Political Science 1020E Lecture Notes - National Enquirer, Liberal Democracy, Totalitarianism

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June 16, 2008
The Political Process Contd’
The Media
Communications Media
oNewspapers, magazines, pamphlets, books, radio, television, recordings,
films, internet, direct mail
In our age of mass democracy, the media is vital for political information since
representatives now have so little direct contact with constituents
Political actors realize how powerful the media is
oThey need to manipulate it
“Spin doctors”
Political public relations specialists
Televised Debates
Paid political advertising
Public-opinion polling
Direct mail campaigns
The media usually tries to be objective but it must make certain value judgements
The media selects what is newsworthy
The media must select certain phrases to describe persons and
These are often value-loaded
oEx: is Yugoslavia fighting a “civil war” or is it
engaged in “ethnic cleansing”?
The modern Western media is very influential
oConsider that it was originally two reporters in the Washington Post who
ultimately brought Richard Nixon down in 1974
oHowever, liberal laws often force the media to be careful when making
certain accusations
Although the National Enquirer never seems to learn this lesson
The media, especially the print media, in most liberal democracies, is not
generally state-controlled
oMany newspapers are/have been controlled by wealthy individuals
oIn totalitarian countries, the state controls the media
oIn authoritarian countries, the state often dominates the “free media”
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