The media play a critical role in a democratic society. At the same time it is almost impossible to absorb all of the information now available from all kinds of sources.
One enduring question about the media is whether it “creates” the news, the information that people receive, or only “reports” what is happening. That is, how significant is the media in creating the terms and conditions, creating the issues and controversies of American political life? Do the media “objectively” report the news and let individuals make their own evaluation or judgment or, especially with so many ways of communicating–broadcast, print, Internet–is there a media agenda that makes it difficult for people to recognize fact from opinion? How can an individual sort all of this out to be properly informed about politics and government? This is especially important during a presidential election year when voters must decide their choice for president for the next four years.
NOTE: Media is the plural and medium is the singular, meaning just one part of the media such as television, radio or newspapers.. It can be confusing but just be consistent in your essay. It might be a bit mixed in the above paragraph but I hope you understand the meaning.
The American media system is varied, complex and constantly changing. What was mostly newspapers, magazines, radio and television now encompasses digital technologies that provide the means by which to instantly receive and send information. Indeed, today, unlike in the past, there are limitless channels of information available.
Chapter 7 reviews the various types of media including broadcast, print and Internet-based information. Review “Traditional Media” which begins on page 259. Then beginning on page 267, the text explores the importance of the “New Media and Online News” as a resource and focus of information and communication. Beginning on page 289 there is a discussion of the federal regulation of broadcast media as well as the continued concentration of traditional media outlets.
The Chapter then discusses the way in which the news is covered and the controversies of “media bias” that tends to drive so much of the discussion of American politics. That is why the section, “Media Influence” which begins on page 279 is relevant and valuable as a means by which to evaluate the role of the media in America and the important role individuals have in being prepared to understand and evaluate the information they receive. This is especially true during a presidential election as in 2012 and 2016 which has consequences for American political life in many ways.