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The Media Journalism in History US media has much more freedom than in other countries Our media is privately owned Only need licenses from the gov’t.

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Presentation on theme: "The Media Journalism in History US media has much more freedom than in other countries Our media is privately owned Only need licenses from the gov’t."— Presentation transcript:


2 The Media

3 Journalism in History US media has much more freedom than in other countries Our media is privately owned Only need licenses from the gov’t to operate GB – politicians can sue media that pokes fun at them. FR – controlled by national agency that decides what to show public

4 Some people believe since the media is a business, they will distort facts to satisfy advertisers and readers Probably isn’t true because: they have different types of advertisers and readers

5 The Party Press Early Republic – early factions and parties created and controlled newspapers to further their interest Circulation was small Newspapers expensive Very few large advertisers to help pay for it Political parties or presidents provided gov’t money to help pay for newspapers Very partisan views

6 Popular Press New development: High speed rotary press can print thousands quickly and cheaply Invention of telegraph got news to newspapers quickly 1848 – creation of the Associated Press Telegraphed non-biased stories to newspapers all over the US

7 Newspapers became cheaper in urban areas because retailers put ads in papers Now if newspapers were partisan, it was because of the views of their editors Began to attract readers with “sensationalism” and “yellow journalism”

8 Magazines of Opinion began to discuss issues of public policy around late 1800’s and early 1900’s Developed a national constituency for certain issues like “trustbusting”, reforming civil service, etc. “muckrakers” were intent on exposing bad behavior in business or politics Set pattern for “investigative reporting”

9 Big newspapers started buying up competition Sensationalism gradually reduced Today’s magazines focus mostly on politics and they are a declining market

10 Electronic Journalism Radio – 1920’s Television – 1940’s Major change in the way news was gathered and disseminated Politicians can speak directly to viewers without having to speak through someone who can change their words and tone

11 Disadvantage: people can ignore the tv or radio – tune out or change the channel Also, more expensive than newspapers The number and length of stories tv and radio can carry is much smaller than newspapers Don’t’ want to bore the people!

12 Politicians have to do something bold to gain tv or radio time Or have lots of $ to buy it President is the only one who can get free time whenever he wants Until the 1990’s, the “big three” networks controlled 80% of viewership (ABC, NBC, CBS)

13 Now there are competitors and evening news has changed a lot The average sound bite has dropped from 42 seconds in 1968 to 7.3 in 2000 for prez. candidates Now there is cable tv, early morning news, entertainment shows, “news-magazine” shows that give politicians the spotlight

14 Politicians favor call-in formats, town meetings, human interest interviews and appearances on entertainment shows Do not like “talking heads” news shows Clearly – most politicians love the spotlight One easy way for politicians to get the spotlight is criticize the president

15 Internet Newest electronic source of news Summaries, newspapers, magazines, gossip, chats You can join rooms that have similar political views The ultimate free market in political news Hard to ban, control or regulate

16 Structure of the Media Relationship between journalism and politics is two way street: Politicians take advantage of the media available to them The media uses politicians as a way to entertain and inform audiences However, the media can select, edit and serve the story they want

17 Degree of Competition Number of daily newspapers had dropped dramatically Large papers have bought smaller ones Many metropolitan areas have readership areas that overlap People now get most of their news from television

18 Radio and TV are becoming more competitive Over 1,000 local television stations Over 11,000 cable stations Almost 10,000 radio stations Some broadcast nothing but news Some have a specialized following

19 The American press is made up of locally owned and managed businesses In other countries, the media are owned and operated with a national audience in mind US newspapers, tv and radio are oriented to local markets and local audiences

20 Until mid 1990’s, no one could own and operate more than one newspaper, one AM, one FM or one tv station in a given market According to the Federal Communications Commission Networks can’t force local stations to accept a particular broadcast, but most do

21 National Media Associated Press and United Press International provide most of the national news Three truly national newspapers: Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today However, New York Times and Washington Post have gotten a national readership because so many politicians use them Also, tv and local newspapers use their stories

22 Existence of national press is important for two reasons: 1. gov’t officials pay attention to what they say 2. reporters for them are better educated and generally have more liberal views – they write more “investigative” stories

23 National press plays role of gatekeeper, scorekeeper and watchdog for the federal gov’t Gatekeeper: Can influence which subjects become issues and for how long

24 Scorekeeper: Keep track of and help make political reputations – decide who is winning and losing After the scorekeepers decide a politician is important, they become the watchdog: Every move is scrutinized and reported on

25 Rules Governing the Media Newspapers and magazines do not need a license to publish Their freedom to publish can’t be restrained in advance They are liable only under certain highly restricted circumstances 1 st Amendment provides much protection

26 If something is published that is libelous, or obscene or incites someone to commit an illegal act, they can be sued Those terms have been defined so narrowly that it is hard for any court to convict the press

