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Mass Media. Functions of the media Transmit political information from political actors to the public Gatekeeping Media makes decisions about what is news, and for how long Watchdog function Informal check in our political system

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Presentation Transcript
mass media
Mass Media
  • Functions of the media
    • Transmit political information from political actors to the public
    • Gatekeeping
      • Media makes decisions about what is news, and for how long
    • Watchdog function
      • Informal check in our political system
        • Media allows the public to keep tabs on behavior of elected officials
    • Expand scope of an issue
      • More media attention leads to higher levels of public knowledge about issue
        • This leads to more pressure on politicians
problems with the media
Problems with the Media
  • Agenda setting – Blurs perceptions
    • The media tells up what to think about by covering some issues, and ignoring others
  • Bias
    • Ideological bias
    • Corporate bias
  • Media not accessible to everyone
  • Priming
  • Framing
media agenda setting
Media Agenda Setting
  • Agenda setting
    • The decision to cover any event or issue necessarily means that other issues are more unlikely to be covered, even if those issues are arguably more important
  • “Newshole” is limited by various constraints
    • Time
    • Space
  • Pressure to cover the sensational…
media blurs perceptions
Media Blurs Perceptions
  • If it bleeds, it leads
    • When asked about the crime rate, most respondents vastly overestimate overall crime rate, and more particularly violent crime rate
    • Since 1990, murder coverage increased over 500% while real world homicide rates dropped over 40%
      • 1999 – Lowest crime rate of decade, but 511 homicide stories
      • 1991- Higher crime rate than in 1999, but fewer than 100 homicide stories on major 4 networks
examples of agenda setting
Examples of Agenda setting
  • Experiment 1 – News stories about defense
    • Group A: Stories about weakness in defense
    • Group B: No stories about defense
    • *** Group A participants much more likely to cite defense as a major problem facing nation
  • Experiment 2 – Various news stories
    • Group A: Stories about defense
    • Group B: Stories about pollution
    • Group C: No added stories
    • *** Participants cited defense, pollution, depending on what stories they were exposed to
  • Ideological bias
    • Claim that there is a liberal bias in the media
      • Many in media are liberal (tend to vote Democratic)
        • Higher percentage of liberals in national media
    • Rising claim of conservative bias as well
      • Fox News obviously has conservative slant
  • “Misperceptions, the Media, and the Iraq War”
  • Corporate Bias - corporate owners of media outlets might unduly influence news content:
    • Disney  ABC, ESPN
    • Time Warner-AOL  CNN, TBS, TNT, HBO, Time, Sports Illustrated, People, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune, Money, Warner Brothers., New Line Cinema
    • General Electric, RCA, and Westinghouse  NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, History Channel
    • VIACOM  CBS, MTV, VH1, BET, TNN, UPN, Comedy Central, Showtime, TMC, Nickelodeon, Paramount
    • News Corporation  Fox, NY Post, London Times
  • Conflict between desire of journalists to report news and corporations’ desire to maintain business interests
media not accessible to everyone
Media not accessible to everyone
  • While most newspapers and TV news are presented at basic level, there are high start-up costs that disadvantage many
    • Terms used often over the head of those with low political knowledge
      • Without basic knowledge about politics, and often the issue at hand, many cannot understand the news
        • Saying that a Democratic challenger to the incumbent is much more liberal is only informative if you understand ideologies (including how they match up with your own preferences)
  • The way that the media presents a story
  • Can affect who we blame for a particular problem, which affects how we think the government should respond
    • Individual vs. societal frames
      • Poverty experiment
      • Those who were exposed to societal frames more likely to blame society for high poverty levels
        • More likely to support welfare, food stamps, etc.
      • Those who were exposed to individual frames more likely to blame individuals
        • Oppose social welfare programs
  • Prominence of stories in the media can affect the standards by which we judge political leaders
    • Bush overall approval rating – 71%
      • Approval of handling of economy – 49%
      • Approval of handling of taxes – 52%
      • Approval of handling war in Iraq – 71%
    • **Overwhelming coverage of the war is priming the public
      • Evaluate Bush, they do so based on war, rather than economy or taxes