The Changing Role of the American News Media

The Influence of the Media on Politics
•The Pervasiveness of Television
- Television becomes major news source in 1960s.
- It remains a major news source today.
- Movement away from network news to cable.
- Growth of comedy news programs.
•The Persistence of Radio
- Radio news evolved in early 1900s.
- Today, talk radio is a source of political commentary.
•The Declining Importance of Newspapers
•The World Wide Web
The Influence of the Media on Politics
Whenever there is a crisis,
most people turn first to
television for information
The Pervasiveness of Television
The growth of around-the-clock cable news and
information shows is one of the most important
developments in recent years. Half of the public are
regular viewers of CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, or Fox News.
Radio and Newspapers
•One household in 100
does not have a radio,
compared with 4 in 100
without television
•Daily newspaper
circulation is one copy for
every six people
•9 out of 10 people listen
to the radio every week; 8
out of 10 do so every day
•Core newspaper audience
is aging
•USA Today is the nation’s
top-circulation newspaper
The Internet
Internet Access
15-24 yrs.
25-34 yrs.
35-44 yrs.
45-64 yrs.
65 + yrs.
White, non-Hispanic
African American
Hispanic (any race)
Educational Attainment
Technology Gap or Digital Divide
Less than high school 9.0%
High school/GED
Some college or associate
Bachelor or higher 73.5%
Family Income
Less than $25,000
$25,000 - $49,999
$100,000 or more
In 2007, 29% of Americans surveyed
did not have Internet access anywhere
Internet Access by Selected
Characteristics: 2009 (in percentages)
The Changing Role of the American News Media
Political Mouthpiece The Power of the Media
The media not only provide an
arena for politics; they are
themselves players in that arena
The Power of the Media
Where Americans Get Their News
The Changing Role of the American
News Media
•Financial Independence
•“Objective Journalism”
A Sampling of Rupert Murdoch’s holdings
Why should we be concerned
about the concentration of
ownership in the media?
A shrinking number of owners and editors
exercise great power over what is
communicated to large numbers of people.
The Changing Role of the American
News Media
•The Impact on Broadcasting - Franklin D.
Roosevelt was the
first president to
recognize the
effectiveness of
radio to reach the
-The televised Presidential Debate
between Kennedy and Nixon
The Changing Role of the American
News Media
Newspapers first appeared as
early as 1690.
First newspaper: Boston NewsLetter, April 1704
– Avoided controversial issues
During Revolutionary War,
newspapers abandon impartiality
and work to build resistance to
British policies
1833 advent of the penny press
1848, creation of the Associated
Yellow journalism
Centralization of ownership of
newspapers in early 20th century
has continued to this day
-“You provide the pictures,
I’ll provide the war.”
The Changing Role of the American
News Media
•Investigatory Journalism
 Seymour Hersh and the Pentagon
 Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein
and Watergate
 Nina Totenberg and Clarence Thomas
 Michael Isikoff and Monica Lewinsky
The Changing Role of the American
News Media
•Media Conglomerates
Some of the largest include:
CBS Corporation & Viacom
(owned by National Amusements)
Comcast Corporation
General Electric
Hearst Corporation
News Corporation
Time Warner
Grupo Televisa
The Times Group
The Walt Disney Company
The Changing Role of the American
News Media
•Regulation of the Media
• Standards and norms of the journalistic profession.
• 1996 Telecommunications Act.
• Content regulation of the broadcast media.
• Equal time rule.
• Prior restraint not permitted.
Mediated Politics
•The Media and Public Opinion
One very popular tactic of politicians trying to get
free press is to stage “pseudo-events”
Mediated Politics
•The Media and Public Opinion
Officials want to control
information about
themselves and their
policies, including the
way such information is
framed and presented
by the media
Mediated Politics
•Factors That Limit Media Influences on
Public Opinion
•Political Socialization
•Recall and Comprehension
•Audience Fragmentation
Are the Media Biased?
What do these figures imply about the practice of selective exposure?
Sources of Media Power
The power to set the context,
to frame the issue, to
interpret the facts, and
potentially to provide
legitimacy for people, issues,
or groups are powerful and
controversial functions of
the media
The media is an agent of
socialization, teaching us
political facts and opinions
that help form our political
belief-structures and our
political culture
Mediated Politics
•Public Opinion
•Agenda Setting - The media’s ability to determine
which issues will be covered, in what detail, and in
what context - and conversely, of deciding which
stories are “not news” and thus are not going to be
•Issue Framing - Issue framing in a political
context, means presenting an issue in a way that
will likely get the most agreement from others.
From a political sense, language is often used as a
way to gain compliance on contentious points
Public Opinion
Issue Framing
The power to set the
context, to frame the
issue, to interpret the
facts, and potentially to
provide legitimacy for
people, issues, or
groups are powerful
and controversial
functions of the media
Agenda Setting
Deciding what will be
presented, defining the
problems and issues to
be addressed by
decision makers
The Partisanship and Ideology of Journalists, Policy
Makers, and the Press
The Media and Elections
• Choice of Candidates
Presidential candidates welcome invitations to appear with
Oprah, Leno, or Letterman, and try to reformulate their
messages in a light, comedic style that fits the program
The Media and Elections
•Campaign Events
How does the media affect
Determining “frontrunning candidates”
Charging for advertising
Televising debates
Portraying charismatic
politicians as more
Where Americans Learn About
Candidates and Campaigns
The Media and Elections
•Technology - With the Web, citizens now have
the opportunity to interact with each other
on a wide range of political topics
•Image Making and Media Consultants
A portrait of Abraham Lincoln as “Abe
the Rail Splitter” and Barack Obama as
a family man.
•The Media Impact on Voter Choice
o Personality over Substance
o The Horse Race
o Negative Advertising
o Information About Issues
The Media and Elections
•The Media Impact on Voter Choice
o Making A Decision
o Election Night Reporting
•The Media and Governance
o When policies are being
formulated and implemented,
decision makers are at their most
o Some critics contend that the
media’s pressuring policy makers
to provide immediate answers
forces them to make hasty
The Media and Governance
•Political Institutions and the News Media
• President garners most attention through bully pulpit.
- Speaks through press secretary or press conferences.
- Coverage of the president is generally unfavorable.
• Congress’ 535 members pose a challenge.
- Coverage of Congress is also generally negative.
• Supreme Court is more private; coverage is limited.
• Officials may issue press releases.
• May also hold briefings or conferences.
• Speak to reporters on background or deep background.
• May also get information off the record.
• New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) sets libel boundaries.
Presidential News Conferences with White House
Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
Harry Truman (1945-1953)
Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961)
John Kennedy (1961-1963)
Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969)
Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
George Bush (1989-1993)
Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
George W. Bush (2001-2009)
Barack Obama (2009 )
Average per Total
SOURCE: Gerhard Peter. “presidential News Conferences.” The American Presidency Project. Ed. John T. Woolley and
Gerhard Peters. Santa Barbara, CA University of California. 1999-2010
Approximately what percentage of United States
households do NOT have a television?
A. 2%
B. 5%
C. 15%
D. 25%
Which federal agency is responsible for regulating
the media?
A. National Advertising Council
B. Federal Media Commission
C. Federal Communications Commission
D. None of these
Media consultants _______.
A. Work to enhance the image of their
B. Try to create a negative image of the
opposing candidate
C. Use focus groups to advise their
D. All of these
The party identification of most journalists is
A. Democrat
B. Republican
C. Independent
D. Moderate
Which of these is most likely to receive negative
coverage from the press?
A. The White House
B. Congress
C. The Supreme Court
D. State Legislatures