Mass Media • and the political agenda
Essential Questions • How does a politician use the media to talk to the public and how does the public use the media to talk to a politician? • Does the media assist, impede, or transform these messages?
The Mass Media Today • Modern political success depends upon control of the mass media • Image making does not stop with the campaign • It is a critical element in day-to-day governing since politicians’ images in the press are good indicators of their clout (media event- 30 second presidency)
Meet the master of mass media 7 principals of Reagan • plan ahead • stay on the offensive • control the flow of information • limit reporters’ access to the president • talk about the issues you want to talk about • speak in one voice • repeat the same message many times
Development of Media Politics • First it was newspapers • FDR used media effectively (1000 press conferences - fireside chats) • Vietnam and Watergate soured the press on the gov’t • now the perspective is investigative journalism (pitting reporters against political leaders)
Mass Media McNugget vs. Whole Chicken
Television As Mass Media • Broadcast journalism has replaced print media as America’s principal sources of news and information • 1960’s debates b/w Nixon and Kennedy • Nation was taken to war with Vietnam • exposed the gov’t naivete/lying about the progress of war • today - embedded reporters • Birth of cable TV • Internet - instant news
Mass Media - Regulation • Ownership: large corporations & some foreign investors (Fox = Rupert Murdock -Australian) • Regulation: FCC licensing controls- created 1934 by Congress • FCC is independent regulatory body - but in practice it is subject to many political pressures
Mass Media - Regulation • FCC • Regulates market in 3 important ways • prevent near-monopolies of control over a broadcast market- rules limit number of stations owned/controlled by one company • FCC conducts periodic examinations of the goals and performance of stations as part of its licensing authority • FCC has issued a number of fair treatment rules concerning access to the airwaves for political candidates and office holders
Fairness Doctrine FCC requires those who hold broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public concern in a fair, equitable manner don’t confuse this w/ Equal Time Rule which ony deals w/ political candidates SC upheld FCC right to enforce fairness doctrine but not the obligation to do so (Red Lion Broadcasting v FCC 1969) 1987 FCC abolished the fairness doctrine
Mass Media - Regulation • INTERNET has added a whole new element.... • narrowcasting - increase of “broadcast” channels that are oriented toward particularly narrow audiences • Traditional broadcast news is being partially replaced by political Web sites, bloggers, The Daily Show • Current pending legislation adds more limits (not more than 25% of local market) Telecommunications Act of 1996
Current Issues A bipartisan Congressional group has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate Google's alleged policy of blocking high-cost calls to rural areas. According to Reuters, the legislators described Google's position as "ill conceived and unfair to our rural constituents." http://www.tgdaily.com/business-and-law-features/44237-congress-demands-fcc-probe-of-google-voice With the release of the Federal Communications Commission's new Internet nondiscrimination proposals (that is, network neutrality), one vexing question continues to vex. Does the FCC have the legal authority to regulate access to the 'Net? The issue came up again this week, and not just because of the net neutrality proceeding; Comcast, which is suing the FCC for its sanctions against the ISP for last year's P2P throttling, told a federal court hearing the case that the answer is no. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/11/does-the-fcc-have-authority-to-enforce-net-neutrality-rules.ars
Current Issues http://www.pbs.org/moyers/moyersonamerica/net/index.html Visit this website to check out the issues with the Net - A Bill Moyers discussion
REporting the news • American media is free and independent when it comes to journalistic content - still totally dependent on advertising revenues to keep the business going. • News reporting is a business in America in which profits shape how journalist define what is newsworthy, where they get their information, and how they present it. • TV networks, it could be said, define news as what is entertaining to the average viewer
Mass Media - SignificAnce of Ownership • National level: impact on elections and everyday politics – daily news, campaign ads, in-depth news shows, campaign sites • Star quality of some news journalists( Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Wolf Blitzer…) “experts” • Stories presented driven by hidden agendas (ie: corporate ownership) • Most stories accepted by the public as FACT • Emerging role of the internet as a legitimate news source (CNN, CMBC, MSNBC) and as a more questionable source (Drudge Report)
Mass Media - SignificAnce of Ownership • What is the role of the profit motive in how journalists report the news? • What if we had a publically funded information service?
