Politics and the Media

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Politics and the Media

It is a reasonable expectation that the media will gather the facts and report the news fairly, accurately and responsibly. The American public relies on the media for a great deal of its information. "The role of the press in American politics has become a major source of discussion and controversy in recent years" (Davis, 1). The question raised in this paper is, "Does the media present the news fairly, accurately, and completely?" The short answer is no, the long answer will be examined throughout the following essay. This essay will examine the media and its influence and effects on politics and government.

"Publick Occurrences" was the first newspaper to appear in colonial America. This publication begins the history of the media and its effects on politics and government in America. The paper was struck down soon after being published and its publishers arrested. Without the protection of the First Amendment, newspapers had little chance of survival; especially if they were critical of established authority.

The first successfully published American newspaper came almost fifteen years later in 1704. It was entitled the "Boston News-Letter". Several other papers came into circulation in colonial America and just before the Revolution there were twenty-four papers in circulation. Articles in colonial newspapers were a major source of political pressure in shifting public opinion from reconciliation with England to complete political independence. Thus began the history of the media influence in America and its effects on American government and politics.

The number of printed newspapers in America continued to grow and by the end of the Revolution there were approximately forty-three newspapers available to the public. They played an important role, informing the public, in the political affairs of the young nation. In 1791 the Bill of Rights was passed securing the freedom of the press. Protected by the First Amendment, American newspapers played an important and influential function in local and national politics. Newspapers were originally a luxury only enjoyed by the wealthy and the literate minority. It was during the era of Jacksonian democracy, the 1830's, that newspapers became more widespread. This resulted from the invention of the "Penny Press." It was now possible to sell newspapers for one cent a copy...

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...e facts and report the news fairly, accurately and responsibly. It concludes with the assertion that although the media report the news it is not always fair and accurate. Yellow journalism, the Nixon-Kennedy debates, and advocacy journalism (broadcasting) demonstrate that the influence the media have on government and public opinion. In a democracy any attempt to regulate the influence of the media will conflict with the constitutional protection of the First Amendment. The antidote for an overly influential media is an educated public.

Works Cited

Coulter, Ann. "Ann Coulter on Liberal Bias in the Media." Interview with Katie Couric. Today. NBC. WNBC, New York. 26 June 1994.

Davis, Richard. The Press and American Politics. New York: Longman, 1992. Graber, Doris A. Media Power in Politics. Washington D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1990.

Goldberg, Bernard. Bias. Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing Inc., 2002 Kelly, Michael. "The Myth of Media Fairness." New York Post 21 Dec. 2002: 17.

Streitmatter, Rodger. Mightier than the Sword. Colorado: Westview Press, 1997.

White, Theodore H. The Making of the President 1960. New York: Antheneum Publishers, 1961.
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