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Chapter 8: Mass Media and Public Opinion Section 3

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1 Chapter 8: Mass Media and Public Opinion Section 3

2 Objectives Examine the role of the mass media in providing the public with political information. Explain how the mass media influence politics. Understand the factors that limit the influence of the media.

3 Key Terms medium: a means of communication
weblog: Web site postings usually devoted to a specific subject, like politics public agenda: the societal problems that the nation’s political leaders and the general public agree need government attention sound bite: short, focused reports that can be aired in about seconds

4 Introduction How has the development of different media helped inform the public about politics? People can now get political information from a wide range of media, including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. Accessibility to political news has thus increased, though in-depth coverage of news events may not have improved. 4

5 The Role of Mass Media The mass media includes methods of communication that reach large audiences simultaneously. The five major types of mass media that influence American politics today are television, Internet, radio, newspapers, and magazines. Mass media in the United States are independent of government control. At the same time, most people gain their knowledge of government and politics from the mass media.

6 The Role of Mass Media How has the percentage of Americans who get their campaign news from network news and the Internet changed since 2000? Answer: The percentage of Americans getting their news from the nightly network news and newspapers has fallen significantly, while the percentage of those using the Internet has increased significantly.

7 Television Television news began to boom in the 1950s.
TV replaced newspapers as the main source of political information in the 1960s and is the main source of news for 80% of Americans today.

8 Television, cont. Three major national networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC—dominated early television news. The major networks have been challenged in recent years by independent broadcasting groups, cable broadcasters such as CNN, and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).

9 Newspapers Newspapers were the main news source in the colonies and early nation. Newspapers were so influential in the late 1800s that so-called yellow journalists were able to use sensational editorials and headlines to help push America into war with Spain.

10 Newspapers, cont. Today more than 10,000 newspapers are published in the United States. About 45% of the nation’s adult population read a newspaper daily. But the number of daily newspapers has been declining as people turn to radio, TV, and the Internet for news. A few major newspapers still have national influence, in part because they cover stories in greater depth.

11 Radio In the 1920 and 1930s radio became a major source of political news. Radio remains influential today due to its convenience, the popularity of talk radio, and radio’s ability to focus on specific groups of listeners.

12 Magazines The first political magazines appeared in the mid-1800s.
In the decades before radio and TV, magazines were the major national news medium. Some 12,000 magazines are published today. Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report are key sources of political news and commentary. Other magazines with smaller circulations also focus on public affairs.

13 The Internet The Internet is fast becoming a leading source of political news and information, behind TV but now ahead of radio, newspapers, and magazines. Nearly 2/3 of Americans say they go online on a regular basis.

14 The Internet, cont. Most newspapers, magazines, and television stations maintain Web sites, usually with free content. The same is true of government agencies, interest groups, political parties, public officials and candidates. Today there are also many weblogs and podcasts devoted to topics involving government and politics.

15 Media and Public Opinion
The media plays a large role in shaping the public agenda, the social problems that leaders and the public focus upon. People rely on the media for most of the information they receive on public issues. The media plays a key role in determining what policy issues the public thinks and talks about, by emphasizing some issues and stories while ignoring or downplaying others. 15

16 Media and Public Opinion, cont.
The media may not tell people what to think, but in a way, it does tell them what to think about. What is this cartoonist saying about media influence on the public? Political Cartoon Question: This cartoonist is implying that the public is too influenced by the political discussions that they hear on the radio.

17 Media and Politics Politicians are also strongly influenced by major news organizations, including the major TV and cable networks, news magazines, and newspapers. What is this cartoonist saying about media influence on politicians? Political Cartoon Question Answer: This cartoonist is implying that the media has as much influence as Congress.

18 Media and Electoral Politics
Checkpoint: How do candidates use media coverage to their advantage? Candidates for public office use the media to appeal directly to the people without having to rely as much on their political parties. They also control their media image and manipulate media coverage, using staged events and sound bites to present themselves in a positive way and get maximum exposure. Checkpoint Answer: They use the media to bypass the traditional dependence on their political party for publicity and carefully control and manipulate their media image using staged events and sound bites to make themselves look as appealing as possible to voters. 18

19 Limits on Media Influence
Most radio and TV programs do not cover public affairs, and their news coverage is not typically in-depth. Few people follow media coverage of political events very closely. People tend to follow political news that agrees with their own views. Being an informed citizen thus takes the effort to seek out in-depth news coverage of public affairs.

20 Review Now that you have learned about how the development of different media has helped inform the public about politics, go back and answer the Chapter Essential Question. What is the place of the media and public opinion in a democracy?

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