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11. Media, Politics, and Government: Talking Heads Are Better than None.

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Presentation on theme: "11. Media, Politics, and Government: Talking Heads Are Better than None."— Presentation transcript:

1 11. Media, Politics, and Government: Talking Heads Are Better than None

2 Reality and Beyond The mass media are powerful because of their vast reach and scope. In addition to this multiplicative effect, the mass media literally shape the very reality of politics. Political reality is mediated reality.

3 Reality and Beyond How do you know China exists if you have never been there? You do not have to experience things directly (experiential reality) in order to accept that they are real (agreement reality). This is particularly true of politics.

4 Reality and Beyond We construct our reality by putting together bits and pieces of information. It is thus important to examine: – How these bits of information are brought to you – How you use them to create your view of politics

5 Reality and Beyond We constantly see, hear, and smell far more than our brains can perceive. The reality created by this mass of information depends on our particular cognitive framework. We notice things that fit our existing beliefs and fail to notice things that do not. Essentially, we are prone to fooling ourselves.

6 News Media and Politics We get most of our political information from the news. Our agreement reality about politics is based on this information. Consequently, it is important to examine how the news media filter, ignore, select, or distort the political information they present.

7 The Business of the News News is a big business. What do the news media sell? They sell you, the audience, to advertisers. The business is based on presenting the news in a way that attracts as wide an audience as possible as cheaply as possible. Stories are often distorted to fit a dramatic imperative that will attract an audience.

8 Conflict Makes the World Go Round First, the very premise of the dramatic story structure is action and change driven by conflict. Journalistic norms of fairness and objectivity exaggerate the emphasis on conflict by providing equal coverage of opposing sides, even if one side represents a near consensus.

9 Sex and the City Second, sex sells. Beautiful people are often featured. A sexual element adds to the presumed newsworthiness of a story.

10 Honey, the Dingo Stole Another Baby Third, the unusual is dramatic and thus newsworthy. Even if it is important, the commonplace is not news.

11 The Tragically Hip Fourth, stories must be tragic. Human impact is another aspect of newsworthiness. The dramatic imperative of the commercial news distorts what is presented as news. We build our reality of politics from these distorted images. Political consensus and cooperation are often lost behind the drama presented.

12 Elite Dominance of the Sources of News Because elites are prominent and unusual, they are presumed to be newsworthy. The ability to gain news coverage is tremendously valuable to political elites. Elites want to get coverage, and the news media want to cover elites. This mutual exploitation model is driven by economic forces and self-interest.

13 Of Cockroaches and Politicians The fear of coverage of a career-ending scandal compels politicians to police their own behavior. This is the cockroach theory of politics: As a light is shone on the scandal of one, others will distance themselves from the lightthat is, they will not call the medias attention to themselves especially during a period of heightened awareness.

14 Protest and the Disadvantaged Voice Protests are one way nonelites that can get their voices and opinions in the news.

15 Understanding the Distortions Is the Key First, to be critical consumers of information, we must appreciate how the media present the news. Second, we must also be cognizant of our predispositions and how we use them to make sense of the world. Third, we must be on guard against those who would manipulate our predilections for their own benefit.

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