Democracy without Citizens: Media and the Decay of American by Robert M. Entman

By Robert M. Entman

"The unfastened press can't be free," Robert Entman asserts. "Inevitably, it truly is dependent." during this penetrating critique of yank journalism and the political approach, Entman identifies a "vicious circle of interdependence" because the key hassle dealing with newshounds and editors. To turn into refined voters, he argues, american citizens want high quality, self sustaining political journalism; but, to stick in company whereas generating such journalism, information agencies would wish an viewers of subtle voters. As Entman exhibits, there's no effortless approach out of this problem, which has inspired the decay of democratic citizenship in addition to the media's carrying on with failure to reside as much as their very own maximum beliefs. Addressing frequent depression over the degeneration of presidential campaigns, Entman argues that the media method almost compels politicians to perform demagoguery. Entman confronts a provocative array of matters: how the media's reliance on elite teams and members for info unavoidably slants the scoop, regardless of adherence to objectivity criteria; why the media carry govt liable for its worst errors--such as scandals and international misadventures--only after it is too past due to avoid them; how the interdependence of the media and their viewers molds public opinion in methods neither team by myself can regulate; why higher media pageant doesn't inevitably suggest greater journalism; why the abolition of the FCC's equity Doctrine can make issues worse. Entman sheds interesting gentle on very important information occasions of the earlier decade. He compares, for instance, assurance of the failed hostage rescue in 1980, which subjected President Carter to a barrage of feedback, with assurance of the 1983 bombing that killed 241 Marines in Lebanon, an incident within which President Reagan principally escaped blame. He indicates how different factors unrelated to the truth of the occasions themselves--the obvious acclaim for Reagan and unpopularity of Carter, alterations within the means the Presidents publicly framed the incidents, the powerful symbols skillfully manipulated by way of Reagan's yet now not by way of Carter's information managers--produced very other forms of reportage. Entman concludes with a few considerate feedback for development. mainly, he proposes the production of backed, party-based information shops as a manner of selling new modes of stories collecting and research, of spurring the proven media to extra leading edge assurance, and of accelerating political expertise and participation. Such feedback, besides the author's probing media criticisms, make this booklet crucial analyzing for a person interested by the nation of democracy in the United States.

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But economic pressures do shape the values that guide the creation of news—brevity, simplicity, predictability, timeliness. As one example, timeliness is so important to the news because it keeps the audience coming back. If the news is not timely, it is less important to watch or read on any given day. To attract the consumer every day, a daily news outlet has to imply that missing it will hurt. The focus on what just happened, the emphasis on getting scoops and beating the opposition to a story that everyone would have reported anyway in a day, says that knowing what just happened is the crucial thing.

If networks aimed for mathematical equality, providing the same number of seconds of "bad news" about each candidate's quality, they would have had to ignore some of Reagan's public statements and actions while playing up trivial Mondale blunders. Few would endorse such a practice; most would condemn it as deliberate distortion. The problem illustrates the media's difficulty in attaining the balance mandated by objectivity rules. Thus, ironically, strict balance violates its own purpose: to ensure that the news offers a neutral, factual mirror of reality.

They might point to Reagan's poor debate performances, to his knowledge gaps on major policy issues, and to indications of widespread corruption in his administration culminating in the October indictment of Labor Secretary Raymond 34 • Understanding Media Influence Donovan. They could argue that truthful coverage of reality as it developed during the autumn campaign produced any negative balance on Reagan's "candidate quality" ledger. Reaganites might counter that Mondale's subservience to special interests, the financial mess of vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, and Jimmy Carter's unhappy legacy were far more damning, especially in comparison with Reagan's record of relative peace and prosperity.

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