Chapter 12: The Media
What is mass media?
Means of communication that are technologically capable of reaching most people and economically affordable to most
Important Journalism Periods Politicians of various factions and parties created, sponsored, and controlled newspapers to further their interests Federalists had the “Gazette of the United States”
Republicans had the “National Gazette”
Changes in technology made possible the rise of self-supporting, mass readership daily newspapers. You attract a larger readership with sensationalism.
publishers could become strong political forces
Hearst to Remington - “you furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”
Middle class was repelled by yellow journalism. These magazines discussed issues of public policy.
Now, the magazines that focus mainly on politics and government affairs account for only a small and declining portion of the national magazine market
Broadcasts permit public officials to speak directly to the audiences without their remarks being filtered through editors and reporters
In 2000, over half of all American households has at least one computer, 4/10 have the Internet
Action of the National Press
Influence what subjects become political issues and for how long. Auto safety, water pollution, quality of prescription drugs were not major political issues until the national press began giving them substantial attention.
keep track of and help political reputations, note who is being mentioned, help decide who is winning, who is losing
Close scrutiny. Expose scandals
Equal Time Rule
A FCC rule that says if a broadcaster sells time to one candidate, he or she must sell equal time to other candidates
Questions to ask about media bias Do members of the media have a distinctive political attitude? -- **Great majority of journalists are liberal** Does that attitude affect what they write or say?
Does what they write or say affect what citizens believe?
The tendency of the national media to be suspicious of officials and eager to reveal unflattering stories about them.
Sensationalism in the media No one reported FDR’s affair. JFK’s affair was not that big of a deal. MLK Jr’s affair also not a big deal in the media. Why?
There are so many channels to chose from. A news-broadcast needs to get viewers somehow.
Bias Ideological Bias - Is it liberal or conservative? (FOX News, MSNBC, NPR) How do the journalists spin the issue? (As a whole, the media tends to be more liberal though) Selection Bias - How do editors decide which stories to print. Are some more newsworthy than others?
Professional Bias - Journalists fight over stories. Who gets to be the one to break Watergate? Monica Lewinsky?
Government Influence on the Media Newspapers are almost entirely free from government regulation. BUT they can be sued for libel, obscenity, or incitement of illegal act.
The FCC issues licenses that must be renewed periodically
Types of Stories
regularly covered stories such as public events. These are clear and easily described. All journalists tend to report these similarly
Not routinely covered. These require reporter initiative. Selection might involve a reporter or editor’s perception of what is important
Investigating or political leaks. These require reporters to select which facts to use so the journalists or editors ideology might show
Presidential Coverage is dominated by sound bites and photo ops, not necessarily the meat of the issue