Role of the Media in American Politics

Table of Content

A free and unfastened media is indispensable to a operation democracy. Its function in political relations is to “encourage democratisation. beef up the regulation of jurisprudence and promote establishment building” ( UN News Center ) . In order for a democracy to work decently. citizens need to be informed on the issues at manus. in a just and indifferent mode. so they can do sound determinations as to which campaigners to vote for. The function of the media in democracy has been realized since the institute’s earliest origin.

In 1791 the 1st Amendment was made to the Bill of Rights. and it stated that “Congress shall do no jurisprudence esteeming an constitution of faith. or forbiding the free exercising thereof ; or foreshortening the freedom of address. or the imperativeness ; or the right of the people to peaceably to piece. and to petition the authorities for a damages of grievances” ( PBS ) . If free imperativeness becomes compromised. such as being taken over and run by colored private corporations. so a country’s democracy is at hazard. and it can take to the state going a fascist province. In America. the media plays a decisive function in political relations and in finding which dockets are successful and which are non and whether or non it has been compromised by private involvement continues to be debated.

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Bias in the Media

Whether or non any imperativeness can be genuinely free remains a topic of much argument. Media mercantile establishments. merely like any other endeavor. rely on a steady flow of financess in order to run. Therefore. they rely on patrons either through the gross revenues of advertizements or through authorities support. Media outlets besides much entreaty to the demands and gustatory sensations of the audience. Assorted media mercantile establishments must vie amongst each other for viewing audiences. so providing to the gustatory sensations of that audience becomes a scientific discipline. “Restricted by the limited gustatory sensations of the audience and reliant upon political elites for most information. journalists participate in an mutualist intelligence system. non a free market of ideas” ( Entman 3 ) . Since the media depends on private financess and big Numberss of viewing audiences. it is possible that its docket becomes compromised. from giving a just and indifferent intelligence study to one that caters towards the gustatory sensations of viewing audiences and investors.

While media mercantile establishments do hold the chance to be biased. depending on their audience and support. there are still a broad scope of mass media mercantile establishments for viewing audiences to take from. Viewing audiences have a pick as to where to acquire their intelligence from. If one station seems biased towards one point of view. the channel can rapidly be changed. Over the decennaries. engineering has increased the ways in which a spectator can acquire their intelligence. In the 1970’s. telecasting was the chief mercantile establishment for mass media. There were merely seven channels available to the mean family. and these captured 80 % of all screening.

However. engineering has changed this dramatically. In 2005. 85 % of families had entree to satellite or overseas telegram Television and had on norm a 100 channels to take from. Today. viewing audiences can besides take to acquire their intelligence non merely from Television but besides from the Internet and smart phones ( Muntz 224 ) . With the broad scope of picks as to where to acquire the intelligence. it would non be assumptive to anticipate a wider scope of political point of views to be expressed from assorted media mercantile establishments. However. this does non look to be the instance.

Journalists themselves are besides inherently biased. While the end of news media is to give a just and indifferent representation of the narrative being covered. a reporter’s personal positions. penchants. and designations with an issue or politician will doubtless come into drama. As good. journalists themselves are seeking a successful calling in media. In order to be successful. and stand out. they must cover narratives that “make it onto the front page or acquire tonss of airtime on the eventide news” ( Zaller 21-22 ) . Those narratives that get on the front page are those that appeal to the populace. Thus. those journalists are mare most expert at appealing to the involvements of the populace are those that are the most successful ( Zaller 22 ) . Therefore. the audience may frequently times end up having information that is more sensational than it is indifferent and informational.

