The Media and
American Politics
    Dr. Christopher S. Rice
What do we mean by
  “the media”?
The Media
    News organizations and
journalists of either the print
   (newspapers, magazines),
broadcast (television, ra...
Mirror Mis-
identification?




        (cc) 2006 Flickr user eggman
What is “news”?
Timely – new, unfolding events
rather than old, static ones.
Dramatic – striking
developments vs. commonpl...
The quality of democracy
depends upon the quality
      of the media
The Jon
  Stewart
  Principle
High Quality Information
and Debate are Essential
    to a Functioning
       Democracy
The
Marketplace
 of Ideas
HOT
 vs.
COOL
media
“Sixty percent of those who use both [TV
and the Internet] simultaneously report that
they regularly have the television o...
Cult of
Personality?
Skeptical about
(cc) 2008 Flickr user voteprime
                                   the media...
(cc) 2006 Flickr user idiolector




...but still accept accuracy
   of “mainstream media”
5”

               Question of the Day #5
     Some people believe that too few
     companies control too many news
     ...
Roles of the Media in a
  Democratic Society

Common Carrier     Watchdog



                     Public
   Signaler
     ...
Roles of the Media in a
  Democratic Society

Common Carrier     Watchdog



                     Public
   Signaler
     ...
The media as common carrier
  Serve as channels of communication
   among political and governmental
              institu...
Spin Doctors
2
illegitimate
  legitimate
The incredible shrinking
       sound bite
Sound Bite
Amount of time a politician
or candidate is allowed to
speak without interruption
Percentage of Chart That
                   Looks Like Pac-Man




Percentage of
 Chart That
Does Not Look
Like Pac-Man
1960’s


40 sec.
2008


<10 sec.
Roles of the Media in a
  Democratic Society

Common Carrier     Watchdog



                     Public
   Signaler
     ...
The media as watchdog
should dig up facts, warn public when
 officials are doing something wrong
Watergate
Abu Ghraib
U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal
The importance of the
  First Amendment...
               (cc) 2007 Flickr user Thorne Enterprises
Roles of the Media in a
  Democratic Society

Common Carrier     Watchdog



                     Public
   Signaler
     ...
The media as signaler
  alert the public to important events,
keep public informed in a timely manner
“Just the facts, ma’am!”


                    (cc) 2006 Flickr user alex-s
Clarify Electoral Choices


  (c) 2008 Yahoo! Source: http://www.techcrunch.com/wp-content/yahoodashboardb.jpg
Roles of the Media in a
  Democratic Society

Common Carrier     Watchdog



                     Public
   Signaler
     ...
The media as public representative
    critical political linkage serving as
  spokesperson/advocate for the public
2
Advocacy
Self-
Interested
   Actor
FAIL
2
Lack of Accountability
POV = Bias?
Effects of the
Media on Politics
Agenda Setting & Framing
            Today’s Media Agenda
           1. Paint McCain as a senile
           old fool.
    ...
Policy Preferences
How to Jump Start the Economy:
         Tax Rebates
               OR
       Public Investment
Effects on Policymaking
       Direct
Effects on Policymaking
      Indirect
What is Bias?
TRUE or FALSE:
Research has found no significant
evidence of ideological or partisan
      bias in the US media.
TRUE!
(cc) 2005 Flickr user jovike




Hard to define
(cc) 2006 Flickr user Aussiegall




                      Hard to measure
?
 Count the proportion of
 references to a political
figure or policy which seem
to be positive or negative?
?
 A deviation from some
perfect representation of
    objective reality?
?
Slanted language?
?
Don’t all of these involve
 personal judgment of
       some sort?
FOX News's editorial policy is set from
the top down, stating that quot;The roots
of FOX News Channel's day-to-day
on-air ...
?Is bias just
negative coverage?
?What is
objectivity,
  anyway?
The problem of
               “Fair and balanced”




(cc) 2006 Flickr user Capt Kodak
Media Bias
  The tendency to present
  information unfairly and
     inaccurately so as to
consistently favor one set of
 ...
People tend to be more concerned about
media bias than they are about
government censorship in the United
States.




    ...
Objective Journalism
2
Descriptive Reporting
Straightforward description
        of the facts
Interpretive Journalism
 Analysis and explanation of
   developments, not just
    reporting “the facts.”
How Experts Are Selected
TRENDS
How Fox News has
blurred the line between
    commentators and
       reporters.
Subtle techniques of slanting news
     How you choose your sources.
     Controlling the prominence of a
      story – ...
Is the Media biased?
Even if we can’t be sure
media is biased (or to
what extent), we CAN
identify certain tendencies
in media coverage…
Dominant Points of View
3
Foreign Affairs

  Economics

  Politicians
PS 101 The Media And American Politics Fall 2008
PS 101 The Media And American Politics Fall 2008
PS 101 The Media And American Politics Fall 2008
PS 101 The Media And American Politics Fall 2008
PS 101 The Media And American Politics Fall 2008
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PS 101 The Media And American Politics Fall 2008

