(Student’s Surname) 1 Name Subject Professor Date JFK and the Evolution of Mass Media One of the most

popular American political icons known all over the world is John F. Kennedy. John F. Kennedy, also more popularly known with his initials “JFK,” experienced greater popularity because of his assassination that took his life. Perhaps to some people, this is just the time wherein mass media and the life of JFK has significantly intertwined, since the mass media has gobbled up every single detail of this unfortunate incident involving one of the most popular and one of the most charismatic leader the United States has ever had. But in his short life which is nonetheless well lived, JFK has affected many different aspects of life, and that includes the mass media, its practices and important perspectives in this industry which made him a man that is considered as a significant influence in the evolution of mass media and mass communication practices in the United States, and in the world. Mass media was starting to grow during the time JFK was also becoming a very popular and charismatic political leader. The two grew side by side - JFK learned how to use mass media in a way that it is productive and constructive, while mass media experienced drastic yet useful change which became important developments in the evolution of mass media. JFK showed affinity for mass media, particularly for television and the print media. Because of the actions of JFK involving television and the print media, analysts believe that JFK has made significant contributions to the evolution of the mass media. The focus of this paper is the analysis and discussion of how John F. Kennedy influenced mass media, contributed to the growth of the practice of mass media.

(Student’s Surname) 2 One of the reasons why John F. Kennedy has an affinity with the mass media leading to his contributions to the evolution in the practices of mass media is the fact that he, too, once was a part of the mass media. Despite the fact that John F. Kennedy has been more popularly known as a politician since this is the career path that he chose and pursued, John F. Kennedy once worked as a reporter. Some analysts believed that this worked in his favor. Kennedy, during his political life, has been considered as someone who is very close with reporters and mass media entities and has developed an amiable relationship with them because he sympathizes or empathizes with these people, and because of this kind of affinity his political career was also benefited in the long run (Barnes 71)."One reason John F. Kennedy worked well with reporters was that he had been one himself briefly (Barnes 71)." By the time he was serving the people and was put under the spotlight as an elected leader, it was his own personal experience as a reporter that gave him an idea how to best deal with the mass media people in a way that it is constructive and yet allows him to set the line and identify limits in his relationship with the press (Barnes 71). "Kennedy's experience as a reporter...clued him in on how reporters worked - and how he could work with them (Barnes 71)." But more importantly, John F. Kennedy, through his vision and his acumen in becoming a successful politician, influenced changes in the mass media in his pursuit of his own career that he directly or indirectly influenced mass media and its evolution. Print media, as well as television, are the two parts of the mass media that JFK influenced, allowing him to contribute to the evolution of mass media. The print media was utilized and maximized by JFK, helping establish his popularity. Kennedy also was the US president that is closely related to and identified to the use of television. It was a beneficial relationship for the two; JFK benefited from television as television benefited from JFK also. "Kennedy was the first president to use the relatively new medium of television effectively

(Student’s Surname) 3 (Vaughn 242). He used it above all to have instantaneous, unmediated communication with the American people (Vaughn 242)." JFK considered mass media as an important aspect of the society. This belief is supported by the fact that JFK turned to mass media so that he can communicate to more and more people, appreciating the ability of the mass media to reach more and more people. JFK's idea of effective public service involves the conscious efforts to have and maintain a public image that is positive. He believes he can accomplish that by effectively utilizing mass media (Vaughn 242). "To Kennedy, who was relatively unknown before 1960, favorable media coverage would lead to a positive public image (Vaughn 242)." JFK believed in the ability of mass media to shape public opinion and to spread information as well. He managed to hit all of these aspects - the preservation of positive image, information dissemination and shaping of public opinion conducive to having a positive social atmosphere - through the use of mass media. The television is one of the most powerful arms of mass media because of what it can do - the reach of the television and how it can influence many people and how it can send message to many people simultaneously. Before the era of the Internet, the television is almost alone in what it can do and the power it possess, but it was not like that in the beginning. There are significant times that influenced how television as a medium of mass communication has evolved and changed towards what it is today. Before, the television was a mere instrument for entertainment. People watch television shows to be entertained. But as the television culture evolved and become more complex, it stopped being a mere source of entertainment. It has become a tool for individuals to form social-personal and social-political opinion. People become influenced by what they see on television. This often manifests itself in how the people form opinion about things and people. The transition from being a mere tool for entertainment to being a tool for opinion formation is an important