Despite the broad scope of picks as to where to acquire their intelligence. it has been observed that the public’s point of views. every bit good as those of media mercantile establishments. have become progressively polarized over the old ages ( Muntz 224 ) . It has been proposed selectivity is to fault. that is. peoples built-in nature to choose those mercantile establishments which best represent their ain ideals. “Selectivity can take topographic point at several occasions with regard to mass media. including exposure to a peculiar beginning of political intelligence. attending to what the beginning says. and biased reading when treating the content of political news” ( Muntz 225 ) . It is human nature to desire to avoid that information which conflicts with their preexisting thoughts and beliefs. Therefore. while media mercantile establishments may offer viewing audiences information. the audience is non needfully traveling to listen to the information in a just and indifferent mode. Therefore. prejudice in the media is a bipartisan street between media mercantile establishments and the viewer’s themselves.

The Media and Political Campaign Coverage

The media and political relations come most closely into drama during presidential elections. Every four old ages. politicians conflict it out to see who will win the most favour from the American people to go the following president. It is the occupation of the media mercantile establishments to inform the populace about the assorted political campaigners. During elections. the campaigners can acquire rather negative on each other. The media. as it should. covers the narratives behind negative run advertizements. political addresss and arguments. Politicians who run the most negative runs. therefore. can stop up acquiring the most media coverage. This can take towards voter prejudice on both sides.

For illustration. during the 2012 run. the republican campaigners received a great trade of media coverage. The campaigners – Mitt Romney. Newt Gringrich. Ron Paul and Rick Santorum – were viing for republican nomination. The democratic nominate was assured. as it was the incumbent Barack Obama. So. there was far less media examination on Barack Obama and his issues. such as the success of his health care act or his namby-pamby stance on Super PAC’s ( Mark ) . Voters were more informed on the issues. and negative candidacy. of the republican campaigners.

Politicians rely on media political relations to both win elections and to mobilise public support for causes and the execution of undertakings while they are in office ( Zaller 1-2 ) . Therefore. they rely on journalists and newsmans to acquire their narrative out to audiences. However. the narrative that journalists choose to acquire out may non be the one the campaigner wants. This happens when the imperativeness uncovers a skeleton in the cupboard of a politician. or when a campaigner all of a sudden changes their place on an issue and the media exposes them as wishy-washy ( Zaller 13 ) . Depending on the campaigner. the media can be either a blessing or a flop to their political calling.

Citizens besides rely on media coverage in order to cognize who to vote for. The public wants to cognize what sort of ethical motives and moralss a politician has and what their stance is on issues that are of import to them. Persons all have different issues they want to see addressed during a presidential run. runing from revenue enhancements to abortion. Mass media mercantile establishments will canvass their audiences. and analyze their demographics. in order to cognize which types of narratives their audience will be most likely to place with and those are the narratives that will be covered in the intelligence.

Media and Government Exposure

The media besides plays a strong function in maintaining the authorities honest by exposing dirt and contention. In the early 1900’s. during what is known as the Progressive Era. a new manner of fact-finding news media was born. Dubbed by Theodore Roosevelt as “muckrakers” . these journalists “revealed illegal and unsavoury patterns of capital. labour. and province and local government” ( PBS ) . Fast forward to the 1970’s. and it was the same type of mudslingers who exposed the Watergate dirt. However. while democracy relies on the ability of fact-finding news media to expose dirts. this type of fact-finding coverage can besides take to sensationalism and narratives that are excessively seamy.

While the media can over sensationalize certain narratives. it can besides under expose them every bit good. An illustration would be the Iran-contra dirt. Before its exposure in late 1986. the Reagan disposal has denied that Oliver North had supported the Nicaraguan contra Rebels during the congressional prohibition on its assistance. Most members of the media. every bit good members of Congress. merely accepted the denials and failed to look into the narrative ( Entman 6 ) . Another illustration is the manner in which the media exposed the Watergate dirt. When the offenses really occurred. in 1972. Nixon was running for re-election. During this clip. the media merely presented sporadic studies to the populace. go forthing them ill-informed about the issue. Had the public been more cognizant of the dirt and its deductions. they may hold decided non to re-elect Mr. Nixon. Alternatively. he was re-elected and subsequently impeached. which was an awkward dirt for America.

