Do Americans have a Public Sphere?
Hand a child a stick, and he can break it easily. Give him a bundle of ten sticks, however, and he cannot. From ancient times, children have been told this little story to understand the strength of their family, clan or community. The question is whether there is any overarching public sphere holding together the many disparate peoples making up the United States of America. This paper will first define the problem -- the lack of an adequate nationwide public sphere. Then secondly we will explore and evaluate different options that may generate one.
What is a public sphere? Since a careful definition of terms is the very foundation of any reasoned discourse or debate, consider Abercrombie’s terse delineation of what makes up the public sphere:
“The public sphere is an area of public life within which a debate about public issues can be developed, leading to the formation of an informed public opinion. A number of institutions are associated with the development of a public sphere – the formation of the state, newspapers and periodicals……There has been an extensive debate (Dahlgren, 1995) about the contemporary role of the mass media, especially television, in the maintenance of a public sphere. Some argue that television trivializes issues and is biased so it discourages reasoned public debate.” (Abercrombie et al, 2006, 312-313)
Relatively recent extensions of the public sphere include the internet and the now popular youtube.com website. (Ubayasiri, 2008) The mainstream media is the most important component of the American public sphere because of its ability to effectively transcend geography. If there is a public sphere facilitating an open dialogue of the American condition, people should act in rational ways that reflect their public policy attitudes and interests. Does the public act in ways that reflect their interests?
There is unfortunately much evidence that people do not always act in a rational manner, against what would seem to be their own policy preferences. In Ohio a few years ago there was a ballot initiative called Stop Excessive Taxes, or SET. This group used a stop sign as their symbol. The confusion from the name and the symbol caused many of its own supporters to vote against it because of confusion. (Asher, 2008) The constituents who would have supported SET became confused because of miscommunication throughout Ohio. Therefore in the case of the SET initiative there was not an adequate public sphere that lead to an informed opinion.
These examples illustrate the dominant reason why an adequate public sphere is necessary in a democratic society; the information that people have determines how they decide their actions. Why is a public sphere so important? The essence of our government is representation, yet people systematically act in ways that work against their own policy preferences. How can someone be represented when they can’t effectively communicate what their preference is? Clearly this problem is due to confusion over what certain public initiatives or events mean. Perhaps journalists are not doing their job properly. The preamble for the society of professional journalists is:
“Members of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.” (Preamble, 1996)
“Knowledge is power,” Sir Francis Bacon postulated, “therefore those who control the dissemination of knowledge control the power.” The public can not understand their support of issues, or which products to purchase in a super market, if they receive their own knowledge from a biased source. Without an adequate means of objective knowledge dissemination free of conflicts of interest, any mass communication network can be used as a means to control thought rather than to disseminate and discuss it. Thus the service that the media provides is the foundation of democracy, as SPJ claims in its preamble. What knowledge people have determines which way they will vote. Is the mainstream media doing a sufficient job in generating and maintaining a public sphere?
No, a commercial media will never provide a completely non-biased dialogue. A majority of Americans utilize biased information (Temple, 2008), thus they may not always act in ways that reflect their own public policy preferences. Therefore the populace is prevented from achieving true representation.
How effective is our government at discerning and reacting to public opinion?