(Student’s Surname) 4 transition for television and is an important aspect in the evolution of television and mass media in general. With regards to this particular development, John F. Kennedy can be considered as someone who contributed towards the shift. As a political figure who, like any other political figure needs the positive appraisal of the people and the masses, it was Kennedy who saw the potential in television that can make television more important and more significant than what it was before by using it as a tool for politicians to get the positive approval of the public. It was a stroke of genius for Kennedy, who was considered as one of the first politicians who ushered the new era for the new role of television in the socio-political life by using television to project an image of himself that is more favorable compared to his rivals (Pennington, Bara 253). The first real use of television in this regard is believed to have been the US presidential election of 1960, when the youthful democratic leader, John F. Kennedy, was seen as striking a much more favorable impression than his Republican rival, Richard M. Nixon, as a result of his TV image (Pennington, Bara 253). The effect of the "TV image" that Kennedy helped popularize among politicians helped shaped television and its role and importance. From then on, politicians and political figures have considered how television and their exposure to it will affect and impact their political career and popularity, that everytime they can, they make sure that they handle and manage their television-based popularity and exposure in such a way that it becomes a source of positive publicity and not negative publicity for them. As for television, it was a new role for this media platform, leading the practice in television to be geared towards the pursuit of fairness and equality now that it is clear how they can impact public opinion and how people in power will try to manipulate them in their own favor. John F. Kennedy was actually considered as the television president because it was during his reign that the television was starting to become significant in the society. Kennedy

(Student’s Surname) 5 displayed his skill in using television, but more importantly, his pursuit in utilizing and maximizing television allowed him to revolutionize television, along the way influencing the evolution of mass media. John F. Kennedy has a penchant for television because of what it can do, particularly how television can be used to directly communicate to the people which JFK believes to be a very successful strategy in managing the people (Barnes 71). JFK "liked television because it enabled him to go over the heads of reporters and get his message directly to the public (Barnes 71)." During his political career, JFK looked for ways on how to innovate television and how television is used. One example of JFK's revolutionary approach in mass media and mass communication is his introduction and use of live press conferences with the press which is telecast live which is without editing (Grant 83). "John F. Kennedy initiated the 'live' press conference where the full session is seen on television without editing (Grant 83)." Through this, JFK was able to show the people how sincere and transparent he is as a leader, while it gave television, mass media and mass communication a whole new personality and facet that will be more significant in the years to come. Besides the television, JFK also used the print media, particularly the newspaper, to influence his relationship with the American people and the press and the media as well. Just like in the case of his relationship with the television media, the situation made it possible for JFK to create and make changes in the mass media and contribute to the evolution of mass media and mass communication. This was through the influence he asserted in the world of the print media, particularly by acting as the same watchdog as the press in the print media are, this time JFK acting as the watchdog for print media practice and ethics when it comes to what they write and how they write stories, not necessarily favorable to him but at least something that can be construed as fair and just, unbiased reporting. His contributions in this particular aspect are not a drastic alteration of the practice of mass media and mass communication. His

(Student’s Surname) 6 contributions, nonetheless, are significant in its own right because of the extent of its impact and how it was felt in mass media, how it became a catalyst for significant change. For example, Kennedy exemplified the “reading leader” and a person who actually and genuinely cared about the reports written for the consideration of whether these reports are factual or erroneous. Kennedy always made sure that the press knew he was reading what they were writing about him and his political career, and furthermore, let the press know when he feels that the stories are not consistent with the truth (Barnes 71-72). "The knowledge that Kennedy was paying attention, and would remember, undoubtedly served as a brake on some reporters, dissuading them from publishing some items (Barnes 71-72)." Through this, JFK became an instrumental tool for check and balance in news writing and news reporting, influencing reporters to report accurately, truthfully, justly and fairly. The press got the message and started writing more accurate and fair, unbiased news from then on, helping usher the era of objective, fair and truthful reporting style. Unlike other political personalities who struggled in dealing with the mass media, John F. Kennedy is a political personality who did not just made the most out of his relationship with and exposure to mass media, but also contributed towards how mass media has evolved over time. The evolution of mass media owes itself to how it was changed because of its interaction with people that contributed so that the perspective and practice is changed, for the better. This is where JFK stood out among the rest of the politicians in the history of the United States and mass media. Television practices changed and improved because of how he influenced this particular visual platform. For newspaper, JFK contributed to the creation of a news writing practice that is more professional and ethical because of the standards in writing that JFK, through his actions, have guarded, creating an odd reversal of situation since the mass media is considered as the watchdog of the politicians. But in the case of JFK, it was he who became the watchdog of journalists and the practice of mass media and mass communication.

(Student’s Surname) 7

Works Cited

(Student’s Surname) 8 Barnes, John A. John F. Kennedy on Leadership: The Lessons and Legacy of a President. AMACOM, 2007. Grant, Alan. The American Political Process. Taylor & Francis, Inc., 2003. Pennington, Mark, Bara, Judith Linda. Comparative Politics. SAGE Publications, 2009. Vaughn, Stephen. Encyclopedia of American Journalism. Taylor & Francis, Inc., 2007.

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