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Flashcards in The Media Deck (37)
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mass media

Mass media refers to all forms of communication that are designed to reach the general public and includes the Internet, magazines, newspapers, radio, and television.


What nickname do the bureaucracy and mass media share?

Bureaucracy and mass media are both commonly referred to as "The Fourth Branch of Government." While the bureaucracy often makes regulations that have the force of law and drives foreign and domestic policy, the media often places issues of foreign and domestic policy before the public.


What were the first forms of mass media?

The first forms of mass media were pamphlets and essays, which gained traction during the Revolutionary Period.

Publications such as Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania and Common Sense were published in pamphlets, which were often read aloud in taverns for general consumption and swayed public opinion toward a break with Great Britain.


During most of the 19th century, what relationship was shared by newspapers and political parties?

During most of the 19th century, newspapers were closely tied to political parties. For instance, the Albany Evening Journal supported the Whig Party (and later the Republican Party), while the Albany Argus was an organ of the Democratic Party.


yellow journalism

Yellow journalism was a form of newspaper publishing prominent in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that featured sensational headlines (often only remotely connected with facts), exaggeration, and fear-inducing news stories.

Unlike previous newspapers, the yellow journals and those that followed in their wake created their own stories, which drove political action. For instance, publisher William Randolph Hearst is widely credited with instigating the U.S. declaration of war against Spain in 1898.



Muckrakers were professional journalists who wrote mainly for magazines during the early 20th century. Muckrakers exposed political and business corruption, working conditions in industry and agriculture, and sexual harrassment.

While magazines had previously been issue-driven (e.g. Railway Age), muckraking aided in making general issue magazines such as McClure's popular and profitable. 


What do critics mean when they deride certain media organs as "lapdogs"?

When critics refer to certain media as a lapdog, they are referring to the practice of granting favorable political reporting in exchange for continued access. As an example, a reporter who writes stories praising a president may be allowed further interviews with the president. Critics complain that this type of reporting is often biased.


Who was the first president to use the power of radio effectively?

Franklin Roosevelt gave frequent radio addresses, known as "Fireside Chats." These talks allowed Roosevelt to speak directly to the American public.

Even today, presidents deliver weekly radio addresses.


What is the largest form of mass media today?

The largest form of mass media today is television. Televised political journalism became popular in television's early years with even-handed and informative broadcasts such as 60 Minutes or Walter Cronkite's news broadcasts.

Cronkite was so respected that when he reported that America had lost the Vietnam War, President Johnson reportedly stated "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."


What are some of the criticisms of television news?

Criticisms of television news:

  • Complex issues are not substantively presented due to time constraints
  • Politicians develop soundbites to cater to television, rather than complex solutions to difficult issues
  • Conservatives say television news has a liberal bias (though studies have failed to prove this)


Each year, more Americans use the Internet to access news stories. What are some of the concerns regarding Internet news?

Although Internet news enables anyone to access coverage of issues they care about, when and where they want, anyone can post a story on the Internet, so accuracy of Internet news reporting continues to be a concern.


What two events established the media as the public's watchdog over the government and gave birth to modern investigative journalism?

The Vietnam War and the Watergate coverup established the media as a government watchdog.

In the early 1970s, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post uncovered a vast coverup of corruption in the Nixon White House, partly through the help of a disgruntled FBI employee. Woodward's and Bernstein's efforts gave birth to modern investigative journalism.


When critics denounce the mass media's "junkyard dog function," to what conduct are they referring?

Critics are referring to the efforts of attack media, who focus on scandals and titillating headlines to garner fame for themselves by creating outrageous attacks.

Examples of the junkyard dog function include the Monica Lewinsky and Larry Craig scandals.


How does mass media drive the public agenda?

Mass media drives the public agenda by focusing on certain stories and issues, which then become the focus of domestic and foreign policy debates.

As an example, after an undercover reporter revealed corruption at ACORN (a community housing organization), legislators cut off funding for the organization.


How do mass media and political campaigns interact?

Mass media is integral in defining public perception of a candidate, and candidates are careful to stage speeches to the media, often limiting questions to friendly reporters.

