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FCC. The Federal Communications Commission, the regulatory agency that regulates the telecommunications industry in the United States.

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FCC

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Fcc

FCC

The Federal Communications Commission, the regulatory agency that regulates the telecommunications industry in the United States.


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  • The equal-time rule: a 1934 act of the FCC that requires radio and television stations to give or sell equivalent time to one political candidate if the station gave or sold time to another candidate for that office.


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  • In 1984, television station ceased running Ronald Reagan movies during the presidential campaign so not as to be in violation of equal-time.


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  • In presidential elections, the FCC has ruled that third party candidates will not share the platform with the two major party candidates during televised debates.


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  • The Fairness Doctrine required that radio and television stations to devote some airtime to a balanced discussion of public issues.

  • In 1987 the Fairness Doctrine was suspended by the FCC.


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  • In turn, conservative talk radio began to flourish, with Rush Limbaugh as the pioneer of the one-sided conservative perspective of national and world events.

  • Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck have successfully followed in Limbaugh’s footsteps.


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  • President Obama has made noise about persuading the FCC to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

  • Don’t bet on it.


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  • News confidentiality:

  • Shield laws—statutes that protect the identity of journalists’ news sources or their knowledge of criminal acts.

  • Judges from time to time have jailed journalists for refusing to disclose their sources in a criminal proceeding.


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  • Example: The Valerie Plame affair in 2003.


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  • Leak: The deliberate release of information by an official to a journalist for a specific purpose.

  • Presidents have historically been fanatical about stopping leaks within their own White House shop when in fact they were the source of “hush-hush” information to see how it would play with the public, or “priming.”


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  • Exclusive: an interview an official grants to one or a small group of journalists that provides information not generally made available to all media.

  • Examples: President Obama’s 15 minute interview with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly before the Super Bowl.

  • George W. Bush gave exclusive interviews to CBS News’ Bob Schieffer because they were fellow Texans.


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  • Backgrounders: News briefings in which reporters may not reveal the identity of the source of their information. That way the official’s name is not attached to what is reported.


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  • Visual: An image or series of images representing news in action, which may carry more impact than words alone.

  • Ronald Reagan was a master of the visual—if he held a press conference to announce a reduction in the unemployment rate, he’d stand in front of the framed out house in a neighborhood development.


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  • The Ordinary Joe would ask himself, “What’s Reagan doing in front of that framed out house? Oh yeah, home sales are up. More people are going back to work.”

  • It worked like a charm for Reagan.


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  • It didn’t work for Jimmy Carter. When he fainted during a jog at Camp David and had to be propped up by a Secret Service agent, he looked weak.


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  • Likewise, in fall 1991 President George H.W. Bush attended a trade conference in Tokyo.

  • He fell ill at a dinner, barfed on the Japanese Prime Minister, and fainted.

  • Bush did not look very presidential.


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  • George W. Bush’s appearance at Ground Zero a few days after September 11th, with bullhorn in hand, was a visual winner. His public approval rating soared immediately.


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  • Photo opportunity: similar to the visual, a photo opportunity is an event to give newspaper photographers and television crews a chance to photograph someone doing something, like President Obama walking on the beach at Gulf Shores looking for tar balls from the BP Macondo oil spill in summer 2010.


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  • Agenda setting: the process by which the news media select and focus on a small number of stories that make up the 22 minutes of a 30-minute evening newscast.

  • In turn, that shapes in part Americans’ opinions about what is important.


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  • Framing: the way that the media presents a story, consisting of angle, tone, and point of view.

  • This can prove to be doomsday for a candidate or officeholder who is not physically attractive but still has the smarts to be a leader dealing with a major concern.

  • Example: The rotund governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie.


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