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Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 The Mass Media and the Political Agenda Chapter 7 Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy Thirteenth AP* Edition Edwards/Wattenberg/Lineberry
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 Introduction Mass Media: – Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, the Internet and other means of popular communication High-Tech Politics: – A politics in which the behavior of citizens and policymakers and the political agenda itself are increasingly shaped by technology Think: Egypt
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 The Mass Media Today Effective communication through media is key to political success. – Media Events: events purposely staged for the media that are meant to look spontaneous – 60% of presidential campaign spending is on TV ads Two-thirds is negative. – Image making and news management is important, especially for presidents. Walter Mondale- If a president had to give up either the veto or the press conference, hed be smarter to give up the veto.
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 The Development of Media Politics The History of the News Hamilton/Jefferson- newspapers were the mouthpiece of the political parties (Lapdog) Financial Independence- Age of Jackson and the penny press- papers sold advertising so they became independent of political sponsorship (Watchdog) Finding their purpose- turn of the century saw the rise of yellow journalism where the news was dictated and fabricated by editors seeking to sell papers. Reporters didnt like this because they had no professional credibility. The age of investigatory and objective journalism began with the muckrackers. Todays journalists have crossed the line from being investigatory and objective, to being intrusive, invasive and subjective (Junkyard dog)
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 The Development of Media Politics Government Regulation of the Broadcast Media – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the use of airwaves in three ways: Prevent near monopoly control of market Reviews performance of stations Issues fair treatment rules for politicians
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 The Development of Media Politics From Broadcasting to Narrowcasting: The Rise of Cable News Channels – Narrowcasting: media programming on cable TV or Internet that is focused on one topic and aimed at a particular audience, e.g., C-SPAN – Potential of cable and the internet to report on news as it happens plus the many choices they offer has created a competition among news sources for users. – Newspapers have seen the most detrimental effect of the rise of cable TV – There is a focus on if it bleeds, it leads.
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 The Development of Media Politics The Impact of the Internet – Potential to inform Americans about politics – Since Americans are generally disinterested in politics, they will not necessarily use the Internet for political information. – Blogs provide additional information about news stories. The problem with these, is people view them as news i.e. if its on the internet it must be true.
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 The Development of Media Politics Private Control of the Media – Only a small number of TV/Radio stations are publicly owned in America. Including Mrs. Ries favorite- National Public Radio (91.5 on your fm dial) – Independent in what they can report, most media are totally dependent on advertising revenues. – Publicly owned media are funded entirely through viewer/listener contributions. – Chains: massive media conglomerates that account for over four- fifths of the nations daily newspaper circulation The Big Chains are Gannett, Knight-Ridder Corporate conglomerates control the broadcast media. For example, GE owns NBC, Disney owns ABC, etc…
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 Reporting the News Finding the News- Investigatory Journalism – 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 – Reporters and their sources depend on each other; one for stories, the other to get them out. There have been recent controversies involving whether or not reporters should be shielded from having to reveal their sources when information about illegal activities is revealed.
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 Reporting the News
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 Reporting the News Presenting the News – Superficial describes most news coverage today. The news tends to focus on image over issues, and style over substance. – Sound Bites: short video clips of approximately 10 seconds – Major TV networks devote less time to covering the policy stances political candidates and more time to photo ops, sound bites and personal information.
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 Reporting the News The Role of the Media in Campaigns – Media play the most prominent role in the early stages of the campaign as the candidates seek to create an image. What goes on in these early stages can make or break a candidate (i.e. Howard Dean and the Dean Scream. ) – As the campaign goes on, the medias coverage tends to focus on the horse race. This means they focus on whose ahead/behind in the polls, as opposed to substantive policy debates.
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 Reporting the News Bias in the News – Many people believe the news is biased in favor of one point of view. – News reporting is biased towards what will draw the largest audience; good pictures and negative reporting – Most reporters will admit to having a liberal bias, but most editors will admit to having a conservative bias. – Bias in the news is very often detected based on the individuals selective perception. If you are conservative, you may not detect that Fox News is conservative, or conversely, if you are liberal, you may not think the NY Times is overtly liberal. Today, biased news media has become part of the profit game as well as the political process, where the pundits and talking heads try to carve out a niche by creating personalities that rail against various issues.
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 Reporting the News
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 The News and Public Opinion Television news can affect what people think is important. Agenda-setting effect The media influence the criteria by which the public evaluates political leaders. Gate-keeper effect The media influences HOW the public perceives the news. The Issue-Framing effect
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 The Medias Agenda-Setting Function Policy Agenda: the issues that attract the serious attention of public officials and other people actively involved in politics at the time Policy Entrepreneurs: people who invest their political capital in an issue to get it placed high on governmental agenda – Use media to raise awareness of issue
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 Understanding the Mass Media The Media and the Scope of Government – Media as a 4 th Branch of Government acts as a check on the two policymaking branches of government – New proposals are often met with skepticism and can lead to highly charged debates among the media elite which then filters down to the public. Many would say that the role of the media is to approach government with a healthy skepticism but we have reached the point where it is actually a corrosive cynicism. – On the other hand, if the media identify a problem, they often demand immediate governmental response, and when they dont get it, it leads to even more cynicism and negative coverage.
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 Understanding the Mass Media Presidents and the Media – Candidates win by appealing to people on television – The media have replaced the role that political parties used to play in screening and presenting candidates – After Nixons defeat in 1960, largely because of his appearance in the televised debate with Kennedy, he was the first to recognize the need for a professional media consultants in presidential campaigns. – The President actually gets the most positive media coverage because as one person, he can cultivate a relationship with his White House Press Corps. Something Congress and the Courts cannot do. White House Press Corps must remain careful, so as not to become too cozy with the President and fail to challenge him when given the chance. If they do become too soft this is often referred to as drinking the kool-aid.
Pearson Education, Inc., Longman © 2008 Summary Media shape public opinion on political issues and influence policy agenda through agenda-setting and issue- framing Media shape elections by acting as gate-keepers and by their coverage of the horse race. Broadcast media have replaced print media over time. Narrowcasting and the Internet are further shifting media. Seeking profits, media are biased in favor of stories with high drama. There is a new focus on infotainment.
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