How are MASS MEDIA & opinions formed?PUBLIC OPINION How are opinions measured? The Media
WHAT IS PUBLIC OPINION? Attitudes held by significant number of people on public policy matters Why is public opinion important in a democracy? Should politicians do what “the people” want?(West Wing – Lame Duck Congress)
WHY DO WE BELIEVE WHAT WE BELIEVE?FamilySchoolMass MediaPeer GroupsOpinion LeadersHistoric Events
FAMILY- The foundations upon which political opinions are built start with your parents- Adopt the political views of the primary caregiver- Political opinions also influenced by older siblings and other relatives.
SCHOOLS First break from familiar influence Schools teach the values of the American political system How? Do schools and teachers ever abuse this influence?
MASS MEDIA Communication that reaches a large number of people Internet, T V, Radio, Magazines, Newspapers Has media become an “Echo Chamber?”
PEER GROUPS Influence of peer groups increases during adolescence Peer groups usually enforce what one already believes. Why?
OPINION LEADERS Person with an unusually strong influence on the views of others Public of ficials, members of media, religious leaders Has the line between news and commentary blurred? Does the media reflect opinion, or shape it?
HISTORIC EVENTSGreat Depression: A Case Study- 1929: economy collapses- 1938: near 20% unemployment- Events persuaded majority of Americans to support a larger role for the governmentOther Examples- 1960s & 70s
PRE-GALLUP ERAStraw Polls Asking the same question to a large number of people Online polls an example ( SportsNation -- http://espn.go.com/sportsnation /) Why is this unreliable? Literar y Digest Poll Predicted Alf Landon would defeat FDR Polled 2.3 million people – Why were the results faulty?
SCIENTIFIC POLLING Pioneered by George Gallup and Elmo Roper Top firms today: Gallup, Harris, Marist, various media outlets 5 Steps to ensure a scientific poll Defining the Universe Constructing a Sample Preparing Valid Questions Interviewing Interpreting & Analyzing Focus Groups West Wing: 100,000 Airplanes
DEFINING THE UNIVERSE Whose opinion do you want to measure? i.e.: Catholic voters, women over 35, likely voters etc.
CONSTRUCTING A SAMPLE Cannot speak to all members of a universe Sample: representative slice of the total universeRandom Sample All members of a universe have an equal chance of being included (law of probability) Most polls seek 1 ,500 respondents for a margin of error of +/- 3% Would need 9,000 respondents to get to +/ - 1%
A FINAL WORD ON SAMPLES Respondents CANNOT be self -selected What kind of polling does this eliminate? Respondents CANNOT be fundamentally dif ferent from the universe as a whole Think Literary Digest poll
VALID QUESTIONS How a question is asked will influence the results.Do you support lower taxes?Do you support more fundingfor local police departments? Questions should not suggest answers or use “loaded words” Push polls West Wing: Lies, Damn Lies…
INTERVIEWING Most pollsters do their work over the phone (random digit dialing) Why? The way questions are asked can alter results.
WHAT POLLS CAN’T DO Intensity of opinions Stability of opinions Relevance of opinionsDo polls shape opinion, or reflect it? Bandwagon ef fect Cannot replace elections Cannot tell elected of ficials what to do Polls are snapshots, with a short shelf -life
THE MASS MEDIATelevisionInternet Radio, Newspapers, Magazines, Books
THE MEDIA: THE FOURTH ESTATE Why is the media protected by the Constitution?
INFORMATION OVERLOAD Are we more informed than ever before?
BIAS & MEDIADoes the Media have a bias? Liberal, Conservative, “Status Quo”, Structuralhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtDJ6Ay4QMw
NEWS VS. OPINIONS Has the line between news and commentary blurred?
MEDIA & POLITICSSetting the Public A genda NY T: “All the news that’s fit to print.” – says who? Media can influence what people think about Has the explosion of the internet and cable news helped to correct this problem, or is it worse now than ever before?
MEDIA & POLITICSInfluencing Elections T V allows for a direct appeal Social Media allows for more interaction Visual media makes image more important than ever Media covers the “horserace” How to get your candidate on T V: Interesting visuals Short, pithy quotes (sound bites)