“Most social scientists who study public opinion and public policy in democratic countries agree that (1) public opinion influences public policy; (2) the more salient an issue to the public, the stronger the relationship is likely to be; and (3) the relationship is threatened by the power of interest organizations, political parties, and economic elites.” (Burstein, 2003, 29)
The third concept listed in Burstein’s statement helps define the problem, the linkage between the government that the people want and the government in actuality is threatened by economically powerful groups. Another example of a biased media is provided by May Pettigrew and Maggie MacLure’s research. It describes one example of a biased newspaper (Telegraph) not fully reporting on the issue of grant maintained schools. This quote confirms that a biased press is an inhibitor to a public sphere:
“The Telegraph ignored empirical evidence derived from academic educational research…. Such disclosures of omission are extremely significant. They render invisible the work of educational researchers and thus marginalize this section of the education establishment from public view…….disclosures of omission make it very difficult to know what their work is about, which means they provide no opportunity of redress or reply. Disclosures of omission inhibit dialogue and as such are powerful means of suppression of public debate.” (Pettigrew and MacLure, 1997, 402-403)
How extensive is the linkage between public opinion and what is disseminated to the public via media? Two researchers suggest that the media shapes what actually comes into the public sphere to be discussed . “In short,” they write, “the political world is reproduced imperfectly by individ¬ual news media. Yet the evidence in this study that voters tend to share the media's composite definition of what is important strongly suggests an agenda-setting function of the mass media.” (McCombs and Shaw, 1972)
What else affects the function of the media and democratic governments? The case study Media and Agenda Setting: Effects on the Public, Interest Group Leaders, Policy Makers, and Policy helps describe the collaboration between journalists and public officials in relation to salient policy issues in the news. It concludes that in the case of highly critical issues, the roles of public official and journalist may coalesce into one, thus destroying any objective debate. Other researchers agree that this has negative consequences, viz.“this role, which teams journalist and public official as Fact Finder, Presenter of “Reality,”and Creator of Policy Result, may be seen by some as inimical to the democratic process.” (Cook, 1983, 33)
The example above of confusion about Ohio’s SET initiative illustrates one empirical example that the lack of a public sphere has clearly hurt the democratic process in the past. This lack has also been inimical to specific organizations. Another example is the failure of bond issues due to uninformed voters has hurt numerous public advocacy groups as well as public school systems.
We will now explore the effects of an inadequate public sphere in its relation not only to Ohioans but also Americans. Throughout the course of human history, there have always been problems between the ideal type of an organization and the organization in actual practice. Social scientists have now defined this as the “irrationality of rationality.” Essentially, an individual or organization may have rational practices but still act irrationally at different points in time. The major problem of the irrationality of rationality when looking at the American populace is that the mass media frames and shapes a majority of American public opinion. But the mainstream media perverts the public sphere because it is biased in relation to its own objectives of making a profit.
What is the evidence of a lack of objective media in America? First, why would all the following problems occur in the information age that we live in, an age in which there are multiple stations with twenty-four hour news programs, and anyone can write their own blog? The answer is simple conflict of interest. The mainstream American mass media outside of NPR and PBS is about making a profit for its stock holders and board members. The media generates profit for its stockholders in two ways. The more legitimate means is direct advertising during news programs, the less legitimate is through indirect advertising. This indirect advertising gives special privileges (earned media and not covering negative stories) to other corporations in which the medias’ board members own stock. Obviously having the dissemination of knowledge and profit not be mutually exclusive can cause a conflict of interest. What is the empirical evidence that there is a conflict of interest in the mainstream media?
