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AP Government The Mass Media
Introduction • Key Definitions • A medium is a means of communication • Media is the plural of medium • The mass media are means of communication, such as newspapers, radio, television, and the internet, that can reach large, widely dispersed audiences.
Introduction • Key Functions of Mass Media • Entertainment • The mass media emphasizes entertainment • Popular programs are continued, while programs that receive low ratings are cancelled. • News Reports • American newspapers have reported political news since the late 18th century. For example, newspapers printed the Federalist Papers as part of their coverage of the debate over the ratification of the Constitution. • Radio and television stations provide their audiences with varying degrees of news programming.
Introduction • Key Functions of Mass Media (cont.) • Creation of Political Forums • Politicians use the mass media to promote their careers and draw public attention to their issues. • The president has direct access to the media and is thus able to use it to help set the policy agenda. • The Mass Media As Linkage Institutions • The mass media connect people to their government officials by interviewing citizens, presenting poll results, and covering protests. • The mass media connect government officials to the public by interviewing political leaders and reporting on government committees and programs.
Introduction • TEST TIP • The mass media, political parties, and interest groups are key linkage institutions. Be sure that you can identify these linkage institutions and explain the ways they connect citizens to the government.
Types of Mass Media • Print Media • The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal are America’s most influential newspapers. • Most newspapers rely on the Associated Press news agency for national and international stories. • Newspaper circulation rates have steadily declined as a result of competition from television and the Internet. In 1960, 50% of adults regularly purchased a newspaper. Today, the figure has fallen to just 20%.
Types of Mass Media • Print Media (cont.) • Magazines • Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report are America’s most widely read and influential news magazines. • Magazine circulation rates have fallen sharply as a result of competition from the Internet. • Broadcast Media • Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to take advantage of radio. During the Great Depression, FDR use what he called “Fireside Chats” to reassure the American people and discuss his New Deal programs. • Most radio stations now devote little time to reporting political news. • Within recent years, nationally syndicated talk show hosts have begun to play a prominent and controversial role in discussing political issues. Leading conservative commentators include Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Leading liberal commentators include Thomas Hartmann and Rachel Maddow.
Types of Mass Media • Broadcast Media (cont.) • Television • The 1960 presidential debates between Senator John F. Kennedy ad Vice President Richard Nixon marked a watershed event when television replaced newspapers and radio as America’s principal source of political news. • Over 98% of American households own at least one television. • The three major networks – NBC, CBS, ABC – have historically dominated political coverage with their nightly news programs and news specials. However, the networks are experiencing a steady decline of viewership as more and more people turn to cable stations and the Internet. • Cable networks such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC now provide continuous coverage of national and international news.
Types of Mass Media • Broadcast Media (cont.) • The Internet • Although television continues to be the most widely used source for political news, the Internet is rapidly becoming a key source of information for the American people. • The Internet is especially popular among people under the age of 30. • Many websites such as Politico.com and the Huffington Post provide extensive coverage of political issues and policymakers. • Web blogs now facilitate rapid communication between the public and government policymakers.
The Media and Politics • Agenda Setting • The policy agenda consists of issues that attract the serious attention of public officials. • The mass media play an important role in drawing public attention to particular issues. • Candidate Centered Political Campaigns • Political campaigns have become more centered on candidates and less focused on issues. • The mass media contribute to the candidate-centered campaigns in the following ways: • By replacing speeches and dialogues with sound bites that average just 7.8 seconds in length. • By focusing on day-to-day campaign activities such as rallies, gaffes, scandals, and negative commercials. • By engaging in “horse-race journalism.” which emphasizes how candidates stand in the polls instead of where they stand on a issue.
The Media and Politics • TEST TIP • The mass media is an important linkage institution. However, its political role has not been reflected on AP U.S. Government and Politics exams. Of the 360 released multiple-choice questions, less than 10 focused on the mass media. Of the 44 free-response questions asked between 1999 and 2009, just 2 have focused on the mass media. Given this minimal coverage do not spend too much of your time reviewing the mass media. All of the key points asked thus far are included in this power point.