Week 2 Notes
Week 2 Notes Comm162
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Erica Evans on Thursday January 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Comm162 at Stanford University taught by Shanto Iyengar in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 23 views. For similar materials see Campaigns, Voting, Media in Communication Studies at Stanford University.
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Date Created: 01/14/16
Comm162 Class 3 1/11/2016 Polarization: • Everyone agrees there is elite polarization, but there is debate about whether there is mass polarization. • There used to be more liberal republicans and conservative democrats. Ex: Ripon Society – in the 50’s and 60’s made of liberal republicans. There were ideological schisms in both parties. But after passing of civil rights laws, there were many things that happened that made the South more Republican. Parties became more aligned. By the late 1990’s, the polarization was complete. • In the 1970’s there is a whole new set of political issues: abortion and other cultural issues are more divisive because these things extend to people’s lifestyles, cultural values and religion. This is one reason the mass public has also become more polarized. • Professor Iyengar: does not believe the public is polarized. The public is generally speaking, middle of the road when it comes to policy. But if you ask them instead, how do you ‘feel’ about members of the opposite party? There are very negative feelings. • Marriage statistics: Almost all married couples (90%) have the same party affiliation. (Granted, this has a lot to do with geography, but these statistics still exceed randomness). • The children invariably adopt the affiliation of their parents; over generations if people keep selecting partners based on political views, and pass it along to their children, it is natural that polarization would become more extreme over time. How do political parties evolve over time? • In Europe, you might get new political parties every cycle, because it is a proportional representation system. If you get 10% of the votes, you get 10% of the seats in parliament. In the US, it is much harder to start a new party. Even if you get 20% of the vote, you will have 0 representation in the national government. This is why we have a 2 party system. • In Europe, there is a multiplicity of cleavages: religious parties, working class parties, geographical parties, when you have these reinforcing cleavages, it can be really strong. This can lead to more tension, and maybe civil war. People can start feeling very separate…. A downside to this system, creates more division. • There are more democrats than republicans in the United States. So why do republicans win? Why are there changes? • Shocks to the system: Some super popular guy might appear, Ex: Eisenhower (both parties wanted him). Reagan: a lot of democrats crossed over and voted for him. • Long-‐term changes: takes some major sociological shock. • We have only had 4 different party systems in our whole history as a country. • Last partisan realignment was the depression. Before this, dominated by republicans. Then, FDR elected on the basis of the expansion of social welfare states. This created the divide between the working class (democrat) vs. wealthy people (republican). • Are we experiencing realignment now? Iyengar says probably not… • Party controls have eroded over the past 40 years, but they are making a slight comeback: soft money, super-‐delegates. Functions of news media: • If you are a media user, you acquire information. In a democratic society, the press is supposed to allow people to cast an informed vote. • Public Sphere: there is an ongoing debate about issues and policy in a democratic state. The news should tune you into a variety of positions; a marketplace of ideas. • Regulation of the media: argument based on the idea that news stations have to contribute to this ideal. But in the US, there is practically no regulation. • Media bias because exposure is based on whether you can pay. Other countries require equal airtime before elections where candidates appear and present their views. Media features: • Privately owned media: subject to demand and supply. The main goal of media companies is to attract an audience. • Because of this, public affairs get pushed aside. Soft news is much more pervasive. Also, local news, namely violent crime, attracts more viewers. • Media’s watchdog function has been weakened. Ex: Bush’s claims about Iraq’s nuclear weapons were totally backed up by the press, even though they turned out to be totally false. • We have a tradition of objectivity in the press, where news is not aligned with a particular party. However in the arena of cable television this does exist (FOX and MSNBC) but this chunk of the public audience is very small. • Even though news media tries to be unbiased, conservatives view it as liberal. • Journalism in the U.S. is professionalized; you need to have credentials and education. • Journalism is independent: Journalists scrutinize political ads. They do not just repeat what politicians say, they have to show criticism and commentary. • There is a distinction now (starting after 1984) that U.S. reporting is more “mediated” rather than “descriptive,” there is no more unedited coverage of political actors. Journalists attempt to contextualize what was said. Sound bytes are shrinking; you don’t get to hear extended clips of candidates