“Since passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, there has been a seemingly unending wave of media mergers, affecting all aspects of the news business. In television, the 10 biggest companies own 30 percent of all stations, reaching 85 percent of U.S. households. The networks make up less than 30 percent of the total business of their new corporate owners. In radio, the top 20 companies control more than a fifth of all stations nationwide. Clear Channel, with its 1,200 stations, is a presence in 191 of the top 300 markets. Twenty-two companies now control 70 percent of daily newspaper circulation.” (Greenblatt, 2004)
Clearly there is money to be made in controlling more and more of the media; why else would media moguls continue to purchase more and more media outlets? The consolidation of the media into an ever increasingly smaller group of owners is extremely questionable in a democratic government. According to Ralph Temple, it is the most important issue of our time:
“Friends, Americans and country men lend me your ears, to a major civil liberties issue of our time, going on under the radar…… That is the control of the mainstream media, and by mainstream media I mean everything from the New York Times to CNN, and everything in between, and I say the newspapers and the networks, because while there is a broad political spectrum of periodicals and magazines and there is the internet, the fact of the matter is that seventy percent of Americans, seventy percent of voters, get the information on which they decide which policies they support and which leaders they elect from newspapers and television. And the control of the mainstream media by an increasingly small group of the wealthiest people in America together with their interlocking memberships on the boards of every major corporation of America is undermining our civil liberties, our government and our democracy……. The society of professional journalists states that the media are the foundation of democracy………they are where we get the information we take into the voting booth. The three great pillars of the society of professional journalists are number one report the news accurately, fully and fairly, number two hold power accountable, and number three avoid conflict of interest. The New York Times and the whole gang all the way over to CNN systematically violate these three principles….because of conflict of interest. Conflict of interest is built into the system of commercial media. This is the culture of the media elite.” (Ralph Temple, 2008)
Why is it such a big deal that television stations are becoming more tightly controlled? Another interesting trend in relation to American mass media, presented by Robert Putnam, is the decline of social capital and civic engagement. Putnam claims first that memberships in most types of community organizations (for example, Parent-Teacher Association, and sports clubs) have declined significantly since the 1960’s, and secondly that the increasing amount of American homes with a television directly coincides with this. (Conway, 190-191) If Putnam’s study and conclusion are correct, that Americans are becoming more and more dependent on their television, and less a less dependent on community involvement, then we must be extremely careful of who controls media and how it is used.
There are a myriad of empirical examples of a conflict of interest in the American mass media. Those that are particularly pertinent include, Noam Chomsky’s Fateful Triangle, John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hitman, George Ritzert’s Globalization of Nothing 2, and Amy Goodman’s THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULERS: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them. These books illustrate quintessential conflicts of interest in the mass media.
Chomsky describes a “fateful triangle” in Palestinian, Israeli, and American foreign relations. This book is a good example of linguistic domination theory. Edward Said states that:
“Chomsky's major claim is that Israel and the United States - especially the latter - are rejectionists opposed to peace, whereas the Arabs, including the PLO, for years have been trying to accommodate themselves to the reality of Israel.” (Chomsky, 1999, vii)
If this statement is true that the impediments of peace reside with the West, and not so much with the Arabs and Palestinians, than the real villain is the American mass media. The media is the major contributor to the constant human rights violations because of their biased framing of the situation. (Chomsky 1999)
Perkin’s book Confessions of an Economic Hitman exposes how American corporations manipulate the capitalist system. These corporations systematically work in the shadows of American foreign diplomacy trying to integrate other nations into the American economic system. If one country refuses, for example begins to nationalize its petroleum reserves, then we send in the economic hit men. If the hit men fail to bribe, assassinate, or overthrow the government, the US military generally will invade. (Perkins 2004) Perkins cites such historical events as the invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. Perkin’s general premise is America uses corporations to spread our influence more than direct military conflict. Here are a few reasons why this makes sense. First, because American is a liberal democracy, we claim to be transparent, so it is harder to hide scandals. Secondly as a liberal democracy, we should encourage human rights and representation in the governments that we support and trade with. Thus how can the American government justify supporting a dictatorship with atrocious human rights violations in a post anti-communist society? It is simple, Perkin’s claims; corporations. When a corporation gets exposed for questionable practices it is not as big an event as it would be under direct US government sanction. (Perkins, 2004) Most Americans would be outraged if they only had knowledge of the massive exploitation of labor and natural resources that their purchases support.
George Ritzert’s Globalization of Nothing 2 exposes the reader to the dark side of our modern world. He suggests that increasingly consumers seem to inhabit more and more of a fantasy world. Products that are produced now are more and more non products, the services we use are non services and the people we interact with are non people. (Ritzert, 2007) The sad truth is that all of the aforementioned things are becoming devoid of their original value. We have cornstarch in our vinaigrette salad dressing. Why is there a “hello kitty” version of almost every school product? Clearly the degradation of our products should be important news. But the diminishing quality of our products is only covered when the quality is truly dangerous, for example when a childrens’ toy is manufactured with lead, or dog food is poisonous.
