First of all, let us talk about print media, like newspapers and magazines. Newspaper content, which was the whole and sole product of reporters and journalists, has now undergone a radical change into an amalgamation of news and public opinions. Letters to the editor written by the readers are also an instance of acknowledgment of importance of public opinion. In addition to readership polls and questionnaires, there are also columns which are contributed to by the audience themselves―a phenomenon that is now known by the name of citizen journalism.
In case of the World Wide Web or the Internet, websites were already using public polls. In addition to that, the rise of blogging and public forums has paved way to increased exposure to individual opinions, and has, hence, strengthened the importance of public opinion on the web as well.
In many news channels across the globe, public polls are a common affair, and are considered as an important tool to measure public opinion. It reports public opinion about several issues and news. In case of entertainment channels, public voting for reality shows like American Idol explains the importance given to public opinion. In case of movies and films, what would be the success of a great movie if it had no audience? Although movies are about expression of views and ideas on a particular subject― movie makers also considered it as their livelihood. Thus it depends on public reviews and word of mouth publicity of the audience, which is instrumental in the success/failure of a particular movie.
The importance of public opinion is the effect of increased public participation in the media. This is an era where the media has awakened to the fact that no matter what they are dishing out―news, views, or entertainment―they need to keep it interactive. In case of the news industry, public opinion is not just a way to validate and supplement the news, but also a great way to increase the awareness of people about a particular topic. In addition to that, it is also a great step towards strengthening the democracy of a nation.
The TRPs for television channels, or the readership count for print media, are crucial when it comes to measuring overall success of the media. Since it is the public that is instrumental in shaping readership rankings or the TRP, the media is left with no choice but to acknowledge the importance of public opinion. It is public opinion that decides the success of media popularity and the eventual media success.