Chapter 8- The News MediaLearning Objectives: • (1). Examine News media's influence on public opinion & the political agenda. • (2). Analyze the News Media's relationship with the government. • (3). Examine how the News Media changes over time, including: journalistic conventions, readership & "viewer-ship," and the changes in media ownership. • (4). Examine press freedom & its limitations, & discuss FOIA & pool reporting. • (5). Discuss & electronic media & role of & FCC, equal time & fairness policies. • (6). Examine how news is reported, what makes news, & rules of how it is told. • (7). Evaluate the media & determine if it has a "liberal bias" or is just cynical. • (8). Assess the growing trend of news as entertainment. • (9). Discuss news media’s role during political campaigns & role of sound bites. • (10). Assess how well the media reports election results & explain potential impact. • (11). Analyze the role of "news leaks" in reporting the news.
Do the News Media Matter? • Role of News Media? • Enable the public to ?__________their government • Why is that important? • Government by ?____________(hopefully informed) • The News Media and Public Opinion: • Key Question: • How much influence does Media have on Public Opinion? • Three factors to consider: • 1. Media’s coverage vs. event itself • 2. Array of Media views and voices • 3. Choice of who to listen to Democracy means? • So what exactly is the problem?
Difficulty in Determining Media’s Impact • Key Challenges: • 1. Disentangling the media’s coverage with the event itself can be challenging at times • 2. Enormous array of media voices in the United States with conflicting views • 3. Vast individual choice in media selection • Extent of News Media’s influence? • Modest influence of some News Anchors • Role ofSelective Perception?*
Selective Perception A phenomenon in which people perceive the same event: (How & why?) What is the role of selective perception in forming Public Opinion? Re-enforces what?_______ & dismisses what?__________
Media Influence • When is the News Media most likely to influence someone’s opinion? • When individual’s knowledge about specific issueis what? • Or… when the person has ? opinion about the issue • So what is the Media’s main role wrt shaping Public Opinion?*
Media Influence What exactly does the Media influence? The media plays a major role in shaping thepolitical ?________. The Media’s influence is over what people think about; (Not so much what they actually think)
Political Agenda The list of issuesconsidered important and that government officials are actively debating.
News Media & Political Agenda: Summary • The Media’s primary influence is over whatAmericans think about, and its ability to set (?) • The Political Agenda • list of issues considered important to Public interest • Worthy of attention & political discussion or debate • Impact of News Media on Political Agenda: • Significant power to shape the Public’s agenda • (America’s political, economical, and social agenda) • Spotlight issues considered by Media to be important • Alert & grab attention of public & government officials • Several factors determine Media’s choices (later)
The News Media and Government • Impact of coverage on government officials? • Focus on an issue => alert public=> • Exerts public pressure forcing Government to act • Examples: • Iraq’s killing of Kurds following Persian Gulf War • War lords’ starvation of people of Somalia • Widespread looting in Baghdad following US occupation • FEMA’s poor management of disaster relief • NIE view conflicting with that of President on Iraq War • Neglect of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed & VA outpatient care • Public awareness (by Media) forced Government response
News Media and the Government The Two Way Street: The media affects government officials while at the same time government officials often try toinfluence the media as well
Two Way Street: Media <=> Government • Government officials attempt to influence coverage • President especially has great sway on issue covered • Success of Iraqi election & counter criticism on lack of progress • In many cases => Media follows Government lead, while in others the Government finds itself in damage control • As a result the Government tries to gain favorable coverage • How - through what?*
? Control The practice of trying to persuade journalists to cover news stories in ways that put policies one likes in the most favorable light.
Changes in the News Media • 3 key changes in New Media’s past 200 years: • 1. changes in theconventionsof journalism • 2. changes in the way the public gets its news • Thesourcesproviding news to the public • 3. changes in the pattern of media ownership
Changes inJournalistic ConventionsTheEvolution of press standards of coverage: • Partisan press=> blatant supporter of particular party • Penny ?___________=> revolutionized journalism • Mass circulation – affordable to literate population • Emphasized human interest stories – attract readers • Advertising & sales covered costs => no party ties • ? journalism* => sensational coverage (Box 8-1) • “Remember the Maine” => Spanish-American War • Muckraking* => investigative reporting (Magazines) • ?__________ Press* => today’s theoretical standard: • Appeal to divergent views=> mass circulation=> $$$ • *Key Termsto remember=>*
The Evolution of Journalism Yellow Journalism A form of journalism, popular at the end of the nineteenth century, thatemphasized?__________ and sometimes ?__________newscoverage.
