Presentation on theme: "The National Media and American Politics. The Media of Yesteryear The first American newspapers (printed in the 1690s) were often controlled by the government."— Presentation transcript:
The National Media and American Politics
The Media of Yesteryear The first American newspapers (printed in the 1690s) were often controlled by the government supporters and political parties. They were rarely independent. Battles over the rights of newspapers to publish served as the basis for our 1st Amendment right to Freedom of the Press.
John Peter Zenger NY Weekly Journal (in Court, )
Yellow Journalism By the 1890s 'yellow journalism' sold millions of newspapers. Throughout the 19th century, payoffs to the press were common. Yellow journalism today.
Pulitzer vs. Hearst
Technological Advances Newspapers became cheaper and easier to produce and distribute. The telegraph and telephone made reporting simpler and faster. Radio became widely available in the 1920s. Television was introduced in the late 1940s. Cable Television was invented in the 1970s, (CNN was founded in 1980.) The Internet became easily accessible in the late 1990s.
The Contemporary Newspaper A number of newspapers have a national audience and are considered quite influential: –The New York Times –The Wall Street Journal –USA Today –The Christian Science Monitor –The Washington Post –The Los Angeles Times
Television News The Networks –ABC (Charles Gibson) –CBS (Katie Couric) –NBC (Brian Williams) Cable TV –PBS –CNN –FOX
Interactivity: Citizens As Journalists The new technologies break the journalist's monopoly, making some of the new news an unmediated collaboration between the sources and the audience. Citizens can program their computers to retrieve their own "news."
Reporting the News Real (Six OClock) News In Depth Reporting & Analysis (60 Minutes, Nightline) Info-tainment aka Going Tabloid Where is the dividing line?
Television Network Programming A full transcript of the typical nightly network news broadcasts – foreign and domestic – would not fill half of the front page of an average daily newspaper. Yet ¾ of the American people routinely depend on this source for most of their foreign affairs information.
Characteristics of the News Superficial describes most news coverage today Sound Bites: Short video clips Sound Bites keep getting shorter: –1968/43 seconds –2000/7 seconds
The Pace of the News The increasing rapid pace of electronic news and televisions global coverage shortens the time frame for policy responses. –In 1961, when the Berlin Wall went up, President Kennedy had 8 days to respond to the provocative action. –In 1989, when the wall came down, President Bush (41) was forced to respond overnight.
Finding the Political News Beats: Specific locations from which news frequently emanates, such as Congress or the White House. Trial Balloons: An intentional news leak for the purpose of assessing the political reaction. Interdependency: Reporters and their sources depend on each other- one for stories, the other to get them out.
Media & Events
How Politicians Use the Media Politicians and government officials often stage media events (to get free media coverage). Candidates and politicians try to control or 'spin' media focus on campaign and policy issues. Candidates and politicians may 'leak' a story to the press in order to get their story out (without being the focus of that story).
The 1 st Reporter Press Secretaries announce Presidential policies and Presidential reactions to news. It is their role to put the news in perspective favorable to the incumbent administration.
The Media and Politicians Politicians are also media consumers. Research indicates that roughly 2/3s of officials in policy making positions reported that the media was their most rapid source of information. Over 4/5s indicated that the media were an important source of information.
New York Times Ive said many times that I never learned from a classified document anything I couldnt get earlier or later from the New York Times. -- John Kenneth Galbraith
An Alternative View of Reporters
Reporting the News Is there bias in the News? –Many people believe the news favors one point of view over another. –ASNE Survey: 78% of Americans believe the news is biased
Liberal vs Conservative Papers (The Denver Post vs the Rocky Mt. News?) Political Ads –Types –Role of Money –Examples
Denver Post 2002 SENATEEndorsed Incumbent10 Challenger0 OPEN SEATEndorsedby Post RepublicanDemocrat FormerlyRepublican2 Held by…Democrat14
Questioning Political Editorials Should newspapers or any media endorse political candidates? (Is this evidence of their bias, an indicator that they have a preference and a right to express it, or an indication of a positive force media can play in elections?) –Newspapers favor the status quo. –Newspapers are hesitant to oppose incumbents (Evidence of the strange bedfellows effect?) –Even in open seat races there are common tendencies to suppose party holding the seat now.
Types of Biases –Generally not very biased along liberal / conservative lines. –But, generally are biased towards what will draw the largest audience.
On social issues, how would you characterize your political orientation? On economic issues, how would you characterize your political orientation? Left 30%Left 11% Center 57%Center 64% Right 9%Right 19% Other 5% Media Self-Identification
to the left of the public to the right of the public Protecting Medicare & Social Security X The expansion of NAFTA X Requiring employers to provide health insurance X Stricter environmental lawsX Concern over corporate power X Taxing the wealthy X Government guaranteed medical care On these issues journalists appear to be…
Common Biases White Male Elite Nationalistic
Imperviousness of Beliefs: Why it may not matter if media is biased Generally neither reading nor watching the news alters what people think. Selective perception is a pervasive human tendency. –People search for comfortable information that fits with preexisting beliefs. –People screen out or reject information with which they disagree.
Agenda Setting The mass media may not be successful in telling people what to think, but they are stunningly successful in telling their audience what to think about. This power is greatest among those who are neither interested nor involved in politics and hence lack political sophistication.
The Medias Role The mass media perform a mediating role, i.e., it helps to shape political attitudes and choices but does not determine them.
Government Regulation of the Electronic Media Print media are exempt from most governmental regulation. Electronic media are not. Airwaves are considered public property and are leased to networks and private broadcasters by the government. Government also allocates the use of frequencies and channels so that radio and TV do not overlap and jam each others' signals. And so certain segments of the airways are available for defense.
Summary - A Complex Relationship The relationship between the media and policymakers is both subtle and complex. Television has quickened the pace of the news but it by no means determines American public policy. However, it is also clear that the media is a powerful institution that affects multiple facets of American political life.
The Inadvertent Audience Television provides the mass of American people with an infusion of policy information that most neither like nor want. There are three consequences of this forced media: 1.Television may explain the decline of confidence in the nations leadership. 2.Being uninterested, Americans are unlikely to have strong convictions about issues as do those who regularly follow political affairs. 3.Policy ideas must fit into one-liners that will fit into 30, 60, or 90 second slots on the evening news.