The Media and Politics

According to Thomas Jefferson the role of the press in a democracy. Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I shall not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

In the democratic process, the media perform a two way function Political leaders use media channels to explain their actions and promote their causes. Simulataneously, they study the media to determine what voters think, what they desire, and how a mesh of political goals and voter attitude can be achieved.

The influence of the mass media on the political process is strong and easily discernible. Politicians maneuver to obtain 30-second interview “bites” on the evening TV news shows. Election campaigns are fought with 30 second TV commercials designed to project a calculated image of the candidate rather than the discussion of an issue. And two decade after the Vietnam War, pictures such as the uncompressing platoon remind us of war’s horrors and the American political failures of that struggle.

Democracy flourishes only when a free flow of information about the operation of government reaches the people. That is accomplished primarily through the media Daily news stories report spot, development while magazine articles, book and discussion groups in the electronic media examine trends and background influences at greater depth.

Recent emergence of the TV commercial as a principal campaign tool disturb many student of politics. The method is so enormously expensive that some candidates appear to spend more time raising money to buy a television time that they do in meeting voters. What TV watchers see is not the candidate in person but a shrewd advertising specialist’s image of the candidate. It is ironical that at a time when the tools of communication for exceeding those of the past, the live interplay of personality and ideas between candidates and voters has shriveled.

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