The Effectiveness of Media to Pursue Political Agendas

Topics: Barack Obama, Mass media, Watergate scandal Pages: 6 (2302 words) Published: September 28, 2011
With Media Coverage and Persuasion for All

When it comes to swaying the public’s opinion, it is most important for political leaders. They must win the votes of the people, sometimes at any means necessary. While it may sound like it is alluding to violence, it is actually making reference to the techniques this fourth branch of the media uses. These techniques give the media the ability to set the political agenda and force political leaders to pay attention. They also make the public open their eyes to the platforms being presented.

 Newsmaking, agenda setting, interpreting, socializing, and persuading all give the media power. Hern P. Zenarosa states, “The fact is, the media is widely recognized to be the vital link between the government and the people it serves…” (Dealing with the media). This should not be surprising, due to the general purpose of the media. The purpose of the media is to link different principles to the public. The media usually consists of television, radio, internet, and magazines. It has grown to include blogs and video blogs.

These mediums all use the previously stated five functions. To begin with, newsmaking is used by the media determining what will be news. This allows them to attach importance to certain events and people. For example, every press release that is pitched is not picked up because it is irrelevant to the media outlet. Undercover journalism can create a threat to politicians and bureaucrats, revealing a scandal or ineffectiveness. Such was the case with The Washington Post covering the Watergate story.

The story appealed to two Washington Post reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward who were assigned the Watergate story. In an article the Washington Post posted online regarding its coverage of the Watergate scandal, it informed: As the two reporters pursued the story, Woodward relied on Mark Felt, a high ranking official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as a confidential source. With access to FBI reports on the burglary investigation, Felt could confirm or deny what other sources were telling The Post reporters. He also could tell them what leads to pursue. Woodward agreed to keep his identity secret, referring to him in conversations with colleagues only as "Deep Throat." His identity would not become public until 2005, 33 years later… Nixon's aides had run "a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage" on behalf of Nixon's reelection effort…But while other newspapers ignored the story and voters gave Nixon a huge majority in November 1972, the White House continued to denounce The Post's coverage as biased and misleading. (The Post Investigates, 2010) Also, the media provide opportunities for political actors to gain the limelight through staging media events and providing "sound bytes." By the same token, events which are not pictorial in nature may be relatively neglected by the media. For example, President Obama held numerous rallies across the country to inform the public of his platform, provoke them to vote, and sway their votes if they were not voting for him. Had these events not been televised in their respective cities, they might not have been able to get the attention of their publics.

Another function which is used is agenda setting. This is the backbone of the media. The respective outlets will select what they will cover, in so doing setting a political agenda. On the contrary, the media’s carelessness can allow governments to carry on unproductive policies. The media can even drive a dormant matter into a "crisis" with which government must deal. For example, last June a nonprofit nutrition watchdog group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, announced that it will sue McDonald’s if the fast-food chain continues to use toys to promote Happy Meals (Phoenix business journal). While this story did make national news, we can consider what would have taken place if this story did not get local coverage. Obesity is...

Cited: Barack Obama Ad - "Mother" Perf. President Barack Obama. 21 Sept. 2007. Web. 6 Dec. 2010. <>.
Kress, Adam. "McDonald 's May Get Sued over Happy Meal Toys | Phoenix Business Journal." Business News | The Business Journals. 22 June 2010. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. <>.
"SplitScreen Compare: Biden Interview with McCain 's." YouTube. User: Neutralpundit, 28 Oct. 2008. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. <>.
"The Watergate Story | The Post Investigates (" Washington Post - Politics, National, World & D.C. Area News and Headlines - 2010. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. <>.
Zenarosa, Hern P. "Dealing with the Media | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online." | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online. 07 July 2010. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. <>.
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