Media-and-Public-Policy

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On the eve of the official launch date of the Obama vs. Romney presidential campaign, regular television programming was interrupted by a “Breaking News” bulletin from CNN. CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper announced that President Obama was about to make an important statement to the American public. Shortly thereafter, the President walked to the presidential podium and announced that Osama bin Laden [the mastermind behind the 9/11 bombings of the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.] had been killed by Navy Seal Team Six [a Special Forces unit]. My first reaction was of awe, given the timing of the announcement. Then however, my reaction turned to skepticism as CNN began to broadcast images of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, the terrorists, and the victims of 9/11; in what has come to be known in the neoinstitutional literature as ‘framing’ an issue by the news media. Out of curiosity, I switched to Fox News and was struck by the difference in the coverage and the message they projected. —G. M. Telleria (personal communication, June 1, 2014)

For this Discussion, reflect on your own experiences with the media. Have you had similar experiences? Or have you experienced something completely different? Review this week’s Learning Resources, and think about how the media can influence the development of public policy.

For this Discussion, address:

1: Compare network television news coverage (e.g., NBC, CBS, ABC) with 24-hour cable news coverage (e.g., CNN, FOX).

Explain the differences and similarities you observe in how these news outlets cover the White House. How might 24-hour coverage influence the development of public policy?

2: The U.S. government allowed reporters to be “embedded” with military forces during the recent conflict with Iraq. Assess the degree to which this experiment influenced the American public’s view on the use of force and the soundness of presidential decision making regarding policy.

3: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has considered rules in the past making it easier for different news companies to be bought by large conglomerates. Critics charge that this will lessen the independence of reporting, while supporters argue that consumers will ultimately punish companies that censor or tilt their news broadcasts to portray themselves in a favorable light.

Explain your perspective on news consolidation and how this might influence the public and what impact it might have on public policy.

4: Compare a network television news station in the United States with one in Nigeria. How does the media in Nigeria frame political issues and influence public policy?

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