Pearson LongmanPoliticalScienceInteractive Shea, Green, and Smith Living Democracy, Second Edition Chapter 11: The Politics of the Media
Evolution of News Media in the United States: Print Media • Newspapers were the first example of news media • Ben Franklin – “Poor Richard’s Almanack” • Published in the colonies as early 1690 • Anti-federalists vs. federalists 1700s and Partisan Newspapers • Partisan press gave way to penny press • Penny press focus on scandal • Yellow journalism • Form of newspaper publishing in the late 1800s featuring pictures, comics, color, and sensationalized, oversimplified news coverage • Hearst and Pulitzer • Muckraking • Form of journalism in the early 20th century, concerned with reforming gov’t and business conduct
Radio News • Advent in early 1900s, was media revolution • Brought political figures into homes • Radio Act of 1927 • Established the airwaves as a public good, subject to governmental oversight • Fell behind television in mid-50s • AM talk radio in mid-80s revival • Conservative commentators dominate • Liberal talk-radio less success • Satellite radio • President’s weekly radio address
Television News • First demonstrated in 1939 • Expanded quickly • Importance of image: Nixon vs. Kennedy • Public trusted news anchors • Network vs. Cable news • Increasing Use of Experts • Narrowcasting: Targeting media programming at specific populations within society • Comedy news programs • Regular viewers of The Daily Show (Jon Stewart) and The Colbert Report found to know more about politics and world events than non-viewers • This holds true even when education, party identification, watching cable news, etc. taken into account. Source: Pew Research Center
The Internet as a news source • Media consumers, especially under 35, abandoning traditional media outlets – now 24% claim to get their news online.
The Internet as a source for political information • Government information on Internet • Thomas – Library of Congress • The White House • House and Senate • Obama’s weekly internet address • Recovery.gov • Blogs: web-based journal entries that provide an editorial and news outlet for citizens • Top blogs • Lack of journalistic standards • Social networking sites • Facebook, Twitter, MySpace • International News Internet Access by Selected Characteristics: 2003 (in percentages)
The Influence of Media Giants • Only a handful of media outlets are influential nationally. • New York Times • Wall Street Journal • USA Today • Christian Science Monitor • Washington Post • Los Angeles Times • Have reach through own circulation, but also influence what other major news organizations decide to focus on. • Affiliates • Wire services also nationalize the news. • News magazines also supplement these other sources. • Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report
Governmental Regulations Libertarian View The media should show what they thinkthe public wants, without concern for consequences. Social Responsibility Theory The media need to balance what the public wants with what’s good for it. • Journalistic standards, informal self-governance • Ethics and standards taught in journalism school • Self-censorship: example - papers choose not to publish names of rape victims • Government regulation of electronic media • FCC established in Communications Act of 1934 • Libel and Slander laws (ny times v. sullivan) • Content regulation • Equal time rule • Fairness doctrine • Efforts to regulate media practices • New York Times Co. v. U.S. (1971) “Pentagon Papers”
How the Media Cover Politicians And Government • Press release: document offering official comment or position • Press briefing: relatively restricted session between press secretary or aide and the press • Press conference: an unrestricted session between an elected official and the press • On background: information provided to a journalist that will not be attributed to a named source • Deep background: information provided to a journalist that will not be attributed to any source • Off the record: information provided to a journalist that will not be released to the public • On the record: information provided to a journalism that can be released and attributed by name to the source
Pathways of Action: The Strategic Use of Leaks and Pseudo-Events Why do public officials leak information to the press? A “trial balloon” Sway public opinion Personalize stories To get information from those who are publicity shy What are pseudo-events? Media events staged by politicians to show themselves in the best light possible.
Covering the Presidency • President is focus of the most media coverage • most of it negative • Honeymoon period • Press Secretary: now Robert Gibbs • Position existed since Hoover • President’s main disseminator of information to press • G.W. Bush and image control • Record low number of press conferences • Officials need permission • Hand-picked audiences • Obama – reverse course
Covering Congress • Size of Congress and its decentralized nature make it difficult for the media to cover it • Solve this problem by: • Giving leaders most attention • Key committee chairs command center stage. • Local papers and stations devote some resources to covering own representatives. • Coverage tends to be negative • Focus on conflict • May be part of the reason people view Congress so negatively • Investigative hearings may be televised
Covering the Supreme Court • Supreme Court a virtual media vacuum • Broadcast media ban in Court • Use of audio recordings • No cameras, but print and broadcast reporters have access to the Court • Confirmation hearings an exception
Social Effects of the Media Three important societal functions of the media Surveillance Interpretation Socialization
Functions of the Media: Surveillance The media has a watchdog role as the “eyes and ears of the world.” Investigative reporting “Muckraking” Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle Watergate Illinois death penalty Investigative Reporting A type of journalism in which reporters thoroughly investigate a subject matter to inform the public, correct an injustice, or expose an abuse.
