Importance of Media in the New American Democracy • Representative democracy • Citizens need to know • Events Media News • Tree falling in the forest • News shapes public opinion • Need to “make news” shapes government’s activities • Inevitable concern about Bias and Accountability
3 Potential Sources of Bias • Ideological bias of reporters/editors • Profit bias of corporate owners • Personal or selection bias of reporters
Bias in Historical Context • Party or House papers– Big Bias • Federalists, Gazette of the United State • Jeffersonians, National Gazette • Funded by government contracts, print party line • Penny Press • Depend on sales • Emergence of independent press • Muckraking, sensationalism • Increase in corporate ownership • TV, Radio & internet • 99% of houses have TV, 65% cable
Primary Source of News • Newspapers only 10% • TV and newspapers 22% • TV only 55% • Evening News audience declined 30% since 1980s • But 50 million in audience each night
Most Credible Source of News • Radio 5% • Magazines 5% • Newspapers 19% • Television 58%
Criteria for Newsworthiness • Drama, color, brevity • Human interest story are always #1 • Media loves conflict • News is New!!
Framing • Systemic explanations • the increase in natural gas prices and decline in federal heating assistance to low income families • National trend in increasing unemployment • Individual Explanations • high costs of heat- two families unable to pay heating bills • unemployed worker-- unemployed auto worker in Ohio
Framing (cont) • what is the most important cause of poverty • --78% of people who saw the national trends and high unemployment stories pointed to economic explanations (the recession) or government and society (references to Reagan’s policies) • --62% of people who saw the homeless story believed that motivation (laziness) or skills were most important.
Implications of Framing • Episodic frames encourage people to hold individual responsible for the situation they are in • thematic frames encourage people to hold the public officials responsible. • 68% of CBS news poverty related stories presented a particular victim • People are more compelling than bar graphs (better copy), cheaper, and free of criticism
Personal Selection Bias • How Accurate is Media Framing? • African Americans constitute 29% of the nation’s poor. • Surveys 50% of all poor people are black? • white Americans w/least accurate perceptions oppose welfare
Pictures of Poor on CBS News • CBS News • 66% black, 34% non-black • Reality • 29% black, 71% non-black • CBS News • 15% working, 85% non working • Reality • 51% work, 49% non-working
Media as Corporate Entity • Merger of entertainment and news • Tabloid quality of Monica-gate • Ratings driven • Emphasis on spectacle stories (Diana, JFK Jr, OJ, JonBonet) • No other news • Increasing corporate ownership • Time Warner-AOL– stock options • Disney---ABC, pedophiles at Disney? • Shift in Business Model • Profitability > Reporting
Gotcha Journalism • NBC Dateline on Valujet 1996 crash kills 110 • "our government did not do enough to protect us. It failed to implement the recommendations of its safety experts. It failed to warn us about dangers it knew of well before the crash. And one year after Flight 592 crashed here in the Florida everglades, it has failed to make sure that a similar accident cannot happen again." • "I would probably favor listing the FAA as directly causing the accident."
Was it the Gov’s fault? • ValuJet a troubled airline • string of mishaps • Fire caused by oxygen canisters labeled empty • The immediate cause of the crash, was the failure of both a private-sector airline and its private-sector contractor to follow government rules already on the books.
Increasing Gotcha Journalism • TV newsmagazine every night of the week • the rise of 24-hour-a-day cable news • viewers harder to attract • RESULT= personality-based "gotcha" stories, grounded in scandal.
Negativity Bias towards Gov • a mismatched sense of the private sector's virtue and the government's vice • Government is in spotlight • Private companies are not, How much does the Gap lose to shoplifters
Declining amount of News • Government news stories on "ABC World News Tonight" dropped from 40.2% of all stories in 1977 to 15.9% in 1997 • In 1997, Time Magazine, ¼ the number of government stories as in 1977
Less Coverage of Gov • Department of Veteran's Affairs, 2 reporters • Interior Department, not 1 • Full time Wisconsin state government reporters, 24 in 1972, 12 in 1996
48 Hours • Bad Girls What would drive well-educated suburban girls to become armed robbers? 48 Hours looks at the case of four Texas teen-agers charged after a robbery spree last year. (Dec. 28, • Dead Men Tell No Tales Tommy Lynn Sells claims he's killed scores of people over the past 18 years. And as 48 Hours reports, it was a 10-year-old girl that helped bring him to justice.
Dateline • Actor leading the fight for a cure for Parkinson’s disease • Conjoined twins Kathleen and Charity Lincoln undergo a risky operation. • Breaking away Follow four families as they struggle to move out of the housing projects. Maria Shriver reports in this Special Interactive Documentary
Conseq of Neg. Bias • undermines citizen trust in gov • Depicts public officials as self-serving • Neumann on Seinfeld • Media focus on scandal, rather than preventing • Case of Challenger Disaster
Politics in Cyberspace • Will new technologies revive democratic politics? • “Offer a means of reestablishing the connection between voters and candidates” email, chat room • “dramatically change the quality of information readily available to voters”, wide spectrum of political groups • CNN et al will develop multimedia sites devoted to political coverage • More “unmediated sources of information”
Politics in Cyberspace • Will new technologies revive democratic politics? • Will reduce the cost of political contributions .. Open the electoral process to groups and candidates who have traditionally been priced out of the political market • Voters will have more candidates to choose from • Will make it easier to participate via email • Easier to do fund raising
Politics in Cyberspace • Concerns • Fair and equitable access, certain segments of the electorate may be disadvantaged • Requires a hgih level of motivation • Rise of formal and informal neo-intermediaries
Bias in the Media • Accuracy in Media • Examples of bias • Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting • Examples of bias • Who is right • Change your perception
The Deliberately Biased Media • Article from biased sources • Differences in news coverage between the ideological press and the mainstream media
Being an intelligent citizen • Newspapers • Magazines • Commercial orientation of networks