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The Media and Politics. What information is most important for voters to know about political candidates? Least important? List all the ways people receive information about candidates.

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the media and politics
The Media and Politics
  • What information is most important for voters to know about political candidates? Least important?
  • List all the ways people receive information about candidates.
  • Determine the degree each medium affords the candidate control over their image and message conveyed about them.
  • What are the respective interests of both the mass media and candidates?
  • What is the relationship between the media and politics?
the media
The Media

The media is privately owned and therefore commercial. Media outlets must be profitable or else they will fold.

What are the pros and cons of a privately

owned media?

structure of the media
Structure of the media
  • Print media: Even though many news outlets are still locally based, many are owned by massive conglomerates (Time Warner, Disney, Viacom). Television, newspapers (NYT, Wash. Post) and magazines (Time, Newsweek) have a national readership and have a considerable influence on American politics.
    • Kevin Sack (New York Times) article
structure of the media1
Structure of the media
  • Electronic media:
    • Radio was invented in 1903; first became influential when FDR (30s and 40s) used the radio to broadcast his fireside chats.
    • TV became influential in the 50s and 60s: campaign ads, Nixon-Checkers speech, Kennedy-Nixon debate, Vietnam footage, Watergate hearings
    • News shows: commentary and analysis
structure of the media2
Structure of the media
  • The internet: became influential in the late 1990s.
    • Blogs: provide an interactive forum for people to express and react to political opinions amongst a much wider group
    • 2004 election: internet ads and campaign websites became more numerous, which led to vast amounts of money being raised
the media and politics1
The Media and Politics
  • Would you use social media as a means for learning about and following your favorite candidates rather than traditional television advertisements or programming? Whyor why not?
  • If a candidate did not use social media, but opted instead for more “old-fashioned” campaign techniques, how would that effect your opinion of the candidate?
  • Do you think the effective use of social media will give some candidates an advantage with specific groups of voters? Who and why?
functions of the media
Functions of the media
  • Gatekeepers: setting the public agenda—citizens tend to form opinions about issues that are put to them by the media, therefore, selection of topics and stories can set the agenda. The media can draw attention to particular issues. The media can decide what “gets out” and what doesn’t. Politicians are also affected by the media. If their constituents are concerned about an issue, they will want to address it, and it may become the policy agenda—the set of issues that are deemed important by the policymakers.
  • Scorekeepers: polls, who’s ahead in the primary, general election, what’s the president’s approval rating, etc.
functions of the media1
Functions of the media
  • Watchdogs: investigative journalism; scrutinizing the actions and decisions of the government
  • Who gets more attention from the media—the President or members of Congress? President.Why? Easier to cover one person over 535. President represents the nation as a whole; Congress represents individual states and districts. The President is seen as more powerful than members of Congress. The President has a Press Secretary to specifically meet with the press.

The press as




Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post

functions of the media2
Functions of the media
  • Political Forums: candidates and politicians use the media to campaign and to convey their platform and policy issues.
    • The President uses a Press Secretary (spin doctor) to hold pressconferences to relay information to the WhiteHouse Press Corps who then relay the information to their media outlets and the wire services (AP)
    • Presidential Debates: 1960 Kennedy/Nixon; 1976-Ford (Eastern Europe mistake); 1988-Dukakis (death penalty/no emotion); 2004-Kerry (Cheney’s daughter/sexual orientation)
    • The media is a linkage institution—it provides a way for citizens to voice their opinions—letters to the editor, editorials, opinion polls. Leaders read these and can get a pulse of the city, state, nation.
the press as a linkage institution
The Press as a Linkage Institution
  • Conveys information about the government to the people
    • Reports on government activities
    • Provides opinion/analysis of government activities
    • Provides a platform for politicians to “speak” directly to the people.
the press as linkage institution
The Press as Linkage Institution
  • Conveys the views of the people to government
    • Interviewing citizens
    • Presenting poll results
    • Covering protests and/or opposition
    • Providing an outlet for citizen opinion
    • Helps set the policy agenda (“agenda setting”) – raise awareness, provide information, draw attention to, demonstrate the importance or consequence of a problem.
regulation of the media
Regulation of the media
  • Print media has very few government restrictions—the 1st amendment has been interpreted to mean that the government cannot place prior restraint on the press.

-National security is usually one of the few exceptions to this standard.

  • However, once something is published, a lawsuit may be brought forward claiming libel.
regulation of the media1
Regulation of the media
  • Broadcasting is carefully regulated by the government.
  • Radio and TV stations can only operate with a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
    • Equal time rule: requires a station selling time to one candidate for office to make the same amount of time available to another
    • Right of reply rule: allows a person who is attacked on a broadcast the right to reply over that same station
the living room candidate
The Living Room Candidate
  • How do candidates use campaign ads to influence voters?
  • What are sound bites? How are they used by candidates and politicians?
  • View various political ads and answer questions on handout