Essay on Media and Politics

1771 Words Apr 14th, 2008 8 Pages
One standard academic argument is that the media’s influence operates in terms of framing issues and setting the agenda for political discussion. In other words, the media tells us what to think about but not what to think. People form opinions from the information that is available. If that information is limited in some way, those opinions will be affected. Generally, the media have greater influence on undecided voters than on decided ones. They also have a greater influence at times of scandal or crisis, or when there is a highly polarized question driving an election. An example of that is the free trade federal election of 1988. It seems that when voters are undecided and when they are operating from an information deficit they seek …show more content…
Another way that mass media is politically influential is through deciding what to cover and what not to cover. Media outlets decide what counts as newsworthy. There may be more focus on a slight slip of the tongue of one candidate than the promises another candidate makes. The television and press coverage of the Persian Gulf War is vastly different from that of the Vietnam War. Vietnam was more about what was not being told and less about what was being accomplished. The Persian Gulf War had live reports from Baghdad with bombs bursting and gun shots ringing out. There were also stories about the atrocities that people in Kuwait were forced to live with. As American’s we could see the battle that was being fought, people felt connected to the story. The two wars were cast in such different lights causing very different feelings towards war being a necessary. Along with that, there is an influence on people when the media decides which experts to quote on an issue. They also control the information being presented by showing certain clips over and over (i.e. Hillary Clinton), asking certain questions during debates, and the people are making talk show appearances. It is important not to underestimate the importance radio talk shows because they tend to be highly polarized around particular players or hosts.
The media’s focus has shifted to candidate character and image

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