Politicians and Mass Media
Analyze the types of media illustrated in the four primary sources, and compare them to show the different ways they could have influenced a politician's public message.
- What are the major forms of mass media?
- How do politicians relate to different types of media?
- How do forms of media differ from each other?
- What power do politicians have to communicate their messages in each form of media?
- What kind of access do audiences have to each form of media?
- banking crisis of 1933: a nationwide panic in 1933 during the Great Depression when large numbers of Americans withdrew their money from banks, which made many banks collapse, losing the assets of all of the rest of their customers.
- fireside chats: a series of national radio addresses delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and intended to reassure the public and inform them of any national issues or crises.
- mass media: forms of communication—such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the internet—that are designed to reach large groups of people.
- public opinion: the collective attitudes of a group of people.
- social media: an umbrella term that refers to all online platforms that foster and encourage communities of users to interact with one another and to review, publish, and interact with online content.
- TV debate: a debate, usually political, that is aired on television.
- Twitter: a microblogging platform and social networking website with posts limited to 280 characters.
Mass media are powerful forms of communication—including television, radio, newspapers, and the internet—that are designed to reach large groups of people. Mass media can be key drivers of changes in public opinion: they transmit information and target large audiences, and as a result, they tend to play an important role in politics. Politicians, for example, have been using different forms of mass media to shape public opinion and transmit messages about themselves and their opponents since newspapers became widely read and available. Different forms of media operate in different ways: some work through visuals, others through audio or both. In addition, access to mass media varies. Some forms are controlled by gatekeepers, like editors of newspapers or television news channels. Others, such as social media sites on the internet, can be accessed and used as a platform by practically anyone. Each form has advantages and disadvantages and has been used in different ways by politicians and citizens alike.