An Amusing thing happened on the News the other day
by jamess, Sat Oct 27, 2007 at 07:56:01 AM EDT
There was a perceptible difference between the coverage on the tsunami that hit South-East Asia in December 2004 and the earthquake that hit Pakistan in October 2005. The tsunami received far more extensive coverage in all countries analyzed in both television and print media which in turn affected people's behaviour in terms of private donations.
... the tsunami received ... private donations amounting to $178 millionwhile only $8 million has been collected for the earthquake so far.
"Here may lie the most important effect of mass communication, its ability to mentally order and organize our world for us. In short, the mass media may not be successful in telling us what to think, but they are stunningly successful in telling us what to think about."
-Shaw & McCombs, 1977
So what? Some disasters garner more out pouring of support than others, right?
I would ask you, why is that? Could it be because the Media, by choosing what to report, and how to report it, has a direct effect on how the "average person" ends up viewing the world?
Such "Agenda Setting" is a foundational principle taught at most Journalism Schools. (The previous chart is a graphic illustration of the Direct Cause and Effect relationship here.)
Media Agenda Setting
- The decision to cover any event or issue necessarily means that other issues are more unlikely to be covered, even if those issues are arguably more important
Agenda Setting Theory
According to the agenda-setting theory, ... media sets the agenda for public opinion by highlighting certain issues. In studying the way political campaigns were covered in the media, Shaw and McCombs found that the main effect of the news media was to set an agenda, i.e. to tell people not what to think, but what to think about as opposed to persuasion or attitude change.
Anyone remember the 1st OJ Trial? How could you NOT!
Everyone had an Opinion on the OJ Trial too. (It was the genesis of the modern era of sensational Cable News, too.) It was the Media's wall-to-wall coverage of that story, that almost forced you to form an Opinion, one way or another. (The Media Directors learned a few things about attracting an audience then too.)
Here's another Experiment currently taking place with Media Agenda Setting:
Clinton and Obama Hog the Headlines - Jan 31, 2007
And what is the direct Effect of all that favorable News Coverage for Clinton and Obama, which the Media has been steadily feeding America, from day one?
[And just like the story of "Tsunami vs. the Earthquake" the Donation Dollars have followed the Political News Cycle too, it seems.]
Still not convinced? Here are a few more Amusing Examples of "selective" Media Agenda Setting:
John Edwards has had a comprehensive Universal Health Care Plan spelled out since the beginning of 2007. And Michael Moore had a Movie out earlier this year, Sicko, exploring the many flaws of our "Sick-Care" system.
And the response of the Corporate Media?
Most Media Agenda Setters could find little time to seriously cover either of these notable events, in any depth. Moore did receive a fair amount of ridicule for his views, and Edwards got a fair amount of ridicule for his "Hair Care"(and next to NO Coverage on his "Health Care" Plan).
So Much for "Fair and Balanced" Reporting!
Yet these same Media Agenda Setters were tripping over themselves to cover Hillary Clinton, when she announced her Universal Health Care Plan (which was so similar to Edwards' plan, it was "like she copied his homework").
In fact Hillary is such a Darling of the Corporate Media programming directors, she managed to score the famed "Full Ginsburg"(appearances on all 5 Sunday News Shows) to discuss her "novel" Health Care Plan:
The political pundits analyzed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's September 23 appearance on all five major Sunday television political talk shows in the United States -- NBC's Meet the Press, CBS's Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday, ABC's This Week, and CNN's Late Edition.
Clinton's performance was dubbed the "Full Ginsburg," a term coined after William Ginsburg, a lawyer who defended former White House intern Monica Lewinsky during a notorious Washington sex scandal, was interviewed on the same day in February 1998 by all five major talk shows.
Yepsen agreed that Clinton's "Full Ginsburg" stemmed from her desire to "manage her message."
"She deals with the media when it suits her purposes. She's not great at granting interviews to a lot of people because she wants to stay on message," he said.
The New York senator's appearances on all the Sunday shows were timed for the rollout of her health care proposal,"and on that, she did a good job," according to Yepsen.
Gonzales said Clinton's appearance on all five talk shows September 23 made her the news story of that day. "There wasn't a lot of oxygen [news coverage time] left" for other presidential candidates following her appearances, he said.
According to Yepsen, Clinton's one flaw on the shows, picked up by the mainstream media, was her "forced guffaw" when asked to respond to "tough questions."
That "scripted" laugh sounded "phony" to voters, he said.
Luckily for progressives, in spite of the Clinton Clout to demand Media Coverage at will, she still can't control the "annoying" Questions that she gets asked. And apparently her defensive reaction is to laugh off questioners, when they have a question she hasn't "focused-group" tested yet:
"The weirdest moment was with Bob Schieffer on the CBS News program 'Face the Nation' when Mr. Schieffer said to Mrs. Clinton, 'You rolled out your new health care plan, something Republicans immediately said is going to lead to socialized medicine.' She giggled, giggled some more, and then could not seem to stop giggling -- 'Sorry, Bob,' she said -- and finally unleashed the full Cackle ...
