Chapter 11: The Media and Cyberpolitics. Objectives : Identify the major functions performed by the mass media in our society , including entertainment, reporting news, identifying public problems, socializing a new generation and providing a political forum.
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Chapter 11: The Media and Cyberpolitics • Objectives: • Identify the major functions performed by the mass media in our society, including entertainment, reporting news, identifying public problems, socializing a new generation and providing a political forum. • Trace the historical development of the press from the colonial period to modern electronic media. • political press • development of mass-readership newspapers • popular press and yellow journalism • age of the electromagnetic signal • revolution in electronic media • Describe the relationship between the First Amendment protection of freedom of the press and government’s regulation of the media. • Explain the media’s impact on politics, both on the impact in electoral politics and investigative reporting of the government. • Describe the arguments for the public’ right to media access. • Describe the different forms of bias in the media.
What If . . . The Internet Replaced Broadcast News? • The growth of the Internet reflects its popularity as a tool for: • communication, • business, • information • If the Internet replaced broadcast news, chances are that many television and cable news agencies would have websites to provide news and information. • These websites, however, would be complemented with many other sources. There would be an enormous variety of sources of information, with some sites catering to specific kinds of news or to different viewpoints.
What If . . . The Internet Replaced Broadcast News? • Possible disadvantages: • there would be large differences in the bias and the accuracy of such sources (some sites would be monitored carefully for inaccuracy.) • Other sites would not check their facts, and would present any information as long as it was in keeping with its views. • there would be fewer chances for the country to share the news and bond as a community (ie. the assassination of President Kennedy and his funeral, the first walk by the man on the moon, President Nixon’s resignation, the Challenger explosion, the Gulf War, and the Columbine massacre, and so on)
Introduction • Historically, the printed media played the most important role in informing public debate. • The media exists to provide the public with information. • In many countries the media is controlled by the government. When the government controls the media, the information the public receives is usually determined by the governmental leaders. (e.g. Venezuela) • This can lead to biased information that is favorable to the government position on issues. • In the United States the flow of information is not directly controlled by the government. • The various types of media are owned by people in the private sector, meaning the media is a business. The purpose of the media is to make a profit for the owners. • If the business is not providing the public with the type of information the public desires the business will not be successful. • How much space, or air time, is devoted to the government is determined by the purchasing power of the public.
The Media’s Function (pg. 333) • Name six different functions the mass media performs:
A. Entertainment • Many current political issues are presented in the various types of media. While the purpose is to entertain the public, this type of program or article does serve to stimulate public discussion on important issues. For example, the television show The West Wingoften focuses on public policy debates, and another television show is attempting to select a candidate for the U.S. presidency.
B. Reporting the News • Primary function of the media. • 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 process.
C. Identifying Public Problems • Public Agenda- • Identifying public problems occurs in two ways: • Setting the Public Agenda. • The media identifies public problems and serves as a forum for various policy alternatives. The primacy of certain issues on the agenda is the importance that the media places on these issues. • Investigative function. • The media also uses investigation to uncover wrong-doing by the government or government officials or candidates. • The most important media investigation was conducted by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Their reporting uncovered high-level Nixon administration misconduct, thus prompting President Nixon’s resignation in 1974.
D. 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.
E. Providing a Political Forum • Officeholders attempt to gain support for policies. • This functions refers both to the ability of politicians to use the media to generate interest in • their campaigns and • ability of voters to express their opinions through the media. (e.g. an important example of this is the “letters to the editor” section of newspapers)
F. Making Profits • Most of the news media is owned by private individuals and therefore, is run as a business. • If the business is profitable the owners will make money. • Most of the profit is made by selling advertising. • The cost of the advertising is based on the circulation (print media) or the size of the audience (electronic media).
History of the Media in the United States • The role of the media has increased drastically from what it was during our nation’s founding. • Part of the early media’s weakness was the inability to rapidly move information within the vast geographical area of the United States.
History of the Media in the United States • The rise of the political press began with the founding of the nation. • President Washington set the example by managing information the government allowed the press to receive. • Most papers were affiliated with partisan issues or factions. Some periodicals were even subsidized by the government.
History of the Media in the United States • Technological changes • The development of the high-speed rotary press • Increase and circulation leads to advertising. • The telegraph
History of the Media in the United States • Fierce competition in the popular press. • The more papers sold meant larger profits. • Yellow Journalism – The era when • In order to attract more readers, the press sought stories that were exciting.
History of the Media in the United States • The electromagnetic signal greatly transformed the media in the 20th century. • Radio began in the 1920s and this development dramatically altered the media and the government. • Information could 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. • However, as the public began to purchase receivers, the print media had a new type of competitor. Prior to radio, the only way for a governmental official to reach the public was in person or through the print media.
