Political Communication

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Politics and the media have long been intimately involved with each other, with media strongly setting an agenda in which politics is very important. (Harris 1999,p.167) "Our perceived reality of the real world is largely a product of the media." (Harris 1999,p.186) It is not known which influences more but there are definitely two sides to the story. Many studies have been done to decide but each comes out with different answers. Many say that the media has more of an impact on politics than does politics on the media. "The two have always been natural adversaries." "Skewering each other in print and in conversation, but generally enjoying each other's company. (Forum) It is the role of the mass media to keep the general public informed and up to date with current news and events in their community, state, country, and around the world. In politics the media can either build or damage a political figure by changing the public's opinion. Many people depend heavily on television as their source of information where they see or hear about political issues, events, and policies because television is the single most powerful medium of global communication and nightly newscasts are the most frequently watched source of information for the public. (Forum) The mass media is everywhere we turn, from television sets, to airwaves, to print, and even the Internet. In their role, are they actually giving us the right message or is it a rumor, which you often see in tabloids in which it is created just to sell? 75% of the public believes that the top priority of the media is to find and report important information on public issues. Approximately 18% say that it is to give readers and viewers what they ask for. Less than 6% say that it should be for profit. (Forum) The Forum Magazine (September 1994) also discussed a survey done by Kees, a former executive editor of The Fresno Bee, and Phillips former chief of staff of the Republican National Committee. The survey results found many accusations were made about the media. They were more interested in sensationalism than issue, they were political insider's who can't report fairly, they didn't understand the real issues facing the country, they underestimate the public's taste, and they conspire to disgrace politicians. On the other hand the survey also accused the politicians of wrongful doings. It was stated that they waste taxpayers money on perks, listen to consultants and not the public, listen to the public only when running for office, gain support by promising jobs, and become corrupt. In this situation both have been affected.

The media frames many issues, which are the central organizing idea for making sense of relevant events, and suggesting what is at issue. News and information has no basic value unless implanted in a meaningful context, which organizes and provides it with logic. It shapes the way the public understands the cause and the solutions to political problems. (London)

The Media also sets the agenda. Many believe that this is against the democratic process. They determine what people believe to be important issues. When the media focuses on a problem, the public's opinions on that problem then become altered and this is also true for the president. The president reacts by responding to changes in attention to the media. The media has a strong influence on the policy agenda of public officials. The public's familiarity with political matters is closely related to the amount and extent of their attention to certain issues received in the mass media. (Edwards 1999, p.328) From this one can say that the media does in fact have the winning hand. "They may not be successful us what to think, but they are successful in telling us what to think about." (London) Television coverage can affect many attitudes of the public on the importance of certain issues so it should be quite important to public officials to put those on their...
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