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The National Media and American Politics


The first American newspapers (printed in the 1690s) were ... was invented in the 1970s, (CNN was founded in 1980. ... CNN. FOX. Interactivity: Citizens ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The National Media and American Politics

The National Media and American Politics
The Media of Yesteryear
  • The first American newspapers (printed in the
    1690s) were often controlled by the government
    supporters and political parties. They were
    rarely independent.
  • Battles over the rights of newspapers to publish
    served as the basis for our 1st Amendment right
    to Freedom of the Press.

John Peter Zenger NY Weekly Journal(in Court,
Yellow Journalism
  • By the 1890s 'yellow journalism' sold millions of
  • Throughout the 19th century, payoffs to the press
    were common.
  • Yellow journalism today.

Pulitzer vs. Hearst
Technological Advances
  • Newspapers became cheaper and easier to produce
    and distribute. The telegraph and telephone made
    reporting simpler and faster.
  • Radio became widely available in the 1920s.
  • Television was introduced in the late 1940s.
  • Cable Television was invented in the 1970s, (CNN
    was founded in 1980.)
  • The Internet became easily accessible in the late

The Contemporary Newspaper
  • A number of newspapers have a national
    audience and are considered quite influential
  • The New York Times
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • USA Today
  • The Christian Science Monitor
  • The Washington Post
  • The Los Angeles Times

Television News
  • The Networks
  • ABC (Charles Gibson)
  • CBS (Katie Couric)
  • NBC (Brian Williams)
  • Cable TV
  • PBS
  • CNN
  • FOX

Interactivity Citizens As Journalists
  • The new technologies break the journalist's
    monopoly, making some of the new news an
    unmediated collaboration between the sources and
    the audience.
  • Citizens can program their computers to retrieve
    their own "news."

Reporting the News
  • Real (Six OClock) News
  • In Depth Reporting Analysis (60 Minutes,
  • Info-tainment aka Going Tabloid
  • Where is the dividing line?

Television Network Programming
  • A full transcript of the typical nightly network
    news broadcasts foreign and domestic would
    not fill half of the front page of an average
    daily newspaper.
  • Yet ¾ of the American people routinely depend on
    this source for most of their foreign affairs

Characteristics of the News
  • Superficial describes most news coverage today
  • Sound Bites Short video clips
  • Sound Bites keep getting shorter
  • 1968/43 seconds
  • 2000/7 seconds

The Pace of the News
  • The increasing rapid pace of electronic news and
    televisions global coverage shortens the time
    frame for policy responses.
  • In 1961, when the Berlin Wall went up, President
    Kennedy had 8 days to respond to the provocative
  • In 1989, when the wall came down, President Bush
    (41) was forced to respond overnight.

Finding the Political News
  • 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.
  • Interdependency Reporters and their sources
    depend on each other- one for stories, the other
    to get them out.

Media Events
How Politicians Use the Media
  • Politicians and government officials often stage
    media events (to get free media coverage).
  • Candidates and politicians try to control or
    'spin' media focus on campaign and policy
  • Candidates and politicians may 'leak' a story to
    the press in order to get their story out
    (without being the focus of that story).

The 1st Reporter
  • Press Secretaries announce Presidential policies
    and Presidential reactions to news. It is their
    role to put the news in perspective favorable to
    the incumbent administration.

The Media and Politicians
  • Politicians are also media consumers.
  • Research indicates that roughly 2/3s of officials
    in policy making positions reported that the
    media was their most rapid source of
  • Over 4/5s indicated that the media were an
    important source of information.

New York Times
  • Ive said many times that I never learned from a
    classified document anything I couldnt get
    earlier or later from the New York Times.
  • -- John Kenneth Galbraith

An Alternative View of Reporters
Reporting the News
  • Is there bias in the News?
  • Many people believe the news favors one point of
    view over another.
  • ASNE Survey 78 of Americans believe the news
    is biased

  • Liberal vs Conservative Papers (The Denver Post
    vs the Rocky Mt. News?)
  • Political Ads
  • Types
  • Role of Money
  • Examples

Denver Post 2002
Questioning Political Editorials
  • Should newspapers or any media endorse political
    candidates? (Is this evidence of their bias, an
    indicator that they have a preference and a right
    to express it, or an indication of a positive
    force media can play in elections?)
  • Newspapers favor the status quo.
  • Newspapers are hesitant to oppose incumbents
  • (Evidence of the strange bedfellows effect?)
  • Even in open seat races there are common
    tendencies to suppose party holding the seat now.

Types of Biases
  • Generally not very biased along liberal /
    conservative lines.
  • But, generally are biased towards what will draw
    the largest audience.

Media Self-Identification
On these issues journalists appear to be
Common Biases
  • White
  • Male
  • Elite
  • Nationalistic

Imperviousness of Beliefs Why it may not matter
if media is biased
  • Generally neither reading nor watching the news
    alters what people think.
  • Selective perception is a pervasive human
  • People search for comfortable information that
    fits with preexisting beliefs.
  • People screen out or reject information with
    which they disagree.

Agenda Setting
  • The mass media may not be successful in telling
    people what to think, but they are stunningly
    successful in telling their audience what to
    think about.
  • This power is greatest among those who are
    neither interested nor involved in politics and
    hence lack political sophistication.

The Medias Role
  • The mass media perform a mediating role, i.e.,
    it helps to shape political attitudes and
    choices but does not determine them.

Government Regulation of the Electronic Media
  • Print media are exempt from most governmental
    regulation. Electronic media are not.
  • Airwaves are considered public property and are
    leased to networks and private broadcasters by
    the government.
  • Government also allocates the use of frequencies
    and channels so that radio and TV do not overlap
    and jam each others' signals. And so certain
    segments of the airways are available for defense.

Summary - A Complex Relationship
  • The relationship between the media and
    policymakers is both subtle and complex.
  • Television has quickened the pace of the news but
    it by no means determines American public
  • However, it is also clear that the media is a
    powerful institution that affects multiple facets
    of American political life.

The Inadvertent Audience
  • Television provides the mass of American people
    with an infusion of policy information that most
    neither like nor want.
  • There are three consequences of this forced
  • Television may explain the decline of confidence
    in the nations leadership.
  • Being uninterested, Americans are unlikely to
    have strong convictions about issues as do those
    who regularly follow political affairs.
  • Policy ideas must fit into one-liners that will
    fit into 30, 60, or 90 second slots on the
    evening news.