The United Sates has always been considered one of the freest countries in the world, and the U. S. also has one of the freest media’s in our world. The government does regulate some things with the media but at the same time realizes that some things fall under the 1st amendment. In this essay I will discuss many parts of the media and some of its past. I will go into the history of the media, the role of television, political campaigns and the media, government and the media, regulation of the media, and bias in the media. I will also discuss why the media is so important to our country today.
The mass media performs a number of different functions in any country. The study of people and politics—of how people gain the information that they need to be able to choose among political candidates, to organize for their own interests, and to formulate opinions on the politics and decisions of the government—must take into account the role played by the media. Historically the print media played the most important role in informing public debate. The print media developed, for the most important role in informing public debate.
As internet use grows, the system of gathering and sharing news and information. Media plays a huge part in the government and political campaigns. The newspaper is one of the oldest forms of this. Roughly three thousand newspapers were being published by 1860 like, the New York Tribune, were mainly sensation mongers that concentrated on crimes, scandals, and the like. The New York Herald specialized in self-improvement and what today would be called practical news. The sole reason for the existence of such periodicals was further the interests of the politicians who paid for their publication.
The age of the electromagnetic signal lead to a few thousand people tuning in on very primitive, homemade sets. By 1924, there were nearly 1,400 radio stations. Just as technological change was responsible for the end of politically sponsored periodicals, technology is increasing the number of alternative news sources today the print media in catering to specialized tastes. The electronic media is becoming more and more like multiple news outlets have given rise to literally thousands of talk shows on television, radio, and the Internet. The internet also plays a big role in political media.
The Internet makes it possible for a Web site to be highly ideological or partisan and to encourage online chat with others of the same persuasion. Television is one of the most influential medium and is also big business. National news TV personalities such as Peter Jennings may earn millions of dollars per year from their TV contracts alone. By 2005, the amount of time the networks devoted to news-type programming have increased to about three hours, instead of eleven minutes in 1963. Television’s influence on the political process today is recognized by all who engage in the process.
Television news is often criticized for being superficial, particularly compared with the detailed coverage available in the print media, such as the New York Times. In fact, television news is constrained by its technical characteristics, the most important being the limitations of time—stories must be reported in only a few minutes. Television news can also be exploited for its drama by well-constructed stories. Some critics suggest that there is pressure to produce television news that has a “story-line,” like a novel or movie.
Because television is the primary news source for the majority of Americans, candidates and their consultants spend much of their time devising strategies that use television to their benefit. Three types of TV coverage are generally employed in campaigns for the presidency and other offices: advertising, management of news coverage, and campaign debates. All forms of the media—television, newspapers, radio, magazines, and online services—have a significant political impact on American society. Media influence is most obvious during political campaigns.
It is not too much to say that all national political figures, starting with the president, plan every public appearance and statement to attract media coverage. Since the daisy girl advertisement, negative advertising, negative advertising has come into its own. Candidates vie with one another to produce “attack” ads and then to counterattack when the opponent responds. The public claims not to like negative advertising, but as one consultant put it, “Negative advertising works. ” The widespread use of negative ads, can lead to reduced political participation and a general cynicism about politics.
Using political advertising to get a message across to the public is a very expensive tactic. Coverage by the news, however, is free; it simply demands that the campaign ensure that coverage takes place. In the recent years, campaign managers have shown increasing sophistication in creating newsworthy events for journalists to cover. Today, the art of putting the appropriate spin on a story or event is highly developed. Each presidential candidate’s press advisors, often referred to as spin doctors; try to convince the journalists that their interpretations of the political events are correct.
In presidential elections, perhaps just as important as political advertisements is the performance of the candidate in televised presidential debates. In general, challengers have much more to gain from debating than do incumbents. Challengers hope that the incumbent will make a mistake in the debate and undermine the “presidential” image. The question of how much influence the media have on voting is difficult to answer. Generally, individuals with certain preconceived ideas about political issues and candidates.
These attitudes and opinions act as a kind of perceptual screen that filters out information that makes people feel uncomfortable or that does not fit with their own ideas. The mass media not only wield considerable power when it comes to political campaigns, but they also, in one way or another, can wield power over the affairs of government officials. The relationship between the media and the president usually is reciprocal: each needs the other to thrive. Both the media and the president work hard to exploit one another. The media needs to report, and the president needs coverage.
In the U. S. , the prominence of the president is accentuated by a White House press corps that is assigned full-time to cover the presidency. Because of the press corps’ physical proximity to the president the chief executive cannot even take a brief stroll around the presidential swimming pool without it becoming news. According to a number of studies, the media plays an important part in setting the public agenda. Evidence is strong that whatever public problems receive the greatest media treatment will be cited by the public in contemporary surveys as the most important problems.