Functions of the Media: Interpretation • Reporting can have most influence: • On people who are uncommitted and have no strong opinions • On topics far removed from everyday life and experience • On what we think about, even if they cannot determine what we think (agenda setting) • When people rely on only one news source or sources from same ideological viewpoint – “echo chamber” • Agenda setting: the constant process of forming the list of issues to be addressed by government • Framing: the process by which a news organization defines a political issue and consequently affects opinion about the issue
Bias in the Media • The use of creative editing • The double standard • The cover-up and the switch • “Some people say”
Claim: The Media Has a Liberal Bias! • First Complaints about the “Liberal Media” • 1970s Nixon, Watergate and Vietnam • 1980s and 1990s argument that media liberally biased b/c of number of journalists who leaned left. • In late Bush years, very negative press. • Palin vs. the Media • Opinion Shows On the Left • Rachel Maddow • Keith Olbermann
Claim: The Media has a Conservative Bias! • The “Conservative Media” • Lack of a “true left” view • Clinton vs. the media • Conservative dominance of talk radio • national news media’s lack of skepticism regarding the invasion of Iraq • Fox media dominance of television ratings • Campaigns: Obama vs. Fox, • Protesters: Tea Party Movement and Fox, Town Halls and Fox • Opinion Shows On the Right • Bill O’Reilly • Glenn Beck • Sean Hannity • News Shows on Fox
Glenn Beck: examples of opinion show problems • One place to check - at Politifact or Factcheck.org • False claims, never corrected: • Director of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, "has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population.“ (no basis in fact) • Obama health care will put “everything you do” on a federal government database (no basis in fact) • Every president sworn in on a Bible (3 presidents did not, some kissed a Bible but wouldn’t swear on it) • US is only country with natural birthright provision (many countries do) • Obama has an unprecedented number of “czars” (media-created term, Bush had more of them) • Nazis and Fascists are “liberals” or “left-wingers” (definition of fascism is right-wing extremism. Fascism diametrically opposed to socialism) • Liberals want to set up panels to kill off the disabled and elderly (based on a provision on end-of-life care previously supported by conservatives.) • Stretching the truth: • Said $1.4 million of stimulus money was used to repair a door at Dyess AFB. (The doors repaired were aircraft hangar doors and the cost was $246000 out of $1.4 million in repairs funding.) • warned people not to go on the "cash for clunker's" govt. site, because there is a privacy act you have to agree to before you get your cash wherein the govt. can access your computer and get any information on you they want. (The privacy act that has to be agreed to is on the site for DEALERS participating in this program, not citizens trading in their clunkers.) • Using bad data: • "Spain is already proving that green jobs don't work. You lose two jobs for every one job you create." (based on a study by an oil industry-funded think tank using "non rigorous methodology" and lack of "transparency and supporting statistics.“) • Used fictional Congressional testimony on waterboarding – taken from TV Show “24”
The Media has a corporate bias! • Media consolidation • Media monopolies or near monopolies • could limit flow of information and free flow of ideas that form the essence of free society and that make democracy possible • Influence of Advertisers on content • Market driven media industry – bias toward ratings?
The Public’s Perception of the Media • Harvard study: Public opinion of media is relatively critical. • 89% - news media focuses too much on trivial issues • 77% - news media is politically biased • Based in fact • 82% - media coverage has too much influence on who Americans vote for • People still value the watchdog role of the news media
Functions of the Media: Socialization The media is an agent of socialization, teaching us political facts and opinions that help form our political belief structures and our political culture. Media and Cultural Change Over the past 50 years television has gone from giving very narrow portrayals of women as wives and mothers to sexually assertive and independent women, and showing that gay, bisexual and lesbian people live normal lives.