The Media and
American Politics
Dr. Christopher S. Rice
Roles of the Media in a
Democratic Society
Common Carrier

Watchdog

Signaler

Public
Representative
Common Carrier

Watchdog

Signaler

Public
Representative
The media as common carrier
Serve as channels of communication
among political and governmental
institutions
Spin Doctors
Spin Doctors
2
legitimate
illegitimate
legitimate
The incredible shrinking
sound bite
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

Signaler

Public
Representative
The media as watchdog
should dig up facts, warn public when
officials are doing something wrong
Watergate
Abu Ghraib
NSA Domestic Spying Scandal
The importance of the
First Amendment...
(cc) 2007 Flickr user Thorne Enterprises
Roles of the Media in a
Democratic Society
Common Carrier

Watchdog

Signaler

Public
Representative
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

Signaler

Public
Representative
The media as public representative
critical political linkage serving as
spokesperson/advocate for the public
2
Advocacy
SelfInterested
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.
2. Make sure people
associate Clinton...
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 "The roots
of FOX News Channel's day-to-day
on-air bias...
?

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
interests ...
People tend to be more concerned about
media bias than they are about
government censorship in the United
States.

(cc) 20...
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
How Fox News has
blurred the line between
commentators and
reporters.
Subtle techniques of slanting news
Subtle techniques of slanting news
l

How you choose your sources.
Subtle techniques of slanting news
l

How you choose your sources.

l

Controlling the prominence of a
story – above or ...
Subtle techniques of slanting news
l

How you choose your sources.

l

Controlling the prominence of a
story – above or ...
Subtle techniques of slanting news
l

How you choose your sources.

l

Controlling the prominence of a
story – above or ...
Subtle techniques of slanting news
l

How you choose your sources.

l

Controlling the prominence of a
story – above or ...
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
Foreign Affairs
Economics
Foreign Affairs
Economics
Politicians
PS 101 the media and american politics fall 2013
PS 101 the media and american politics fall 2013
PS 101 the media and american politics fall 2013
PS 101 the media and american politics fall 2013
PS 101 the media and american politics fall 2013
PS 101 the media and american politics fall 2013
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PS 101 the media and american politics fall 2013

  1. 1. The Media and American Politics Dr. Christopher S. Rice
  2. 2. Roles of the Media in a Democratic Society Common Carrier Watchdog Signaler Public Representative
  3. 3. Common Carrier Watchdog Signaler Public Representative
  4. 4. The media as common carrier Serve as channels of communication among political and governmental institutions
  5. 5. Spin Doctors
  6. 6. Spin Doctors
  7. 7. 2
  8. 8. legitimate
  9. 9. illegitimate legitimate
  10. 10. The incredible shrinking sound bite
  11. 11. The incredible shrinking sound bite
  12. 12. Sound Bite Amount of time a politician or candidate is allowed to speak without interruption
  13. 13. Percentage of Chart That Looks Like Pac-Man Percentage of Chart That Does Not Look Like Pac-Man
  14. 14. 1960’s 40 sec.
  15. 15. 2008 <10 sec.
  16. 16. Roles of the Media in a Democratic Society Common Carrier Watchdog Signaler Public Representative
  17. 17. The media as watchdog should dig up facts, warn public when officials are doing something wrong
  18. 18. Watergate
  19. 19. Abu Ghraib
  20. 20. NSA Domestic Spying Scandal
  21. 21. The importance of the First Amendment... (cc) 2007 Flickr user Thorne Enterprises
  22. 22. Roles of the Media in a Democratic Society Common Carrier Watchdog Signaler Public Representative
  23. 23. The media as signaler alert the public to important events, keep public informed in a timely manner
  24. 24. “Just the facts, ma’am!” (cc) 2006 Flickr user alex-s
  25. 25. Clarify Electoral Choices (c) 2008 Yahoo! Source: http:/ /www.techcrunch.com/wp-content/yahoodashboardb.jpg
  26. 26. Roles of the Media in a Democratic Society Common Carrier Watchdog Signaler Public Representative
  27. 27. The media as public representative critical political linkage serving as spokesperson/advocate for the public
  28. 28. 2
  29. 29. Advocacy
  30. 30. SelfInterested Actor
  31. 31. FAIL
  32. 32. 2
  33. 33. Lack of Accountability
  34. 34. POV = Bias?
  35. 35. Effects of the Media on Politics
  36. 36. 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.
  37. 37. Policy Preferences
  38. 38. How to Jump Start the Economy: Tax Rebates OR Public Investment
  39. 39. Effects on Policymaking Direct
  40. 40. Effects on Policymaking Indirect
  41. 41. What is Bias?
  42. 42. TRUE or FALSE: Research has found no significant evidence of ideological or partisan bias in the US media.
  43. 43. TRUE!
  44. 44. (cc) 2005 Flickr user jovike Hard to define
  45. 45. (cc) 2006 Flickr user Aussiegall Hard to measure
  46. 46. ? Count the proportion of references to a political figure or policy which seem to be positive or negative?
  47. 47. ? A deviation from some perfect representation of objective reality?
  48. 48. ? Slanted language?
  49. 49. ? Don’t all of these involve personal judgment of some sort?
  50. 50. FOX News's editorial policy is set from the top down, stating that "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
  51. 51. ? Is bias just negative coverage?
  52. 52. ? What is objectivity, anyway?
  53. 53. The problem of “Fair and balanced” (cc) 2006 Flickr user Capt Kodak
  54. 54. Media Bias The tendency to present information unfairly and inaccurately so as to consistently favor one set of interests over another.
  55. 55. People tend to be more concerned about media bias than they are about government censorship in the United States. (cc) 2007 Flickr user satanoid
  56. 56. Objective Journalism
  57. 57. 2
  58. 58. Descriptive Reporting Straightforward description of the facts
  59. 59. Interpretive Journalism Analysis and explanation of developments, not just reporting “the facts.”
  60. 60. How Experts Are Selected
  61. 61. How Fox News has blurred the line between commentators and reporters.
  62. 62. Subtle techniques of slanting news
  63. 63. Subtle techniques of slanting news l How you choose your sources.
  64. 64. Subtle techniques of slanting news l How you choose your sources. l Controlling the prominence of a story – above or below fold, page 1 or buried.
  65. 65. Subtle techniques of slanting news l How you choose your sources. l Controlling the prominence of a story – above or below fold, page 1 or buried. l Solicitation and selection of quotations.
  66. 66. Subtle techniques of slanting news l How you choose your sources. l Controlling the prominence of a story – above or below fold, page 1 or buried. l Solicitation and selection of quotations. l Choose which facts to report.
  67. 67. Subtle techniques of slanting news l How you choose your sources. l Controlling the prominence of a story – above or below fold, page 1 or buried. l Solicitation and selection of quotations. l Choose which facts to report. l Frame the meaning of stories with the headline or first line of story.
  68. 68. Is the Media biased?
  69. 69. Even if we can’t be sure media is biased (or to what extent), we CAN identify certain tendencies in media coverage…
  70. 70. Dominant Points of View
  71. 71. 3
  72. 72. Foreign Affairs
  73. 73. Foreign Affairs Economics
  74. 74. Foreign Affairs Economics Politicians

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