The waterfall model: Formation and circulation of ideas and opinions

On the part of the media, self-censorship manifests itself in two senses, the so-called editorial and consists of the selection that editors or news directors make of the various material they receive; and in the other aspect, the self-censorship that the owners of the media induce in their journalists so that they present or treat the information following the editorial line of the medium. In this case, self-censorship is a consequence of the type of relations that the government and the journalistic company have.

Open censorship by the government is more difficult to find today, due to the changes that have occurred in the international order that force governments to maintain certain parameters of behavior in relation to the media.

So self-censorship manifests that real or imaginary perception of what is convenient to say or publish, by the media or people, and in this sense, governments cannot be accused of exerting pressure or limiting the right of expression. when it is the people or the media that impose limits on themselves.

1.8.2 Processing of political information in each communication container

We must establish, Where does the process of forming political opinions begin? Those who launch the ideas, give them content and transmit them are the idea groups. Currently, think tanks and intellectuals are not necessarily part of the high socioeconomic levels—as may commonly be assumed.

The overcrowding of the University and the lack of job opportunities for professionals means that many of them do not reach a higher social level; In this sense, there would currently be no relationship between the level of education and social mobility or, failing that, the tendency would be lower, with the result that many professionals are located at the base of the social scale, and although they dedicate themselves to other activities, they become opinion leaders and reference standards for the social groups to which they belong.

However, professional or academic training does not guarantee that said person has the adequate knowledge to interpret political issues, compared to citizens who have only had school training.

This is so, because in terms of cost-benefit, being more and better informed about an area of ​​knowledge implies a cost that is often difficult to be assumed by citizens, if we consider that it is due to professional training or their own activities. of sustaining life or both, the political issue takes a second or third place.

In that sense, what benefits does being informed about political affairs have for citizens? Does it guarantee the support of your life and that of your family? Does it give them any advantage over other topics? That is, “information is a “cost” that uses scarce individual resources, as it requires time and attention. Acquiring information in one area requires neglecting other fields. It could be said that, since politics affects everyone, politics is an exception to that rule. However, the cost of becoming and remaining informed is rewarded only when a certain threshold is crossed, when a critical mass of accumulation has been achieved. Thus, the distribution of political information becomes unequal and discontinuous among the population. like distributions in other fields of interest.” [9]

Sartori suggests that politics is the exception, because it is assumed that it is an inherent condition of people as citizens to be aware of public affairs. Unfortunately, as he states, this is not the case, which is why he states that “even if everyone had, say, five years of university education, is there any reason to expect a spectacular conversion to the politics of the interests of that population?”. [10]

It is clear that the circuit of opinion formation and the generation of ideas begins in any part of the levels described in the waterfall model, because in each of them, there are groups of ideas that launch or take up the ideas, As the case may be, approving or rejecting them, simplifying them and even inhibiting them during any part of the process. “Each of the five groups has its own memories and its own amount of autonomy, it can reject, ignore or reinterpret many, and perhaps almost all, of the unacceptable messages; It is capable of innovation and initiative, and can also feed back into an upward flow of information that reaches some or all of the higher-level groups”. [11]

We must indicate that intellectuals with better levels of income, information and more direct contact with external information sources have the possibility of accessing ideas generated outside the area in which they normally operate, since they are closer to the model of cosmopolitan man; undoubted advantage compared to intellectuals from other social sectors, in which external contacts are less frequent or take longer to occur.

In our description of information processing in each container of the cascade, we will use the socioeconomic elite as the initiator of the process as a descriptive example. Suppose that the idea arises in a specific sector of the socioeconomic elite, that safeguards must be established to protect national products from the dumped prices at which they are imported from some country. Typical sectoral demand to the government, on trade policy, specifically for tariffs.

The topic is discussed and evaluated, the most interested unions will be those that promote the discussion of the topic. Within the container there will be discrepancies, because said measure will affect other sub-sectors. Said processed demand is transmitted almost at the same time to the second (government elite) and third level (media); From the first container a decision is required, from the second diffusion of the problem to obtain the support of public opinion.

In the political-governmental elite, the exchange of opinions, interests and influences occurs again, as well as the participation in the same sense, of the other containers, to produce a result that is transferred to the media and interested groups. Three information flows reach the media: on the one hand, from the socioeconomic elite, on the other, government assessments and proposals from the opposition.

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