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Media and Politics

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Submitted By blaine
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One standard academic argument is that the media’s influence operates in terms of framing issues and setting the agenda for political discussion. In other words, the media tells us what to think about but not what to think. People form opinions from the information that is available. If that information is limited in some way, those opinions will be affected. Generally, the media have greater influence on undecided voters than on decided ones. They also have a greater influence at times of scandal or crisis, or when there is a highly polarized question driving an election. An example of that is the free trade federal election of 1988. It seems that when voters are undecided and when they are operating from an information deficit they seek out the media. Therefore, when a high proportion of the electorate is undecided, the media play a greater role.
The media exerts influence during elections in many ways. The very basics of today’s campaigns are centered on getting media attention. It is exploitation at its best. Candidates, parties, and interest groups exploit the media to get their opinions across and the media exploits these same groups to make money and have something to report on.
Framing is a major component of influencing the public. While the media is not telling us what to think it can in fact give subtle clues to suggest how to think about certain issues. For instance, when someone uses the expression “tax reform”, it assumes that taxation is a problem that needs to be reformed (Barrett 2005). Candidates and reporters alike pick their verbiage very carefully, in an attempt to have the greatest impact. Political consultants, especially in the U.S., spend enormous amounts of time and money developing the right rhetorical frames for election issues. With each election, the media zeroes in on “buzz words” such as “axis of evil” and “change”. Usually one...

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