One simple answer is: a lot.
All these forms of media are designed to convey different things to us: Information, Entertainment, Warnings, Culture,… Take one example.
The Series “NCIS” (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) airs every Tuesday on US Television. It’s fictional, clearly meant for entertainment. But it also gives a warning: what will happen to you if you commit a crime? – The police will find you, in the end, no matter how well you hide.
It’s also informative: Or how much did you know about the US Navy before watching a Series like it? Did you even know they had a Criminal Investigative Service?
And it is about US culture. Have you ever noticed how much Coffee is consumed by the actors in this show? How the whole country seems to put a lot of emphasis on their military?
How the Media changes your Perception
All three – the TV Show, the Bestseller, the Newspaper – are about perception, too. Again with the TV Series’ Example: There are the good people, like the Cops on NCIS, and there are the bad guys, the criminals, murderers, frauds. You are programmed by Society to embrace or condemn them, sometimes without even noticing it.
In the very most recent NCIS episode, “Shell Shock (Part 1)”, which aired on November 13th, the series focuses on a US Soldier deeply troubled by the trauma left by his time in Afghanistan. Good men and comrades of this Soldier died there, and even though he survived, his life is shattered by the experience of war.
“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini sold over 21 million copies worldwide.
It follows the story of a 12-year-old Afghan boy, Amir, in 1975. The war has not broken out yet, and the biggest issue in his life is winning the local kite-fighting tournament – with which he hopes to also win over the affections of his strict father. But then he witnesses a crime which will haunt him for the rest of his life – and he can’t escape the memory, even after his families’ flight to America to avoid the repercussions of the Russian Invasion.
Another Thing in Common
So what it all boils down to is that all our media influence us one way or the other – whether we believe the stories in our newspapers, or take our information from less authentic channels like TV Shows or Books. We are manipulated to believe things we don’t always question. That war is bad. That the police is your best friend. That the cool people drink coffee every morning.
This sort of “manipulation” is also what Advertisement is all about: Lana Del Rey wears stuff from H&M – if you want to be cool, you should also!
But you should always keep in mind that someone in some Marketing Department is working hard to make y.o.u buy their product. Whether it’s to buy a new H&M Jacket or a politician selling you their strategy for Afghanistan.
Never underestimate the Power of good Marketing.