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Unformatted text preview: Chapter Ten The News Media: Communicating Political Images Chapter Outline I. Historical Development: From the Nation’s Founding to Today A. The Objective Journalism Era B. The Rise of the “New” News II. The Politics of News A. The Signaling Function 1. A Common Version of Reality 2. Informing the Public or Attracting an Audience? B. The Watchdog Function C. The Common Carrier Function D. The Partisan Function 1. Traditional Media: Mostly Neutral 2. Talk Shows: Mostly Conservative 3. The Internet: Mostly Liberal III. Attention to News A. The Shrinking Audience for News B. Age and Attention to News IV. Media and Public in the Internet Age Chapter Summary The opening section of the chapter demonstrates how journalists are often concerned mainly with the dramatic story that is also timely and compelling. The Eliot Spitzer prostitution case preoccupied the media for a significant amount of time while other key political developments, such as his work as a top government official, was not considered particularly newsworthy. In the nation’s first century, the press was allied closely with the political parties and helped the political parties to mobilize public opinion. Gradually, the press freed itself from this relationship and developed a form of reporting, known as objective journalism that emphasized the fair and accurate reporting of newsworthy developments. The foundations of modern American news rest on the presentation and evaluation of significant events, not on the advocacy of partisan ideas. The nation’s news organizations do not differ greatly in their reporting. They emphasize the same events, issues, and personalities following the lead of the broadcast networks, wire services, and elite newspapers. The press performs four basic roles in a democratic society. In their signaling role, journalists communicate information to the public about events and problems that they consider important, relevant, and therefore newsworthy—focusing the public’s attention on what to think about, (i.e., agenda setting). The press also serves as a common carrier, in that it provides political leaders with a channel for addressing the public. Third, the press acts as a public protector or watchdog by exposing deceitful, careless, or corrupt officials. Finally, the press functions as a partisan advocate. Although the traditional media perform this function to a degree, the newer media—the talk shows and blogs—specialize in it. Their influence has contributed to a rising SG – 10 | 1 level of political polarization in the United States. Changes in media technology have also contributed to changes in audience; one broad trend is that younger citizens are now more able to consume media without exposure to news. The main points of this chapter are as follows: • The American press was initially tied to the nation’s political party system (the partisan press) but gradually developed an independent position (the objective press). In the process, the news shifted from a political orientation, which emphasized political values...
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- Spring '09
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