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politics in the United States. Newspapers, radio, magazines and television
are able to use their own judgment when reporting current events. The
power of the mass media is an asset to the government in some instances and
a stumbling block in others. Recent technology and regulations given to
the mass media have improved the means by which the public can get
information. The final say in what goes into a story, however, belongs to
the reporter alone. His opinions and biases are often a main part of the
The mass media is the means by which the citizens of the United States
are informed of current events in politics. This gives the media huge
amounts of power and control. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell stated
in 1974, "An informed public depends upon accurate and effective reporting
by the news media. No individual can obtain for himself the information
needed for the intelligent discharge of his political responsibilities."
Powell is saying that it is the media's responsibility to inform the
citizens of the news, because people cannot get this information by
themselves, and in order for the people to fulfill their responsibilities
as citizens, such as voting, they need to be informed. Lewis Powell goes
"For most citizens, the prospect of personal familiarity with
newsworthy events is hopelessly unrealistic. In seeking out the
news, the press therefore acts as an agent of the public at large.
It is the means by which people receive that free flow of
information and ideas essential to intelligent self government."
No citizen is able to obtain all of the "newsworthy" information they
need alone. The press provides the people with the information necessary
According to our textbook, United States Government Democracy in
Action, the mass media has been referred to as the fourth branch of
government. (527) By simply associating the media with the other three
branches of government implies the power of the mass media. The
information relayed by the media to the people has played a major part in
The advancing technologies in today's world help the media to portray
their political views. Television provides the opportunity for political
figures to address the public directly, instead of through written means
only. In the early 1800's few people actually subscribed to a newspaper.
Those who didn't could hear the latest news in local taverns, and often
those who did subscribe would mail the newspaper to their friends after
they read it. (Remy 52) This way of circulating news was slow and
ineffective. Newspaper distribution increased through the 1800's and mid-
1900's. Television proved to be a more convenient way to convey
information, so eventually, television caused a decline in newspaper usage.
Whether it be newspapers, radio shows, or television, the media will
find a way to tell the public their st
Quotes talked about in this paper
- Justice Lewis F. Powell stated in 1974, "An informed public depends upon accurate and effective reporting by the news media. No individual can obtain for himself the information needed for the intelligent discharge of his political responsibilities."
- Lewis Powell goes on to say, "For most citizens, the prospect of personal familiarity with newsworthy events is hopelessly unrealistic. In seeking out the news, the press therefore acts as an agent of the public at large. It is the means by which people receive that free flow of information and ideas essential to intelligent self government."
- Robert O'Hara, an author, as saying "It is the choice of just the right adjective or verb to sum up a situation that evokes from the receiver the response the communicator feels should be adopted toward a story."
- O'Hara also states: "They (media) use stock words and phrases to describe the same situations, which give the news an appearance of sameness. The event being described is news, but it is described in terms applied over the years to similar events. The impression of sameness obscures understanding and limits the range of possible responses for the receiver."
Terminology referenced in this essay
mass media, news media,
Names referenced in this essay
Justice Lewis F. Powell, President Clinton, Robert O'Hara, Franklin D. Roosevelt,
Organizations included in this term paper
Federal Communications Commission, Supreme Court,
Locations mentioned in this research material
Keywords included in this research material
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