The Evolution of Journalism Muckraking Early form of ?____________ Journalism popular at the Beginning of 20th century
The Evolution of Journalism Objective Journalism A form of journalism that developed in the 1920s and which continues to predominate today. It emphasizes that journalists should strive to?____________________ out of their coverage of the news.
Changes in Readership and Viewership • “Explosion of news information” 1950 => 2000+ • What does this “explosion of news” hide? • Hides 4 important changes:* • Decline in Newspapers* (with rise of what?) • Rise of ?_________________ TV • Rise of ?_________________ Radio • Rapid growth of the ?_________________
Decline of Newspaper Readers % Total number of newspapers + Decline of total number of newspapers read in the United States, from 1945 to 2004
Trends in Regular News Consumption- % of US Population 1993-2004: Broadcast TV* News versus Cable TV*?
Impact of Cable TV • Rise of cable TV=> increased competition • Result:Broadcast TV forced to cut budgets • Corporate owners stress profits over news • Overseas News Bureaus coverage hardest hit • Declining viewers=> shift to cable=> • Means less advertising $$$=> more Budget cuts • Also: as more TV used as news source: • More emphasis on image & style • less in-depth analysis => • Result: less informed public
Other Sources: Talk Radio & Internet • Rise of Talk Radio=>promotes active political debate • Debate: clarify or distort issues? • Conservative bias? Representative cross section of Nation? • Rapid growth of Internet=> • 50+% US homes w/access and growing • Especially true w/young=> source of news • More than doubled as news source since 1998 • Advantage: rapid & tailored dissemination • Excellent potential resource for research & education • www.Congress.org • Disadvantage: accuracy (rumors & untruths) • no accountability and vulnerable to manipulation & rumor • Also:
Changes in Media Ownership • Rise of Corporation ownership => priority? • ?_______________________! • Potential impact on news quality & objectivity? • Increased trend toward concentration of ownership- Result? • Result: number of owners ?_________________ => • Consolidation & focus more on $$$ • And less on ?_____________ news • Telecomm Competition & Deregulation Act • Eliminated many restrictions on media ownership=> • Further concentration => which results in turn=> • Increased % of public reached by a few elite owners
Consolidation of the News Number of corporations Any Problem? Consolidation of news outlets from 1981 to 2000
Concerns about Consolidation • Concerns of critics of more concentrated ownership: • Diversity of news coverage & op-ed diminished • More homogenizednews/view acceptable to owners • Result:restricts rather than promotes political debate • Offsetting checks to decrease impact of ownership concentration • 1. Fed regulatory actions to promote diversity of opinions • 2. Expansion of cable TV & internet=> new info sources • 3. $$$ motive => incentive to meet needs of audience
Freedom of the Press “Our liberty depends on freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Thomas Jefferson Source of this guaranteed protection? • Is Freedom of the Press absolute? Are there any restrictions?
Limits to Press Freedom • Two major categories of constraints: • 1. ?______ Checks* limiting freedom of action • 2. ?__________ Policies* limiting press access
Limits to Press Freedom • Legal checks on freedom of the press: • 1. ?___________ laws => • press can’t unjustly injure reputations • 2.?____________ laws => • seldom a problem for news coverage • 3. ?____________ restraint => • Rarely applied (any exceptions?) Any other constraints on Press freedom?
Other factors constraining press freedom: • 4. ?_______________ secrecy=> classified documents • Requires government clearances (or leak) to see • FOIA* attempts to make government declassify documents • 5. ?__________ pressure=> reporters depend on access • Threats, cut off contact, accusations of bias reporting • Without access => no story => press self-restraint • 6. ?__________ access=> US military operations (OPSEC) • Concern for press safety (more likely distraction) • Military L/L:Vietnam => Grenada* => PG war • Pool reporting => press dissatisfaction=> “unilaterals” • Recent trends: more controlled access go it alone • “Embedding” reporters with the troops • First hand reporting from the front through a “soda straw”
Reporting the News • What exactly is the Media’s tremendous power … (again)? • The Media sets the ?_____________________ • So the Media plays key role in deciding what? • Media decides what actually ?___________________ • Uses its subjective judgment to select what it considers news => • Applies three specific criteria – which are?
