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Media & Politics. Overview. The Media as a Political Institution Types & Forms of Media Political Uses of Media Role of Media. Media as Political Institution. Political Figures. The People. Media as Political Institution. Political Figures. The People.

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Overview

  • The Media as a Political Institution

  • Types & Forms of Media

  • Political Uses of Media

  • Role of Media


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Media as Political Institution

Political

Figures

The People


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Media as Political Institution

Political

Figures

The People

Democracy presupposes a tight connection between political leaders and the people


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Media as Political Institution

Political

Figures

The People

How to reach each other?

Direct contact options


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Media as Political Institution

Political

Figures

The People

Direct contact options have limited capacity to reach mass audience though


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Media as Political Institution

M

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I

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Political

Figures

The People


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Media as Political Institution

M

E

D

I

A

Political

Figures

The People

Use media to reach the people, but message is “mediated” by the media


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Media as Political Institution

M

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D

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Political

Figures

The People

Use media to reach political leaders, but message is “mediated” by the media


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Media as Political Institution

  • Media has a pivotal role to play in democracy

  • An informed electorate is essential to democratic politics

  • For politicians to represent the “will of the people,” they need to know what the people want


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Types and Forms of Media

  • Basic media types:

    • television

    • radio

    • print

    • internet

    • cinema

    • music

    • advertising


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Types and Forms of Media

  • In U.S., most of these are for profit enterprises

  • Need for profit shapes content delivered

  • Profits derive from ratings, so ratings drives content delivered

  • Presents possibility of conflicting aims of political figures and media owners



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Types and Forms of Media

  • Most of the information and programming in the media is not necessarily overtly political

  • That is, much is “entertainment” rather than information


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Political Uses of Media

Intentional

Unintentional

Explicit

Implicit


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Political Uses of Media

Intentional

Unintentional

Content is explicitly political and intends to change political beliefs or behavior

Explicit

Implicit


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Political Uses of Media

Intentional

Unintentional

Political ads, PSAs, Documentaries

Explicit

Implicit


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Political Uses of Media

Intentional

Unintentional

Content is explicitly political and intends to change political beliefs or behavior

Explicit

Political content is implied and intent is to change political beliefs or behavior

Implicit


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Political Uses of Media

Intentional

Unintentional

Political ads, PSAs, Documentaries

Explicit

Political values in entertainment programming

Implicit


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Political Uses of Media

Intentional

Unintentional

Content is explicitly political, but with no intent to influence political behavior or beliefs

Content is explicitly political and intends to change political beliefs or behavior

Explicit

Political content is implied and intent is change political beliefs or behavior

Implicit


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Political Uses of Media

Intentional

Unintentional

Political ads, PSAs, Editorials Documentaries

News

Explicit

Political values in entertainment programming

Implicit


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Political Uses of Media

Intentional

Unintentional

Content is explicitly political, but with no intent to influence political behavior or beliefs

Content is explicitly political and intends to change political beliefs or behavior

Explicit

Political content is implied and intent is change political beliefs or behavior

Whatever political content and consequences that may exist are unintentional

Implicit


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Political Uses of Media

Intentional

Unintentional

Political ads, PSAs, Documentaries

News

Explicit

Vast majority of entertainment programming

Political values in entertainment programming

Implicit


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Political Uses of Media

  • Political leaders in U.S. need media, but they have little direct opportunity to truly shape and control message that is being delivered


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Political Uses of Media

  • Political Leaders prefer to use unfiltered content -- they get their message right to the people


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Political Uses of Media

Political

Figures

The People

Most political leaders prefer this sort of direct interaction, but they also recognize the limitations of this approach and the necessity of media assistance in mass democracy


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Political Uses of Media

  • But in the US, where media is not under direct government control, executives, producers/editors, and reporters may have different agenda.

  • So...


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Political Uses of Media

  • Types of media content in terms of relative levels of control between politician and media outlet:

    • unmediated

    • partly mediated

    • mediated


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Political Uses of Media

Unmediated Content:

  • Political figure has direct and immediate access to the public


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Political Uses of Media

Partly Mediated

  • Political figure uses media and media has partial element of control in dissemination and/or content of the message


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Political Uses of Media

  • Because news outlets need content, politicians can use that need to place information in the media

    • press releases

    • news briefings/press conferences

    • leaks


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Political Uses of Media

  • Interest groups also recognize that and likewise provide information and content to the media:

    • press releases

    • news briefings/press conferences


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Political Uses of Media

Fully Mediated

  • Media controls dissemination and/or content of the message


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Political Uses of Media

  • Political figures loathe this sort of content because it is beyond their control

  • Forces politicians to react rather than to control events/story


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Media Practices

  • Agenda setting

    • determining which stories are important and the relative importance of each story

  • Framing

    • determining what element of a story* is “newsworthy” and how that element is going to be presented to the public

  • Interpreting

    • determining the “meaning” and significance of a story

*Keep in mind the structural requirements of a story:

characters, drama, finality


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Media Practices

All of these activities take the control of information further away from political figures and, simultaneously, give greater control to media figures


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Roles of the Media

Surveillance

For the most part, the media bring issues, institutions,

events, individuals, and organizations to publicattention


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Roles of the Media

Surveillance determines the extent to which political issues will receive attention and the kind of attention they will receive; which political demands make it to the surface and which remain hidden or obscured

e.g., Abu Ghraib, no WMDs, teen pregnancies, etc.

e.g, social security, illegal drugs,

the environment,healthcare


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Roles of the Media

  • The media, through its surveillance function and via its coverage and content, effectively define what is important or not, what is relevant or not, and why


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Roles of the Media

  • This of course does not mean that all coverage is beneficial

  • Sensationalized or erroneous stories can undermine public confidence

  • For instance, local news tends to focus on crime stories, which have the effect of undermining security and sense of safety, thereby creating conditions for greater crime


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Roles of the Media

  • At the same time, stories which do not readily lend themselves to media practices or structures may be doomed for inattention

  • “Big” stories involving institutions/processes rather than individual actors tend not to receive close media attention

  • For instance: global warming, poverty, racism, sexism are not well served in most media forms, particularly the one with the greatest audience (network news)


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Roles of the Media

  • Another major function of the media is interpretation

  • That is, when the media cover a story, they not only report, they also contextualize (frame) and interpret the story: what it means, why it’s important, what are the causes and effects

  • What are the political implications of this media role?


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Roles of the Media

  • For example, in the debate on interrogation techniques on terrorist suspects, President Bush and the Republicans (on one hand) and anti-war groups (on the other) have each been trying to have the media frame the debate on their terms


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Roles of the Media

Socialization

  • Another major function of the media is socialization, or the process by which the values, norms, beliefs, and mores, of the culture are transmitted from one generation to the next.

  • Most of the information that young people get about the political world is derived from the media (rather than say parents, schools, churches, or the government itself).


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Roles of the Media

For most people, the media provide the basic information that allows for the transformation of political and social beliefs over time.


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Roles of the Media

Manipulation

  • Through the stories covered, and the framing of those stories, the media (reporters, producers, editors, publishers) are in a position to shape public opinion


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Media & Democracy

  • Which raises question of how “we the people” can control the media?


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Media & Democracy

  • Growth of blogs and internet driven news content

  • Benefit of decentralized control of content

  • Cost of oversite/editorial control. How to ascertain the reliability of the information delivered and received online?


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