speaking on the news. In 1968, you would have seen like 5 minutes of politicians speaking in their own words. Today, it is 10 seconds. Are Americans informed? • 24% people think Obama was not born in the US. 18% are unsure. This is an easy question! • “If you knew the Prime Minister of Canada, that is a super difficult question. I would say you are irrational. You are spending too much time reading about politics and not enough time doing other things.” • How much of the federal budget goes to foreign aid? People think it’s 25%. But it’s really less than 1%! People have gross misconceptions! • Even when you try to correct people’s misperceptions, it just reinforces their beliefs, because they feel defensive “Motivated reasoning” • But 78% of the US knows Tom Cruise’s religion… there is much more awareness of soft news entertainment. • Is education correlated with knowledge? In the U.S. it is highly correlated. The more educated people know much more about world affairs. In other similar countries however, even uneducated people manage to have a relatively good understanding of politics. This means we have a knowledge gap in the United States. • Why is this the case? In other countries there is public broadcasting that requires brief news bulletins to be shown during peak watching hours. People end up viewing inadvertently (inadvertent audience) Ex: BBC runs news during halftime of premier soccer games. • In the US, we have ‘news hour’ every day on PBS. But Nielson ratings are less than 1. “The only people watching are those that want to be interviewed on that program.” • We do have PBS, but it gets very little funding from the government • Conclusion: U.S.’s market-‐oriented deregulated news media leads to lack of “civic news” and more “soft news”. European system with both public (paid for by tax payers/subsidized by the state) and private broadcasting is most effective. • Content will be superficial and non-‐substantive. Public Broadcasting: • “Welfare-‐enhancing news” -‐-‐ would include broadcasting in minority languages, like Spanish. • Funding might come from taxes on radios, televisions, and phones. But even Public broadcasters have started to rely on ads for more funding too. • In Denmark, the public broadcaster dominates. • The reason public broadcasters do well is because they are running really popular entertainment programming as well. Ex: Downtown Abbey. And they are given exclusive access to really big events: like huge sporting events: Cricket, Formula 1 racing in Britain. Media Regulation: • People fear that if we give more money to public broadcasting, they will use it irresponsibly. But there can be regulations to require programming in the “public interest.” The FCC used to require this for the renewal of contracts in the past. • FCC came into existence to regulate radio, so that people wouldn’t broadcast on the same frequencies. • Certain privileges: newspapers don’t pay for postage • Equal time provision: FCC required equal time to candidates on the air • Fairness doctrine: you had to counter any negative commentary equally with the opposing view • Both of these regulations are pretty much dead now though. • Regulatory Double Standard: Before the 1980’s, print media was less subject to regulation than broadcast media. This is because printing does not interfere with anyone else’s ability to print. But there is a scarcity of broadcasting lanes: one person’s transmission is another’s interference. Broadcasters are given access to the air when they are given a license. Because society is giving you access to this resource, society can also impose some conditions on it. But then, cable news came about and we no longer had to worry about regulation because there were so many channels and it was more like a free marketplace. Equal time provision and fairness doctrine were erased. Comm162 Class 4 1/13/2015 Regulation: • Today, US media is unregulated • In the past there were regulations however: ownership restrictions prevented every media company from being owned by the same person. You could only own one media outlet in a particular market (defined by geography, there are 210 media markets in the United States) • Ban on cross-‐ownership: A newspaper cannot own a TV station, etc. • No cable company could own more than 30% of the market • The fairness doctrine: must have balanced treatment of controversial issues • The right of reply: must be extended if you write a defamatory story about someone – meaning they get a chance to reply. Deregulation: • In 1987: FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine because access to airwaves was no longer a problem. • Time Warner challenged the cap on cable ownership – ruled that the cap violated the First Amendment. • Demise of the equal time rule: Previously, if you were to give a presidential candidate the opportunity to speak, you had to do the same for the opposing candidate. Now, instead, a station has to charge the same price for ads to every candidate. The problem is candidates who could not afford to buy the same amount of ad time as their opponent are denied access to the public. However, super pacs are charged nearly twice as much as individual candidates. • Limits on cross ownership have been eased too. • In 1976, stations had to show 5% community programming and 5% had to be news and public affairs. That was 10% non-‐entertainment programming • But in 1984 the FCC gave up because it was too difficult to demand this. So now stations just have