Although the media does not make policy decisions, they do influence to a significant extent the policy issues that will be decided—and this is an important part of the political process. The U. S. has one of the freest presses in the world. Nonetheless, regulation of the media does exist, particularly of the electronic media. The 1st amendment does not mention electronic media, which did not exist when the Bill of Rights was written. For many reasons, the government has much greater control over the electronic media than it does over printed media.
Many FCC rules have dealt with ownership of news media, such as how many stations a network can own. Recently, the FCC has decided to auction off hundreds of radio frequencies, allowing the expansion of cellular telephone applications. In 1996, Congress passed legislation that has far-reaching implications for the communications industry—the Telecommunications Act. The act opened the door to competition and led to more options for consumers, who now can choose among multiple competitors for all of these services delivered to the home.
At the same time, it launched a race among competing companies to control media ownership. The United States Supreme Court has often been slow to extend free speech and free press guarantees to new media. For example, in 1915, the Court held that “as a matter of common sense,” free speech protections did not apply to cinema. Only in 1952 did the Court find that motion pictures were covered by the 1st amendment. In contrast, the Court extended full protection to the Internet almost immediately by striking down provisions of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Cable TV also received broad protection in 2000.
Both the FCC and the courts gradually have taken the stance that citizens do have a right of access to the media, particularly the electronic media. The argument is that because the airwaves are public, the government has the right to dictate how they are used. Technology is giving more citizens access to the electronic media and, in particular, to television. As more cable operators have more airtime to sell, some of it will remain unused and will be available for public access. At the same time, the Internet makes media access by the public very easy, although not everyone has the resources to take advantage of it.
Many studies have been undertaken to try to identify the sources and direction of bias in the media, and these studies have reached different conclusions. Some claim that the press has a liberal bias. Others conclude that the press shows a conservative bias. Still others do not see any notable partisan bias. In a classic study conducted in the 1980’s, researchers found that media producers, editors, and reporters (the “media elite”) exhibited a notably liberal and “left leaning” bias in their news coverage.
Since then, the contention that the media has a liberal bias has been repeated time and again. In contrast, some journalists argue that the media has, on the whole, a conservative bias. They claim that unwarranted perception of a liberal bias has intimidated the media into presenting the more conservative opinions. They find that conservative bias is the strongest in the media’s coverage in economic issues. They also observe that the almost complete dominance of talk radio by conservatives has given the political right an outlet that the political left cannot counter.
Others see the media as biased toward the “status quo,” meaning that the media are biased toward supporting corporate America and its aims. This group believes that the press tends to downplay the complaints made by people who are seen as being on the fingers of the political spectrum, especially on the left. Still others contend that the media are biased against “losers. ” For example, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, concludes that if there is a bias in the press, it is not a partisan bias but a bias against losers.
A candidate who falls behind in a race is immediately labeled a “loser,” making it even more difficult for that candidate to regain favor in the voters’ eyes. Calvin F. Exoo has offered yet another theory. In his study f politics in the media, he concluded that journalists are constrained by both the pro-America bias of the media’s owners and the journalists own code of objectivity. Most are more interested in improving their career prospects by covering the winning candidate and pleasing their editors to get better assignments than they are in discussing public policies.
Thus, the bias in the media is toward not criticizing the American system and on producing “news” that will attract viewers and readers without threatening the American way of life. The analysis would support Thomas E. Patterson’s view that the bias of news media is to emphasize bad news rather than any partisan position. The media, particularly during elections, can influence your everyday life in many ways. The media are always present with political stories, issues, and debates. In the print media, you cannot avoid political discussions ecause they are regular features. When you watch the news on TV, you see political stories every day. If you listen to commercial radio, you hear political news at least once an hour. During campaigns, you encounter paid political announcements on a regular basis in all media. You may find the media annoying when they cover something you think is silly or insignificant. Nevertheless, the media remain important simply because they are the vehicles through which you obtain information about the current state of affairs both within and outside the United States.
Today in addition to traditional news media, the Internet provides easy access to an expanded set of viewpoints. Not only can you access the Web sites of TV news shows, domestic newspapers and magazines, and a variety of sources of political commentary, but in addition you can access foreign newspapers. So whether you agree with some of the media out there it will still influence your decisions in a lot of ways, beneficial or not. The media is one of the most used sources of Americans. Politics wants to get news out there so you can be informed on certain things so they use the media to benefit them and you.