Radio talk show host Amy Goodman’s book, THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULERS: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them, introduces the term of the silenced majority. This term is used to explain how all of the above processes go on, and also how the Iraq war started. The silenced majority is the majority of Americans who aren’t allowed to disseminate their message of anti-consumerism through the mainstream media. Most Americans are against all of these atrocious events and practices that happen so that we can have impossibly low prices for products. (Goodman 2004) Examples of the atrocities include perpetual war in Israel-Palestine, American foreign policy of non transparency and valuing capitalism over democracy, the decline in the value of the products we consume, and the media conglomeration. Why do our citizens not feel more outraged? Goodman postulates simply that the media prevents people from gaining the knowledge and insight into the true realities of the globalized system. (Goodman 2004)
The media instead covers non stories for weeks on end. Stories like the death of Anna Nicole Smith, and Brittany Spears going to rehab typify this vapid coverage. This is the problem of commercial media. Because of commercial media, there is a massive conflict of interest in the mainstream media. This conflict of interest occurs at every level of the media organization. The board members only hire and promote like minded individuals, and then the conflict of interest is present at every level of the media group. Thus it is only one point of view that gets disseminated, that of corporate America.
Why do more people not understand Chomsky’s rational approach to understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Why are most people not aware of secret American foreign policy? Why are our products going down in quality, yet no one seems to notice? And lastly, why are we supporting a system that seems to do nothing to help make the world a more secure and free environment? Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman discuss this in their 1988 book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. This book posits the Propaganda model, which claims systematic bias in the mass media, which is caused by economic interests. (Wikipedia Contributors, May 29, 2008)
What are the solutions to providing an objective media. The first option is to destroy digital technology (computers and television) so that people must only use their critical thinking skills. While that would certainly solve the problem it is a draconian rather than a practical solution. The second solution is to have a massive government investigations on the problems with our system to bring wrongdoers to justice. Third continue with the current American media system. The last solution is to promote the use of new technology to further develop micro level media. This solution could deliver the media into the hands of the many, instead of the few as in the status quo.
The preamble to the constitution sets up these parameters for the American experiment: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Thus our constitution itself will serve as the perfect criteria to judge the three possible solutions .
The option of destroying technology would be interesting. It would instantly liberate all people from the conflict of interest in our media. But destroying the digital world would at the same time destroy much of the technology necessary for our very complex infrastructure, therefore causing immediate chaos over the allocation of scarce resources. Thus this option would not be in the general welfare of Americans. Thus it would not be constitutional.
The second option, launching a massive investigation into wrongdoing, is not feasible for two reasons. First, how could this be possible; the media would not cover a story to hold itself accountable for manipulating its responsibilities. Without the mass media, how could enough of the populace be contacted to put pressure on the status quo to change? Secondly the nature of our legal system would make it hard to hold anyone accountable. Because of the principle of ex post facto, while technically the way the media functions is highly unethical, it is not illegal. Thus no real criminal charges can be brought against anyone in a US court. Although this solution would make it so we could align the American media with our founding ideals, we could ironically not bring any legitimate charges against anyone because of our legal system.
The above examples of the exploitative nature of the current American system clearly show the disparity between our current system and the one which the founding fathers envisioned. Thus to continue with the current system would be unacceptable to the founders.
The last option is to transform the current American system into one where everyone is a journalist. Professional video is within a price range affordable to nearly anyone. (High definition video cameras are as low as 750 dollars) Because of the declining price of digital media, nearly anyone with a cell phone can become their own reporter. Highly esteemed academic Marshall McLuhan theorizes the extent to which new technology changes society in this statement,
“For the “message” of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. The railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure.” (McLuhan, 1997, 8)
A system which economically permits anyone to report their own opinion or record their experiences will be a great way to help develop the American public sphere. This new system, hopefully free of conflicts of interest, will make it so that any rational novel concepts can be immediately accessible and potentially disseminated to the masses. Clearly some parts of the human condition are already moving toward this. For example, consider the popular Youtube website in which nearly overnight three attractive women each supporting different presidential candidates became national celebrities. They were dancing and singing in music videos about the candidates which they support. The outcome of this proposed solution when applied to the American system, by expanding digital infrastructure, might be a public sphere. The consequences of a public sphere could include the mediation of most if not all social ills. This new world of pure communication could cause a utopia. But if this transformation of digital media is again exploited by economic interests, such as is the case with television, it could also just become another thing controlled by conscienceless corporations.
