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Aim: What is the impact of the media on public opinion?

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1 Aim: What is the impact of the media on public opinion?
Do Now: why do they call the media “the fourth branch of government?”


3 Chapter Objectives Describe the evolution of journalism in United States political history and indicate the differences between the party press and the mass media of today. Demonstrate how the characteristics of the electronic media have affected the actions of public officials and candidates for national office. Describe the impact of the pattern of ownership and control of the media on the dissemination of news. Show how wire services and TV networks have affected national news coverage. Discuss the impact of the “national press.” Discuss the issue of “media bias” and how this bias might manifest itself. Assess the impact of such bias, if it exists, on the electorate. Assess the impact of the media on politics and indicate why it is so difficult to find evidence that can be used to make a meaningful and accurate assessment. Explain why the executive branch probably benefits at the expense of Congress. Describe the adversarial press and how reporters use their sources. Describe how an administration may develop tactics to use against the adversarial press. Discuss how the proliferation of cable news networks and political pundits has impacted public opinion. What is your opinion of these pundits?

4 Functions of the Media Entertainment News
Agenda setting – ability of the media to draw public attention to certain issues and to ignore other issues Political forum – place to make announcements or advertise government

5 Agenda Setting – we must do something!

6 How much power does the National Press have?
Gatekeeper: the media choose which stories to cover, how extensively, and for how long Scorekeeper: the media keep track of and help make political reputations, note who is being “mentioned,” and analyze who is winning or losing Focus on Presidential elections like a horse race (Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary) 3. Watchdog: Investigate politicians and expose scandals

7 How has the media evolved?
Changes in society and technology made possible self-supporting, mass readership daily newspapers The middle class favored new, progressive periodicals Radio arrives in 1920s, television in the late 1940s Today mass media includes: Electronic media (TV, radio, the internet), and Print media (newspapers, magazines) Most people get their news from television, but the internet is becoming an increasingly popular source, especially among young people

8 How have the media changed?
In the early years, newspapers were controlled by parties, and were expensive to buy Over the years, the public’s access to news became greater as newspapers became cheap, and televisions, radios, and computers became widely available Most newspapers and TV and radio stations focus on local interests

9 http://www. pewresearch

10 http://www. people-press

11 Newspapers Number of daily newspapers has declined significantly
Number of cities with multiple papers has declined Subscription rates have fallen as most people get their news from television


13 Media Conglomerates Gannet owns USA Today and controls the biggest circulation in the nation + owns 100 additional papers Rupert Murdoch owns 124 radio stations, New York Post, Weekly Standard, and FOX News

14 Disney ABC A & E History Channel Lifetime ESPN Marvel Entertainment
Star Wars

15 How do Politicians Adapt to Modern Mass Media?
Shorter sound bites on the nightly news make it more difficult for candidates and officeholders to convey their message Politicians now have more sources—cable, early-morning news, news magazine shows 40% of American households access the Internet


17 How are the media regulated?
Prior Restraint: The First Amendment stipulates that the government (Federal, state, local) cannot place prior restraint (censorship) on the press except under narrowly defined circumstances The Pentagon Papers Confidentiality of Sources (except in certain criminal investigations) FCC Rules: In the past, the Fairness Doctrine was followed: broadcasters had to give time for opposing points of view - This was abandoned because competition among news outlets provides opposing views Equal Time Rule: Stations must sell equal amounts of time to candidates

18 FCC Federal Communications Commission
Controls the media, no one may operate radio or TV stations without their license Who are they? – 5 members nominated by President for 5 years.

19 Government Constraints on the Media
Reporters must strike a balance between expressing critical views and maintaining sources Governmental tools to fight back: numerous press officers, press releases, leaks, bypass the national press in favor of local media, presidential rewards and punishments

20 Aim: Are the news media biased?
Most members of the national media are liberal and secular Conservative talk shows have become more prominent on TV and radio in recent years Outright bias is unlikely, but news outlets can choose which stories to cover, how in depth the coverage will be, and what type of spin to put on the story. Pundit: an expert, often featured on television, who offers analysis and opinion on a particular subject, usually politics.

21 Table 12.2: Journalist Opinion Versus Public Opinion

22 Types of Stories: Routine: cover major political events
Most news outlets cover these stories the same way Feature Stories: events that are public, but a reporter has to persuade an editor to publish them Insider Stories: things that are secret and uncovered through investigative journalism Feature and insider stories can more easily reflect political bias. 4. Loaded Language: words that imply a value judgment to persuade a reader without having made a serious argument

23 MSNBC FOX NEWS CNN Obama takes top billing on U.S. television
McCain Slams LA Times for Double Standard in Withholding Obama-Khalidi Tape MSNBC FOX NEWS CNN On TV, it seems like it’s all Obama, all the time Obama's Aunt Found Living in Rundown Boston Neighborhood John McCain: Obama lied about public financing

24 How much do the media influence how people think?
Selective Attention: paying attention only to those stories with which one already agrees. Remembering and believing what one wants. Studies show that media attention or bias can affect how a person votes, but the influence is often limited Media attention can make a candidate more well known, and thus more likely to win.

25 Influence on the Public
Newspapers that endorsed incumbents gave them more positive coverage, and voters had more positive feelings about them Press coverage affects policy issues that people think are important

26 Public Perception of Accuracy in the Media
Source: Pew Research Center,


28 Coverage of Government
The president receives the most coverage Gavel-to-gavel coverage of House proceedings since 1979 (C-SPAN) Senatorial use of televised committee hearings has turned the Senate into a presidential candidate incubator

29 The Adversarial Press Adversarial press since Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-contra Cynicism created era of attack journalism Adversarial media has made negative campaign advertising more socially acceptable

30 The Media and Campaigns
Equal access for all candidates Rates no higher than the cheapest commercial rate Now stations and networks can sponsor debates limited to major candidates

31 Sensationalism Intense competition among many media outlets means that each has a small share of the audience Sensationalism draws an audience and is cheaper than investigative reporting Reporters may not be checking sources carefully because there is such competition for stories

32 Discussion Questions If most reporters hold liberal views, why hasn’t the American public become more liberal over the years? Could reporters alter public opinion if they tried? What are some recent examples of the media’s role as watchdog? Is the watchdog function ever exercised in a biased way? How? Studies show that the issues the public considers important are substantially the same issues featured by the media. Does this prove that the media set the agenda? What other interpretation of this piece of information is possible? On what sorts of issues would we expect the media to have the most impact—whether in setting the agenda, shaping attitudes, or determining how politics is conducted? Would we expect the media to have greater influence on: . Domestic issues or foreign-policy issues? . Issues where the parties have traditional positions, or issues that cut across party lines? . New issues or old issues? . National issues or local issues? . Socially divisive issues, where deeply committed segments of the population are lined up against each other, or majoritarian issues (such as corruption or the economy), where almost all Americans share similar notions of what is right but are not sure which policy or candidate can achieve it? . Young people or old people? . People much exposed to the media or people little exposed to the media?

33 Discussion Questions The media have much freedom in the selection and publication of material in the United States. In 1979, for example, the Progressive magazine announced its intention to publish the blueprint to a hydrogen bomb in its next issue. Should the government have intervened to prevent publication? What standards should be used in determining when information can be kept from publication? It should be noted that the blueprint was eventually published. Should a government agency like the FCC be established to regulate the press? Freedom of press has greater First Amendment protection than freedom of broadcasting. To illustrate, cigarette advertisements are forbidden on radio and television but not in newspapers and magazines. Are the two forms of media so different to justify this disparity in treatment? How so? Doesn’t the decentralization of the broadcast media make enforcement more difficult?

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