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The Media


Reporting the News. ... are devoted to nonstop news (Cable News Network CNN) and to the operation of the ... that their primary source for news is television. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Media

The Media
  • Julie Alfaro
  • Lecture Series

The Medias Functions
  • Entertainment.
  • Many current political issues are reflected in
    entertainment shows.
  • While the purpose is to entertain the public,
    these programs can stimulate public discussion of
    important issues.
  • For example, the television show The West Wing
    often focuses on public policy debates.
  • Reporting the News.
  • In a democracy the public must be informed about
    issues that will affect them.
  • The media must serve as the eyes and the ears of
    the public if it is to be informed about
    important issues related to the governing

The Medias Functions
  • Identifying Public Problems in Two Ways
  • Setting the Agenda
  • The media identifies public problems and serves
    as a forum for various policy alternatives.
  • The primacy of certain issues follows from the
    importance that the media places on these issues.
  • The Investigative Function
  • The media also uses investigation to uncover
    wrongdoing by government officials or candidates.

The Medias Functions
  • Socializing New Generations.
  • This occurs by the transmission of historical
    information that is important for the
    continuation of the political culture.
  • This function is particularly important in the
    socialization of immigrants and of children who
    learn to be American through the transmission
    of values from television.
  • Providing a Political Forum.
  • Officeholders attempt to gain support for
  • Politicians use the media to generate interest in
    their campaigns, and voters also express their
    opinions through the media.
  • An important example of this is the letters to
    the editor section of newspapers.

The Medias Functions
  • Making Profits.
  • Most of the news media are private for-profit
  • Making a profit is a major (if not the major)
    goal of the business.
  • Most revenue comes from selling advertising.
  • The price charged for advertising is based on the
    circulation (print media) or the size of the
    audience (electronic media).
  • The dependence on advertising revenue can give
    advertisers undue influence.
  • An alternative form is public broadcasting, but
    this medium is also dependent on subsidies from
    corporations and governments.

A History of the Media in the United States
  • The role of the media has increased drastically
    from what it was during our nations founding.
  • Part of the early medias weakness was its
    inability to rapidly move information around the
    vast area of the country.
  • Of course, the media was crucial at certain
    points in our early history.
  • Publications such as The Federalist Papers and
    Common Sense were very important to the
    development of the nation.

A History of the Media in the United States
  • The Rise of the Political Press.
  • The rise of the political press began with the
    founding of the nation.
  • President Washington set an example by managing
    the information that the government issued to the
  • Most papers at this time were affiliated with
    partisan factions. Some periodicals were even
    subsidized by the government.

A History of the Media in the United States
  • The Development of Mass-Readership Newspapers.
  • Technological changes had a major impact on the
    development of mass readership of the printed
  • The development of the high-speed rotary press
    allowed newspapers to publish in volume at lower
  • With the increase in circulation came a growth in
  • The telegraph added impact by promoting the rapid
    flow of information between widely separated

A History of the Media in the United States
  • The Popular Press and Yellow Journalism.
  • The rapid rise in readership led to fierce
    competition in the popular press.
  • To attract more readers, the press sought stories
    that were exciting. Sensational articles
    attracted a large audience.
  • This sensationalism became known as yellow
  • In addition, newspaper owners in this period
    frequently used their power to bias the reportage
    toward their own beliefs.

A History of the Media in the United States
  • The Age of the Electromagnetic Signal.
  • The electromagnetic signal greatly transformed
    the media in the twentieth century.
  • Information could now be transmitted from almost
    anywhere on the globe if individuals had the
    right equipment.
  • This allowed the print media to obtain
    information about global events and report this
    to their readers within hours.

A History of the Media in the United States
  • The Revolution in the Electronic Media.
  • The revolution of the electronic media has not
  • Cable television increased the choices viewers
  • Channels are devoted to nonstop news (Cable News
    NetworkCNN) and to the operation of the
    government (C-Span).
  • These types of options allow the public access to
    detailed information about world events and the
    operation of the government.
  • Conversely, the public may choose to tune out
    events that used to be carried by all stations,
    like the national conventions, the State of the
    Union address, and presidential press
  • Broadcasting is increasingly tailored to
    specialized audiences, a development called

A History of the Media in the United States
  • Talk-Show Politics and Internet Broadcasting.
  • Radio and television talk shows also have
    proven to be a rapidly grow format for political
  • Dominated by conservatives, talk show listeners
    are self-selected and typically share the hosts
    viewpoint or ideology.
  • Another growing electronic means of communication
    is the Internet, which allows individuals to
    communicate ideas and opinions instantaneously.
  • Many traditional media outlets have begun using
    the Internet as a way of reaching viewers/users.

The Primacy of Television
  • Currently the most influential type of media is
  • The Increase in News-Type Programming.
  • In 1963, the major networks devoted only eleven
    minutes a day to national news (a 15-minute show
    minus ad time).
  • Today that is up to about three hours.
  • Many all-news channels are also available.

The Primacy of Television
  • Televisions Influence on the Political Process.
  • Viewers can actually see news and history as it
    is happening.
  • The collapse of the Twin Towers of the World
    Trade Center transpired live to viewers in the
    United States and throughout the rest of the
  • It is very difficult for the print media or the
    radio media to compete effectively with this type
    of television.
  • Most people indicate that their primary source
    for news is television.
  • By its nature, TV news concentrated on stories
    that are highly visual.
  • A subject like Congress is not very photogenic.
  • Also, TV news may seek to impose a story line on
    events even when that is not appropriate.

The Media and Political Campaigns
  • The media have a major impact on political
  • Voters now receive most information from the
    electronic media, especially television.
  • There are three types of television coverage
    employed by a campaign
  • paid-for political announcements,
  • management of news coverage,
  • and campaign debates.

