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Mass Media and Public Opinion

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  1. Mass Media and Public Opinion Chapter 8

  2. The Formation of Public Opinion • Public Opinion: it is a complex collection of the opinions of many different people. Usually refers to the attitudes held by a significant number of people on matters of government and politics.

  3. The Formation of Public Opinion • Public opinion is only concerned with public affairs; those events and issues that concern the people at large.

  4. Public Affairs 2008- 2009 • Economy • Iraq • Gas Prices • Health Care • Terrorism • Election order

  5. The Family • Help you to form your public opinions. Have a monopoly on children in their young formative years.

  6. The Schools • A lot of formal and informal learning occurs at school. • Group association, friends, teachers.

  7. Other Factors • Mass Media: forms of communication that reach large, widely dispersed audiences simultaneously. • Peers: made up of people with whom one regularly associates.

  8. Other Factors • Opinion Leaders: a person who has an unusually strong influence on the views of others. • Historic Events: Great Depression, Civil Rights movement, $700 Billion bailout, Watergate.

  9. Chapter 8 Section 2 Measuring Public Opinion

  10. Measuring Public Opinion • How is it measured? • Polls • Elections • Candidates will frequently claim to have received a mandate; instructions or commands a constituency gives to its elected officials.

  11. Interest Groups • Are private organizations whose members share certain views and work to shape the making and the content of public policy. • AKA special interest groups • How many people are represented, and how strong are their views?

  12. The Media • Not always good indicators of public opinion, often only of a reflection of the views of a minority. • Jimmy “The Greek”

  13. Personal Contacts • Often road tours, or trips back home to gauge the response of the constituency.

  14. Polls- The Best Measure • Devices that attempt to collect information by asking people questions. • Straw Vote: polls that seek to read the public’s mind simply by asking the same question of a large number of people. • can be risky and inaccurate

  15. Scientific Polling • The Gallup Organization and the Louis Harris and Associates. • Essentially they are highly sophisticated polls • www.gallup.com/home.aspx

  16. The Polling Process

  17. Limits on the Impact of Public Opinion • Polls must be evaluated for their accuracy. • Polls are not elections!

  18. Chapter 8 Section 3 The Mass Media

  19. The Role of Mass Media • Medium: is a means of communication; it transmits some kind of information. Media is the plural of medium. • Television • Newspapers • Radio • Magazines • Internet  more important now

  20. Television • 98% of homes in the U.S. have at least one television. • Major news networks. • CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, C-Span, PBS • Local News

  21. Newspapers, Radio, and Magazines • Declining forms of media, but still largely used. • Almost all will be biased, or supportive of certain candidates or ideologies. • http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/default_archive.asp?fpArchive=110508

  22. Internet • Highly used in the most recent campaign • Even local elections used internet • Facebook, MySpace, blogs, and many more. • 24% got their news here in 2008, 9% in 2000

  23. The Media and Politics • Public Agenda: the societal problems that political leaders and citizens agree need government attention. • Electoral Politics: candidates no longer as dependent on parties because of media. News relies on quick exciting stories and sound bites.

  24. Limits on Media Influence • People do not follow political events very closely. • Estimates of around 10-15% of those voting are well informed. • Broadcast news is quick and hard hitting, newspapers more detailed, but less used. • http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/254871/wed-november-4-2009-al-gore

  25. Homework • Page 238 • #2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9