For example, the Tribune Company in Chicago owns the WGN radio station, the WGN television station, and the Chicago Tribune daily newspaper. These trends have given rise to media conglomerates , companies that control a wide range of news sources. 62 Nuts & Bolts 6.2 shows the diverse holdings of one such company, News Corp/21st Century Fox. Media effects on citizens and government The study of media eff ects explores whether exposure to media coverage of politics changes what people think or do. There is considerable evidence that media coverage influences its audience—in simple terms, much of what Americans know about politics comes from the stories they read, watch, or listen to. In part, these effects arise because people exposed to stories that describe a particular event learn new facts as a result of their exposure. However, some of the impact of media coverage stems not from what such stories contain but from how they present certain information or even whether a story is reported at all. 63 Many studies have found that exposure to political coverage changes what citizens know: at the most basic level; people who watch, read, or listen to more coverage about politics know more than people with less exposure. 64 What people learn can shape the demands they place on politicians. 65 However, at least part of this effect arises because of underlying interest: people who are interested in politics know more in the fi rst place and, because of their interest, watch more media coverage of events as they happen. Moreover, because people can pick and choose which coverage to watch, read, or listen Federal Communications Commission (FCC) A government agency created in 1934 to regulate American radio stations and later expanded to regulate television, wireless communications technologies, and other broadcast media. broadcast media Communications technologies, such as television and radio, that transmit information over airwaves. equal time provision An FCC regulation requiring broadcast media to provide equal air time on any non-news programming to all candidates running for an offi ce. media conglomerates Companies that control a large number of media sources across several types of media outlets. media eff ects The influence of media coverage on average citizens’ opinions and actions.
The news media 185 to, what they learn from the media tends to reinforce their preexisting beliefs. That is, a conservative might listen to Sean Hannity, while a liberal would opt for watching MSNBC. Both people may learn something from the coverage, but the most likely result is that they will only grow more certain in their opinions. 66 Finally, changes caused by media coverage are usually (but not always) short-lived. Given this evidence of media effects, one of the central questions is whether report- ers and editors have a discernable bias: that is, do their decisions about which events to report on and how they report on them reflect a conscious effort to shape public opinion in a liberal, conservative, or other direction? Surveys of the American electorate have
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