentations taking place in
the current education system, the best examination systems conducted in India,
the highly valued institutions like IIT‘s and IIM‘s and the like would have
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

prompted the public to have a slight positive attitude towards the education
system, there by not considering it as good for nothing.

 Finally most of all the respondents completely agree that public opinion is a
powerful tool in a democratic set up. When compared to a non democratic
nation like China, India being a democratic nation has the privilege of
enjoying the formation of public opinion in each and every spheres of life. In a
democratic set up where the public opinion in itself takes the form of the
government, where most of the matters, policies and the like are the result of
the public attitude would have made the respondents to agree completely with
the given statement.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Suggestions
Certain suggestion that could be followed by the media for the involvement of public
in the process of forming public opinion are as follows:

 To avoid the incidents that would demoralise the credibility of the media from
the eyes of the public.

 The public should be made to understand the role of their opinion in bringing
out a change in an issue, as every opinion has its own significance.

 To retrieve the public‘s positive attitude towards the formation of public


opinion, media and democracy.

 Media must make it a point to approach the public to recognise their real
opinion on an issue, instead of constructing the opinions as per their needs.

 Appreciation of the public and their role played in bringing out a change, as
and when the relevant issue gets a new turn due to the strong public opinion.

 There should not be any effort to consider very few opinions of the public and
claim it as the total public opinion.

 Media should come out of the stigmas and biases they are attached to and
should find a way to cover various angles of an issue of significance so that
the public will be in a prefered position to interpret things and form their own
opinion.

 Media advocacy to certain extent is acceptable, but there should not be any try
to bring out the negative propaganda by the media as per its wish.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Conclusion
From this study we have been able to under stand the public‘s view about the
concept of public opinion, its formation, significance and their attitude towards the
existing opinions. The survey has proved most of the objectives of this study
fruitfully.

There is no denying the fact that public opinion plays a major role in a democratic
set up. Perhaps the restricted flow of opinion would lead to dictatorship, where the
voice of people is curbed completely. The role played by the media in this regard, in
creating or destroying a public opinion, to hold the opinion high at times when
required, to create awareness among the public is all so necessary for the efficient
functioning of a system.

There is no hard and fast rule that every single person has to abide by the popular
public opinion, as there is always a chance of difference of opinion among the public.
But the majority of opinion is considered as the public opinion and later many of the
studies are supposedly conducted on it so as to know to what extent the public opinion
has brought changes in the mode functioning or in relation to an issue.

As there is an increasing exposure level of the mass media by both the rural and
urban public, a lot more awareness has been created about the necessity of the
formation of public opinion, the role of public played in the opinion formation
process, the role of media played in the opinion formation etc. It is a process where
everything is inter-connected to one another, ultimately affecting every one who
participates in the process of opinion formation.

The formed public opinion can undergo changes and amendments in a long run. It
would meet with fluctuations and the necessary changes as and when it is needed.
And so are the media‘s that form the public opinion. Decades back it was print media
that played a major role in the formation of public opinion, and later it was the
combination of print medium and radio. Today a larger role in the formation of
opinion is played by television and in the future it may be replaced by the fastest
growing medium – internet.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

No more public opinion stands as a bizarre word, as the significance of public


opinion has been proved many a times. A lot of researches have been conducted in
this regard, to study the public opinion, its impact, the process of opinion formation
etc, yielding in fruitful results.

Lastly, the opinion of a person in a democracy is made known in the name of


‗public opinion‘ that gives one the right to speak and express what they feel and what
they think.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Appendix

QUESTIONNAIRE
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

Shri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara College,


(Autonomous), Ujire.
A study of public opinion on public opinion based on the media
exposure.

Public Opinion is an expression of a belief held in common by the public on an


issue of general importance.