Mass Media - Role as Gatekeeper • Controls what is news and for how long • Auto safety, water pollution, crime rates, etc. • Can help to set or swing the political agenda • Can be biased • By ownership of the media • By ability to “sell” a story (or advertising) • Journalist’s personal bias
Mass Media - Agenda Setter • People try to influence the gov’ts policy agenda when they confront gov’t officials with problems they expect them to solve. • Interest groups, political parties, politicians, public relations firms, and bureaucratic agencies are all pushing for their priorities to take precedence over others. • Political activists (often called policy entrepreneurs - people who invest their “political capital” in an issue) depend heavily on the media to get their ideas placed high on the governmental agenda
Mass Media - Role as Scorekeeper • Historically it was believed media had little effect on public opinion • “Minimal effects hypothesis” based on looking for direct impacts such as how people vote • BUT...if focus is on how the media affects what Americans think about, it does seem that the media has a considerable effect on public opinion. • Decision to cover or to ignore certain issues can affect public opinion. By focusing public attention on a specific problem(s), the media influence the criteria by which the public evaluates political leaders.
Mass Media - Effect on Politics • Campaigning • Largest factor in driving up the cost of campaigns • Equal time rule doesn’t affect all (3rd parties – ie: Perot) • Necessity of exposure: key to nomination • Can show a bias
Mass Media - Bias in Media • Not all bias is deliberate but can be detected by watching the following techniques: • Selection & ommission: choice of news items; content & details used/not; words used • Placement: first page stories/above fold; lead off stories – reflect significance • Headlines: most read part of the paper – wording & size can reflect bias • Photos & camera angle: visual portrayal can show bias as can captions
Mass Media - Bias in Media Names & titles: choice of words such as “terrorist” or “freedom fighter” clearly indicate bias Statistics: opinion can be reflected in method of counting – “a hundred injured in crash” vs. “minor injuries in crash” Source: supplier of the information and their credibility – PR director’s puffpiece; staged-events (sit-ins, ribbon cutting, demonstration) Word choice & tone: use of positive or negative words – value judgments Media ownership: trying not to offend sponsors, ownership, etc
Mass Media Names & titles: choice of words such as “terrorist” or “freedom fighter” clearly indicate bias Statistics: opinion can be reflected in method of counting – “a hundred injured in crash” vs. “minor injuries in crash” Source: supplier of the information and their credibility – PR director’s puffpiece; staged-events (sit-ins, ribbon cutting, demonstration) Word choice & tone: use of positive or negative words – value judgments Media ownership: trying not to offend sponsors, ownership, etc
Mass Media - Effect on Politics • Conducting Politics • Events like conventions, Presidential addresses are staged to accommodate media, esp. electronic • Issues are established by media attention • Affects the popularity of President and Congress • Media can be manipulated • By government: press conferences and “leaks” • Investigative report shows (Dateline, 20/20) that attempt to influence agenda and cause distrust (Dan Rather’s debacle in Campaign 2004- Bush Nat’l Guard story) What does Wag The Dog mean?
Mass Media - Role as Scorekeeper • Decides who is winning and losing • Disproportionate attention given to 1st primaries (can shape the campaign or kill and candidate) • Can be found in regular news as well as the election news (i.e., presenting an issue as if it has “lost” such as a piece of legislation before the vote)
Mass Media - Role as Watchdog • Exposing scandals and intrigues • Began with Woodward and Bernstein breaking Watergate in The Washington Post • Especially seen in election analysis of candidates • Can drive policy by “creating” an issue • Time magazine cover on Bob Dole’s Age 1996 • Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton publicity • Swiftboat Controversy in 2004
Mass Media The media act as a linkage institutionbetween people and the policymakers It has a profound impact on the political policy agenda Robert Gibbs Pres. Obama’s press secretary
Mass Media Watchdog function of media helps to keep gov’t small many people feel the media is biased against whoever holds office and that reporters want to expose them in the media With every new proposal being met with skepticism, regular constraints are placed on gov’t growth
Mass Media Of course, when the media focuses on injustice in society, the media inevitably encourage the growth of gov’t. The media portray gov’t as responsible for handling almost every major problem
Mass Media TV has furthered individualism in the American political process candidates can appeal directly to the people through TV has it made political parties decline in the face of candidates’ personalities?
Mass Media The rise of the “information society” has not brought about a corresponding rise of an “informed society” With media’s superficial treatment of important policy issues, it is clear the increase in the amount and availability of information has not increased voters political participation/awareness
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING Evaluate whether American mass media has become too powerful. In particular, is the impact of mass media on public opinion and public outcomes consistent with the concepts of limited gov’t and balanced power? Is there any democratic way to hold mass media organizations accountable for their behavior?