the hypodermic needle model (HNM) (slave of the media) while popular and sometimes possible in countries with only a central news station (north Korea) research has suggested that the news can only affect people in subtle ways.
The (HNM) theory, espoused by Lasswell, is that the media injects ideas and beliefs into one’s mind, not unlike a hypodermic needle. Once the information is injected, there’s little that can be done to combat the ideas, the media has taken control (Pooley 2006).
In contrast, Laarfeld et al. found that the media had little effect on viewers, instead believing that the media only reinforced pre-existing beliefs. This is the self-selection model, of the information retention. That people self-select which information to take in, choosing only to receive information that reinforces their pre-existing beliefs (Pooley 2006).
Self-selection is related to how the media actually impacts the publics, it introduces concepts and ideas to the public that they can reject or accept. It is not how people are “manipulated” by the media that demonstrates the effects of the media, but rather how they choose to believe certain information. This is clearly demonstrated in the “Cultivation” model (Pooley 2006 Iyengar and Kinder 1987).
Gerbner’s cultivation model suggests that exposure to the media can alter how people perceive reality. People have a limited sphere of experience to draw upon and they fill in the gaps with accounts from differing sources. Not everyone has friends who can discuss how the Canadian criminal justice system, or British elections, or condition of the Brazilian rainforest, so they turn to the media (Pooley 2006 Iyengar and Kinder 1987).
Heavy exposure to information about a subject cultivates belief in said subject. An example would be the elderly’s perception of their safety in the world. As the media exaggerate the dangers the elderly face in the world, the more the elderly are inundated by these messages, the more likely they are to believe them (Bartels 1993 Pooley 2006).
This creates a distorted view of reality, that the world is far more dangerous for the elderly than is the reality. Under the perception of this new reality, people live their lives, making assumptions about the world that simply does not hold true, but they don’t have any other way of knowing. The exception to this use of the media is if there is preexisting knowledge (Bartels 1993 Pooley 2006).
As explained, the media only fills in blanks; it does not superimpose itself over actual knowledge of the world. An example would be if the media bombarded a public with the perception that a city had an inordinately high crime rate. If the public had extensive preexisting knowledge of this city and knew the reports to be true, it would choose not to select the media messages regarding the city. Media messages can only change weakly held perceptions (Bartels 1993).