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Chapter 10. Mass Media and American Politics. Essential Questions. How does a politician use the media to talk to the public and how does the public use the media to talk to a politician? Does the media assist, impede or transform these messages?. The Mass Media Today.

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Mass Media and American Politics

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Presentation Transcript
essential questions
Essential Questions
  • How does a politician use the media to talk to the public and how does the public use the media to talk to a politician?
  • Does the media assist, impede or transform these messages?
the mass media today
The Mass Media Today
  • Modern political success depends upon control of the media.
  • Image making does not stop with the campaign
  • It is a critical element in day to day governing since politicians’ image s in the press are good indicators of their clout.
  • The 30 second president.
meet the master of the mass media
Meet the Master of the Mass Media
  • 7 principles of Reagan

Plan ahead

Stay on the offensive

Control the flow of information

Limit reporter’s access

Talk about the issues you want to talk about

Speak in one voice

Repeat the same message many times

development of media politics
Development of Media Politics
  • First it was newspapers
  • FDR first President to use media to an advantage-1000 press conferences including “fire-side chats”
  • Vietnam creates an adversarial press/government relationship that is reinforced by the Watergate scandal.
  • Now the perspective of the press is investigative reporting—”dirty-laundry”
television as mass media
Television as Mass Media
  • Broadcast journalism replaces print journalism as the predominant for of news and information.
  • 1960’s debate between Kennedy and Nixon in Black and White
  • Nation was taken to war with Nixon, exposed the gov’tnaivite/ lying about the progress of war…today, embedded reporters
  • Cable follows/24-7 news/internet
mass media regulation
Mass Media Regulation
  • Ownership by large corporations-dispels the myth of the “liberal press”( Rupert Murdoch owner of Fox News)
  • Regulation-FCC licensing controls-created in 1934 by Congress
  • FCC is an independent regulatory body but is subject to political pressures
mass media and regulation
Mass Media and Regulation
  • FCC regulates media markets in several ways.
    • Prevents monopolies of broadcast markets-limit on number of stations owned by same corporation
    • FCC conducts evaluations of media outlet for conformity to regulation
    • FCC has issued a number of fair treatment rules regarding access to airwave for political candidates and office holders
fairness doctrine
Fairness Doctrine
  • FCC required those with broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public concern in a fair, equitable light
  • Not to be confused with equal time rule
  • Supreme Court upheld FCC power to enforce fairness doctrine but not an obligation to do so. Red Lion Broadcasting vs. FCC (1969)
  • 1987-FCC abolished Fairness Doctrine-leads to growth of ideological news sources
mass media regulation1
Mass Media Regulation
  • Internet adds a whole new element
  • Narrow-casting-increase of broadcast channels that are oriented toward particularly narrow audiences
  • Traditional broadcasts are being replaced by blogs, The Daily Show, websites and misinterpreted YouTube postings
  • Does the FCC have the legal right to regulate the Web?
reporting the news
Reporting the News
  • American media is free and independent when it comes to journalistic content, yet completely dependent upon advertising revenues to keep the business going.
  • Profits shape how journalists define what is newsworthy, where they get their info and how they report it.
  • TV networks report the news, it is said, as to what is entertaining to the average viewer.
media conglomerates
Media Conglomerates
media conglomerates1
Media Conglomerates
  • Gannet owns USA Today and controls the biggest circulation in the nation + owns 100 additional papers -23 TV stations 19% of the market
  • Rupert Murdoch owns 124 radio stations, New York Post, Weekly Standard, and FOX News
case study viacom
Case Study - Viacom
  • Media Conglomerate – Viacom
  • CBS News Comedy Central
  • MTV Time Warner Cable
  • VH1 Spike
  • BET
  • Blockbuster
  • Paramount Pictures
  • Nickelodeon
  • DreamWorks
  • Showtime
role of the media
Role of the Media
  • Gatekeeper: influence what subjects become national political issues, and for how long
  • Scorekeeper: the national media help make political reputations, horserace journalism
  • Watchdog: Following closely the front-runner candidates, searching for any past or current history that will make “news”—media maintains close eye on all important happenings of major candidates
horserace journalism
Horserace Journalism
  • Media coverage that focuses on poll results and political battles instead of policy issues
  • Refers to almost exclusive reporting on candidate differences rather than similarities
media s effect on political preferences
Media’s effect on political preferences?
  • It’s unclear…research is lacking


  • TV may influence the political agenda
  • People unlikely to take cues from the media about things that affect them personally
  • Media usually does more to REINFORCE beliefs than CHANGE opinion
media and political campaigns
Media and Political Campaigns
  • Advertising – very expensive on TV, way to reach many voters, raising campaign costs
  • News coverage – “free” coverage, politicians will attempt to create events where media will attend for free publicity
    • Spin doctor – one who tries to influence journalists with interpretations of events that are favorable to the candidate
  • Presidential Debates
impact of media on politics
Impact of Media on Politics
  • “sound bites” – seconds long segments
  • Stories/political messages are shortened, and made to seem less complex than reality
trends in news coverage media primary link to american politics linkage institution
Trends in News Coveragemedia = primary link to American politics(linkage institution)
  • TV: news reduced to 15-45 second sound bites
  • Rise of Talk Radio
    • 9 out of 10 Americans listen to radio (esp. in cars)
trends in news coverage media primary link to american politics
Trends in News Coveragemedia = primary link to American politics
  • Newspapers: even w/ competition from Internet & cable, 63 million Americans read the paper
    • National papers:
    • Intense advertising competition
    • 60% of cities have competing newspapers
criticism of the media
Criticism of the Media
  • Profit Motive: Strong competition, must keep one step ahead
  • Sensationalism and “feeding frenzy”
  • Homogenization of the news: uniform consistency
  • Bias
  • Irresponsible