The Media

The Media
Chapter 10
Candidate Centered Campaigns
Role of the Media
• Gatekeeper: influence what subjects become
national political issues, and for how long
• Scorekeeper: the national media help make
political reputations, horserace journalism
• Watchdog: Following closely the front-runner
candidates, searching for any past or current history
that will make “news”—media maintains close eye on
all important happenings of major candidates
Horserace Journalism
Kentucky Derby (1987)
• Media coverage that focuses on poll results
and political battles instead of policy issues
• Refers to almost exclusive reporting on
candidate differences rather than similarities
Media’s effect on political
• It’s unclear…research is lacking
• TV may influence the political agenda
• People unlikely to take cues from the media
about things that affect them personally
• Media usually does more to REINFORCE
beliefs than CHANGE opinion
Trends in News Coverage
media = primary link to American politics
• TV: news reduced to 15-45 second sound bites
• Rise of Talk Radio
– 9 out of 10 Americans listen to radio (esp. in cars)
– Radio personalities: Rush, Oliver North, Stern
– “legit” news radio
Trends in News Coverage
media = primary link to American politics
• Newspapers: even w/ competition from
Internet & cable, 63 million Americans read
the paper
– National papers:
– Intense advertising competition
– 60% of cities have competing newspapers
Trends in News Coverage
media = primary link to American politics
• Media Conglomerates: mega news empires
– Disney/ESPN/ABC
– Time Warner/Turner Broadcasting
– Gannett Corp. own 92 daily newspapers & 11
radio and cable stations
Criticism of the Media
• Profit Motive: Strong competition, must keep
one step ahead
• Sensationalism and “feeding frenzy”
• Homogenization of the news: uniform
• Bias
• Irresponsible
Who Regulates the Media?
• FCC: Federal Communications
Commission—regulates electronic media
• Supreme Court consistently upholds 1st
Amendment right of written press including
great latitude with celebrities and politicians
• YOU do!—through ratings
Maxims of Media Relations
• All secrets become public knowledge. The more
important the secret, the sooner it becomes known.
• All stories written about me are inaccurate; all stories
written about you are entirely accurate.
• The rosier the news, the higher-ranking official who
announces it.
• Always release bad news on a Saturday night. Few
people notice it.
• Never argue with a person who buys ink by the
Freedom of Information Act
• Originally created to give the citizens
information and access to the executive
branch which had traditionally been secretive
in divulging info.
• Now known as “Sunshine Laws” in the states
because they allow full disclosure of all public
Does the Media Have a Liberal Bias?
• Only in regards to journalism as a profession.
Journalists and broadcasters as a group favor
the Democratic Party
Liberal Bias
• News is not necessarily liberal because:
• 1. News comes from official sources
• 2. Journalists are trained to report objectively
from both sides of an issue
• 3. Editors and publishers are conservative and
influence the final message
• 4. Media is owned by big business thus
Significance of the Media in America
• Linkage Institution: connects people to their
• Other linkage institutions-political parties and
interest groups