Live from Capitol Hill!: Studies of Congress and the Media

Overview

In this fourth volume of his highly acclaimed Newswork series, Stephen Hess offers a revealing look at the culture of journalism in Washington and the relations between legislators and the media.

Satellite technology, cable television, and gavel-to-gavel coverage of floor proceedings in the House and Senate during the 1980s led many to believe that local media were challenging the importance of big-circulation newspapers and network television news. As headlines proclaimed that ...

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Overview

In this fourth volume of his highly acclaimed Newswork series, Stephen Hess offers a revealing look at the culture of journalism in Washington and the relations between legislators and the media.

Satellite technology, cable television, and gavel-to-gavel coverage of floor proceedings in the House and Senate during the 1980s led many to believe that local media were challenging the importance of big-circulation newspapers and network television news. As headlines proclaimed that hometown coverage was booming, observers envisioned new sources of information for viewers and voters. But journalists and scholars questioned whether increased local coverage would further ensure the reelection of incumbents, whether senators and representatives would become media show horses, and whether the commitment to representing the people would be compromised.

In Live from Capitol Hill! Hess challenges conventional wisdom about media-Congress relations by vividly exploring how Congress affects local news media and how the media influence Congress. He assesses how much gets reported by the Washington regional news bureaus and how little actually appears on television screens across the country, and discusses which members of Congress receive coverage and in what context. On the other side, he shows how legislators try to influence new coverage through press releases, video tapes, columns in local newspapers, and op-ed articles.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Hess is a treasure - a Washington insider with a sharp sense of the important, the interesting, and the mythological. This book is essential reading for Hill practitioners, journalists, and scholars of Congress and the media. -" —Steven S. Smith,, University of Minnesota

"This is the kind of engrossing, high-quality, data-based study that has made Stephen Hess's work so widely noted and respected. The work is appropriate for the scholarly trade, but journalists and lay-readers don't have to spend a lot of time cracking codes; the book is blessedly accessible... it's an elightening book... an influential and important one." —Ross Baker, Rutgers University

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Sprightly'' is not a word usually associated with social science writing, but Hess ( The Washington Reporters ), a senior fellow at Brookings, earns that adjective with this highly informative and often very funny portrait of how the media functions vis-a-vis the House and Senate. Drawing on extensive research into the content of local, regional and national news coverage, both print and broadcast, of Congress, Hess punctures numerous commonplaces. His work disproves the contentions that Hill reporters are lazy pack journalists who rewrite day-old press releases and that increased exposure has turned members of Congress into posturing media stars rather than serious legislators. Along the way, Hess produces a complex picture of the intricate play of forces that determines who gets on the evening news. Whenever his own reporting threatens to become too dry, he drops in a juicy item like the time that Rep. Silvio Conte ``wore a pig's snout during a House floor speech'' or an inside joke, such as the press secretary's answer to the question ``How many press secretaries does it take to change a light bulb?'' (``I don't have anything on that, but I'll get back to you'')p. 62 . (Oct.)
Library Journal
The love-hate relationship between Congress and the media is chronicled in this engrossing study of Washington journalism, the fourth volume in Hess's ``Newswork'' series ( The Washington Reporters , Brookings, 1981; The Government/Press Connection , Brookings, 1984; and The Ultimate Insiders , LJ 5/15/86). In the most illuminating chapter, ``The Washington Reporters Ten Years Later,'' Hess cites a survey that ``suggests that the gap between Washington journalists and other American journalists has narrowed significantly.'' He also focuses on local and regional news, networks, press secretaries, press releases, and press galleries. Most newsmakers, news writers, and news readers will be interested in Hess's research and conclusions. He shatters myths, challenges stereotypes, and even questions the power of the press. For journalism collections.-- Jo Cates, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, Ill.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815736288
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/1991
  • Series: Newswork Series
  • Pages: 178
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Hess is senior fellow emeritus in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and Distinguished Research Professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. He has been engaged in presidential transitions since he was a young speechwriter in the EisenhowerWhite House. He returned to the White House with President Richard Nixon, helped Jimmy Carter reorganize the Executive Office and advised the presidential transition teams of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and GeorgeW. Bush. His numerous books include Through Their Eyes: Foreign Correspondents in the United States (Brookings, 2005) and Organizing the Presidency (Brookings, 3rd ed in 2002 with James Pfiffner).

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