Outline Chapter 10

Outline Chapter 10 - MASS MEDIA Any study of linkage...

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MASS MEDIA Any study of linkage institutions would be incomplete without a consideration of the role that mass media plays in the American political system. Political parties and interest groups serve as important links between citizens and government, but an increasingly important component is mass media that provides information, and also shapes, fosters, or censures it. Mass media has become such an integral part of the political system that it is sometimes called “the fourth branch” of government, and it both reflects and influences public opinion. The media link public opinion and the government, and the influence of the mass media on politics is enormous. THE FUNCTIONS AND STRUCTURE OF THE MEDIA Mass media may be broken down into three major components: print media, electronic media, and the internet. Print media has played a role in American politics almost from the beginning, when the early political parties published their own, very partisan newspapers. Electronic media became a force during the 20 th century, first with the invention of radio, and later the invention and widespread access to television. The internet first came to be used in the early 1970s by the government, and developed into a major medium of communication by the century’s end. FUNCTIONS OF THE MEDIA The mass media perform a number of functions in American society, and all have an impact on the political system. Entertainment – Radio and television both emphasize entertainment, with prime- time ratings for television often making or breaking the overall success of the networks and individual stations. Particularly in recent years politics has been a topic for entertainment, with numerous movies focused on the president as the star of fictional political sagas. A popular TV series, The West Wing , began as an obvious take-off on the real White House Office of President Bill Clinton, but it survived the transition to the very different style and personnel of George W. Bush’s staff. Popular late-night shows, such as Saturday Night Live , also entertain people with their humorous treatment of political figures and events. This type of entertainment may play an important role in political socialization, shaping opinions of political institutions and practices at the same time they are entertaining us. News Reports – Reporting the news has been a major function of print media since the early 19 th century, and newspapers and magazines remain an important source for people interested in simply finding out what is happening in the country and the world outside. Today more people rely on television than on newspapers and magazines to provide news. In the early days of television, news was generally reported early every evening in a fifteen-minute segment before the night’s entertainment began. Today network news has expanded to thirty and sixty minute segments, but cable television has made round-the-clock news reporting possible,
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Outline Chapter 10 - MASS MEDIA Any study of linkage...

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