Out of all the choices, I feel the last option is the best. The feasibility of this proposed solution is simple and is happening before our very eyes. Economically allowing people across the world to produce and internationally publish their own media, by making it ever increasingly affordable to purchase the tools necessary, could make this new more objective media a reality. But can low budget amateur media production influence public policy attitudes of the populace? To answer this, a social experiment asking this very question will be explored.
Let us first conceptualize these ideas. Low budget media production in this case will be under fifteen-hundred dollars to produce. Public policy attitudes are attitudes that people have on the general operation of their own government. This experiment was divided into three parts. First survey the general public policy attitudes of the sample. The sample was the John Glenn fellows of spring 2008, who turned in their survey twice. The second step was show the proposed Public Service Announcements (PSA) to the sample. Then the third step was to resurvey the sample.
The experiment was designed so that there would be four different public policy attitudes that were measured. The attitudes were concept one: opinion on the DC police CCTV program, concept two: student’s rights, concept three: citizens’ rights during police encounters, and concept four: the DC police “Safe Homes Initiative”. The first concept, opinion on the CCTV program, was the variable group, while the other three were control groups. When examining the survey, a response of one is for strongly disagree, two is for disagree, three is for no opinion, four is for agree, and five is for strongly agree.
The PSAs that were created were intended to educate the viewer on the CCTV program. There were four different PSAs. The first two discussed the negative consequences of cameras videotaping public areas. In these two vignettes a computer hacker steals and publishes videos of two celebrities. In the first one, the hacker shows a celebrity leaving a psychiatrist’s office. In the second, a female celebrity is shown leaving a women’s clinic. The third PSA is designed to criticize the presumed effectiveness of the CCTV program. In the third PSA, a series of statements discuss how the police officer behind the desk watching a camera could instead be doing activities such as “community policing.” This PSA ends with stating that the police officer watching a TV hoping to catch a crime could be doing anything besides that and it would be more effective at protecting our community. In the last PSA, another series of quotes attack the program on philosophical grounds. The two quotes used are from the founding Patrick Henry and Ben Franklin. The quotes expose their own thoughts on the balance between liberty and security. Both statesmen clearly believed that the former is more important than the later. The video ends with posing the question “how would the Founders feel about this program?” The PSA concludes by encouraging the viewer to stand up and speak out against big government.
When looking at the average attitudes uncovered in the first survey, they were, concept one: 3.13, concept two: 1.99, concept three: 2.27, and concept four: 3.03. Therefore, the average attitudes on the CCTV program were predominately “no opinion,” (slightly towards the “agree with the program” side). The average attitudes on the concept of student’s rights were “disagree with the statements that student’s are provided adequate rights”. The average attitudes for the citizen’s rights during police encounters was “disagree” (slightly towards the no opinion side). Clearly, these results show that the students in the sample were more educated on their rights. The last concept measured the student’s attitudes on police chief Lanier’s “Safe Homes Initiative”. The combined attitude was “no opinion” indicating that most of the students did not fully understand the program.
In the second survey, the sample’s attitudes were, concept one: 2.82, concept two: 1.95, concept three: 2.26, concept four: 3.1. Concept one indicated that the collective attitudes were at the “disagree” end of the no opinion response. Concept two indicated that they were still about at “disagree”. Concept three indicated that they were still slightly to the “no opinion” side of disagree. Concept four indicated “no opinion”.
