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The Media's Impact on Politics, Government and Elections.
The Media is a complicated part of the American Government knotted with the practice of democracy. Like anywhere in the world, in America too, media is the primary source for any news or happenings. This primary source, even though it is so important, has a vast influence on what the public thinks about certain things, about politics, and public opinion. In addition, the media gives the public an idea of what is important and who is important. the media decides what is imperative in terms of setting the national agenda and what to do to affect the public opinion about candidates.
A major way the media manipulates the public opinion is by making the public aware of certain facts in regard to government choices and information. Everyday the press releases exclusive information about the government to the public which influences public opinion. People all over the nation get influenced by what the media tells them. if the media would not do what it does, it would take forever for the entire nation to get educated on whats happening in the country and about political events. Nowadays, it is very easy to get instant updates on governmental processes because of the internet, radio, television and other communication technology.
The media influences the public opinion by agenda setting also. Since there are a lot of rising concerns in America, the media has to chose which ones they will go over. The public believes that the issues that the media goes through the most are the most important. For instance, if the media lays emphasis on health care or gun control, that is what the public is going to believe is most important. Once the public considers a certain topic to be of major concern, it is then initiated into the legislature quickly. The media has the power to make an impression that particular issues are of more importance as compared to others. These issues are moslt related to strategy, scandal and personal life's of politicians. These issues capture the less interesting stories because the audience is not as interested in them and media agencies do not make as much money.
The most peculiar way the media manipulates the public opinion is by portraying the characteristics of the candidates via TV and radio. The media has set forth certain expectations from candidates like good looks, good speaking skills to large groups of people. Public might not acknowledge the fact that they too look for those certain things in candidates but they do, even if it is unintentional because that is what the media has literally taught the media to do so. Even if one candidate had better policies that the other who could only speak better, the public would chose the one who has the better speaking skills rather than the one who has better policies.
The media also manipulates public opinions by their capability to express their views in a certain tone to their viewers. Most of the times, a news agency's personal opinions are expressed in their reviews and articles. When the public reads and listens to their views, they believe that what they say holds true for everyone's opinions. The media also conveys certain issues in certain ways that change the impression of the governmental agencies, politicians and politics. Adversely, most people hold a pessimistic view of governmental agencies, politicians and politics because of the media. This also caused the participation of the public in voting to go down on a national level. A major part of America has a negative, doubtful and cynical view of the government.
The news agencies also change voting opinions because the media persistently attacks the public with negative connotations of the candidates and campaign agencies. The most obvious consequence is a major decline in voting rates at the ballot. The way the media portrays candidates and their campaigns decreases voter attendance because of the tactics applied by candidates and their campaigning parties. “voter attendance has drastically gone down from 75%-85% during the 19th century to lower than 55% in modern day elections.” (Lewis) This outcome of a reduced elector attendance discloses very pessimistic opinions towards the government from the citizens of America. “Electronic forecasting on or a day before the election has become the most commonly used method by the media for predicting election results.” (Bishop) This method discourages the citizens to vote for the candidate who they planned on voting for because the media shows them that the opposing candidate has more power and say among voters and electors in the nation. Electronic forecasting or exit polling has also become a method for news agencies and researchers to conduct mass surveys. “Another connotation to electronic forecasting is that the public assumes that a certain candidate is going to win because of what the media predicted and do not even bother electing for their choice since they are aware of who has the better change of winning.”(Bishop)
The citizens insight if a particular prejudice and constructive media also becomes a factor for the decline in electors. “Recent research and data shows that the American citizens view the media and government as gradually lesser dependable.” (Rouner) Sponsorships and memberships to news groups are also seen as effecting the voting rates because they news group of agency may support a particular candidate which make all of its readers and reviewers to hold the same view.
The media will constantly notify the public and to determine which issues are of prime concern. The citizens of America have a lot of reliance on the media to form their own opinions about issues. The media changes the publics opinions in both good and bad ways but if the media was to remain unbiased it would not change voting rates and behaviors drastically they way it has in the past few years.
Barrett, Laurence I. "Getting down and dirty (presidential Campaign)." Time March 1992: 28-30
Bishop, George F. "Secret ballots and self-reports in an exit poll experiment." Public Opinion Quarterly 59.4 (Winter 1995): 568-569.
Lewis, Peirce. "Politics: who cares? (voter turnout for 1992 Presidential elections) (cover story)." American Demographics 16.10 (Oct. 1994): 20-27
Rouner, Donna. "How perceptions of news bias in news sources Relate to beliefs about media bias." Newspaper Research Journal 20.2 (Spring 1999): 41-50