27 Confidentiality of Sources Some states have passed laws that protect sources Federal government does not agree In most cases, the courts have to decide In general the Supreme Court has said the gov’t has the right to compel reporters to divulge info

28 Regulating Broadcasting No one can operate a radio or television station without a license from the FCC – renewable There is a movement to deregulate broadcasting The argument is that there are so many stations on the air that competition should be allowed Citizens can choose what they want to hear or see

29 Radio has been deregulated the most 1996 – Telecommunications Act allowed one company to own as many as 8 stations in large markets (5 in smaller ones) – as many as they wanted nationally Result – many more news radio shows

30 Content of tv and radio is still regulated: 1. equal time rule: if a station sells time to one candidate, they must sell equal time to the opposing candidate. 2. right of reply rule: if a person is attacked, they must have the right to reply on that same station 3. political editorializing rule: if a broadcaster endorses a candidate, the opposing candidate must have a right to reply.

31 Campaigning The “equal time rule” applies TV stations and networks can sponsor debates limited to the major candidates Presidential candidates buy national time Others buy local time Market – an area easily reached by a television signal 200 of them in US

32 Effects of the Media on POlitics research suggests that what appears in print or on air does effect how citizens think and what they think about TV and radio suffer from a process called “selective attention” (what teenagers have ) Citizens see and hear only what they want

33 If this is true, why is millions spent on advertising each year for consumer items? Because, if the ad persuades them to buy something, not much is at stake However, if the ad convinces them to vote for a candidate, they are stuck with them for 2 + years

34 Effects of the media have less to do with how people vote -more to do with how politics is conducted - politicians are perceived – and how policies are formulated Media helps set the political agenda on issues that the citizens don’t have much personal experience with But, the media has less influence over how people react to things that affect them directly.

35 Interpreting Political News Americans worry that editors and reporters allow their personal political beliefs to influence the stories Americans tend to accept what they hear or read as truth, especially if they have no prior knowledge. According to polls, journalists are much more liberal than the public

36 Are News Stories “Slanted?” Several factors play into how stories are written: Need to meet a deadline Desire to attract an audience Obligation to be fair and tell the truth Need to develop sources among people of different views

37 To understand circumstances under which a reporter’s opinion is likely to affect a story, you must know the three types of stories: 1. routine stories – public events regularly covered – simple, easy to describe Ex: president takes a trip, bill passes Congress

38 2. feature stories: reporter takes the initiative to chose an event, write about it and persuade an editor to run it. Ex: controversial ruling, investigations, etc. 3. insider stories: someone with inside knowledge tells a reporter, possibly a “leak”, and the reporter engages in “investigative reporting” How reliable is the source? What is their motive?

39 Routine stories are covered almost the same way by all reporters AP and Reuters supply stories almost as they happen to all media outlets Even routine stories can be incorrectly reported Feature and insider stories must be selected

40 The selection process includes what the reporter thinks is important Also may include stories that go along with his political beliefs Newspapers are using more feature stories to compete with magazines and tv The media puts their own “spin” on feature stories

41 Why Do We Have So Many “Leaks?” America’s government is the “leakiest” in the world. Members often leak stories to benefit them Why do we have them? The Constitution We have separate branches that compete with each other for power (use the press to your advantage, make the other side look bad)

42 Other democratic nations don’t have as many leaks. Why? Because the Prime Minister is chosen from the majority party, so no need for competition to get upper hand Also, not against the law for press to receive or print government secrets

43 Since Vietnam, Watergate and Iran-Contra, politicians have come to distrust one another So, reporters are less inclined to accept at face value what politicians say in “official statements” Rather find someone who will give them the “real story”

44 We have an “adversarial press” – one that is suspicious of “official” things and rather break an embarrassing story to bring them kudos All this has led to an era of “attack journalism” They cover any rumor, gaffes, etc. that involve politicians This used to be taboo

45 The media’s growing cynicism about the government is the same that the public feels about the media Most people believe the media slants their coverage, has too much influence over events and abuse its constitutional privileges Most Americans dislike “biased” journalism None of this looks like it will change in the future

46 Sensationalism in the Media In the “old days” the “sexcapades” of FDR, JFK and MLK were all known about by reporters, but not reported on Today, famous figures can’t get away with that. What changed? The economics of journalism and ideas of reporters

47 Until the 1970’s, it was just the “big three” now there is a lot of competition and they are in the business to make money Have to rely on “sensational” news stories – sex, violence and intrigue Also, reporters are more likely to be easily manipulated by sources Now many break stories that only have one source

48 Government Constraints on Journalists A reporter is only as good as their sources Important to keep sources happy 15,000-20,000 staffers for Congress members means it is always possible to find a source Number of press officers on gov’t payroll has increased in recent decades They can try to win journalistic friends by offering “leaks” or background stories

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