When looking at the difference between the two surveys in regards to the two concepts, they were concept one: .31, concept two: .04, concept three: .01, and concept four: -.06. It is interesting that concept one has significantly more change than the other three concepts. In fact out of the change noticed by all the groups, the collective opinion of all the samples switched from the “slightly agree” end of the no opinion side of the spectrum to the “slightly disagree” side of the spectrum when looking at this concept.
How valid is the experiment? The validity of the survey is sufficient. Clearly there was change. The cause of the change can be inferred as the viewing of the educational PSAs relevant to concept one. The validity would have also increased if these concepts were relevant to these students. When examining concepts two and four, they are both on the “no opinion” area of the spectrum. Most likely because these are local police initiatives that will not apply to them when they move back to Columbus. Therefore the majority of the sample do not need to know about these police initiatives. Perhaps that is why they do not seem to have learned much if anything about them during their time in the DC area. However the more general questions on student’s rights and citizens’ rights during a police encounter are in the more opinionated “disagree” area of the spectrum. If all the questions had been more relevant to the sample then the validity would have increased. What can be measured with an attitude of “no opinion” other than slight changes on which way the majority are skewed? Also to increase validity, it would be necessary to make the sample larger and more representative of the population. The sample in this is predominately white college students in their twenties. But the sample did still yield the evidence to move forward with the proposition that video can be used to influence public policy attitudes.
According to media richness theory, “when (1) information processing abilities match (2) information processing demands, (3) performance will improve.” (Rice, 1992, pg. 475)
Therefore as more and more media transforms toward the micro level, and more and more people become both reporters and observers, the media will become more objective and less controlled by special interests, thus creating a public sphere.
In conclusion, the best solution to increase public policy attitudes would be to transform the media. An increasing amount of people producing their own media would help expand the public sphere to everyone. It could also generate open dialogue free of conflicts of interest; therefore, it would be the perfect solution to America’s pressing need for a public sphere to discern and then seek solutions for common problems.
Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan S. Turner. 2006. Dictionary of Sociology.
New York, NY: Penguin Books.
This dictionary gives many definitions of various sociological terms. It is very useful when discussing the superstructure of society. This book helped shine light on Habermas’ public sphere.
Asher, Herbert. Interview by author. Email. Columbus, OH., 10 April, 2008.
In this email, I asked Herbert Asher about an example from class of Ohioans voting against their own policy preferences. He responded that the group was called Stop Excessive Taxes, or SET.
Burstein, Paul. “The Impact of Public Opinion on Public Policy: A Review and Agenda.”
Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 56, No. 1 pg. 29-40, March, 2003. http://www.jstor.org.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/action/showArticle?doi=10.2307/3219881&Search=yes&term=policy&term=public&term=media&item=20&returnArticleService=showArticle&ttl=70970&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Dmedia%2Band%2Bpublic%2Bpolicy%26x%3D0%26y%3D0> (accessed May 12, 2008.)
This study examined the correlation between public opinion and public policy, from five perspectives: In it five different ideas were asked about,] 1. the impact of public opinion on a given issue, 2. how the popularity of an issue affects public opinion, 3. the role of organizations in shaping public policy, 4.whether government responsiveness changes over time, 5. Can the study be generalized to the entire population? This study did not have any new data, but instead used the quantitative resources of previous ones.
Chomsky, Noam. 1999. Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & the Palestinians.
Cambridge, MA.: South End Press.
This book by world renowned linguist Noam Chomsky discusses the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He describes how the people who advocate peace, who may be anti-Zionists, are labeled by the mass media as anti-Semitic. This book describes linguistic domination theory.
Goodman, Amy. 2004. THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULERS: Exposing Oily Politicians,
War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them. New York, NY: Hyperion Books.
Radio talk show host Amy Goodman, of Democracy Now, exposes how the mass media obscures the truth. She tries to give voice to the “silenced majority,” defined as the majority of people who are denied voice in the mass media.
