Types of Media • Americans get their news from three sources: broadcast media (radio and television), print media (newspapers and magazines), and the Internet. • Television news covers a few headlines with pictures, superficially. As a result, politicians and other groups seek to manipulate the news with “sound bites” that dominate the market for at least a few days. • Radio news is also a repetitive headline service without pictures or detail, targeting an audience assumed to be driving in cars and changing throughout the day. Conservatives tend to listen to political talk radio for information and affirmation of their political viewpoint.
Types of Media - continued • Newspapers and other print media remain the most important news sources for three reasons: • 1. Broadcast media rely on leading newspapers to set their news media. • 2. Print media provide more complete reports that can be used for analysis. • 3. Educated and influential individuals rely on print media coverage in making national economic, social, and political decisions. • A transformation in news reports is taking place on the Internet. Internet use is on the rise and is the favored news source of younger Americans. Its advantages include the combining of timely and in depth news coverage. It also facilitates news discussion forums via blogs (weblogs) or timely updated personal websites with commentaries on the news.
Power of the New Media • Blogs and other Internet forums are often there to challenge the dominance of the mainstream media. • Their greater accessibility to entrepreneurial reporting and lower production costs have enabled today’s new media to act in ways that traditional reporting often falls short. • When the mainstream media overlook, minimize, or provide important coverage and force the hand of more conventional news sources to follow suit.
Regulation of the Broadcast Media • The American government does not control the communications networks, but it regulates the content and ownership of the broadcast media. • The print media are essentially free from government interference, but the broadcast media are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). • The FCC’s regulations prohibit obscenity, indecency, and profanity all the time, and sexually explicit references during the daytime to protect younger audiences.
Organization and Ownership of the Media • The American media world is enormous, but the number of national news media is small and owned by large conglomerates, making it unvaried. • Most national and local news reports are influenced by major news reporting sources such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN. This news similarity trend has accelerated with media ownership changes facilitated by relaxation of governmental regulations. • Increasing media ownership concentration threatens political equality. Lack of access to the broadcast media undermines the ability of those with limited resources to influence the political process.
News Coverage in the United States • The three major factors influencing media coverage include : • 1. Journalists or news producers • 2. News sources or topics • 3. The news audience • Journalists: Media content and coverage are affected by the producers’ views, ideals, and interests. Publishers historically have sought to influence politics by manipulating news coverage. Reporters can interpret stories at their discretion. Consequently, they may incorporate their views into news stories.
The Power of the Consumers • The Power of Consumers. The media are businesses seeking a profit and must cater to consumer preferences. • 1. Catering to the Audience. The media are very responsive to the interests of the educated and affluent public, which has a profound effect on media content, particularly news coverage. Events and issues of interest to lower middle class and working class American events are under covered by the media. • 2. The Media and Conflict. Although the media respond to the most upscale audience, other groups can publicize their interest through protest. However, although protest can draw media attention, it does not ensure effective competition for groups lacking financial or organizational resources.
Media Power in American Politics • Shaping Events. In American political history, the media played a central role in three political events: • 1. Critical media led the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s to force Congress to put an end to segregation. • 2. The media were instrumental in compelling the Nixon administration to put an end to American involvement in the Vietnam war. • 3. The media were central actors in the Watergate affair, forcing President Nixon to resign from office in disgrace.
The Sources of Media Power • 1. Agenda Setting: This is defined as the power of the media to bring public attention to particular issues and problems. In this case, groups or individuals seeking to generate support for their interest must secure media coverage. The media must be persuaded that an item is newsworthy. • 2. Framing. This is defined as the media’s power to influence how people interpret events and issues. In this case the media’s interpretation or evaluation of an event or political action can sometimes determine how people perceive the event or result. • 3. Priming. This is defined as the process of preparing the public to take a particular view of an event or a political actor. In this case most citizens will never meet their political leaders, but will base their opinions about these leaders on their media image.
Perceptions of Media Bias • Political bias, including bias in favor of or against a particular political party, candidate, or policy. • Advertising bias, corporate media depends on advertising revenue for funding. This relationship promotes a bias to please the advertisers. • Corporate bias, coverage' of political campaigns in such a way as to favor or oppose corporate interests, and the reporting of issues to favor the interests of the owners of the news media or its advertisers. Some critics view the financing of news outlets through advertising as an inherent cause of bias. • Mainstream bias, a tendency to report what everyone else is reporting, and to gather news from a relatively small number of easily available sources. • Religious bias, including bias in which one religious or nonreligious viewpoint is given preference over others. • Bias for or against a group based because of their race, gender, age, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. • Sensationalism, bias in favor of the exceptional over the ordinary, giving the impression that rare events, such as airplane crashes, are more common than common events, such as automobile crashes.