Government 2306

Government and Politics in the Lone Star State

Tenth Edition

Chapter 12

The Mass Media in Texas Politics

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Learning Objectives

12.1 Describe the influence of the mass media on the policy agenda in Texas.

12.2 Describe the media coverage of campaigns and elections in Texas.

12.3 Trace the early development of the news media in Texas.

12.4 Describe the impact of the Internet and other digital information sources on traditional media outlets and news consumers, and how newspapers and television news departments have adjusted to the changes.

12.5 Assess the effort of Texans and other Americans to stay informed and how their views of the media affect that effort.

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The Mass Media and the Policy Agenda (1 of 3)

Media Influence on Public Opinion and Policy

Criteria for selecting stories

Significant impact on audiences

Generate interest

Familiarity

Proximity to viewers

Timely

Complex policy issues usually do not generate interest.

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The Mass Media and the Policy Agenda (2 of 3)

Agenda Building

Create a climate for political action

May play a reactive role, mirroring society

Issue Attention Cycles

Prepublic phase

Media coverage grows.

Public debate

Government action

Loss of interest

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Part of the Governor’s Job

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Governor Greg Abbott meets with reporters around a conference table at the state Capitol. Communicating effectively with the public through the media can be crucial to the governor’s policy agenda.

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The Mass Media and the Policy Agenda (3 of 3)

Guardians of Open Government

Function as watchdogs over government officials

Utilize public access to government business

Open Meetings Act

Public Information Act

Shield Law

Partial protection of sources

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News Media and the Electoral Process (1 of 4)

Covering the “Horse Race”

Focuses on who is winning or losing

Little coverage of substantive policy issues

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News Media and the Electoral Process (2 of 4)

Campaigning for Television

TV coverage dominates the political process.

Candidate strategies

Schedule trips to attract coverage

Use of thirty-second positive and negative ads

Create superficial, image-oriented campaigns

Advertising costs create advantages for wealthy or well-financed candidates.

Not a guarantee of success

Increasing calls to give free air time to candidates

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News Media and the Electoral Process (3 of 4)

Media Coverage of Recent Gubernatorial Campaigns in Texas

2014: Strong differences

Greg Abbott versus Wendy Davis, an extremely contentious race

2010: Perry is untouchable.

To this point, Perry had lived a charmed political life in Texas politics.

2002: Campaigning in the mud

Perry and challenger Tony Sanchez traded personal attacks and negative television ads.

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News Media and the Electoral Process (4 of 4)

The 2012 U.S. Senate Race: Grassroots versus Media

David Dewhurst, Tom Leppert, and Ted Cruz all ran to replace Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

Cruz waged an aggressive grassroots campaign.

The campaign cost more than $60 million, making it the most expensive nonpresidential campaign that year.

Cruz’s grassroots efforts paid off and he won.

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The Early Development of the Media in Texas (1 of 3)

Frontier Newspapers

Filled with editorial-based partisan coverage

Focused on public issues

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The Early Development of the Media in Texas (2 of 3)

Newspapers and “The Establishment”

Active members of the conservative establishment in the twentieth century

Many controlled by oilmen and financiers

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The Early Development of the Media in Texas (3 of 3)

The Evolution of Texas Newspapers

Changing coverage

More attention to minorities and low-income groups

Criticism of political and business establishment

Changing ownership

Improved quality of coverage

Trend toward national media consolidation

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Current News Media Trends (1 of 7)

Modern Newspapers, Modern Problems

Daily newspapers in the United States are closing down

Declining circulation

Corporate consolidation

Weekly and alternative press newspapers provide specialty coverage and opposing viewpoints.

Changing strategies to encourage readership

More superficial and less detailed news

Internet, blogs, polls, podcasts, and videos

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Figure 12-1 Changes in News Consumption over Time

SOURCE: Pew Research Center, 2013 News Consumption Survey, http://www.people-press.org/2013/08/08/amid-criticism-support-for-medias-watchdog-role-stands-out/.

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The Dallas Morning News

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The Dallas Morning News remains a major source of news about Texas government and political institutions, despite financial setbacks that have beset the industry and prompted reductions in staff.

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Current News Media Trends (2 of 7)

Electronic Media

Emergence of television and the Internet have affected the role of media and government in politics.

Texas has about 150 television stations in about 23 markets.

Television coverage is largely nonpartisan but inconsistent in its coverage of state government and politics.

