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Lecture 22

POSC150 Lecture 22: Lecture 22 How the Media Covers Politics POSC150

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Political Science

Lecture 22: How the Media Covers Politics I. Coverage of Politics  Focus on the President • President 60% • Congress 37% • Supreme Court 3% II. Why the President?  The President is a single person; cheap to cover  Congress is a large institution, not seen as interesting unless there is conflict  The Supreme Court is not public; expensive to cover  Very little coverage of executive branch agencies • These are large institutions; often expensive to cover; audience believed to be uninterested III. Coverage of Elections  Little detailed coverage of positions on issues • News organizations assume that people will tune out such coverage • Candidates proposals aren’t timely and novel  But, extensive coverage of candidates’ backgrounds and personal qualities • Can we relate with them? • Not a good indicator of a good president IV. Covering the “Horse Race”  Extensive coverage of the “horse race” • Candidates’ strategies, scandals, and gaffes • Reporters and pundits are called upon to predict political events in the near and distant future  Issues get filtered through these lenses  When candidates criticize each other, that gets covered • These elements change- thus they are timely and novel • Also fairly cheap to cover V. Campaigns and Agenda-Setting  Agenda Setting • The media does not tell us what to think, but rather what to think about  If an issue is salient in the mass media, the public assumes it to be important  Priming • The media “prime” us as to what issues we deem as important considerations during election time • We base our selection on our assessment of candidate stances on those issues • Significance: not only do the media have the power to direct our attention to which issues are important, but they also provide the spectrum of issues from which to base our candidate choice on. VI. Media Power in Campaign
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