The Importance of Public Opinion in Government and Media

The Importance of Public Opinion in Government and Media

Public opinion plays a crucial role in shaping government policies and decisions, as well as influencing the media. This article explores the various factors that influence public opinion, including mass media, interest

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Slide1Influences on the GovernmentPublic Opinion, Mass Media, Interest Groups

Slide2Public Opinion• The ideas and attitudes most people hold about a certain issue or person. • Presidents rely on Public Opinion to get their positions passed by Congress. • Congress is dependent on public opinion because their goal is re-election • A popular president has more influence over Congress • Public Opinion is very diverse

Slide3Sources of Public Opinion(Influences on your thoughts) • Personal Background- age, gender, socio- economic status, religion, occupation, ethnicity • Mass Media- by what medium (singular form of media) do you get your information- Mass appeals to large audience ▫ Ex: internet

Slide4Sources of Public Opinion …• Interest groups-a group of individuals who share a point of view and come together to promote their viewpoint ▫ Work to influence public opinion and therefore policy

Slide5Features of Public Opinion• Direction : Is the direction positive or negative ▫ Abortion: Pro-Choice/ for abortion-Pro-Life/anti- Abortion • Intensity:  How strong are the opinion ▫ Is this an issue that can cause you to vote for a specific candidate? • Stability:  how firmly to people hold their views ▫ Ex: Civil Right: Most people have strong convictions regarding this issue  

Slide6Measuring Public Opinion• Politicians who make public policy and want to win reelection need to know how their peeps feel • Public Opinion Polls  are the major way to gauge how the public feels. ▫ They are simply surveys that ask questions of randomly sampled people

Slide7Measuring Public Opinion/ Pollsters• The opinion polls are conducted by pollsters • Purpose is to measure feelings about an issue or candidate • Those polled are decided randomly

Slide8Types of Polls• Random Samples:  Questions asked must be worded carefully-otherwise it can sway the person being polled • Push Polls:  Designed to sway the responses/disregarded by the polling community

Slide9Polling Pros and Cons• Supporters: allows elected officials to keep in touch with their peeps •  Opposition to Polls: Elected officials become more concerned about pleasing the public rather than doing what is right and necessary

Slide10The Mass Media• The nation’s media influences politics and government and lets officials know what needs to be addressed or placed on the agenda

Slide11Types of Media• Print media: newspapers, magazines, books • Electronic media; radio, television and internet • In the United States most media outlets are privately run ▫ This means more listeners or readers = more $$$$

Slide12The Impact of the Media• Public Agenda: Of the gazillion issues government must deal with –the ones that receive the most time, money and effort make up the public agenda • The media has great influence on setting the agenda ▫ An issue that receives a lot of media publicity winds up getting a lot of government attention

Slide13Impact of the MediaContinued… • Coverage of Candidates:  The amount of coverage a candidate receives impacts the success of their campaign and can make or break the election • Media and Elected Officials:  It is a love/hate relationship. It’s a symbiotic relationship-they need each other and are dependent on each other ▫ Ex: Leaks, confessions, exposure

Slide14Impact of the MediaContinued…. • Watchdog role:  They watch over government and are eager to break a story about government abuse of power, funds or trust ▫ "The liberty of speaking and writing guards our other liberties." --Thomas Jefferson: • Media and National Security : A fine balance between our right to know and the government’s obligation to protect us

Slide15Media Safeguards• Our republic requires the free flow of ideas to thrive • Constitutional protections/first amendment • Prior Restraint: means the media is protect from government censorship of material before it is published or printed • Freedom with Limits: Cannot publish false that will harms someone’s reputation = Libel ▫ Malice –  or evil intent is not constitutionally protected

Slide16Media Safeguards• The Media has a right to protect its sources • Regulation of the Media; The FCC monitors the media—and all media outlets must comply with certain regulations or suffer penalties- Example: Shock Jock Howard Stern, Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction

Slide17Types of Interest Groups• Interest groups are organizations that unite people to promote common ideas and hopefully influence the public agenda.

Slide18Types of Interest Groups• Economic: ▫ There are industry interest groups –like the Chamber of Commerce or the Tobacco Institute ▫ Labor Interest groups want to help the working class or a group of professionals AMA, AFL-CIO, American Federation of teachers

Slide19Types of Interest Groups…• Other Interest Groups: Ethnic groups, age groups, gender groups, religious groups • Special Cause or Single Issue Interest groups: NRA, Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, • Public Interest Groups: support causes that affect the lives of Americans in general- they are non-partisan and impartial- goal is to educate the voters Ex: League of Women Voters

Slide20Interest Groups and Government• Important part of the political process • First goal is to influence public policy • Support candidates during the elections • PAC’s (political action committees) formed by interest groups to collect money from their members and funnel the money to political candidates that support their cause • Influence policy by using the courts

Slide21Interest and Government …• Lobbying Government: interest groups employ lobbyists to influence policy. • A lobbyist is a person who contacts government officials on behalf of the interest group ▫ Good lobbyists supply law makers with information about an issue—biased of course ▫ Lobbyists also make sure that once the law is passed it is enforced correctly

Slide22Techniques of Interest Groups• Employ a variety of techniques- direct mailings, ads, • Propaganda: Different types ▫ Bandwagon ▫ Card Stacking ▫ Name Calling ▫ Glittering Generalities ▫ Plain Folks Appeal

Slide23Regulating Interest Groups• Limits to the amount of $ PAC’s can contribute • Waiting period before former government officials can go work for an interest group • Iron Triangle (congressional committees that make the laws, bureaucratic agency that enforces the laws and the interest groups that promote the laws) • Critics: Interest groups have too much say in policy • Proponents: Interest groups make government more responsive to the people