The News What should the news tell us to make us informed citizens? Jon Stewarts critique A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy. It serves to inform the voting public on matters relevant to its well-being. Why theyve stopped doing that is a mystery. I mean, 300
camera crews outside a courthouse to see what Kobe Bryant is wearing when the judge sets his hearing date, while false information used to send our country to war goes unchecked? What the f*** happened? What are the different types of news we can consume? We consume each because they are important to us, (for different reasons)
Health Business Sports Weather Consumer Crime
Entertainmen t Public Affairs As people As investors
As fans To choose our clothes To help us make purchases Because ??? Its fun Its our duty? What kinds of stories are important to us as citizens of our city, state, and the United States? Two types of news story
Hard news Facts and figures Soft news Evokes emotion, tells the human side of the facts
How does the news media decide what information to provide? What guides news content? Economics of the news business (Benefits to society of an informed
public are NOT in the bottom line) Norms of the journalistic profession Citizens as news consumers Rational ignorance People seek news for duty, diversion, and drama
Economics of News Why is news a public good? One persons consumption does not diminish the ability of another to consume it (non-rivalrous) Once news is provided, you can consume it without paying for it (nonexclusive) Why is that important?
Hamiltons argument Production of news is costly Profit motivates its production If and how a story appears depends on: How many people will pay to consume it Which people they are How desirable those people are to advertisers
Economic factors that affect news coverage Competition Low standards Low quality (race to the bottom) Herding behavior Economic factors that affect news coverage Competition
Low standards Low quality (race to the bottom) Herding behavior Technology Cheaper to buy rather than produce Homogenized product Superficial coverage Recycling of stories Economic factors that affect news coverage
Competition Low standards Low quality (race to the bottom) Herding behavior Technology Cheaper to buy rather than produce Homogenized product Superficial coverage Recycling of stories
Public good/ pricing problem Hard news under-produced Professional factors that affect news coverage Get a story in the paper Homogeneity, herding Professional factors that affect news
coverage Get a story in the paper Homogeneity, herding Get it on the front page Cozy relationships with sources Bias toward conflict stories Professional factors that affect news
coverage Get a story in the paper Homogeneity, herding Get it on the front page Cozy relationships with sources Bias toward conflict stories Be respected by Oppositional bias
your peers Can the media be made to serve democracy? Taxes and subsidies Encourage local news ownership Make information available cheaply
Change property rights of broadcasters Stimulation of demand through education Creation of professional norms What about bias? Where is it evident? Story choice Placement
Headlines Framing Photographs Is there a partisan bias? Journalists are partisans Economic incentive is to sell to as many people as possible
There is room for a profitable niche partisan market Why does the press matter? How does the press affect public opinion? Priming: the news influences which issues we judge to be the most important issues of the day. Ranking of most important issue facing America:
Iyengar and Kinder, Experiment 1 Before experiment 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Inflation Pollution Unemployment Energy Civil Rights
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