Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bias And The Media

All of us know the effect of the media in politics and in political campaigns.  We believe that it is true to say that media coverage can make or break a candidate, depending on their feelings towards the person.  The most blatant example of media bias was seen during the candidacy of Barack Obama.  All three of the major networks clearly favored him as the candidate and did little to support the GOP. 

The election of 2012 is probably the most important election of our (the Two Sisters) lifetime.  The Democratic candidate will be unchallenged and announced his bid for reelection earlier than most.  The GOP field is having a much more difficult time shaping up, and the media have already begun to choose their favorites.

We began to think about this subject when we noticed that  our particular favorite, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is seldom mentioned in the media, particularly in the conservative media.  Governor Pawlenty is described as a "milquetoast," lacking "charisma." Have we as a nation lost our moral fiber and character to such an extent that we choose our candidates according to the sort of "dog and pony show" they can put on during the campaign?

Would Barack Obama have been elected had he not had the amounts of money, the celebrity backing, and the "Hollywood movie sets" with free concerts and free food to lure in the star struck crowds?  Every event his campaign team put on received full media coverage and adulation, while the Republican candidates were shown at slim crowds shaking hands and kissing babies.  It was coverage not intended to send a "thrill up the leg" of Republican supporters!

While reading up on the subject of media bias, we came across an essay written by a student named Tatum Wilcox.  It was written in 2007 but the facts presented in the article, and the role of the media in politics is just as true today as it was nearly four years ago.  The media hasn't changed its ways, and the American public have not changed theirs.

Isn't it time that we as Americans become independent thinkers?  We often think about how former presidents campaigned before the age of electronics, and media domination.  There was certainly another criteria used to choose our presidents and "charisma" did not enter into it.  We were a young nation then, and Americans voted for the man they felt would be the best leader for our nation.  Two hundred years ago we were an emerging nation trying to get a foothold in the world.  Today, unfortunately, we are a nation hoping to re-emerge unto the world stage.  We appear to some as a bankrupt country, we dare say, a morally and financially bankrupt one. 

Our next president, regardless of media coverage should be one with experience, integrity, Honesty, (with a capital H) a respect for the Law of the Land, and a love of country that is unsurpassed by any other allegiance.  We truly believe that a leader who possesses those qualities can begin to restore our nation to its former greatness.
Two Sisters


Media influence on politics and government

by Tatum Wilcox
December 14, 2007

The media plays a substantial role in the development of government. The media gives people access to be able to choose a political party, devise attitudes on government parties and government decisions, and manage their own interests. From newspapers to television to radio to the Internet, the media is the leading factor in political communication and fund-raising.

The mass media performs six main functions, almost all with political insinuations: 1) entertainment, 2) reporting the news, 3) identifying public problems, 4) socializing new generations, 5) providing a political forum, and 6) making profits. Its influence is more prominent during political campaigns because news coverage of a single event could turn out to be the most significant factor in putting a candidate ahead. In fact, countless national political figures, including the president, plan public appearances and statements to expand their influence through the media.

Candidates and their consultants consume much of their time devising strategies to get the most impact on television viewers. Types of coverage used by candidates for any office include advertising, management of news coverage, and campaign debates. The appearance of candidates in presidential debates is as important as the news coverage itself.

In general people already have their own ideas when they view television, read newspapers, or log on to websites. This leads to "selective attentiveness" and acts as a type of filter that allows the viewer to pay attention to the details that agree with his or her own opinion. The media are more effective with those who have not formed a stable political opinion, whether it is on issues or candidates. Studies show that commercials and debates aired right before election day have the most effect on undecided viewers. Voters who have already formed their opinions are hardly influenced by the media to the point of changing their minds.

Not only does the mass media have extensive authority in political campaigns, but they can even exercise power over government officials and affairs. The media and the president both need each other; "The media need news to report, and the president may need coverage." Therefore, both the president and the media work hard to utilize one another. Public problems that receive the most media coverage are considered to be the most important ones by the public, giving the media an important role in the public agenda. The media provides the government with a better understanding of the need and desires of the society.

Several studies have taken place to decide which way media bias sways. Some say they lean more towards the liberal side, while others say they go more towards the conservative side. Even so, some say there is no notable bias. Yet others agree that the media has a bias toward the "status quo" or towards candidates labeled as losers- making it difficult for candidates labeled as such to regain their ground. Calvin F. Exoo "concluded that journalists are constrained by both the pro-America bias of the media's owners and the journalists' own code of objectivity."

Overall, the media are always present with new stories on political activities. Political discussions cannot be avoided in the print media, political stories are aired on television everyday, commercial radio airs political news every hour, and paid political announcements are encountered in all media during campaigns. The media remains important since they are the means by which people obtain current affairs both inside and outside of the United States- however biased it may be.


Copyright 2007 - Tatum Wilcox

 
Two Sisters are delighted to have found this gem of an essay by a young student.  We often do not give our young people enough credit for being able to think and express themselves in such an honest, objective fashion.  Reading Tatum Wilcox's essay reinforced our belief that we are often manipulated by politicians, campaign managers, and above all a media that has lost its direction and its objectivity.

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