Media’s 3 criteria for Selecting the News • __________ • __________ • __________
What Is News? • Subjective judgment applying the 3 specific criteria: • 1. ___________ => bad news & corruption bias trumps good news • 2. ______________=> closer to home trumps farther away • 3. ___________=> w/time stories fade as yesterday’s news • Other selection influences: • Pack journalism=> common desire to not miss story • Distinct weakness of pack=> subject of manipulation • If one News outlet gets it wrong- the rest may also... • TV video factor => action images trump talking heads • Major Shortfalls of above selection criteria: • 1. Important stories may fail to meet above criteria • 2. Over time => urgency & public interest in story fades • Even though facts of event remain as first reported => • Urgency of & interest in the story declines with time
Telling the Story • How the news is reported => • Media faced with many subjective choices • Total objectivity & impartiality is simply impossible • Hard choices have to made- many stories left out • Attempts to minimize subjective reporting • Four rules are used by responsible journalists • What are these four rules?
Four Rules for Journalists • 1. Keep ?___________________out of story. • No advocacy/preference for one side or the other • 2. Avoidusing obviously ?______________ words* • 3. Get ?________________of the story • Sometimes not always practical (Daniel Pearl) • 4. Use ?_______________ sources for information • Cite true experts- • (Usually mid-high government officials) Any exceptions to above rules?
Exceptions to the Rules • US at war – (patriotism hard to completely avoid) • Value laden words used on more frequent basis • Terrorist vs. freedom fighter or Killed vs. massacred • Suicide Bomber vs. Martyr • Value laden Images* have an even greater impact: • Image: Students kissing ground following Grenada “rescue” • The slant *in news coverage (certain angle of view & tone) • Getting both sides all the time risks distorting issue • Jews vs. Nazis contrasting views of the Holocaust • Responsible sources & experts present unique problem • Many FP stories rely on Government expert/officials – problem? • Government position or slant invariably pushed • Political & $$$ experts give elite perspective or bias • Applied to interview or discussion of event or issue
Six Common Complaints about the Media: • 1. They are ideologically biased. • 2. They are excessively cynical. • 3. They increasingly treat news as entertainment. • 4. They do a poor job of covering elections. • 5. They do a poor job of reporting election results. • 6. They complicate the task of governing by reporting stories based on leaks & confidential government sources for classified information. Let’s examine these in greater detail
Evaluating the News Media • Ideological Bias: • Is the Media bias in their reporting? • Ideological leanings in contrast to rest of nation? • Liberal or Conservative? • Focus of media’s attention is current White House occupant • Both Bush and Clinton complained about coverage
Cynicism • A tendency of News Media to focus on what? • “good news is”? • “watchdog” vs. “attack dog” • Historical trends of News Media • Before and after Watergate => • more vs. less trust • Media became more adversarial towards Gov. officials & institutions • In past more likely to give office holders the benefit of doubt • Press avoided photos of FDR in wheel chair • Ignored rumors of JFK’s infidelity • Clinton got no such slack • Nor President Bush re. reasons for Iraq War or lack of rapid Federal response to Katrina or progress in Iraq
News as Entertainment • Recent trends to treat news as entertainment • Why? • Competition for viewers is ? => soft news • More viewers => more TV ads => more $$$ • “If it bleeds it leads”=> • Result=> interesting news over perhaps the more important
The News Media on the Campaign Trail • Major criticisms of News Media’s campaign coverage Horse-race journalism=> • Focus: who’s in the lead? • (instead of the issues that matter) • Photo ops=> staged events easier to cover • Designed to flatter candidate & provide TV images • Diminishing sound bite* • A short excerpt from a person’s speech or conversation that appears on radio or television news – • News media’s motive?* • Result: rehearsed Bumper-sticker responses during interviews on complex political issues
Length of Average Campaign Sound bite grows shorter with time Total number of seconds Result?*
Media’s Response to Critics • Media’s response: • Allot marginally more time & space to issues & hard news about candidate • Candidates response to Media’s response? • Bypass press & speak directly to voters – how? • Problem with bypassing professional news media? • Interviewer’s training or inclination to ask ?_____________ questions as opposed to ?_________________________
Reporting Leaks • Who leaks and why? (four reasons)* • 1. Move issue to political ?___________________ • Administration’s “trial balloon” or … • Make public aware of sensitive info for either political or perceived ethical reasons • 2. Mobilize public opposition of burgeoning policy • 3. Send a message • 4. Damage a colleague • Do leaks jeopardize National Security? • Also a balance of priorities: Freedom vs. Security • NTLleaks remain important journalistic tool • It’s also useful to government as well
News Media & Democracy:Assessment • US News Media is far from perfect: • Bias reporting & slants do seep in • Reporters have become too cynical at times • Hard news looses out to soft news & entertainment • Campaigns emphasize contest over content • Leaks often attempt to manipulate media coverage • Public & even media freely criticize poor reporting • Motivates media to improve & reform • Media remain vital component to democratic process • How else can people monitor their government?
