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Does The Media Have Too Much Influence In American Policymaking?

2462 words - 10 pages

Does the media have too much influence in American policymaking? Explain your answer.
Man has always had a thirst for knowledge and desire to know what is happening and what may happen in the future, it is a necessity to know what is happening now as a means of forming the events of the future. In recent years it has become increasingly easier for the public to gain information on current events, political scandals, international conflicts and relations. There has been a communications revolution which has transformed the way in which information is passed and how people access and process what they hear. With the creation of twenty-four hour news channels, online journals and social ...view middle of the document...

There are a number of alternatives to the mainstream mass media however the majority of the American public turn to newspapers, popular radio channels and television stations as their news sources for information and understanding. A poll in 2001 found that 62% of Americans got their news sources from television, 22% from newspapers, 12% from radio and 3% from other sources (Haimes, 2002)
However it is not just the general public in America that relies so much on the media giants, because of the power the media has over the public, the political elite and members of high society also rely heavily on the media. The government gaining public support is not always easy, and if the media can influence the public into agreeing with the governing body then policies have a much greater chance of unchallenged success. The United States elite recognised the value and advantages of media involvement a long time ago, “In recognition of the role that the press played in the nation’s founding, and in appreciation of the crucial role it plays in maintaining a free society, the press was granted special protections under the First Amendment. But the founders knew that a free press would be worth little if the people could not read it, so public education became one of the great obsessions of the leaders of the early republic. [The problem in Europe at that time] was restricting education to the wealthy, in the mistaken belief that “knowledge is the parent of sedition and insurrection.” Instead, he wrote, education was vital to the maintenance of a free society. This concern with education was widespread in the founding generation, and Thomas Jefferson famously listed the establishment of the University of Virginia as one of the three great accomplishments of his life (he omitted his presidency from the list).” (Cornog, 2005). Political parties and officials need to work with the media if they want to receive positive coverage in the news, if the media are against a party or official the public will more than likely also be against them, it is this power that is one of the key factors that enables the media to have an input into the political agenda. The mainstream media are highly selective over what stories they report and how they are reported, the news reported may not be very in depth of completely factually accurate. The American media has been accused of favouring “Republicans, the establishment, and conservative views” (Greenberg and Page, 2008, 170) and being biased in what decisions they decide have more merit to be reported over others, in a 1999-2000 investigation under taken by Lexis-Nexis it was found that media coverage over this period covered 949 conservative officials referenced and only 161 liberals. It is obvious from these findings that the media can certainly be very one sided in the way in which it reports certain issues, this one sided approach in turn has as an effect on the public and their views on the officials running their country...

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