Mass Media and Congressional Campaigns in US Term Paper

  • Length: 20 pages
  • Subject: Government
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #26796983

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Mass Media and Congressional Campaigns in U.S.

This is a study on the mass media principles and how they are used in congressional campaigns in the U.S. It has 12 sources.

In view of the strong economic-based relationship that exists between the congressional elections and the mass media, more rigid laws need to be established in addition to a screening process for each candidate through which they all have to pass in order to represent the American people.

The media plays an important role in contemporary political activity, as it is a key communicator. This communication is supposed to serve the needs of the people as a whole and bring information to them that would serve their interests. However, such media may be the tool of politicians, as they may manipulate certain important information about themselves in order to gain popularity. Ideally, it is the media that is used to distort reality and gain popularity.

The media itself may not really beware of the reality of the situation, as its interest is to report what they are given to understand. On the other hand, the media may consciously participate in misleading the people. This perhaps would be the result of them having something to gain economically or in kind in the future. Theories of the mass media in relation to elections have established links from this perspective, and one may not rule the possibility.

Analysis: In most places, where media is strong, it has been seen that the society is more diverse and segregated. Society is segregated to avoid unity among the working classes in a capitalist society for fear that they might unite and overthrow the ruling class. In a Democratic country, the government always reminds the people that they all are entitled to their rights, and that there is freedom and justice in everything thing they do, provided that it is within the accepted norms of the society. The people in these countries have been given to understand that the institutions are just, and are devoted to their betterment. The media for instance is supposed to be for the use and the good of the people. But in reality, it is not. This is because of the manipulation (manufacture of news and agenda setting) of truth to suit the needs of the ruling classes (Cohen and Young, 1980).

Miliband sees a fairly direct control of the ruling class on the media. He says, "Most newspapers in the capitalist world have one crucial characteristic in common, namely their strong, often their passionate hostility to anything further to the Left than the milder forms of social democracy, and quite commonly to these milder forms as well" (Mass Media, 2003).

There are several theories that aim at exposing links between elections and the mass media, particular congressional elections. Though there are skeptical views to these too one cannot totally rule out the possibility of this relationship. This is because of the fact that congressional elections are elections that are extremely sensitive to economic conditions.

Stigler's argument is an example of the denial of a relation between the congressional elections, but yet it at some point reveals "conservative" specifications, and almost admits to the existence of a systematic relationship.

Another dimension that aimed at exposing the relationship between the mass media and the congressional elections was Edward Tufte's research into the matter. It may even be said that it is Tufle's study that comes closest to revealing that the economy and politics shape congressional elections (Conflicting Theories of Congressional Elections, 2003).

It is suggested that provided that the performance of the incumbent party is "satisfactory" in accordance with some system of measure or standard, the voter votes to retain the current governing party. This enables the voters to receive the same policies that they find satisfactory. This is something that perhaps has been demonstrated in the recent 2002 congressional elections in the United States (Conflicting Theories of Congressional Elections, 2003).

If, on the other hand, the voters see the performance of the incumbents as "unsatisfactory" then they vote against the government, and therefore lend the competing party a chance to rule. This theory is referred to as the "economic voting" theory.

In contrast to the "economic voting" theory is that of Steven Weatherford, who sorts out four different forms of economic variables. He asserts that these may shape votes: personal financial experiences and expectations: perceptions of general economic conditions; evaluations of the government's economic performance; and party images on economics (Conflicting Theories of Congressional Elections, 2003).

Donald Stokes and Warren's theory holds that voters are actually interested in which candidate has the most to offer. Naturally, this would be the most commonsense thing for any voter to do, and this means that the voters are aware of whom they are voting for.

Findings about Senate Thomas Mann revealed that voters in congressional elections were in fact aware of whom they were voting for. Not only did these individuals recognize their candidates by name but surveys one them in detail revealed that they knew about each one. This work was supported considerably by the 1978 CPS National Election Study (Conflicting Theories of Congressional Elections, 2003).

It exemplified that voting behavior was dependent on the relation that a candidate had to his or her party and also on the image of the candidate. This is so important to the voters, as they believe what they are told about the candidate through the media. However, this is the main point that is taken advantage off by the candidate through the media.

The candidate's main job is to make sure that he has a good image before the public. It does not really matter what kind of personality a candidate might have in reality because he can create an image of himself through the media. Of course, funding for this is essential, but there are also many sources that are willing to partake in the candidates' aspiration depending on what the candidate is willing to give them in return when they win (Conflicting Theories of Congressional Elections, 2003).

In cases where the candidate is really willing to render large enough support to the source of funding, the source can then make sure that it pumps in enough funds to popularize the candidate. Simply, what has to be done is pay the media to do what the candidate wants. Of course, the image also has to be in sync with what is acceptable to them. This refers to their right wing views, but since most candidates are aware of this they already have their approaches carved out and presented, as the media would want it.

If a source is not available or if the funds through sources are not enough for the candidate to make a severe enough impact on the public, them the media itself might be able to help the candidate. This can be done if the candidate is willing enough to offer the media owner perks later when he is successful. From then on, it would probably even easier for a candidate to be successful, as the media possesses the tools and could do a lot more due to it having a lot more to gain in return (Conflicting Theories of Congressional Elections, 2003).

The media can be used for portraying good images for individual candidates, and so, it is an appropriate tool for candidates. But how do candidates get to use this tool? And who is in charge of this tool? Is there just a sole proprietor or more? Do people get to hear what they want to or are they filled up with things that are just images of the candidate?

The way that media has influenced the world is quite obvious because of the way that one observes society behaving according to what they see in films. Images used in movies are misleading and often lead society to perceive things that are non-existent. Common examples of these are the way that priests and professors dress. The dress code itself is an image that carries special meaning.

The meaning that is portrayed through the dress code of a professor suggests that he is civilized and a leader of students. A priest too is a leader with a sanctified touch to him. These two seem to be perfect social figures in moral aspect, yet reality has exposed their weaknesses. They both are capable of possessing characters that are bad for society. They may not be the virtuous characters they are supposed to be and actually be deviant behind closed doors. This is exemplified in the way that many clergymen have been exposed as having illicit relations among each other and with youngsters whom they were supposed to be educating under the name of religion.

Due to the fact that human beings are image-conscious and are impressed by what is put before them to view they are likely to accept as real. So, if human beings are so easily spoon-fed, they could also be…

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