Next Week’s Assignment (Week 7) • Tuesday: Chapter 9: Political Parties • Learning Objectives 1-11 • Thursday: Chapter 10: Interest Groups • Learning Objectives 1- 8 • Week 8: • Tuesday: Review & Preparation (Quiz) • Thursday: Midterm EXAM (MTX) • Reminder: Submission of Thesis statement & minimum of 4 sources due by Midterm Exam
The News Media:KEY TERMS – • Broadcast television: Television stations that make their programming available over the airwaves without charge. Most local cable companies include broadcast television channels as part of their basic package of services. • Cable television: Television programming not originally transmitted over the air, as with broadcast television, but rather carried via coaxial or fiber optic cable into the homes of people who pay a monthly fee. • Equal-time provision: A federal law that stipulates that if a radio or television station gives or sells air time to a candidate for political office, it must provide all candidates for public office with access to the airwaves under the same conditions. • Fairness doctrine: A regulation of the FCC adopted in 1949 and repealed in 1987. It required broadcasters to provide “reasonable opportunities for the expression of opposing views on controversial issues of public importance.” • Federal Communications Commission (FCC):An independent federal agency that regulates interstate and international communication by radio, television, telephone, telegraph, cable, and satellite. • Freedom of Information Act: An act of Congress passed in 1966 that created a system through which anyone can petition the government to declassify secret documents. • Horse-race journalism: News coverage of elections that focuses on which candidate is leading in the polls rather than on the substantive issues in the campaign.
G-8 Key Terms (2) • Leaks: Confidential government information surreptitiously given to journalists. • Muckraking: An early form of investigative journalism popular at the beginning of the twentieth century. • Objective press: A form of journalism that took hold in the 1920s and which continues to predominate today. It emphasizes that journalists should strive to keep their opinions out of their coverage of the news. • Photo opportunities: Events that political candidates and government officials stage to allow newspaper photographers and television news crews to take flattering photos. • Political agenda: The list of issues that people think are important and that government officials are actively debating. • Pool reporting: A system the Defense Department instituted in the 1980s for reporting from a combat zone during wartime. With pool reporting, military officials escort small groups of reporters when they interview American troops. • Selective perception: A phenomenon in which people perceive the same event differently because they have different beliefs and personal experiences. • Sound bite: A short excerpt from a person’s speech or conversation that appears on radio or television news. • Spin control: The practice of trying to persuade journalists to cover news stories in ways that put policies one likes in the most favorable light. • Talk radio: Political talk shows on radio. Since the early 1990s, talk radio has emerged as an important force in American politics. • Yellow journalism: A form of journalism, popular at the end of the nineteenth century, that emphasized sensational and sometimes lurid news coverage.
Broadcast TV v. Cable TV Television stations that make their programming available over the airwaves without charge. Most local cable companies include broadcast television channels as part of their basic package of services. Television programming not originally transmitted over the air, as with broadcast television, but rather carried via coaxial or fiber optic cable into the homes of people who pay a monthly fee.