  1. 1. The Media and American Politics Dr. Christopher S. Rice
  2. 2. What do we mean by “the media”?
  3. 3. The Media News organizations and journalists of either the print (newspapers, magazines), broadcast (television, radio) or internet (websites, newsfeeds, blogs) media.
  4. 4. Mirror Mis- identification? (cc) 2006 Flickr user eggman
  5. 5. What is “news”? Timely – new, unfolding events rather than old, static ones. Dramatic – striking developments vs. commonplace ones. Compelling – developments which arouse people’s emotions
  6. 6. The quality of democracy depends upon the quality of the media
  7. 7. The Jon Stewart Principle High Quality Information and Debate are Essential to a Functioning Democracy
  8. 8. The Marketplace of Ideas
  9. 9. HOT vs. COOL media
  10. 10. “Sixty percent of those who use both [TV and the Internet] simultaneously report that they regularly have the television on while they are using the Internet.” Al Gore, The Assault on Reason
  11. 11. Cult of Personality?
  12. 12. Skeptical about (cc) 2008 Flickr user voteprime the media...
  13. 13. (cc) 2006 Flickr user idiolector ...but still accept accuracy of “mainstream media”
  14. 14. 5” Question of the Day #5 Some people believe that too few companies control too many news media outlets. What is your feeling on 3” this issue? A. The concentration of media ownership among just a few companies is not a major problem B. The concentration of media ownership among just a few companies is a major problem C. Don’t know
  15. 15. Roles of the Media in a Democratic Society Common Carrier Watchdog Public Signaler Representative
  16. 16. Roles of the Media in a Democratic Society Common Carrier Watchdog Public Signaler Representative
  17. 17. The media as common carrier Serve as channels of communication among political and governmental institutions
  18. 18. Spin Doctors
  19. 19. 2
  20. 20. illegitimate legitimate
  21. 21. The incredible shrinking sound bite
  22. 22. Sound Bite Amount of time a politician or candidate is allowed to speak without interruption
  23. 23. Percentage of Chart That Looks Like Pac-Man Percentage of Chart That Does Not Look Like Pac-Man
  24. 24. 1960’s 40 sec.
  25. 25. 2008 <10 sec.
  26. 26. Roles of the Media in a Democratic Society Common Carrier Watchdog Public Signaler Representative
  27. 27. The media as watchdog should dig up facts, warn public when officials are doing something wrong
  28. 28. Watergate
  29. 29. Abu Ghraib
  30. 30. U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal
  31. 31. The importance of the First Amendment... (cc) 2007 Flickr user Thorne Enterprises
  32. 32. Roles of the Media in a Democratic Society Common Carrier Watchdog Public Signaler Representative
  33. 33. The media as signaler alert the public to important events, keep public informed in a timely manner
  34. 34. “Just the facts, ma’am!” (cc) 2006 Flickr user alex-s
  35. 35. Clarify Electoral Choices (c) 2008 Yahoo! Source: http://www.techcrunch.com/wp-content/yahoodashboardb.jpg
  36. 36. Roles of the Media in a Democratic Society Common Carrier Watchdog Public Signaler Representative
  37. 37. The media as public representative critical political linkage serving as spokesperson/advocate for the public
  38. 38. 2
  39. 39. Advocacy
  40. 40. Self- Interested Actor
  41. 41. FAIL
  42. 42. 2
  43. 43. Lack of Accountability
  44. 44. POV = Bias?
  45. 45. Effects of the Media on Politics
  46. 46. Agenda Setting & Framing Today’s Media Agenda 1. Paint McCain as a senile old fool. 2. Make sure people associate Clinton with the B-word. 3. Make certain the public sees Obama as Jesus. 4. Taxes and regulation: B-A-D. 5. Take over the world.
  47. 47. Policy Preferences
  48. 48. How to Jump Start the Economy: Tax Rebates OR Public Investment
  49. 49. Effects on Policymaking Direct
  50. 50. Effects on Policymaking Indirect
  51. 51. What is Bias?
  52. 52. TRUE or FALSE: Research has found no significant evidence of ideological or partisan bias in the US media.
  53. 53. TRUE!
  54. 54. (cc) 2005 Flickr user jovike Hard to define
  55. 55. (cc) 2006 Flickr user Aussiegall Hard to measure
  56. 56. ? Count the proportion of references to a political figure or policy which seem to be positive or negative?
  57. 57. ? A deviation from some perfect representation of objective reality?
  58. 58. ? Slanted language?
  59. 59. ? Don’t all of these involve personal judgment of some sort?
  60. 60. FOX News's editorial policy is set from the top down, stating that quot;The roots of FOX News Channel's day-to-day on-air bias are actual and direct. They come in the form of an executive memo distributed electronically each morning, addressing what stories will be covered and, often, suggesting how they should be covered.” Charlie Reina former FOX News producer
  61. 61. ?Is bias just negative coverage?
  62. 62. ?What is objectivity, anyway?
  63. 63. The problem of “Fair and balanced” (cc) 2006 Flickr user Capt Kodak
  64. 64. Media Bias The tendency to present information unfairly and inaccurately so as to consistently favor one set of interests over another.
  65. 65. People tend to be more concerned about media bias than they are about government censorship in the United States. (cc) 2007 Flickr user satanoid
  66. 66. Objective Journalism
  67. 67. 2
  68. 68. Descriptive Reporting Straightforward description of the facts
  69. 69. Interpretive Journalism Analysis and explanation of developments, not just reporting “the facts.”
  70. 70. How Experts Are Selected
  71. 71. TRENDS
  72. 72. How Fox News has blurred the line between commentators and reporters.
  73. 73. Subtle techniques of slanting news  How you choose your sources.  Controlling the prominence of a story – above or below fold, page 1 or buried.  Solicitation and selection of quotations.  Choose which facts to report.  Frame the meaning of stories with the headline or first line of story.
  74. 74. Is the Media biased?
  75. 75. Even if we can’t be sure media is biased (or to what extent), we CAN identify certain tendencies in media coverage…
  76. 76. Dominant Points of View
  77. 77. 3
  78. 78. Foreign Affairs Economics Politicians

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