The Common Man And Aristocrat in Early Virginia

Media Effects on Governing The mass media has played a major role in American politics since the formation of our country. So much so that it has been called by many, “the fourth branch of government.” Originally, media power was only vested in the papers, but today radio and television are the more prominent forms of news. Since the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, presidents have used the media to spread their views to their constituents. FDR brought us the fireside chats in one of which he requested the American people to put their money back into the banks and get our economy moving again. The media informed the nation of Richard Nixon’s less then honorable means of governing and the media brought the Vietnam war to our living rooms every evening. There are even those who believe that the media chooses our presidents by deciding whether to air the good or bad things they dig up on the presidential candidates. There are two major ways the mass media effects the public. These are agenda setting and priming. Agenda setting is the way the media dictates the salience of contemporary issues. An experiment performed by Iyengar et al in 1980 showed that media does effect how important an issue is to the public. In this experiment, Iyengar showed three different groups news clippings weighted on the side of specific issues, then showed a fourth control group undoctored news. He tested these subjects before and after the showings and found that in all but one issue, the subjects had moved in the hypothesized direction. This last issue was inflation and he concluded that people just could not think this issue was more important then they already did. Agenda setting effect is important to the government, especially the president, because it leads to priming. Priming is the use of salient issues by the public to evaluate a public figure. When is comes to voting on a president, priming is second only to partisanship in importance.

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