Chapter 6 Notes - Eudora Schools

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Chapter 6
THE MEDIA
Learning Outcomes
6.1 Trace the evolution of the mass media in the
United States and evaluate the impact of new
technologies on journalism.
6.2 Evaluate the effect of privately owned mass
media on the quality of political communication in
the United States.
6.3 Follow the evolution of government regulation
of the media and identify the challenges that new
media technologies present to existing regulations.
Copyright © 2014 Cengage Learning
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Learning Outcomes
6.4 Analyze the role of the media in political
socialization and the acquisition of political
knowledge.
6.5 Assess the impact of the media on democratic
values and politics in the United States.
Copyright © 2014 Cengage Learning
3
The Development of the Mass
Media in the United States

Mass Communication
 Transmitting information to large,
heterogeneous, widely dispersed audience

Mass media
 Means for communicating
 Print media
 Broadcast media
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The Development of the Mass
Media in the United States

Post-Broadcast Age
 Interactivity of Internet creates two-way flow of
information
 From government to citizens
 From citizens to government
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The Development of Mass
Media in the United States

Political Uses of Prominent Mass Media
 Newspapers, magazines, radio, television,
Internet

Political Content Also Transmitted Via
 Recordings, motion pictures
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Copyright © 2014 Cengage Learning
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The Development of the Mass
Media in the United States

Newspapers
 First U.S. newspapers: small circulations, political
organs
 1830s: independent ownership, large circulations
 1880s: large cities had many newspapers
 1960s: Competition nearly disappeared under
pressure from radio and TV
 2000s: Circulation declined but readership up
(online)
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The Development of the Mass
Media in the United States

Magazines
 More specialized than newspapers, less
frequent publication
 Magazines can wield political power
 Attentive policy elites
 Influence mass opinion through two-step flow of
communication
 Like newspapers, circulation has declined
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The Development of the Mass
Media in the United States

Radio
 1920: regular, scheduled, continuous
broadcasting began
 Americans quick to purchase and use radios
 Nearly15,000 licensed stations today
 9 out of 10 Americans listen to AM/FM radio
 News and talk radio formats popular
 Talk radio criticized for polarizing politics by publicizing
extreme views
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Watching the President
on Television
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The Development of the Mass
Media in the United States

Television
 1940: 23 TV stations in U.S.
 1951: first coast-to-coast broadcast
 By 2012, in the U.S.:




1,300+ commercial and 300 public stations
97% of homes have at least one TV
Three broadcast networks have large audiences
Millions of viewers drifted to cable networks
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Laugh and Learn
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The Development of the Mass
Media in the United States

Internet
 1969: ARPANET – 4 universities connected
 1972: 37 Universities Connected
 1983: networks linked and Internet created
 Used mainly for e-mail among researchers
 1991: World Wide Web (WWW) created by
European physicists
 1993: only 50 websites
 Today: 500 million websites
 Over 80% of Americans use Internet
Copyright © 2014 Cengage Learning
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The Development of the Mass
Media in the United States

Internet
 Internet incorporated into politics
 Virtually every government agency and political
organization has a website
 Private citizens: politics and public affairs
 Operate websites and blogs
 12 Percent of Internet users have a blog; 35 percent
discuss politics
 Only 11 percent of Americans read political blogs
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Private Ownership
of the Media

Private Ownership of Media Taken for
Granted in U.S.
 Only 300 of 1600 TV stations are public
 Only 900 of 15,000+ radio stations are public

Some Governments Control News Flow
 China: Internet police prevent “subversive
content”
 Some Western democracies: print media
privately owned but not broadcast media
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Tank Man’s Fans
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Private Ownership
of the Media

Consequences of Private Ownership
 Private ownership results in:
 More political freedom
 Dependence on advertising revenues
 Need for audience appeal
 Newsworthiness: degree to which news is important
enough to be covered
 Market-Driven Journalism: news and commercials
geared to target audience
 Infotainment: “soft news”
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Private Ownership
of the Media

Concentration of Private Ownership
 Trend towards concentrated ownership
 Concern over increasing risk of owners controlling
news flow to promote their own interests
 Ownership sometimes extends across different
media
 Propose nonprofit news organizations
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Government Regulation
of the Media

