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Mass Media and Public Policy Popular Conceptions of the Media Popular Conceptions of the Media Popular Conceptions of the Media Defining Mass Media "Media" = Institutions that control communications technologies that comprise a crucial means of political communication.

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defining mass media
Defining Mass Media
  • "Media" = Institutions that control communications technologies that comprise a crucial means of political communication.
  • "Mass" media = products (messages) are "mass-produced"
  • So, mass-mediated communication = messages made available to large groups of people through technology.
the power of the media is
The Power of the Media is
  • to define and interpret events and issues; to provide "the pictures in our heads"
  • to provide the constant threat/promise of publicity
  • to enhance or inhibit communication among and between citizens and officials
struggles over the power of the media involve
Struggles over the power of the media involve
  • >>>Access to the media<<<
  • Control/influence over the media
  • Proper role of the media in democracy
what does the mass media consist of
What does the mass media consist of?
  • Daily newspapers
  • Internet
  • Over 450 weekly magazines
  • Weekly papers
  • Many more specialty magazines—
  • TV stations, TVs in 98 percent of all households
  • Cable systems hundreds of channels
wow this sounds like incredible diversity of channels
Wow, this sounds like incredible diversity of channels
  • 1920: 700 cities with competing papers
  • 1990: only 12 cities had newspaper competition
  • 2000: less than 10
  • Most papers are parts of chains of newspapers, such as Hearst, Gannett, Times-Mirror, or McClatchy.
  • Why does this matter?
wow this sounds like incredible diversity of channels10
Wow, this sounds like incredible diversity of channels
  • Seven thousand cities in the US have no local newspaper at all.
  • TV news organizations buy footage from centralized suppliers
  • More outlets do not equal more choices.
what is news
What is news?
  • A representation
  • A product
what news is not
What news is not:
  • a neutral "mirror" of the world.
  • reporter-generated (usually).
what sort of norms do journalists follow
What sort of norms do journalists follow
  • Fairness
  • Balance
  • Accuracy
  • No obvious ideological bias
  • The problem with this: news coverage is often more “objectivistic” than objective.
deciding what s news the gatekeeping process
Deciding What's News: The "Gatekeeping" Process
  • "relevance"/familiarity to audience/proximity(->personalization)
  • violence, conflict, disaster or scandal (-> dramatization)
  • timeliness and novelty (-> fragmentation)
  • subjects getting government attn (-> normalization)
pressures on reporters
Pressures On Reporters:
  • Pressures to cooperate w/official sources
  • Pressures to standardize the news to fit with organizational constraints:
    • "News hole"
    • Time
    • Beats
    • Camera crews/bureaus
    • Media attributes (e.g. visuals for TV)
  • Pressures to agree with "the pack"
ideological bias in the eye of the beholder
Ideological bias: in the eye of the beholder?
  • This bias runs with the current ideological consensus of the times
  • AIM and FAIR are both reflections of how bias can be found no matter where or how you look.
  • We all “find” ideological bias in the things we read
  • Journalists are not in some ungodly conspiracy to brainwash us (they have to report to editors and owners)
meaning of bias both empirical and normative
Meaning of "bias" = both empirical and normative:
  • news is necessarily a systematically patterned/distorted representation of the world. Why?
    • There isn’t enough time to cover everything
    • There aren’t enough resources to cover everything.
  • a critique: news doesn't have to be patterned/distorted in these particular ways. If we are sensitive to these biases we can overcome them.
lance bennett news contains information biases
Lance Bennett: News contains "information biases."
  • Personalization: what does it mean to say the news is personalized?
  • Dramatization
  • Fragmentation
  • Normalization and consensus journalism
  • Consider the political costs of all this
why is news patterned this way
Why is news patterned this way?
  • It’s cheaper—thereby guaranteeing profit margins
  • Audience Characteristics
  • How do journalists defend themselves?
    • We’re just a reflection of the world.
    • People choose what to consume—they’re not stupid
    • This is what people want, as measured by ratings
  • The result of all this: the most restricted range of choices of information in the democratic world
    • The news is biased because of the very safeguards to ensure “fairness” not objectivity
graber s muckraking cycle
Graber’s Muckraking cycle
  • Journalistic investigation
  • Publication
  • Public opinion
  • Policy Initiatives
  • Policy consequences
things don t always work the way the model would suggest
Things don’t always work the way the model would suggest
  • An investigation may not yield publication
  • Publication may not stir public opinion (Whitewater)
  • Even when public opinion is stirred, policy initiatives may not result
  • Even when policy initiatives result, those consequences may not result.
  • if something does happen, we may never know (fragmentation)
other benefits of investigative journalism
Other Benefits of Investigative Journalism
  • It might alter the behavior of viewers, as with stories on how to protect yourself against crime or fires
  • Or it might alter the behavior of bad guys (“leaping impact” muckraking)
is public opinion actually mobilized
Is public opinion actually mobilized?
  • We know from the media effects studies that this sort of influence of the media is sort of hard to measure and prove
  • Is there any necessary relationship between public opinion and actual policy change?
agenda setting and agenda building
Agenda setting and “agenda building”
  • Doris Graber: Agenda building is when the media “create a political climate that determines the likely thrust of public opinions.”
  • Examples Watergate, economic recovery policy
alternative selection
Alternative selection
  • The media can influence this by determining the acceptable range of opinions
  • This become obvious when they cover “both” sides of a story, as if there were only two.
adoption and enactment are often treated as dramas
Adoption and enactment are often treated as dramas
  • Conflicts between competing actors on highly personal grounds
  • These conflicts are often the result of a set of institutional and constitutional processes
implementation and feedback
Implementation and feedback
  • Covered when there is some sort of failure or conflict in the implementation of a program
  • Prime example: waste, fraud and abuse
  • Which gets us to the liberty/security tradeoff, and the efficiency criterion
your goals as an advocate
Your goals, as an advocate
  • Get your ideas out there
    • May yourself and your group available to journalists
  • Influence the agenda
    • Don’t tell people what to think—tell them what to think about
    • This is where the op-ed assignment comes in.
your goal getting your ideas out there
Your goal: getting your ideas out there
  • Persuading people that there’s a problem (this week’s assignment)
  • Persuading people that there are good solutions.
how do you work with the media
How do you work with the media?
  • Cultivate relationships with editors and reporters
  • Send press releases
    • Text
    • Raw video
    • Raw audio
who do i want to reach
Who do I want to reach?
  • What types of people?
    • General public
    • Specialists and experts
  • Where are these people?
    • Nationwide
    • Regional
    • State
    • Local
what outlets can i use to reach people
What outlets can I use to reach people?
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Internet
    • Web sites
    • Blogs
    • Other? (Youtube, Facebook, etc.)
what sort of things attract the media
What sort of things attract the media?
  • Topical news conferences
  • Protests and rallies
  • Sponsoring famous and controversial speakers
  • Developing a reputation for expertise
the assignment an op ed piece
The Assignment: An Op-Ed Piece
  • What makes a good op-ed piece?
    • Timeliness
    • Good writing—no big words. No long sentences
    • Logical analysis
    • Brevity. No more than 750 words.
    • A compelling story and argument
    • Two examples: one published, one not. (these aren’t perfect!)