Topics and Readings
Test Study Guide
This course examines the role of the mass media in American politics. It covers all forms of media(TV, radio, newspapers, the Internet). It examines the political functions of the media: 1) information distribution, 2) agenda setting, 3) framing issues (interpretation), 4) watchdog, and 5) socialization (the media's attempt to motivate the public to do the right thing, such as, volunteer, vote, pay taxes, etc.).
Specific subject areas include media influence in: election campaigns, public policy formation, and the development of public opinion. It also examines the struggle between journalists, political actors, and the public for control of the news in American society. The course investigates how the news media function as an intermediary between governments and citizens.
The course will investigate the criticisms of the media. These include: 1) media bias, 2) coverage of campaigns as horse race, 3) negative nature of news, 4) concentration of ownership, 5) emphasis on entertainment, and 6) media failure to debate issues and give alternative points of view.
Finally, the course covers the impact of news media on public policy both domestic and foreign and the concomitant quest for balance between First Amendment freedoms and effective governmental actions especially involving national security management.
The course is divided into three parts. Part I deals with introduction to the media and its role in a democracy. We analyze the modern media and how news has changed. This will also include the criticisms of the media. Part II will examine media's role in election campaigns and coverage of the institutions of government. This will involve the conflict between the media's desire for information and the government's attempt to manage the news. Special attention will be given to new media such as, blogs and social media. Part III will provide conclusions about how well the media is performing its role as watchdog as how effect many of the new trends in political coverage are serving democracy.
Doris A. Graber, Mass Media and American Politics, 8th edition, CQ Press, 2010. Additional readings will be assigned by the instructor or placed on the Topics and Readings page.
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