Lesson 16

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LESSON 16
STRUCTURE OF THE MASS MEDIA
•Plays a crucial role in
government
•Includes all the means of
communications that bring
messages to the general public
•Includes the following:
• Television, radio, online
services, newspapers,
magazines, newsletters, and
books
PRINT MEDIA
• Has been called the
“fourth branch” of the
government
• Flow of information vital
to democracy since
colonial times
• Only included newspapers
and radio until the 1960’s
• Books, magazines and the
Internet are more popular
in current times
ELECTRONIC MEDIA
• Ninety-nine percent(99%)
of all Americans have
radios in their cars and
homes
• 1960’s television replaced
newspapers as main
source of news
• Internet main source of
information since 1990's
• Social media gained
importance in the 2008
and 2012 elections
WHO OWNS MASS MEDIA?
• Some countries government controls some
or all media
• U.S. - nearly all media is
privately owned
 Profit seeking businesses
• Government regulates these
communications
THE ROLE OF THE PRESS
• To inform the public
• The Framers believed responsible
press and informed public were
necessary to protect democracy
• Checkbook journalism - when
journalists pay for dramatic
stories
• Drama, violence and celebrity
coverage attract a larger audience
than foreign policy debates
• Need to entertain vs. duty to
inform often conflict
MEDIA IMPACT ON GOVERNMENT
• Uneasy relationship - politicians rely on
media to help reach goals and to pass on
messages
• Mutually beneficial relationship - the media
helps the president, president helps the media
• President is the source of 80% of government
news and coverage
• President uses the media to “sell” ideas and
policies to the public
WAYS TO SHARE INFORMATION
• News release - a ready-made story officials prepare
•
•
•
•
•
for members of the press
News briefing- announcement or explanation of a
policy, decision or action
Press conference - involves the news media’s
questioning of a high level government official
Leak- release of secret information by an anonymous
government official
Media event - a visually interesting event designed to
reinforce a politician's position on some issue
Backgrounders- important information given by the
president or another top official
MEDIA
AND
CAMPAIGNS
•Television greatly impacts
and influences presidential
campaigns
•Candidates must be
telegenic - project a pleasing
appearance and performance
on camera
•Helps little known
candidates become well
known quickly
•Has encouraged celebrities
to enter politics
•Horse-race coverage of
elections-focuses on
“winners”, “losers” and
“who’s ahead” instead of
focusing on policy issues
•Front-runner-an early
leader declared by the
media; these people are then
able to attract big money in
campaign contributions
CAMPAIGN ADVERTISING
• The first candidates in American history did not
campaign; they left this work to their supporters
• Then they used advertisements in newspapers
and magazines and mass mailings
• 1924 radio campaigning begins
• 1952 television campaigning begins
• Spot advertising - brief, frequent, positive
descriptions of the candidate; may also be
negative for opposing candidate
ROLE
___OF
__SOCIAL
_____ ____
MEDIA
•In recent elections social
media has become very
influential
•Barack Obama used social
media more successfully
than any other candidate
ever (2008 and 2012
elections)
FINANCING ADVERTISING
• Candidates today must
spend huge sums of money
in order to pay for the
television advertising
campaigns
• “The cost of TV time-buys
makes fundraising an
enormous entry barrier for
candidates for public office,
an oppressive burden for
incumbents who seek
reelection, a continuous
threat to the integrity of our
political institutions,
and a principal cause of the
erosion of public respect for
public service.” - Reed Hunt,
1995
THE PUBLIC AGENDA
• A list of societal problems
that both political leaders
and citizens agree need
government attention
• For example: the economy,
immigration, unemployment,
gun control, the deficit and
defense
• Mass media plays an
important role in setting the
public agenda- they highlight
some issues and ignore
others
Television malaise - media’s
focus on bad news has led
some people to feel uneasy and
feel distrustful and cynical
REGULATION OF THE MEDIA
• The First Amendment protects free
speech of individuals; individuals
own the media
• The mass media in the U.S. has more
freedom than anywhere else in the
world
• Government regulations are aimed at
providing order, fairness and access
to media
PROTECTING THE MEDIA
•Libel - false written
statements intended to
damage a person’s
reputation
•The Right to Gather
Information- collecting
information about
government actions and
decisions
•The Right of Access authorities do not have to give
the media special right of
access to crime or disaster sites
if the general public is
excluded
•Protection of Sources - success
in gathering news may depend
on getting information from
people who do not want their
names made public
REGULATING THE MEDIA
•Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) created to
manage all types of electronic
communications
•Equal time doctrine requires stations to give equal
airtime to candidates for
public office
•FCC regulates over-the-air
and cable television, radio,
telephones, satellites
•Fairness doctrine -removed
in 1996, was supposed to
provide “reasonable
opportunities for the
expression of opposing views
on controversial issues of
public importance”.
•Require stations to operate in
the public interest (the reason
there is no swearing on radio
or public TV)
MEDIA AND NATIONAL SECURITY
• Should government have the
right to limit information
during times of war?
• Conflict because:
 Government needs to keep secrets
 Citizens’ need for information
• Government attempts to control
information about national
security by classifying
information as “secret”
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