How broad is the effect of the media on public opinion? Is there merit to the "minimal effect hypothesis" or can the media employ strategies to effectively influence what Americans think about?
How does the media's agenda setting shape the public's perception of issues? In other words, why might the focus of the economic crisis of 2008 have impacted the views of George H.W. Bush and John McCain during that election season?
How do policy entrepreneurs invest "political capital" on an issue? What are their "weapons" and which ones have the most profound impact?
How does the media act as a "watchdog" over the government? Does this limit or expand politicians' abilities to effectively enact policy?
Why is television seen as a tool to further individualism in American politics? How does this shape the ways in which certain politicians receive attention in the media?
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
What is defined as newsworthy? Why is it that odd stories generate more attention, and how might that affect the extent to which the average American is informed about politics?
How do journalists locate news sources, and how do they test the waters for how a story will be received (i.e. discuss beats and trial balloons).
How do sound bites affect our ability to truly understand a news piece? What does this suggest about how the mass media may not be changing for the better?
What is a larger problem—news reports that are biased, or those that tend to report only sensational stories? Why? Why are talking heads increasingly falling out of favor?
Terms and Related Questions (define terms in bold and answer questions)
- High-tech politics
- Consider an example of how technology shapes both political behavior and the political agenda. Is this a positive development? Consider how few people tune into Obama's speech compared to how many watched Reagan's in the 1980s. Why might this be?
- Mass media
- How does the mass media effectively communicate a message to as many people as possible? What does this have to do with media events?
- Press conferences
- Discuss the relationship between the press and the president earlier in the 20th century (during FDR's administration) and how it evolved (or should we say devolved) closer to Vietnam and Watergate. How did this contribute to investigative journalism?
- Which forms of media are consumed more, and which, in your opinion, are more effective: print media, or electronic media? Why?
- How has broadcasting evolved into narrowcasting? How does this affect the way in which people are informed by the mass media?
- Has the growing diversification of the mass media contributed to selective exposure? Why or why not?
- Does the internet enhance or detract from citizens' political knowledge?
- How does the fact that the media is privately controlled (consider the role of chains specifically here) impact our quality of news and our knowledge?
Identifications and Related Questions (please make sure to answer questions in your homework)
- Political Participation
- What are examples of political participation, both conventional and unconventional? Which, in your opinion, is more effective and why?
- To what extent is this an effective form of political participation? How (and with what effect) does protest institute policy change?
- Civil Disobedience
- Why has this form of protest waned in recent years?
- How does race and ethnicity impact political participation?
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Terms/ideas to Outline:
- political socialization (including a few examples)
- random sampling (including an explanation of its purpose)
- sampling error (including what influences it, and whether it has increased recently)
- random digit dialing (including why this method is becoming less effective)
- criticisms of polls (including bandwagon effect and exit polls) -- how can these be inaccurate?
- reasons for the decline of trust in the government
Terms to Define:
- public opinion (including a reference as to why it is complex)
- census (including a discussion of its purpose, how it is conducted, and problems within the process)
- the three waves of immigration
- Johnson-Reid Immigration Act
- Hart-Celler Immigration Act
- minority majority
- Simpson-Mazzoli Act
- Reapportionment (including relationship to the census, and how this shift impacts distinct regions)