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The Media and Politics

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  1. The Media and Politics Politics in the Age of Mass Media

  2. Media and Elections • Politicians and media have a symbiotic relationship • Media focus on conflict and negative advertisements • Media focus on frontrunners and the horserace • Campaigns focus on spin and soundbites

  3. Media and Politics • Theories of Media and Politics • Patterson • Sabato • Zaller • Media and Elections • Debates • Conventions • Ads

  4. Patterson’s Out of Order • Trends in media coverage of elections • Tone of coverage  Positive to negative • Style  Descriptive to interpretive • Issues  Policy issues to reporters’ issues

  5. Patterson’s Out of Order Consequences • Tone of coverage  Positive to negative Consequence: Voters distrust candidates, government, media • Style  Descriptive to interpretive Consequence: Voters less informed • Issues  Policy issues to reporters’ issues Consequence: Voters adopt media frames/primes

  6. Sabato’s Feeding Frenzy • Lapdog journalism (1941-1966) • Reporting that served and reinforced the political establishment. • Watchdog (1966-1974) • Scrutinized and checked the behavior of political elites by undertaking independent investigations into statements made by public officials. • Junkyard dog (1974 to present) • Reporting that is often and harsh, aggressive intrusive, where feeding frenzies flourish and gossip reaches print.

  7. Causes of the Feeding Frenzy • Advances in media technology • Competitive pressure • Political events

  8. Zaller’s Theory of Media Politics • Theory of campaign coverage needs to take into account the different interests of voters, media, and candidates • Voters: "Don’t waste my time"; "Tell me only what I need to know" • Candidates: Use journalists to "Get Our Story Out" • Journalists: Maximize their "voice" in the news

  9. Media and Elections: Debates • 1960: First Televised Debate • 1984: Reagan’s Age • "I will not make age an issue in this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." • 1988 - “You’re no Jack Kennedy” • 1988 - Death Penalty • 1992 - Price of milk? • 2000 - Gore (sighing)

  10. Media and Elections: Conventions • In the past, party conventions were much more important • Today, they are media events • Nothing new happens • Scripted events, speeches • Today, conventions usually give candidates a positive bump in the “horserace” • These bumps are short-lived

  11. Media and Elections: Ads • Political advertising: positive vs. negative • Positive advertising • Seek to define yourself before your opponent does it for you • Negative advertising • Does it work? • Yes  Voters remember negative ads longer than positive ads • Negative ads provide information to voters

  12. 1964 – Daisy Spot 1988 – Willie Horton 2000 - Meatball