Mass Media

What is Public Opinion?
• Complex collection of the opinions of many
different people (on public Affairs)
• Misconceptions of Public Opinion:
– Belief all or most people have the same view
– The public favors this or that

• Very few matters all or most of “the People”
agree on
• Must involve something of general concern
and a significant portion of the people

Different Publics
• Believe it or not there
are different Publics…
– Each issues has a
“public”
• National health care;
President is doing an
excellent/terrible job;
Capital punishment
should be abolished

– Belong to more than one

making public policy .Different Publics: • Not many Issues capture the attention of “ALL” Americans – Name one???? • Public Opinion includes ONLY those views related to PUBLIC AFFAIRS – Politics. public issues.

• Other Factors .

Family And Education • Your not born with your values • Political Opinions are learned – – – – – From mom and dad Teachers/schools Education Friends Experiences and relationships .

Other Factors • Weight of each factor that influences public opinion depends on the issue – – – – Mass Media Peer groups Opinion leaders Historic events .

Other Factors: • Means of communication that reach large. • Turned on for 7 hours a day • Peer Groups – People who you talk too regularly – Reinforces what a person has already come to believe . widely dispersed audiences – Television: • 98% households = 1 T.V.

resignation of Nixon – Evaluated trustworthiness of government .Other Factors: • Opinion Leaders – A person who has unusually strong influence on the views of others (draw ideas and conventions) • Hold public office • Newspapers • Magazines • Historical Events – Great Depression ( role of government) – 60’s and 70’s traumatic events.

Measuring Public Opinion .

Measuring Public Opinion • • • • • • • Elections Voting Lobbying Books Pamphlets Editorial comments in the Press Public Officials .

at best. only useful indicators of public opinion.Measuring Public Opinion • Elections – Results are indicator of Public Opinion? • People’s approval/rejection • Parties claim a mandate – Refers to the instructions or commands a constituency gives its elected officials – “Elections are.” – Represents only a GENERAL directions parties should take .

Measuring Public Opinion • Interest Groups: – Private organizations whose members share certain views and objectives and work to shape making and the content of public policy • The Media – “mirrors” or “molders” – Reflect only the views of the vocal majority .

Measuring Public Opinion • Personal Contacts – “read the publics mind” – “voice of the people?” – Contacts with the public .

. • The straw-vote technique is highly unreliable.the “Best” Measure • Straw vote is a method of polling that seeks to read the public’s mind simply by asking the same question of a large number of people. however.Poll.

the “Best” Measure • Scientific Polling – Serious efforts to take the public’s pulse on a scientific basis date from the 1930s. .Poll.000 national and regional polling organizations in this country. – There are now more than 1. with at least 200 of these polling political preferences.

The Polling Process • Five things pollsters must do – Define the universe to be surveyed – Construct a sample – Prepare valid questions – Select and control how the poll will be taken – Analyze and report their findins to the public .

Polling Process • Defining the Universe – Whole population the poll aims to measure – Every high school student in Georgia – Atlanta voters • Constructing a Sample – A representative slice of the total universe – Random samples • 1500 people – Quota sample • Sample deliberately constructed to reflect several of the major characteristics of a given universe .

terms that are difficult to understand . emotionally charged words.Polling Process • Preparing Valid Questions – Wording can affect the reliability of any poll – “Should local taxes be reduced?” – “”Should the city’s police force be increased to fight rising tide of crime in our community?” – Ask loaded questions.

Polling Process • Interviewing – Telephone: calls are placed randomly chosen area codes around the nation – Less labor intensive/less expensive – Tone of voice – Emphasis given to certain words – Responses are given to “please” the pollster .

draw conclusions.Polling Process • Analyze and Report findings – Collect huge amounts of raw data – Computers – Other election hardware – Tabulate and interpret data. report findings .

) • Potential problems with polls – Inability to measure the intensity. . – polls and pollsters sometimes shape the opinions they are supposed to measure. stability. and relevance of the opinions they report. (they are far from perfect.Evaluating Polls • Most national and regional polls are fairly reliable.

• American political system is designed to protect minority interests against the excesses of majority views and actions. but by no means the only. • Polls are not elections. . influence on public policy in this country.Limits on the Impact of Public Opinion • Public opinion is the major. nor are they substitutes for elections.

The Role of Mass Media • Medium – Means of communication.replacing newspapers . transmits some kind of information – Four Major Kinds in US • • • • Television Newspaper Radio Magazines – Internet is increasing more important every year….

newspaper stories. magazine articles .The Role of Mass Media • Presents people with political information – Directly in news reports – Less direct: radio. television.

Role of Mass Media • Television: – Replaced Newspapers as the principal source of political information • NBC. ABC. PBS. CBS • Others: CNN. etc • Newspapers: – Freedom of Press – # of papers continues to Decline with rise of internet .

Role of Mass Media • Radio: – 1930’s Major entertainment and political information center – President F. Roosevelt: 1st to use radio effectively – 20 hours of radio a week – Talk Radio • Political commentaries .

S. U. today – Time. Newsweek. News and World Report .000 published in U.S.Role of Mass Media • Magazines: – 12.

The Media and Politics • Public Agenda – Societal problems that the nation’s political leaders and the general public agree need government attention – Focus public on a particular issue – Don’t tell you what to think but what to think about – Political leaders pay close attention to Media .

Electoral Politics • Make candidates less dependent on party organizations • Appeal directly to the people • Create their own image • Strategy: – Take no more than a minute or two of air time – Show people doing something interesting and exciting – Sound Bites: snappy reports that can be aired 30-45 seconds .