to air “something that meets the community’s needs” Effects of deregulation: • Since 1987, there has been a systematic rolling back of regulations. • Now because of deregulation, ownership by huge media conglomerates that control a lot of the market à Has led to more homogeneity of content. • There has been a huge decline in the number of newspapers • Now since everyone is free to produce whatever they want, and because the market dictates the content, there is not as much hard news. Contrast with Europe: • Germany has strict ownership restrictions – capped at 30% of the national audience. Also in Germany, there are rules that the media must cover minor political parties as well. • BBC offers more than twice the public affairs programming as American stations like ABC, CBS, NBC. BBC also produces way more international coverage. American media has hardly any overseas bureaus. • European countries see broadcasting as “a social institution” but US sees it as a “commercial enterprise” Parties and the Press • European tradition of “polemics” – newspapers follow different parties • Once the modern printing press in America, newspapers became ‘objective’ so that more people would read them. There was no more partisan model for newspapers. • More recently however, we see media partisanship in America with Fox News and MSNBC and such. • This has been very popular – now people are waiting to see if CNN will follow suit. • The blogosphere is entirely polarized. • USA today has no party affiliation Types of media systems: • 1) Liberal model – US, UK, Australia • 2) Democratic Corporatist Model – Scandinavia, Germany • 3) “Polarized-‐Pluralist” – Italy, Spain Observable implications: • There seems to be a pattern of evolution towards deregulation à moving towards the model of the United States. • Regulations lead to more public affairs programming, and more informed societies. • Being publicly funded gives broadcasters protection from the market because they have the necessary financial cushion to deliver hard news. • The US is an outlier when it comes to how informed we are about current affairs: we are the most commercialized and the most unregulated. • Given the level of US education, you would think the US public ought to be more informed. • Confidence in the press has drastically declined – coincides with deregulation, but it’s caused more by polarization: republicans especially think that all news outlets have liberal bias, even when they are unbiased. Sound Byte Democracy • Media is changing in terms of technology • Not many Sound bytes early in the 60’s • During the Nixon campaign, Nixon had a coach to get him better Sound bytes for television. • Sound bytes then, 35 sec. would have been short. Now, 15 seconds is long! • There has been more critical journalism along with shorter sound bytes • Reinforces the idea that we cannot trust politicians. • Increase ratings for local news – you must have fast-‐paced reporting. Candidates get coaching to produce good sound bytes, especially in debates, candidates tend to end with a sound byte. More on Sound bytes: • It is a huge contrast between the 70’s and now. Sound bytes used to be so long! • The press does not like to be manipulated. The culture of journalism emphasizes independence. • Start more to explain the strategy behind a candidate’s campaign Polls vs. Pols: Cohen et al • Does money predict presidential nominations? • What are the biggest predictors of party nominations? • Party insiders actually have retained as significant amount of control in party nominations. (This is a counter-‐argument to the assumption that party elites have lost power) • Polls taken before the presidential primary very accurately predict the winner. • Endorsements also play a big role – polls and endorsements are equally important predictors of the primary result. • If polls were the primarily significant factor, then you would expect endorsers to select a front-‐runner and endorse them. But, if it was the other way around, you would see party leaders making independent judgments from the polls because their endorsements mean more. • This study found that change in either polls or endorsements early on led to changes in the other. • BUT: endorsements influence polls 3x more than polls influence endorsements. • The support of party insiders does not guarantee primary success. Party insiders still pay attention to what the public wants – this candidate has to be viable. Party insiders constitute their own party within the party. • The invisible primary: there’s also a battle inside the party amongst the party insiders. Candidates try to build support from party insiders. • Party insiders are familiar with who is running, and probably more informed. • Does money predict presidential nominations? Cohen says no! • Problems with this article: If the argument is that endorsements affect polls, how do people find out about the endorsements? In reality, normal people don’t hear about or care about endorsements. • Today, Trump has no endorsements but he has a lot of popularity. • Trump is a really interesting counter-‐example to this because he has no endorsements. But this is a signal of a mistrust of the party system: if you have a lot of endorsements, you must not be a good guy, too political etc. • Bernie also has few endorsements but a lot of young people want him to be president. Bernie is playing off of this: What state hates you most? Washington D.C.
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