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Current News Media Trends (3 of 7)

Growing Media Conglomerates

Several newspapers and broadcast outlets are owned by large corporate conglomerates.

The New York–based Hearst Corp. owns six daily newspapers in Texas.

Major television networks are owned by large conglomerates that have newspapers, movie distribution companies, and theme parks.

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Current News Media Trends (4 of 7)

The Shrinking Capitol Press Corps

In 2000, more than fifty reporters and television correspondents were assigned to the Texas capitol.

By 2015, the number was about half; the number has been declining all over the country, not just in Texas.

The dwindling numbers mean that reporters have less time to do in-depth stories that expose wrongdoing or have an impact on policy.

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Current News Media Trends (5 of 7)

Governmental Public Relations

Variety of ways to communicate with the public and shape one’s image

Press secretaries

Press conferences

News releases and background reports

Videotapes and websites

House and Senate media services

Public relations firms

Purchase of television time

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Current News Media Trends (6 of 7)

Governmental Public Relations

News releases, websites, e-mails, social media messages, press conferences, background briefings, slick reports, and videotapes are designed to maintain visibility, cultivate general goodwill, announce new programs, etc.

Advocacy groups financed by corporate or special interests also use public relations as a way to get their messages out.

Is this trend dangerous?

Does it mark the end of unbiased, good journalism?

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Current News Media Trends (7 of 7)

Twitter Nation: The Role of Social Media and “Citizen Journalism”

Technological developments have changed the way people consume, process, and use political information.

People who rely on blogs, Twitter, or YouTube for their political information are not getting complete and unbiased views of their news.

“Citizen journalists”—those who distribute or commentate on the news rather than gather news

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Journal 12.4

How often do you see friends equate opinions with facts? What could be done to promote better media literacy among young people?

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How Well Informed Are Texas Citizens? (1 of 2)

Media Literacy: Becoming an Informed Consumer

Americans consume less news now than forty years ago.

Less political knowledge

Few know their elected representatives or their voting records.

May lead to lower political participation levels

Increases the influence of special interests

Are deficiencies in public education to blame?

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Figure 12-2 News Consumption by Age

SOURCE: Amy Mitchell, Jeffrey Gottfried, and Katerina Eva Matsa, “Millenials and Political News,” Pew Research Center, June 1, 2015, http://www.journalism.org/2015/06/01/facebook-top-source-for-political-news-among-millennials/.

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News consumption patterns vary significantly by age. On the whole, younger people consume less news than older individuals, but they also receive their news from different sources. Young people are most likely to consume news online, while other age groups are more likely to consume news from more traditional sources such as television, print newspapers, and radio.

NOTE: Survey conducted March 19–April 29, 2014.

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Table 12-1 Political Interest and Awareness by Generation

Generation Percent who say politics and government is a top-three interest Percent who talked about politics at least a few times a week
Millennials (born 1981 or later) 26 35
Generation X (born 1965–1980) 34 40
Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964) 45 49

SOURCE: Source: Pew Research Center, Millennials and Political News: http://www.journalism.org/2015/06/01/

political-interest-and-awareness-lower-among-millennials/.

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Every day, people have a wide variety of activities choices. As this table shows, younger people are less interested in politics and consequently discuss politics less than older generations. This is not a new trend as younger people have historically been less interested in politics than older Americans. As people age, their priorities tend to shift, with politics gaining in importance.

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How Well Informed Are Texas Citizens? (2 of 2)

Public Confidence and Media Bias

According to Pew poll in 2013, only 28 percent of Americans believed journalists contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being.

The only occupational groups with a lower rating were business executives and lawyers.

There is also a perception of media bias, which is a factor in the change in attitude toward journalists.

Media bias likely to grow with corporate ownership of media outlets

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Shared Writing 12.5

Consider the discussion in “Analysis: A Conundrum for Texas Capitol Gatekeepers.” Should representatives of advocacy organizations, even if they also write articles for their own websites or publications, be given news media credentials for access to the House and Senate chambers when legislators are in session? Why or why not?

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Photo Credits

Page 353: Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American- Statesman/AP Images; 357: Eric Gay/AP Images; 365: Tom Colburn/Houston Chronicle/AP Images; 367: Matt Nager/ Bloomberg/Getty Images; 369: Stewart Cohen Pictures/Getty Images; 370: Ian Dagnall/Alamy Stock Photo; 372: Harry Cabluck/AP Images; 380: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USF34-033000-D]

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