Sometimes these efforts backfire. During the 1988 presidential campaign, Michael Dukakis was photographed in an M-1 Abrams tank attempting to appear martial. The image backfired and was roundly mocked as silly -- a death knell for any presidential candidate.


news cycle

The term "news cycle" refers to the amount of time it takes the news media to report on a story and then broadcast on public perceptions on the story. Politicians often try to take advantage of a news cycle by timing press releases and events.

For instance, bad news is often delivered on a Friday (when few are paying attention), and good news is delivered early in the week.


adversarial press

The term adversarial press refers to a press that is suspicious of information presented by public officials, and that attempts to investigate and report stories which contradict the information presented by those officials.



Gatekeepers are those in the mass media who decide whether a message will be distributed. The term may refer to media executives, editorial boards, editors, or reporters.  

Given the limited amount of messages that can reach and be disseminated by the general public, gatekeepers decide what stories should be covered and what stories should be ignored.



Instead of traditional broadcasting, narrowcasting is the dissemination of information to a specialized audience. 

With the proliferation of cable television, narrowcasting has become commonplace with entire networks devoted to narrow audiences. This trend includes political reporting with some 24-hour news channels specifically catering to conservatives or liberals.


Who owns most mass media outlets in the United States?

Although there are a few media outlets that receive public support (e.g. the Public Broadcasting Service), most media outlets are privately owned.

While private ownership ensures that media outlets are independent of the government, it also requires that media outlets must attract viewers, which can lead to more sensationalist stories rather than truly important ones.


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an executive agency, is responsible for "technical regulation." What does "technical regulation" mean?

Technical regulation refers to the FCC's control over certain technical aspects of broadcasting, such as assigning radio wavelengths to certain stations or establishing standards related to picture quality.


The Telecommunications Act of 1996 permitted _____ _____, the ownership of multiple media outlets by a single person or corporation.


Prior to 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prohibited a single person or corporation from owning more than one broadcast license in a given community. The Telecommunications Act permitted single corporations to acquire large media holdings.


How does the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) engage in censorship?

The FCC enforces indecency regulations on public airwaves and can issue fines for nudity or profanity.


on the record

An on-the-record quote means a reporter may identify the source by name.

By contrast, a quote "off-the-record" means the reporter may not repeat the quote, nor identify its source.


on background

When an official indicates that the information is provided to a reporter "on background" it means that the reporter can print the information and attribute it to an official, but not identify the official by name.

"On deep background" allows the reporter to print the information, but not attribute it to any official at all.


What are shield laws?

Shield laws guarantee reporters the right to protect the anonymity of their sources.

The most common example of a protected source took place during the Watergate Era, when Washington Post reporters Bob Woodword and Carl Bernstein shielded the identity of Mark Felt, a disgruntled FBI assistant director who was providing them information on the Nixon Administration.


The "Fairness Doctrine" refers to what type of activity?

The Fairness Doctrine refers to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requiring holders of broadcast licenses to devote airtime to discussing controversial issues of public importance, and to air contrasting views regarding those issues.

The Fairness Doctrine was established in 1949, and revoked in 1987.


The Federal Communications Commission enforces the Equal Time Rule. What does the Equal Time Rule state?

The Equal Time Rule says that if a licensed broadcast station gives free airtime to one political candidate, it must also give the same amount of airtime to that candidate's opponent upon request.


Political talk radio programs such as the Rush Limbaugh Program are most commonly comprised of speakers from what side of the political aisle?

Most talk radio programs are conservative, and shows such as the Rush Limbaugh Program have been enormously successful, but not without some controversy.

An effort to launch a liberal alternative, known as Air America, went bankrupt in 2010.


What is the Associated Press?

The Associated Press (AP) is a non-profit organization owned by newspapers, radio, and television stations. The AP writes stories on its own behalf which are then distributed to its members for publication. It also republishes stories previously published by its member newspapers.

The AP allows smaller regional newspapers to publish articles on national issues, without placing their own correspondents in Washington D.C.