Out of Order: An incisive and boldly original critique of the news media's domination of Ameri

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Why are our politicians almost universally perceived as liars? What made candidate Bill Clinton's draft record more newsworthy than his policy statements? How did George Bush's masculinity, Ronald Reagan's theatrics with a microphone, and Walter Mondale's appropriation of a Wendy's hamburger ad make or break their presidential campaigns?

Ever since Watergate, says Thomas E. Patterson, the road to the presidency has led through the newsrooms, which in turn impose their own values on American politics. The results are campaigns that resemble inquisitions or contests in which the candidates' game plans are considered more important than their goals. Lucid and aphoristic, historically informed and as timely as a satellite feed, Out of Order mounts a devastating inquest into the press's hijacking of the campaign process -- and shows what citizens and legislators can do to win it back.
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About the author

Thomas E. Patterson is the Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. For many years he taught at Syracuse University. He is the author of several books on politics and the media, including Out of Order, which won the American Political Science Association’s 2002 Doris Graber Award for the best book in the field of political communication, and The Unseeing Eye, which was named one of the fifty most influential books of the past half century in the field of public opinion by the American Association for Public Opinion Research. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Vintage
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Published on
Jan 12, 2011
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780307761491
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / Political Process / Campaigns & Elections
Political Science / Political Process / Media & Internet
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A century ago, national political parties' nominating conventions for U.S. presidential candidates often resembled wide-open brawls, filled with front-stage conflicts and back-room deals. Today, leagues of advisors precisely plan and carefully script these events even though their outcomes are largely preordained. Rewiring Politics offers the first in-depth exploration of the profound changes in the nominating process to focus on the role of the media. Fourteen luminaries from the worlds of media and politics examine how the technology of "coverage" has transformed conventions over time. As the contributors demonstrate, the story of the evolution of the nominating process cannot be told without the concomitant story of the revolution in mass media.
The impact of the media on political conventions has received surprisingly little scholarly attention. Yet few aspects of the American political process have faced such radical alterations in such a short period of time. From the first live television broadcast from a national convention on June 21, 1948, during the Republican convention in Philadelphia, through the advent of cable networks and the Internet, both the presentation and the content of the nominating process has been transformed. Today, because the party's nominee is selected before the event, candidates use their conventions-and convention coverage-as a form of advertising. They design mega-media events to electrify the party faithful and to woo undecided voters by dazzling them.
Without a doubt, the contributors conclude, conventions still matter, though their role has changed over the past decades. Rewiring Politics helps readers assess the evolution of conventions in contemporary politics and addresses the implications of these changes on our parties, politics, and society.
From Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to Glenn Beck and Matt Drudge, Americans are accustomed to thinking of right-wing media as integral to contemporary conservatism. But today's well-known personalities make up the second generation of broadcasting and publishing activists. Messengers of the Right tells the story of the little-known first generation.

Beginning in the late 1940s, activists working in media emerged as leaders of the American conservative movement. They not only started an array of enterprises—publishing houses, radio programs, magazines, book clubs, television shows—they also built the movement. They coordinated rallies, founded organizations, ran political campaigns, and mobilized voters. While these media activists disagreed profoundly on tactics and strategy, they shared a belief that political change stemmed not just from ideas but from spreading those ideas through openly ideological communications channels.

In Messengers of the Right, Nicole Hemmer explains how conservative media became the institutional and organizational nexus of the conservative movement, transforming audiences into activists and activists into a reliable voting base. Hemmer also explores how the idea of liberal media bias emerged, why conservatives have been more successful at media activism than liberals, and how the right remade both the Republican Party and American news media. Messengers of the Right follows broadcaster Clarence Manion, book publisher Henry Regnery, and magazine publisher William Rusher as they evolved from frustrated outsiders in search of a platform into leaders of one of the most significant and successful political movements of the twentieth century.

Why do some citizens vote while others do not? Why does less than half of the American voting public routinely show up at the polls? Why is it that the vast majority of political issues affecting our day-to-day lives fail to generate either public interest or understanding? These questions have troubled political scientists for decades. Here, Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Joseph N. Cappella provide the first conclusive evidence to date that it is indeed the manner in which the print and broadcast media cover political events and issues that fuels voter non-participation. This book illustrates precisely how the media's heavy focus on the game of politics, rather than on its substance, starts a "spiral of cynicism" that directly causes an erosion of citizen interest and, ultimately, citizen participation. Having observed voters who watched and read different sets of reports--some saturated in strategy talk, others focused on the real issues--the authors show decisive links between the way in which the media covers campaigns' and voters' levels of cynicism and participation. By closely monitoring media coverage among sample audiences for both the recent mayoral race in Philadelphia and the national health care reform debate, the authors confront issues concerning the effects of issue-based and competitive-based political coverage. Finally, they address the question repeatedly asked by news editors, "Will the public read or watch an alternative media coverage that has more substance?" The answer their findings so clearly reveal is "yes." Spiral of Cynicism is a pioneering work that will urge the media to take a close look at how it covers political events and issues, as well as its degree of culpability in current voter dissatisfaction, cynicism, and non-participation. For, in these pages, a possible cure to such ills is just what Jamieson and Cappella have to offer. Moreover, their work is likely to redefine the terms of the very debate on how politics should be covered in the future.
There is little argument that mass media news projects a particular point of view. The question is how that bias is formed. Most media critics look to the attitudes of reporters and editors, the covert news policy of a publisher, or the outside pressures of politicians and advertisers. Manufacturing the News takes a different tack. Mark Fishman’s research shows how the routine methods of gathering news, rather than any hidden manipulators, determine the ideological character of the product.

News organizations cover the world mainly through “beats,” which tend to route reporters exclusively through governmental agencies and corporate bureaucracies in their search for news. Crime, for instance, is covered through the police and court bureaucracies; local politics through the meetings of the city council, county commissioners, and other official agencies. Reporters under daily deadlines come to depend upon these organizations for the predictable, steady flow of raw news material they provide.

It is part of the function of such bureaucracies to transform complex happenings into procedurally defined “cases.” Thus the information they produce for newsworkers represents their own bureaucratic reality. Occurrences which are not part of some bureaucratic phase are simply ignored. Journalists participate in this system by publicizing bureaucratic reality as hard fact, while accounts from other sources are treated as unconfirmed reports which cannot be published without time-consuming investigation.

Were journalists to employ different methods of news gathering, Fishman concludes, a different reality would emerge in the news—one that might challenge the legitimacy of prevailing political structures. But, under the traditional system, news reports will continue to support the interests of the status quo independently of the attitudes and intentions of reporters, editors, and news sources.

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