Mass Media • and the political agenda AP Government Mrs. Lacks
Introduction • Mass Media: • Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, the Internet and other means of popular communication. • High-tech politics: • the behavior of citizens and policymakers and the political agenda itself are increasingly shaped by technology.
Mass Media Today • Media Events: • Events purposely staged for the media that nonetheless look spontaneous. Media events can be staged by almost anybody. • Other items to consider: • 60% presidential campaign spending is TV ads • Image making / news management is important, especially for presidents
The Development of Media Politics • Introduction • Press Conferences: meetings of public officials with reporters - Roosevelt used many of these. • Investigative Journalism: the use of in-depth reporting to unearth scandals, scams & schemes putting reporters & politicians opposite each other.
The Development of Media Politics • The Print Media • Newspapers and magazines • “Yellow journalism”characterized newspapers at the turn of the century. • Among the press there is a pecking order. • Newspaper circulation has been declining. • Magazines are also struggling.
The Development of Media Politics • The Broadcast Media • Television and radio • Brought government and politics into people’s homes. • Made the politicians more aware of their appearance and mannerisms. • 24 hr news cycle (90s) made it even more important
The Mass Media & Cyberpolitics • Today, more than 90% of all Americans use television news as their primary source of information. • The Internet has become a source of political communication and fund-raising.
The Primacy of Television • In recent years, all of the major networks have also added Internet sites to try to capture that market. • Therefore, the videotapes or slides that are chosen for a particular political story have exaggerated importance – sound bites (a several second comment selected or crafted for its immediate impact on the viewer). • Viewers do not know what other photos may have been taken or events recorded – they note only those appearing on their screens.
The Media’s Functions • Finding the 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. • Reporters and their sources depend on each other - one for stories, the other to get them out
Understanding the Mass Media • The Media and the Scope of Government • The media as watchdog restricts politicians. • Often set or define the policy agenda • if the media identify a problem, they ask what the government is going to do to fix it.
The Media’s Functions • Socializing New Generations • the media, particularly television, strongly influence the beliefs and opinions of all Americans • Because of this influence, the media play a significant role in the political socialization of the younger generation, as well as immigrants in this country.
The Media’s Functions • Providing a Political Forum • the media provides a political forum for leaders and the public. • Candidates for office use news reporting to sustain interest in their campaigns, whereas officeholders use the media to gain support for their policies or to present an image of leadership. • also offers a way for citizens to participate in public debate, through letters to the editor, televised editorials, or e-mail.
The Media’s Functions • Making Profits • Profits are made, in general, by charging for advertising. • Advertising revenues usually are related directly to circulation or to listener/viewer ratings. • Added together, all these factors form the basis for a complex relationship among the media, the government and the public.
Media & Political Campaigns • Three types of campaign coverage • Advertising (attack ads, advocacy ads) • Management of news coverage • Campaign scheduler plans events that will be interesting enough to make the evening news • Spin: convincing reporters that a particular interpretation of an event is correct • Campaign debates: even though many don’t watch the debate, the news will cover the highs/lows, and report on their winner
Media’s Impact on Voters • Voters watch campaign commercials and news about political campaigns with “selective attentiveness.” • they tend to watch those commercials that support the candidates they favor and tend to pay attention to news stories about their own candidates. • the media are most influential with those persons who have not formed an opinion about political candidates or issues. • Studies have shown that the flurry of television commercials and debates immediately before election day has the most impact on those voters who are truly undecided. • Few voters who have already formed their opinions change their minds under the influence of the media.
Media & the President • a love-hate relationship exists between the president and the media. • most often reciprocal: each needs the other to thrive. • Because of this co-dependency, both the media and the president work hard to exploit each other. • The media needs to report, and the president may need coverage.
Government Regulation of the Media • Federal Communications Commission (FCC), regulates communications by radio, televisions, wire, and cable, the number of radio stations has been controlled for many years. • The FCC created a situation in which the three major TV networks have dominated the airwaves. • Most FCC rules have dealt with ownership of news media, such as how many stations a network can own.
Government Control of the Media • The Telecommunications Act of 1996 • ended the rule that kept telephone companies from entering the cable business and other communications markets • What this means is that a single corporation – whether AT&T or Disney – can offer long distance and local telephone services, cable television, satellite television, Internet services, and of course, libraries of films and entertainment.
Government Control of Media • The Telecommunications Act of 1996 included two provisions that allow for some governmental control of he content of the media. • (1) tv manufacturers include a “V-chip”in each set so that parents are able to block programs that include violence or sexual conduct from being viewed on their televisions. • (2) the transmission of indecent or patently offensive materials on the Internet in such a way that minors could access those materials is prohibited.
Government Regulation of the Media • Responding to immediate legal challenges to this portion of the new law, two federal district courts held in 1996 that the provision blocking certain content from the Internet was unconstitutional. • In 1997, the Supreme Court agreed that the provision restrained too much protected adult speech and was therefore unconstitutional.
Private Control of the Media • Only a small number of TV stations are publicly owned in America. • massive media conglomerates control almost three-quarters of the nation’s daily newspaper circulation as well as broadcast media.
Bias in the News • Many people believe the news favors one point of view over another. • Generally are not very biased along liberal / conservative lines. • Generally are biased towards what will draw the largest audience.
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING In particular, is the impact of mass media on public opinion and public outcomes consistent with the concepts of limited gov’t and balanced power? Is there any democratic way to hold mass media organizations accountable for their behavior? How does the media help campaigns? How does the media hurt campaigns?