The essay "The New Mass Media and the American Public" talks about the mass media’s powerful influence over the public mind and psyche that has long been held undisputable. Referred to as the “Fourth Estate” early on in the 19th century, the Press, as the Media was earlier on more commonly termed, has been regarded as a significant influence in society as the Church then was considered the “First Estate”, the Nobility being the “Second Estate” and the Commoners being the “Third Estate”.
Though now a New Mass Media is emerging. Not merely influencing anymore in a one-way direction from information providers to information consumers and users but actually providing interactive structures that allow the information consumers and users themselves to be catalysts in information gathering, forming and broadcasting with the traditional mass media institutions.
The public sphere, also more traditionally termed the public forum, is "the space between government and society in which private individuals exercise formal and informal control over the state: formal control through the election of governments and informal control through the pressure of public opinion. The media are central to this process. They distribute the information necessary for citizens to make an informed choice at election time; they facilitate the formation of public opinion by providing an independent forum for debate, and they enable the people to shape the conduct of government by articulating their views."