Sidlow-10- - Chapter 10 Politics& The Media United...

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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 10 Politics & The Media United States Constitution Amendment I Congr ess shall mak e no law r especting an establishment of r eligion, or pr ohibiting the fr ee exer cise ther eof; or abr idging the fr eedom of speech, or of the pr ess; or the r ight of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the gover nment for a r edr ess of gr ievances. The Role of the Media in Democracy A free press is considered to be a vital tool of the democratic process. The exact nature of the media's influence on the political process today is difficult to characterize. What the media say and do has an impact on what Americans think about political issues. At the same time, the media also reflect what Americans think about politics. Some scholars argue that the media is the fourth `check' in our political system. Candidates and Television Of all the media, television has the greatest impact. Politicians take maximum advantage of the power and influence of television. Television, however, imposes constraints, particularly with respect to time, on how political issues are reported. News stories must be reported quickly, in only a few minutes or in only a sound bite. Because coverage by the news media is free, candidates try to take advantage of the media's interest in campaigns to increase the quantity and quality of news coverage. In recent years there has been an increase in managed news coverage news coverage that is manipulated by a campaign manager or political consultant. "Spin doctors" try to convince reporters to give the story an interpretation that is favorable to the candidate. Political Adver tising Televised political advertising first appeared during the 1952 presidential campaign. Televised political advertising consumes at least half of the total budget for a major political campaign. In the 2002 election cycle, the amount of funds spent on television advertising topped $1 billion for the first time. In 2004, TV ads cost $1.5 billion. Negative political ads began to appear on TV within a decade of the first political ads. Attack ads and issue ads are forms of negative political advertising. The Selling of the Candidate In contemporary elections, candidates are often "packaged" for their campaigns. The first modern "packaging" of a candidate occurred in 1968 when Richard Nixon's staff based his campaign on the sales campaign of Tide laundry soap. The message was simple: the candidate had been around for a long time and was trustworthy, like other products that have withstood the test of time. With Nixon's success in 1968, the trend toward packaged candidates was set, though with cable television and a 24 hour news cycle the packaging must be more sophisticated than it was decades ago. Televised Polit ical Debat es Televised debates have been a feature of presidential campaigns since 1960. Many contended that the presidential debates offer a significant opportunity for voters to assess the personalities and issue positions of the candidates.Thus, the debates help to shape the outcome of the election. There is little doubt among experts that the 1960 debates, in part because of their `firstness' and novelty, had a considerable impact on that election. Televised Political Debates Cont. There were no televised presidential debates after 1960 until the election of 1976. As an incumbent in 1964, President Johnson was not willing to give the publicity to his opponent, Barry Goldwater, that would be generated by a televised debate. In 1968, Richard Nixon, who had fared badly in the 1960 debate, was unwilling to enter that arena again. It wasn't until 1976, when Gerald Ford, an unelected president, and Jimmy Carter, a newcomer to the national stage, participated in the first televised debates in almost two decades. Enough Debating? Since 1976 presidential debates have been commonplace. It has been the case during the primary phase that large numbers of candidates would participate in debates that provided little clue to what the candidates were all about. Perhaps these debates have become so frequent and so disinteresting that people are now tuning them out. Talk Radio Franklin Roosevelt's "fireside chats", the first of which was transmitted in 1933, demonstrated to politicians the power of radio. Today, talk radio is a political force to be reckoned with. There are over 1,200 talkradio stations, and it is estimated that one in six Americans listens to talk radio regularly. Journalistic conventions do not exist on most talk radio shows. Many popular talk shows seem to have a conservative bent, but their supporters argue that talk radio has been a good way to counter the liberal bias in the print and TV media. National Public Radio Online Conservatives on AM Radio In recent years conservative radio hosts have enjoyed large followings and great success. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are two examples of conservative radio personalities with large followings. They often portray themselves as the antidote to what they perceive as a liberal bias in network news and the print media. Whether or not that is the case, there is no denying their considerable appeal and loyal following. Media and Politics The expansion of the media universe to include cable channels and the Internet has also increased competition among news sources. As a result, there is a `selection bias' news directors select programming they believe will attract the largest audience and garner the highest advertising revenues. In some circumstances, journalists avoid newsworthy stories because their audiences might find them too complex or dull. Sometimes, newsworthy stories are ignored to protect the corporate interests of the news organization. Media and Politics, cont. A large majority of news professionals believe that the culture of news is changing. Traditional respect for facts and factual verification is giving way to a news culture characterized by argument, opinion, haste, and news as entertainment. In recent years, some researchers have noticed a racial bias in the media. They argue that it can be found in news reporting on crime and drugs, as well as in stories about the poor. The Lines Get Blurry... It is sometimes difficult to determine whether something is news or entertainment. When a presidential candidate appears on Oprah or Letterman, is it news? Entertainment? What about when candidates take questions from MTV audiences? News? Entertainment? Certainly these lines are not as clear as they once were. The Question of Media Bias Calvin Exoo suggests that journalists have neither a liberal nor a conservative bias. Rather, they are constrained by both the proAmerican bias of media ownership and the journalists' own code of objectivity. Who is Calvin Exoo? Kathleen Hall Jamieson believes that media bias plays a significant role in shaping presidential campaigns and elections, but it is not a partisan bias. Rather it is a bias against losers. Political News on the World Wide Web The Internet has become a significant medium for the delivery of political news. Today, at least 2/3 of Americans have Internet access. Most news sites on the Web are maintained by already wellestablished newspapers, magazines, and TV broadcasters. Online tabloids could dramatically increase the impact of tabloid journalism on mainstream journalism. Increased pressure on news publishers to compete for top stories can and has resulted in news organizations occasionally posting inaccurate stories on their websites. The Internet is the ultimate vehicle for "narrowcasting" using push technology, Web users can totally customize their daily supply of information. Drudge Matt Drudge is perhaps the pioneer in internet reporting. His internet site "The Drudge Report" is wildly popular. Drudge is credited with breaking the "blue dress story" during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. He has parlayed his internet success into a nationally broadcast weekly radio program. Cyberspace and Political Campaigns Voters are increasingly using the Internet to access information about parties and candidates, promote political goals, and obtain political news. The use of the Internet is the least costly way for candidates to contact, recruit, and mobilize supporters, as well as disseminate information on their positions on issues. The Internet can also be an effective, and inexpensive, way to raise campaign funds. Internet campaign strategists are now being hired to manage candidates' Web sites. Cyberspace and Political Campaigns Online Fund-Raising The Rise of the Internet Campaign StrategistJoe Trippi Howard Dean raised more then 20 million online; Kerry raised 82 million online The Internet--A Boon to Interest Groups ...
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