The Press and American Politics: The New Mediator (3rd Edition)

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9780130264046: The Press and American Politics: The New Mediator (3rd Edition)

Very contemporary in perspective, this book provides a well-balanced survey of all aspects of the relationship between the press and American politics. It portrays the relationship as interactive and symbiotic (rather than one-sided) and dissects the media's role as mediator in the political processes of American politics. Explores news-gathering and news-shaping, effects of media on the mass public, the electoral functions and effects of the news media, the interaction with political institutions and organizations, and the media's policymaking role, governmental regulation of media, global comparisons, historical and technological changes, and more. For anyone interested in the media/politics connection.

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From the Publisher:

This text explores all aspects of the relationship between the press and American politics. It takes a well-balanced stance portraying the role of the media as a new mediator in the political processes of American politics.

From the Inside Flap:

Preface

Since the first edition of this book was published nine years ago, the field of political communication has been dynamic. The Internet and other new media—talk radio, television talk, and entertainment programming—have altered not only how presidential candidates campaign but also how politics is conducted in the United States.

The original thesis—the news media have become new mediators in American politics and they enjoy greater autonomy today than ever before—has been reconfirmed during the 1990s. Politicians deal with an ever-changing media climate. These new media forms possess, to an even greater degree, entertainment and commercial values that differ significantly from political values. In many ways, they enjoy even greater autonomy from politicians than do the traditional media.

However, the news media's role as intermediary does not assume Americans are mere sponges absorbing every message emanating from the media. Nor does it mean that the news media are intent on imposing a partisan or ideological bias, or conversely, that the news media are merely tools in the hands of manipulative public officials. These assumptions permeate much of what is written about the press.

In this third edition, these assumptions are addressed and discarded in favor of a more complex role for the news media as a mediator intersecting with other traditional mediators such as political parties, political elites, and interest groups in American political processes such as the electoral process and policy making. The object of our attention will be interaction rather than expected dominance or subservience.

The following questions are typical of the ones answered in this book: What is the relationship of the news media to political institutions and process? How has the process evolved historically? How do reporters interact with policy makers in the making of news about public policy? How has communications technology shaped that interaction?

The third edition has added a new chapter, which reviews the role of new media forms such as the Internet, talk radio, and television talk in American politics at the turn of a new century.

In addition, updated material has been added concerning the significant events of the past five years—media role in the Clinton scandals and impeachment process, U.S. military intervention and press coverage, and the presidential campaigns of 1996 and 2000.

This book is organized to facilitate a student's understanding of the dynamic and multifaceted nature of this interaction. The first chapter analyzes the communication revolution that has enhanced media role in American politics. It includes a review of the technological changes such as cable, satellites, and computer networks that have impacted American politics.

Chapters 2 and 3 narrate the historical development of the news media's political role in the United States. From the colonial period to the rise of broadcasting in the twentieth century, the changes shaping both the political and media systems are documented.

Chapter 4 contrasts the U.S. media with those of other nations—liberal democracies, emerging democracies, and authoritarian regimes.

The next chapter completes the context section by explaining the government regulatory function over the news media and how that function has affected broadcast and print differently.

Chapter 6 explains who the American news media are and their different forms. Chapter 7 turns to the role of the new media in today's politics. The next two chapters take up the process of news gathering and then the ways in which that process is affected by individuals, institutions, and organizations who attempt to manage the news.

Chapter 10 addresses the question of media effects on the mass public. This chapter describes an interactive audience using the news media more than being abused by it.

The next two chapters relate how the news media perform significant roles in the conduct of campaigns and how presidential candidates have adjusted their campaigning styles to the presence of the media. Special emphasis is placed on the 1992 presidential campaign.

Interaction between the news media and political institutions and organizations is the subject of the next five chapters. The relationship of the media with the presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court, the bureaucracy, and interest groups is described in each of the respective chapters with frequent comparative references across institutions.

The media's policy-making role is described in the final two chapters. The first of these chapters relates the role of the news media in the policy making process, with particular attention to domestic public policy. The following chapter addresses news coverage of U.S. foreign and defense policy. News coverage of U.S. military involvement in recent regional crises—such as Kosovo, the Persian Gulf War, Somalia, and Bosnia—is featured.

The conclusion discusses the future of the news media role in American democracy and analyzes proposed reforms in both the media and the political systems.

Any book is the product of the combined effort of many people whose names never appear in print. I do not even know the names of the typesetters, production personnel, marketing staff, warehouse clerks, and sales representatives who cooperate in the production and sale of a book. Nevertheless I thank them for their work in making this book a reality.

My research assistants—Amy Bice, Robert Floyd, Linsey Sommers, and Kristen Winmill—and the reviewers—Scott Althaus, University of Illinois; Stephen C. Brooks, University of Akron; Larry Elowitz, Georgia College and State University; Matthew R Kerbel, Villanova University; and J. David Woodard, Clemson University—have provided invaluable help in completing this book. Prentice Hall editor Beth Gillett Mejia has been encouraging throughout the process.

Last but not least, words cannot describe my feelings for my family who have supported me through this inexplicable passion to write. Thank you so very much.

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