Hillary Clinton on Face the Nation - Part 2
Not SO Lucky for progressives, Hillary Clinton has managed to laugh off any serious questioning of her support for the current "Iran is next Iraq" Agenda Setting undercurrent, being stirred up by the Media Elite and Administrative Officials, once again:
Hillary Clinton Believes War With Iran Would Be Funny
Luckily for Hillary Clinton she still has lots of friends in the high places apparently, who would rather do reports on"She's Inevitable", and "Look at this Horse Race". I guess those fluff stories are much easier than having to ask her "What's so Funny, Senator?"
[ But her nervous laughter "speaks for itself" -- Teflon is really more a technique, than a coating! ]
So it goes ... Hillary gets positive "Free Press", on demand. Meanwhile the other Candidates, are left gasping for "their share" of that limited "News Cycle Oxygen".
Where are the hard Questions from the Media? Where is the Journalistic Critique? Where is the Equal Access to the Airways?Gone with the Wind, it would seem.
Perhaps the Media Elite is too busy "currying favor", to bother with their Constitutional mandate of being the "Watchdogs on Government" and the "Champions of Democracy"?
Perhaps the Corporate Agenda DOESN'T really "play nicely" with a Citizen's Agenda, afterall?
What's Wrong With the News?
Issue Area: Official Agendas
Despite the claims that the press has an adversarial relationship with the government,in truth U.S. media generally follow Washington's official line. This is particularly obvious in wartime and in foreign policy coverage, but even with domestic controversies, the spectrum of debate usually falls in the relatively narrow range between the leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties.
The owners and managers of dominant media outlets generally share the background, worldview and income bracket of political elites. Top news executives and celebrity reporters frequently socialize with government officials. The most powerful media companies routinely make large contributions to both major political parties, while receiving millions of dollars in return in the form of payments for running political ads.
In this incestuous culture, "news" is defined chiefly as the actions and statements of people in power.Reporters, dependent on "access" and leaks provided by official sources, are too often unwilling to risk alienating these sources with truly critical coverage. Nor are corporate media outlets interested in angering the elected and bureaucratic officials who have the power to regulate their businesses.
Think that "following Washington's official line" is a bit of an over-statement? What would you call this cave-in by Pelosi?
Pelosi Rebukes Fellow Democrat -- Associated Press
During a debate on children's health care Thursday, Rep. Pete Stark accused Republicans of sending troops to Iraq to "get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."
Pelosi issued a statement Friday evening rapping Stark, who is in his 18th term representing the liberal East Bay. He's California's longest-serving House members.
"While members of Congress are passionate about their views, what Congressman Stark said during the debate was inappropriate and distracted from the seriousness of the subject at hand -- providing health care for America's children," Pelosi said.
Besides setting the Legislative Agenda for the Country, now the Congress wants to police "Free Speech" too! What's next, perhaps telling us who to vote for too?
Granted, the phrase "president's amusement" used by the frustrated Representative Pete Stark, was rather harsh. But still it plainly falls in the realm of "Free Speech"! Doesn't it? (It may even have some basis in fact too, as we will see shortly.)
So why all the piling on Stark, by the Media, and even the Democratic Speaker?
Well perhaps, the dirty business of currying favor, between the Media Agenda Setters and the Political Agenda Setters, DOES make for "amusing" bed-fellows, afterall?
Just check out this "Radio and Television Correspondents" Dinner at the Whitehouse back in 2004. AND A GOOD TIME was had by ALL !!
Bush jokes about WMD's at White House dinner
What is "Amusement" to one class of people, is just "the Misery" that the working class, must bear! Just "Who finds What, Amusing" really is within the eye of the beholder, it would seem. (Just don't Dare to point that out though, as Pete Stark found out.)
NO WMD's? NO Problem! ... They don't need no stinking reasons! (When the "In Crowd" is really in on the Joke, there's no Watchdog left to "sound the alarm".)
There's really nothing to worry about, with all this "business as usual" merriment, is there? Really, they only have the average American's "best interests" in mind. ... Right? Iraq ... Iran ... they both hate America right?
Well, maybe, but I wouldn't necessarily believe everything you See on TV, these days:
Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed
April 6, 2006
Over a ten-month period, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) documented television newsrooms' use of 36 video news releases (VNRs)--a small sample of the thousands produced each year. CMD identified 77 television stations, from those in the largest to the smallest markets, that aired these VNRs or related satellite media tours (SMTs) in 98 separate instances, without disclosure to viewers.
Collectively, these 77 stations reach more than half of the U.S. population.
Fake TV News: Video News Releases - VNR Clips
What's good for GE, is good for America -- just trust them!
Look at how well the adventure in Iraq turned out, OMG!
"Business as Usual" IS GOOD for you!
(Or so they've have you believe.)
I for one, am glad that John Edwards is NOT part of that "in crowd" of the Washington Elite power-brokers ...
AND I am proud to support his efforts to FINALLY get this Insider Back-scratching System ... OUT of OUR Government!
[ BTW I'd like to see Hillary try to "Copy this Homework Assignment too" -- OMG, that would really BE the day! ]
However, this issue of the Media "picking and choosing" what to Report, and what to IGNORE, is really much more than about ANY ONE Candidate -- It's about OUR "Marketplace of Ideas" being tailored to fit just a "few prescribed" world views.
As concerned citizens, we should always be asking: "Who is writing 'those Prescriptions'?" ... And Why?
And what was that "Amusing thing that happened on the News"? It was all the stuff that WASN'T Reported -- and HOW No One even Noticed!