History of the Media in the United States • Franklin Roosevelt became the first president to use the electronic media to sell his programs to the public. • Every president since FDR has used the electronic media to gain public support for specific proposals. • The number of competitors in the print media has dwindled in most major markets. • Today the number of cities that have two local daily newspapers is very small. The decline in the number of local papers and advanced technology led to the development of the only national newspaper in the United States, USA Today. • While critics complain the articles lack journalistic depth, the public has been supportive of this paper and the entire nation has the option of purchasing a paper that is the same everywhere in the country.
History of the Media in the United States • Cable television, which is available in most areas, has greatly increased the choices viewers have. Channels are devoted to nonstop news (Cable News Network [CNN]) 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 conferences. The public can opt to literally tune out.
History of the Media in the United States • personal computer networks. • telecommunications a way of reaching viewer/users. - Impact on the community
History of the Media in the United States • Radio and television “talk” shows. • Narrowcasting – broadcasting that is targeted to one small sector of the population
The Primacy of Television • Television. • E.g. The collapse of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center • Difficult for the print media or the radio media to compete • Most people indicate that their primary source for news is television. • Criticisms • lack of depth in reporting, or it’s lack of “context.” • uninformed public on complex topics • Internet (cable television websites, etc.)
The Media and Political Campaigns(pg. 342) • Elections in the electronic media age vs. elections that were conducted prior to television and radio. • most information from some type of electronic media. • The most important of the electronic media is television. • There are three classifications of television coverage during a campaign: • paid-for political announcements, • management of news coverage, • campaign debates.
A. Advertising • Paid-for political announcements (advertising) • Typically these ads run for 30 to 60 seconds. • Negative Ad Campaigning • Does research indicate this type of campaigning to be effective or not effective? • Superficial and lacking on substantive policy positions.
Management of New Coverage • Media determine what is important vs. the campaign staff attempts to manipulate the media into presenting “news” • This can be accomplished by: • planning political events to accommodate the press • developing a good working relationship with reporters and sponsors • convincing the media to put the right “spin” or interpretation on a story
Campaign Debates • Debates between the candidates • offer voters the opportunity to see and hear the candidates in a controlled setting. But typically, not all candidates are willing to debate. If an incumbent is shown to be significantly ahead of the challenger, the incumbent has nothing to gain by debating, and therefore, will hesitate to agree to a debate. If the election appears to be close, both candidates may choose to debate in hopes of gaining support from the undecided voters. • Presidential debates • have generated considerable attention from the public but have rarely resulted in a significant advantage for one candidate over another. One reason for little change is that the candidates practice and are coached as to how to respond to questions that are likely to be asked.
Campaign Debates • Internet has played an increasing prominent role, • as candidates use websites to convey their messages as well as solicit contributions. • The Internet also has been used as a useful tool by voters, • with one study reporting that one-fifth of voters had used the Internet to obtain information about elections
The Media and the Government • Hard to define • At minimum, the 1.media is responsible for informing the public about topics that are important to the public so that the public can attempt to influence governmental policy. 2. Some would argue that the media is also responsible for informing the public about governmental actions
The Media and the Government • Need each other to thrive. • How so? • The media needs information about the development of policy in the executive branch and • The president needs the media to report his ideas to the public in order to gain public support for these ideas. The relationship between the media and the President is likely to remain complicated. • Media access determined by the government and the media because of their need for each other • White House Press Corps - • Press Secretary-
The Media and the Government • Media helps to determine the public agenda • by focusing attention on certain issues. • In this capacity, the media communicates the governmental officials’ point of view for the benefit of the public, • conversely, helps the government understand society’s point of view.
Government Regulation of the Media • Q: Does the United States regulate the media? A: • Q: Is there is a major distinction between the printed media and the broadcast media in regards to government regulation? A:
Government Regulation of the Media • The Telecommunications Act of 1996
Government Regulation of the Media • Q: Has the broadcasting industry eliminated the need for the government to control the content of the media? A:
The Public’s Right to Media Access • The equal-time rule states…. • The personal-attack rule allows… • Note: Because the government determines who is allowed to broadcast over the airwaves the government is concerned that those who have a license are not overtly biased in the presentation of information.
Bias in the Media • There are claims that several forms of bias exist in the media. • ideological or partisan bias. • left-leaning reporters and editors who favor liberal elected officials, candidates and policies. • reporters are most interested in news that will further their careers • editors and producers are most interested in stories that increase circulation or ratings. • biased toward the status-quo • media supports corporate America. • “Loser” Bias: • that once a candidate falls behind in a campaign, that stigma sticks with him or her, thus further hurting the candidate’s chances.