The Media Effect: How the News Influences Politics and Government

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In a postmodern age where the media's depictions of reality serve as stand-ins for the real thing for so many Americans, how much government policy is being made on the basis of those mediated realities and on the public reaction to them? When those mediated depictions deviate from the truth of the actual situation, how serious a situation is that? Time and again, both anecdotal evidence and scientific research seem to confirm that the news media often influence government action. At the least, they speed up policy making that would otherwise take a slower, more reasoned course. Sometimes the media serve as the communication link among world leaders who may be ideological enemies. Because of the enduring popularity of television news, government leaders monitor the networks' story selections and track public opinion trends generated by interviews done in these stories. These then become the substance of proposed legislation and/or executive action, as politicians strive to prove themselves able listeners to the heartland of America and also prove themselves worthy of re-election. This book examines many specific events that show how major news operations either painted a truthful or distorted picture of national and international events, and how governmental leaders responded following those representations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Willis synthesizes the research literature on the American media, focusing primarily on the question of how media representations influence government decision- making, particularly the decision to go to war. He discusses how the media chooses what to cover and the media's ability or inability to cover stories accurately. He also discusses questions of media literacy, the symbiotic relationship between politicians and the media, and examples of how presidents have sought to manage media coverage throughout American history."


Reference & Research Book News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275994969
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/28/2007
  • Series: Democracy and the News Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

JIM WILLIS is a former newspaper reporter and editor for the Oklahoman and the Dallas Morning News who has been teaching journalism at the university level since 1980. He holds a Ph.D. in Journalism from the University of Missouri, and he currently chairs the Department of Communication Studies at Azusa Pacific University. He has held endowed chairs at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Memphis, is a former Communication Department chair at Boston College, and has been a professor at Ashland University as well as guest professor at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, and Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. Since leaving the practice of full-time daily journalism, he has covered numerous stories, including the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This is his tenth book on journalism and the news media.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword   Jeffrey Scheuer     ix
Preface     xi
Media Impact on Government: Views Vary     1
The Media and Political Action     15
The Media and National Development     29
How Events and Issues Become News     43
What the Research Reveals     55
Decoding the News: A Primer in Media Literacy     73
Politicians and Journalists: A Symbiotic Relationship     93
Presidents and the Press     105
Conducting War in a Media Age     117
The Media as the Fourth Estate     137
Notes     147
Selected Bibliography     155
Index     157
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