Technical and Ownership Regulations
 Federal Radio Act (1927)
 Federal Communications Act (1934)
established Federal Communications
Commission (FCC)
 Independent federal commission regulates interstate
and international communications
 Sets social, economic, and technical goals for
industry
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Government Regulation
of the Media

Technical and Ownership Regulations
 Telecommunications Act (1996)
 Relaxed ownership rules
 Allowed phone companies to compete and sell TV
services
 Internet regulation
 FCC does not have jurisdiction to regulate content
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Government Regulation
of Media

Regulation of Content
 First Amendment prohibits Congress from
abridging freedom of press
 FCC regulates content to serve public
interest
 Fairness Doctrine (repealed In 1987)
 Equal Opportunities Rule
 Reasonable Access Rule
 Repeal allowed more ideological, controversial and
partisan coverage
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Functions of the Mass Media
for the Political System

Four Specific Functions Mass Media
Serve for the Political System




Reporting the news
Interpreting the news
Setting the agenda for government action
Socializing citizens about politics
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Functions of the Mass Media
for the Political System
 Reporting the News
 5000 journalists in congressional press
corps
 Press has special access to president
 News comes from:
 Press releases and congressional reports
 Live coverage: C-SPAN broadcasts House
and Senate
 Information leaks by officials
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Functions of the Mass Media
for the Political System

Interpreting and Presenting the News




Gatekeepers
Horse race journalism
Media event
Where the public gets its news




Newspaper most important source until 1960s
TV dominant source since 1960s
Radio and Internet
Public consults multiple sources throughout the day
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Functions of the Mass Media
for the Political System

Interpreting and Presenting the News
 Media influence on knowledge and opinions
 80% of public read or hear news each day but do
not retain much political information
 Television hypothesis: TV to blame for low level of
citizens’ knowledge about public affairs
 TV may:
 Contribute little to citizens’ knowledge of public affairs
 Discourage respect for different opinions
 Lead people to be less trusting of government
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Functions of the Mass Media
for the Political System

Interpreting and Presenting the News
 Media influence on knowledge and opinions
 Media coverage can exacerbate/diminish
socioeconomic differences in political knowledge
 Contextual information reduces knowledge gaps
among users of both print and TV news
 Soft news can improve political knowledge
 9 out of 10 Americans believe media strongly
influences public opinion
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Functions of the Mass Media
for the Political System

Setting the Political Agenda
 Political agenda




Media’s greatest influence on politics
Issues not on agenda will not get political attention
Media can force government to address issues
Some issues disproportionately covered
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Functions of the Mass Media
for the Political System

Setting the Political Agenda
 Political agenda
 Public also influences media coverage
 Indirect means to influence political elites
 Politicians eager to influence media coverage
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Obama Messes with Texas
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Functions of the Mass Media
for the Political System

Socializing the Citizenry
 Mass media important agent of political
socialization
 Young people politically socialized via media’s
entertainment function
 Media play contradictory roles in political
socialization
 Promote popular support for government
 Erode public confidence
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Evaluating the Media
in Government

Is Reporting Biased?
 News is filtered through ideologies of media
owners, editors, and reporters
 Reporters criticized for liberal bias
 Wealthy, conservative media owners suspected of
manipulating content
 What is covered and what is not – seen as bias
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Evaluating the Media
in Government

Is Reporting Biased?
 Incumbents receive more news coverage than
challengers
 Political bias in coverage can depend on the party in
power
 Bias in reporting not limited to election campaigns
 Different media may reflect different understanding of
political issues
 Availability and variety of media sources and coverage
puts pressure on citizens to judge information
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Evaluating the Media
in Government

Contributions to Democracy
 Political communication in U.S.
 Goes from government to citizens by passing
through media
 Watchdog journalism
 Mass media transmits information from citizens to
government as well
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Evaluating the Media
in Government

Contributions to Democracy
 Press reflects public opinion and often
creates it
 Defines news and suggests courses of
government action
 Opinion poll research confirms public opinion
influences policy
 Majoritarian model of democracy
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Evaluating the Media in
Government

Effects on Freedom, Order, and Equality
 Media plays important role in advancing
equality
 Media offers disadvantaged groups opportunity to
gain place on political agenda (i.e. DREAM Act)
 Freedom of the press
 Journalists resist government attempts to infringe on
freedom of the press to promote order
 Public support of freedom of press waivers
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