  • Paid-for political announcements (advertising)
    are the most obvious of the methods to reach
    potential voters.
  • Increasingly these brief messages are negative
    attacks on the opposition.
  • While many voters have complained about negative
    campaigns, research indicates that such messages
    are effective.
  • Even when advertisements are not attacks on the
    opposition, time constraints dictate that
    messages will be superficial and will not delve
    deeply into substantive policy positions.

Management of News Coverage.
  • Unlike ads, news coverage is free.
  • Instead of letting the media determine what is
    important in the campaign,
  • the campaign staff attempts to manipulate the
    media into presenting news related to the
  • and the campaign in a fashion that is favorable
    to the candidate.
  • This can be accomplished by
  • Planning political events to accommodate the
  • Developing a good working relationship with
  • Convincing the media to put the right spin or
    interpretation on a story.

Presidential Debates
  • Debates between the candidates offer voters the
    opportunity to see and hear the candidates in a
    controlled setting.
  • In the past, not all presidential candidates were
    willing to debate.
  • If an incumbent was significantly ahead of the
    challenger, the incumbent had nothing to gain by
  • Today, presidential debates have become such a
    fixture it would be hard for an incumbent to duck
  • Typically, the way the candidates behave and hold
    themselves matters much more than the policy
    details that are debated.
  • Debates do not always affect the outcome of an
    election, but sometimes they are crucial.
  • In the first-ever such debates, John Kennedy
    appeared poised on TV, while Richard Nixon
    appeared sweaty and bothered.

The Presidential Debates
  • Al Gore may have damaged himself in the debates
    of 2000 by appearing arrogant.
  • In 2004, George W. Bush had developed a
    commanding lead over John Kerry in the days
    before the debates.
  • Bush did poorly in the debates
  • In the first debate especially, his body language
    seemed to indicate that he was shaken by Kerrys
  • Kerry, on the other hand, was calm and collected.
  • After the debates were over, Bushs lead was gone
    and the election was again too close to call.

The Media and Political Campaigns
  • Political Campaigns and the Internet.
  • In recent campaigns, the Internet has played an
    increasing prominent role, as candidates use Web
    sites to convey their messages as well as solicit
  • The Internet also has been a useful tool for
    voters, with one study reporting that one-fifth
    of voters had used the Internet to obtain
    information about elections.
  • The Medias Impact on the Voters.
  • A limitation on the medias impact is that many
    viewers pay selective attention and mostly notice
    coverage that confirms their own beliefs.
  • Also, the medias focus on the horse-race
    aspects of the contest gives short shift to the

The Media and the Government
  • The Media and the Presidency.
  • The relationship between the media and the
    presidency is symbiotic.
  • The media needs news and the president needs to
    report his ideas to the public to gain public
  • The White House Press Corps maintains a full-time
    presence at the White House, and is frequently
    briefed by the presidents press secretary.
  • Before radio, the only way for a governmental
    official to reach the public was in person or
    through the print media.
  • Franklin Roosevelt became the first president to
    make good use of radio to sell his programs to
    the public.
  • Every president since FDR has used the
    electronic media to gain public support for
    specific proposals.

The Media and the Government
  • Setting the Public Agenda.
  • The media helps to determine the public agenda by
    focusing attention on certain issues.
  • In this capacity, the media communicates the
    governments point of view to the public and the
    publics views to the government.

Controlling Ownership of the Media.
  • The Telecommunications Act of 1996
  • enabled telephone companies to enter cable
    businesses and other communications markets,
    resulting in the growth of media.
  • Corporate conglomerates now own all of the major
  • Reevaluating the Rules.
  • In 2002, the FCC sought to relax the rules
    restricting concentrated ownership of the media.
  • In particular, the FCC would have let one company
    own both the newspaper and a TV station in a
    given market.
  • Opposition to the new rules was great and
    Congress swiftly forced the FCC to cancel them.

Government Control of Content
  • The Supreme Court did not extend First Amendment
    protection to the cinema until 1952.
  • The Internet received such protection almost
  • Cable TV received broad protection in 2000.
  • Control of Broadcasting.
  • The Court has never extended full protection to
    broadcast radio and TV.
  • The FCC can ban indecency or profanity.
  • In 2004, the FCC levied much higher fines for
    such offenses than in past years.

Government Control of Content
  • Government Control of the Media During the Second
    Gulf War.
  • The Bush administration was able to win a degree
    of favorable coverage by letting journalists
    travel with the troops as embedded reporters.
  • The Publics Right to Media Access
  • As a result of agreements with local governments,
    most cable systems provide public access channels
    that are available for free use by ordinary
  • The courts have ruled that these broadcasts have
    full First Amendment protection.

Bias in the Media
  • Do the Media Have a Partisan Bias?
  • People on both sides of the political spectrum
    claim that the media has an ideological or
    partisan bias.
  • Some claim that the media is dominated by
    left-leaning reporters
  • and editors who favor liberal elected officials,
    candidates and policies.
  • Others find the press to have an economically
    conservative bias.

Bias in the Media
  • A Commercial Bias?
  • Others assert that professional biases are an
    important component of the news.
  • They claim that reporters are most interested in
    news that will further their careers,
  • while editors are producers are most interested
    in stories that increase circulation or ratings.
  • Other Theories of Media Bias.
  • Others claim that the media is biased toward the
    status quo and that the media supports corporate
  • Still others claim that the media is biased
    against losers, and that once a candidate falls
    behind in a campaign, that stigma sticks with him
    or her, thus further hurting the candidates