Respected Sir/Madam,
I, Akshatha, am a student of II MCJ at SDM College, Ujire. I have chosen the
aforesaid topic as a part of my fourth semester‘s research activity. It would be greatly
helpful if you can spare some time on answering this questionnaire. I assure you that
my dissertation is purely for academic purpose and whatever information you will
give here will be kept confidential.
Part A
1. Age:

2. Sex:

3. Education:
a) SSLC b) PUC
c) Degree d) Post Graduation e) Other:

4. Occupation:

5. Income:

Part B
[Multiple choice]

6. Are you exposed to the mass media?

a) Yes b) No

7. Which form of mass medium you are more exposed to?

a) Print b) Television c) Radio


d) Cinema e) Internet

8. Which forms of media do you like the most?


A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

a) Print b) Television c) Radio


d) Cinema e) Internet

9. How many hours in a day do you spend your time on media? [Like reading news
papers, magazines, watching TV, listening to Radio etc]

a) Less than an hour b) 1-2 hours


c) 2-3 hours d) 3-4 hours e) More than 4 hours

10. You spend your time on media for gaining,

a) Information
b) Education
c) Entertainment
d) If others, Specify:

11. How often do you get opportunity to read, listen or watch the current issues of
significance through mass media?

a) Frequently
b) Sometimes
c) Rarely
d) Not at all

12. Do you take interest in observing the issues of public concern given out by the
media?

a) Yes b) No c) Don‘t know

13. Do you consider the news and views delivered by the media seriously?

a) Yes b) No c) Sometimes

14. ―Mass media delivers the information objectively‖, how far do you agree with
this statement?

a) Totally disagree b) Disagree to some extent


c) Agree to some extent d) Completely agree
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

15. Do you form the opinion on an issue based on the news and views delivered by
the media?

a) Always b) Most of the times


c) Sometimes d) Not at all

16. Which do you feel are the primary sources of public opinion formation?

a) Opinion Polls
b) News Reports and Articles
c) Editorial
d) Debate and Discussion
e) Letters to the Editor
f) Columns
g) All the above
h) Any other, Specify

17. What kind of issues discussed in the media interests you the most? [Rank it from
1-5]

 Political
 Social
 Economic
 Religious
 Others, if any

18. How often do you participate in opinion polls?

a) Frequently
b) Sometimes
c) Rarely
d) Not at all

19. Do you think your opinion on any issue makes any difference in terms of impact?

a) Yes b) No c) Don‘t know

20. Do you feel it is only because of strong public opinion that cases like Ruchika‘s
suicide have taken a twist?

a) Most of the times


b) Always
c) Some times
d) Not at all

21. ―Public Opinion formation results in the formation or defeat of governments‖

a) Totally disagree b) Disagree to some extent


c) Agree to some extent d) completely agree
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

22. Do you think it is necessary for the public to have a unanimous opinion over an
issue of public importance?

a) Not at all necessary b) Necessary at times


c) Quite necessary d) Very necessary

23. Public Opinion formation is largely created by….

a) Educated class
b) General public
c) Uneducated class

Do you agree with the following statements?

24. ―Politicians are corrupt‖

a) Totally disagree b) Disagree to some extent


c) Agree to some extent d) completely agree

25. ―Terrorism is religiously motivated‖

a) Totally disagree b) Disagree to some extent


c) Agree to some extent d) completely agree

26. ―Indians face racist attacks in Australia‖

a) Totally disagree b) Disagree to some extent


c) Agree to some extent d) completely agree

27. ―The current education system in India is utterly of poor quality‖

a) Totally disagree b) Disagree to some extent


c) Agree to some extent d) completely agree

28. ―Public Opinion is a powerful tool in a democratic set up‖

a) Totally disagree b) Disagree to some extent


c) Agree to some extent d) completely agree

Thank you for your co-operation


A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

BIBLIOGRAPHY
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

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3. DeFleur, Melvin., ―Theories of Mass Communication‖, 2nd edition, New York:


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4. Sharma, Seema., “Public Relations”, Anmol Publications, New Delhi, 2005.


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available online at http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_chronology-of-the-bofors-
scandal_1082262.
A Study of Public Opinion on Public Opinion

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