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POLS Chapter 7 - Ch 7 The Media and the Political Agenda...

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Ch. 7: The Media and the Political Agenda - Politics in Action o By bringing major events live into people’s living rooms, the television would sometimes set the stage for leaders to take quick action affecting the scope of government. o Since the TV brings events live to the people, people have more reason than ever to expect immediate government responses. However, the Founding Fathers designed a very deliberative governing process in which problems would be considered by multiple centers of political power and acted on only after lengthy give and take. o The American political system has entered a new period of high tech politics- behaviors of citizens, policymakers and the political agenda are shaped by technology. - The Mass Media Today o Effectively communicating a message is critical to political success. The key is gaining control of the political agenda. o Politicians have learned that one way to guide the media’s focus is to limit what they can report on to carefully scripted events. A media event is staged primarily with the purpose o being covered. o Approximately 60% of presidential campaign spending is now devoted to TV ads. In recent presidential elections, about 2/3 of the prominently aired ads were negative commercials. o Image making does not stop at the campaign; it is also a critical element in day- to-day governing. o Reagan was the president who focused the most on his media appearance. His strategy was: plan ahead, stay on the offensive, control the flow of information, limit reporter’s access to the president, talk about the issues you want to talk about, speak in one voice, repeat the same message many times. To Reagan, the presidency was often a performance, and his aides helped him choreograph his public appearances. - The Development of Media Politics o There was virtually no daily press when the Constitution was written. o Franklin D. Roosevelt practically invented media politics. To him, the media was a presidential ally. He promised reporters two press conferences a week. He was also the first president to use the radio, broadcasting a series of fireside chats to the Depression ridden nation. This all helped him win 4 presidential elections. The media also didn’t show him in a wheelchair. o The cozy relationship between the media and the press lasted throughout the early 1960s. The events of the Vietnam war and the Watergate scandal soured the press on government. Today’s news people work in an environment of cynicism.
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o Carefully scrutinizing claims made by government is one of the most important things that reporters consider they do. Investigative journalism: the use of detective-like reporting methods to check up on the statements of governmental officials.
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