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high-tech politics

a politics in which the behavior of citizens and policymakers and the political agenda itself are increasingly shaped by technology

mass media

television, radio, newspapers, magazines, the internet, and other means of popular communication

media events

events that are purposely staged for the media and that are significant just because the media are there

press conference

meetings of public officials with reporters

investigative journalism

the use of in-depth reporting to unearth scandals, scams, and schemes, at times, putting reporters in adversarial relationships with political leaders

print media

newspapers and magazines, as compared with electronic media

electronic media

television, radio, and the Internet, as compared with print media


networks dealing with various subjects that had widespread public appeal, including politics and government


media programming on cable, TV (e.g., on MTV, ESPN, or C-SPAN) or the internet that is focused on a particular interest and aimed at a particular audience, in contrast to broadcasting


groups of newspapers published by media conglomerates and today accounting for over four-fifths of the nation's daily newspaper circulation


specific locations from which news frequently emenates, such as congress or the white house. most top reporters work a particular beat, thereby becoming specialists in what goes on at that location

trial balloons

international news leaks for the purpose of assessing the political reaction

talking head

a shot of a person's face talking directly to the camera. because such shots are visually unstimulating, the major networks rarely show politicians talking for very long

policy entrepreneurs

people who invest their political "capital" in an issue. According to John Kingdon, a policy entrepreneur "could be in or out of government, in elected or appointed positions, in interest groups or research organizations."

describe how american politicians choreograph their messages through the mass media

politicians stage media events for the primary purpose of getting attention from the media. these events are artfully stage-managed to present the intended message. campaign commericials are also carefully crafted to convey specific images and information

outline the key developments in the history of mass media and american politics

newspapers were long the dominant media through which americans got their news. but ever since the emergence of television they have been on the decline. the internet has further accelerated the decline of newspaper reading; newspaper have thus far failed to establish profitability for their online editions. the nightly network news broadcasts on CBS, NBC, and ABC were the #1 means by which americans got their news from the 1960s through the 1980s. But ever since the emergence of cable and cable news they have seen their audiences shrink, as american television has moved from the broadcasting to the narrowcasting era. the internet provides more access to political information than ever possible before. how much typical citizens will take advantage of these opportunities remains to be seen. but certainly campaigns and political activists have been able to use the internet to organize for political action and to get specially targeted messages out

list the major criteria that determine which news stories receive the most media attention

the media define "news" largely as events that are unusual and out of the ordinary. because of economic pressures, the media are biased in favor of stories with high drama that will attract people's interest instead of extended analyses of complex issues

analyze the impact the media has on what policy issues americans think about

the media are instrumental in setting the american policy agenda--that is, the issues that get seriously addressed by politicians. what issues americans think about is much influenced by which issues the media choose to cover. it has often been said that the media are a searchlight, bringing one episode and then another out of the darkness and into the public eye

explain how policy entrepreneurs employ media strategies to influence the public agenda

policy entrepreneurs seek to influence the policy agenda by getting the media to pay attention to the issues that they are particularly concerned with. they employ a variety of strategies to obtain media coverage, including mass press releases, press conferences, and letter writing. sometimes they will resort to staging dramatic events that are so interesting and unusual that reporters can hardly resist covering them.

assess the impact of the mass media on the scope of government and democracy in america

the media's role as watchdog over government sometimes constrains expansions of the scope of government by formenting skepticism about what government can accomplish. on the other hand, media crusades against injustices sometimes serve to encourage government to take on increased responsibilities. the media's superficial coverage of policy issues is criticized by many democratic theorists. yet, members of the media argue in their own defense that they are only providing the sort of coverage of politics that draws the biggest audiences

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