Public Misinformation and Media Responsibility

The public accepts for fact that what they are told by the media. They trust the media to give them the whole narrative and for that narrative to be true. correct and indifferent. However. despite this. viewing audiences of mass media have been found to still be ill informed. For illustration: “Six months into the Iraq war. a survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that FOX News viewing audiences were more likely than consumers of any other major media mercantile establishment beginning to hold mistaken beliefs about Iraq. Including the belief that U. S. led forces had already found arms of mass devastation at that place. This belief was held by one out of every three FOX viewing audiences at the clip. compared to merely one out of 10 respondents who cited PBS or NPR as their chief beginning of intelligence ( Boehlert et Al ) . ”

Media Matters. an on-line intelligence beginning. has exposed media beginnings. like FOX. That consistently mislead the populace ( Boehlert et Al ) . Persons who are loyal to a specific media mercantile establishment trust them to give them the true facts. nevertheless. this trust may non be warranted. Viewing audiences must besides be held responsible for making their ain research in order to to the full understand an issue. Citizens depend on media to be the watchdogs of authorities. but who so is watching the media? Organizations like Media Matters seek to expose prejudice in media. Geting this message out to the populace has become easy with progresss in engineering and the outgrowth of societal media.

New Media

A new type of media has begun to emerge as a consequence of the rise of societal media and the Internet. Many people get their intelligence today non from a Television or print newspaper but from cyberspace sites. web logs. and societal media sites like Twitter and Facebook. “The World Wide Web and the attach toing detonation in “new media” have forced an turbulence in U. S. political relations in at least four countries. making 1 ) advanced ways to make electors ; 2 ) a radically changed intelligence system ; 3 ) an unprecedented inundation of little givers ; and 4 ) freshly empowered involvement groups on the left and right” ( Edsall ) .

The cyberspace is an cheap manner for politicians to derive maximal exposure. Even campaigners with smaller run financess can make a big audience if they are savvy to the ways of societal media and blogging. Since their operating expense is lower. little cyberspace based media mercantile establishments do non hold to trust on advertizers to maintain their ventures afloat. Therefore. their coverage does non necessitate to flex to the caprice of corporate patrons. In bend. the Internet besides allows for components to experience more affiliated to politicians. They can follow their personal Chirrup and Facebook pages. which may or. more likely. may non be updated by the existent politician themselves. but more likely a paid staff member. However. the degree of familiarity between the campaigner and the populace is heightened. and this may derive them more favour and. in the terminal. more ballots.

The cyberspace has given a voice and the power to alter to even the most fringy participants. For illustration. during the 2008 presidential election. an adjutant to Senator Barack Obama made a pseudo run ad picturing Hilary Clinton as an almighty dictator. The ad was played on YouTube and received over 1 million hits. While the ad itself may non hold changed the class of the election. it did demo merely how powerful the Internet can be in colourising public sentiment ( Edsall ) .


If it is true that democracy depends on the being of a free and indifferent media. so it may be argued that the United States if far from a true democracy. Bias is built-in in media: in the media outlets themselves. in the assorted members of authorities and political relations. in the journalists who report the intelligence and in the manner in which viewing audiences and audiences interact with media. However. the ideal that democracy depends on a truly free and indifferent media may be an unrealistic outlook because. in fact. the media will ever be biased because that is merely portion of its nature. We do non populate in an ideal universe. and ideals rapidly fade in the face of mundane world. Media must alter along with its altering society and political environment. In this manner. it does stand for the ideals and values of the twenty-four hours.

Today. we are witness to a clip of great alteration in footings of engineering and the manner in which information is disseminated. Just every bit rapidly as the political environment is altering so is the media that covers it. New engineering is giving rise to the exposure of political corruptness and authorities incompetency. It is giving a voice to the under paid and underrepresented voices of the populace. So in fact. it appears that the media is still making its occupation. However. it is still up to the person to stay informed on the issues at manus and to stay a loyal and informed citizen by size uping the media merely as they scrutinize the authorities.

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Role of the Media in American Politics. (2017, Jul 09). Retrieved from

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