Greenblatt, Alan. “Media Bias: Are The Major Sources of News Trustworthy?.” CQ
Researcher, 2004. http://library.cqpress.com.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2004101500&PHPSESSID=mce2n6fviafku46bkvpkf1leh3 (accessed May 12, 2008.)
This CQ article discusses the media and its current reality, suggesting that perhaps a commercial media is biased. Also it notes some interesting events in the consolidation of the media into conglomerates.
LOMAX COOK, FAY, TOM R. TYLER, EDWARD G. GOETZ, MARGARET T.
GORDON, DAVID PROTESS, DONNA R. LEFF and HARVEY L. MOLOTCH. “Media and Agenda Setting: Effects on the Public, Interest Group Leaders, Policy Makers, and Policy.” The Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 1, pp. 16-35, 1983.
http://www.jstor.org/pss/2748703> (accessed May 12, 2008.)
This study implied that the media could influence public attitudes on the relative importance of an issue. An interesting note is that the change in policy seen by this study was not from changes in opinion but from the media and government working together. This study utilized a social experiment around one event.
McCombs, Maxwell, and Donald L. Shaw. “The AGENDA-SETTING FUNCTION OF
MASS MEDIA.” The Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 2, pp. 176-187, 1972
http://www.jstor.org/pss/2747787> (accessed May 12, 2008.)
The media plays a vital role in agenda setting and framing the issues important to voters. It is important to note that many voters learn a great deal during a campaign. This is because candidates generally disseminate their stances through the mass media. Thus the media can somewhat dictate what much of the population will discuss.
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This book was one of the first to conceptualize the idea of the mass media. McLuhan’s theories continue to be relevant today, especially with the giant conglomerates of phone and cable companies.
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John Perkins pens his autobiography. He records the various things he did, but predominately confesses his involvement in the expansion of American imperial interests. He exposes this in hopes to cleanse his soul, and to make the world a better place.
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Maintained Schools Policy.” British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol. 45, No. 4 pp. 392-405, December 1997. http://www.jstor.org.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/action/showArticle?doi=10.2307/3122035&Search=yes&term=policy&term=public&term=media&item=6&returnArticleService=showArticle&ttl=70970&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Dmedia%2Band%2Bpublic%2Bpolicy%26x%3D0%26y%3D0 (accessed May 12, 2008.)
This study examines the media’s constructive role in helping the public form its policy on grant maintained schools. Often the media can even inhibit the truly open discussion of policies. This study utilized a one year pilot study, and a 9 year study on the press.
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In this social commentary book, social scientist George Ritzer gives his unique perspective of globalization, and of the post-modern human condition. Ritzer discusses how the products we consume are becoming fantasy products devoid of any real value.
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This study explores media richness theory. It hypothesizes that “when (1) information processing abilities match (2) information processing demands, (3) performance will improve.” It also sees whether the use of new technology differs from groups who have been in contact before acquiring the technology. This study had six different groups to assess.
Temple, Ralph. Speech recorded by author. Video Recording. Washington, DC. 18 March
This was Temple’s acceptance speech at the ACLU-NCA Bill of Rights award luncheon for the Barth lifetime achievement award. During his speech he made a passionate appeal to fixing the commercial media. This speech has been a major influence on me to write this paper.
Ubayasiri, Kasun. “Internet and the Public Sphere: A glimpse of YouTube.” Central
Queensland University, 2008. http://www.ejournalism.au.com/ejournalist/ubayasiri622.pdf
(accessed May 12, 2008.)
The internet has begun to become a public sphere, where much of public opinion is shaped. This paper works to help conceptualize the extent to which this is true, especially the major success of new social networking video programs like Youtube. This paper involved a case study on the presidential campaign on Youtube, as well as in depth discussion of Habermas.
Wikipedia contributors, "Propaganda model," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Propaganda_model&oldid=215709207 (accessed May 30, 2008).
This wikipedia article describes the propaganda model of the media, as was first proposed by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. In this model the news media is biased toward special interests.