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Lecture 15

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Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Peter Fragiskatos

PoliSci1020E December 6, 2011 Lecture 15 TOPIC Political Culture, Political Socialization, and the News Media  Communication and Symbols  Objectivity  The Propaganda Model  Are we being informed? Political Culture Defined  Political culture refers to the thoughts, attitudes, assumptions, and values of individuals and groups. It is a mindset that makes clear what is acceptable and unacceptable in terms of how we deal with society‟s problems. We are not born with these mindsets – we learn them. Thus political socialization is very important. It is the process through which people acquire these thoughts, values, and assumptions fo their political culture. This is often done through the media.  Our thoughts and feelings are told to others through communications – through symbols. A symbol is anything that communicates the thoughts and feelings that are in our minds. Sometimes they refer to things that we actually see. Sometimes they express emotions (e.g. poverty is wrong and must end – you see it, but an emotional response is also triggered). Other times, thoughts and feelings can blend together. Symbols include photographs, painted pictures, spoken words, and written words. While symbols express thoughts and feelings, they also generate thoughts and feelings in the viewer.  Symbols are mediums (“middle”). It is something that stands between you and something else (can be physical or non-physical). It is through the medium that thoughts and feelings are communicated – “media” derives from the word “medium.” Thus media is something that transmits thoughts and feelings.  Mediums are not neutral. They shape certain understandings. A person speaking, for example, can be talked about in terms of as a medium. How you say something or what you say can shape the understandings of the person(s) you‟re speaking to.  News – any story or issue that has legitimate social consequences. Objectivity  Media in political culture opens up the question whether or not media can be objective.  Objectivity – the ability to study the facts without adhering to previously forms opinions and judgements. To be objective is to give both sides of the story.  What might prevent objectivity from happening? Many believe it is an impossible ideal. o It is impossible to separate opinions in re-telling a story. The Propaganda Model  Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman.  Propaganda – Communication practices that mislead people, and get them to do things that they wouldn‟t do if they were adequately informed. This is done to benefit the interests of those voicing the misleading message.  Even in a free society, we see propaganada all the time, put forward by the news media. It is propelled by those who own the media and those have the power to shape what the media says (the state).  There is no formal agreement on what will be reported.  Instead, they say that all news passes through 5 filters. We only see and read what gets through the filters. Filters: o Ownership  In modern democracies, newspapers, radio, and television stations can be owned publicly (CBC) or privately. Public ones are funded through Canadian tax dollars (2011 – $1.1 billion for CBC). They are not told what to say by the government.  Privately owned networks (CTV, Global, National Post). They are owned by large companies and corporations. Their job is to report the news, but they are more concerned with bringing in viewers – to make profit.  How has ownership affected the Canadian news world?  Conrad Black  By his own admission, he was in the business to make money – not to serve the public good.  He owns dozens of newspapers across the country.  He re-created the National Post, and wanted to create a paper for classical and liberal conserves.  He hired editors (assign stories to journalists) that held his opinions (of how to run the state and re-shape society). Those that didn‟t share his opinions often quit.
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