Since its beginning, about five decades ago, the mass media have been intertwined with political processes of every type, ranging from coverage of major political events and institutions to effects on campaigns and elections. In our liberal democracies, the media are central for the public: people have come to treat television, radio, newspapers, magazines and Internet as the basis on which to think and act in the world. We will devote special attention to television. Indeed, from its early position as a new medium for political coverage in the 1950s, it quickly supplanted radio and eventually newspapers to become by the early 1960s the major source of public information about politics. First, we will explore the power of the media over the political process. The media create the rules and set the agendas for coverage of politics.
[...] In the opinion of political scientist Thomas E.Patterson, author of Out of Order (1994), the media had become barrier between the candidates and the voters rather than a bridge connecting them”. Ultimately, the media holds the capacity to make or break political careers. It is suggested that the predominance of polling by news outlet turns election into popularity contests and causes candidates to follow rather than lead voter opinion on contemporary issues. Television news also plays a major role in the coverage of the presidential candidate selection process before the national party conventions as it can help determine which candidates are perceived by the electorate as viable and which to dismiss as unlikely to succeed. [...]
[...] In his inaugural address, he told voters, have raised your voices in an unmistakable chorus, you have cast your votes in historic numbers, and you have changed the political process itself”. These shows have provided candidates with new ways to pitch their messages, often with the benefit of direct voter call-in questions. Although direct communication between politicians and voters is beneficial to the electoral process, many new media format allow candidates to lie or intentionally mislead voters because no reporters are present to ask probing or clarifying questions. [...]
[...] Media access to the political process expands and Internet could provide the type of open political communication necessary in a democratic society. The media are the means by which the public acquires information about the world and, more importantly, through which the public derives its knowledge and perceptions of current political and social problems. For good or ill, the media have become no less an “institution” of our political process than are the other institutions such as the Presidency and political parties. [...]
[...] What is more, the spots, because they occur in the middle of other programming fare, have been shown to overcome partisan selectivity (e.g., the spots are seen by all voters, not just those whose political party is the same as that of the candidate). Finally, research has shown that voters actually learn more about issues from political spots than they do from television news or television debates. The first presidential election to see extensive use of television was the 1952 race between Dwight D. [...]
[...] What is more, television may play an important role in political socialisation, helping both children and adults to acquire knowledge about the political system and how it operates. For example, television provides audiences with the chance to experience live or with little delay aspects of the political process such as major political events. In the USA, television covered its first series of national party conventions in 1952. It was believed that such attention would bring the party process into the open and help voters better understand the political selection process. [...]
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