Mass Media in American Politics

M 3:30 p.m.

 

Instructor: Prof. Jim Schubert Assistant: Dr. Margaret Ann Curran

Office and phone: ZU 113; 753-9675

Office hours: 2:15 p.m. Monday

Email: t70jns1@wpo.cso.niu.edu mcurran03@aol.com

 

Objectives:

 

This course broadly examines the role of mass media in modern American politics. Mass media include newspapers, radio, television and the worldwide web. We pay special attention to the dramatic effects of television on the quality and conduct of politics over the past 50 years and will be concerned with the effects of the web over the coming decades. Very current questions, for example, involve the effects of the rise in negative political advertising and campaigning on the decline in voter turnout in national elections or the effects of television on the role and importance of political parties and their national conventions. In addition to concern for how media affect the attitudes and behavior of the public (e.g. stereotyping), we shall also be concerned with how mass media have helped transform the process of government in the presidency and administration, the legislature and the courts. Finally, we consider the power of the media and efforts to regulate and/or restrain the exercise of free speech through the mass media.

 

Readings:

 

Three books provide most of the required readings for this course:

Paletz, David L. 2002. The Media in American Politics. 2nd edition.

Graber, Doris A. 2000. Media Power in Politics. 4th edition.

Graber, Doris A. 2001. Processing Politics.

 

A few additional articles may be placed on library reserve or will be available from the web.

 

Grades and Requirements:

 

Grades in the course will be based on three exams (25% each), a term paper (20%), and assigned exercises and class participation (5%). The term paper topic will be selected with my consent and the paper will be approximately 10-12 pages, word processed, spell checked, and double spaced with 1 margins.

 

Attendance:

 

Attendance is expected and, needless to say, is a factor in class participation. Substantially different material is presented in lectures and the readings and both sources will be thoroughly covered by the examination.


TOPICAL OUTLINE AND READING ASSIGNMENTS

 

 

 

 

Week

Topic

Paletz

Graber (2000)

 

 

 

 

8/22

Role of media in politics

Chapter 1

 

 

 

 

 

8/29

Media effects, power and control

Chapter 2

Readings 1, 5

 

 

 

 

9/12

News, press and politics

Chapters 3, 4

Reading 2

 

 

 

 

9/19

Mass media and agenda setting

Chapters 5, 6

 

 

 

 

 

9/26

Exam 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

10/3

New technologies

Processing Politics

Reading 36

 

 

 

 

10/10

Effects on attitudes and behavior

Chapter 7

Readings 7, 8

 

 

 

 

10/17

Effects (continued)

Chapter 8

Readings 23, 24

 

 

 

 

10/24

Campaigns and elections

Chapter 9

Readings 10, 17, 29

 

 

 

 

10/31

Campaigns (continued)

Chapter 10

Readings 13, 14, 16

 

 

 

 

11/7

Exam 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

11/14

Presidency and Congress

Chapter 11

TBA: APSR

 

 

 

 

11/21

Media and the Courts

Chapter 12, 14

Reading 12, 19, 21, 22

 

 

 

 

11/28

Mass media and foreign policy

Chapter 13,15

Readings 20, 26, 27, 36

 

 

 

 

12/5

FINAL EXAM