chapter  Seven
9 Pages

Knowledge of Public Affairs

ByMaxwell McCombs, Edna Einsiedel, David Weaver

Three important elements are involved in opinion formation: knowledge of the world, the media as the principal conduit and interpreter of that world, and the public. The public is not a passive audience. The public mind is not a tabula rasa waiting to be written on by the media. 1 Media messages are transformed by people’s personal experiences, their motivations and interest in seeking additional information. What people know about public affairs also is constrained by structural factors, such as the accessibility of the media and their diversity of content.