Political Science

Connection Between Our Culture and the News Media

Required Resources
Textbook: Chapter 5, 6
Greenberg, E. S & Page, B. I. (2018). The Struggle for Democracy, 2018 Elections and Updates Edition. (12th ed.). Pearson.
Post Instructions
The framers of the Constitution were concerned that everyday citizens would not be able to understand or comprehend the makings of our government. They felt that everyday citizens were uninformed and did not care what was going on in our government. Even today we see where citizens are interested in government affairs seemingly only if our country is in turmoil such as unemployment, recessions, civil unrest, etc. Do you agree with this assessment? Are we uninformed? Do we wait till a crisis happens to voice our opinions?
Writing Requirements
Minimum of 2 sources cited (assigned readings/online lessons and an outside source)
APA format for in-text citations and list of references
The Changing American Landscape
Demographic transitions such as the growing population, increasing diversity, the evolution of the American population, and political ideology all play a role in U.S. government and politics. The U.S. population has continued to grow unlike most other developed democracies partly due to higher-than-replace birth rates – more people are born in the U.S. compared to the dying population, and younger immigrants are contributing to the economic health of the United States. Equally important, internal migration has changed the redistribution of seats in the House of Representatives changing demographics in politics. With a growing aging population, government programs such as Social Security and Medicare are noticing a strain on working-age individuals. The American economy shapes government and politics. How does it do this? Well, for example, economic liberty is intricately linked to capitalism, and on the idea that individuals have the right to buy, sell, own, and trade property. If you look at it in this perspective, economic freedom is parallel to political freedom. As individuals, we should be free to pursue our economic interests as we see fit, and the role of the state should be limited to protecting our private property. In fact, the framers were committed to the philosophy of classical liberalism, meaning they believed that human beings had the right to determine their own destinies if they did not interfere with the liberties of others. Classical liberalism focuses on two elements – economic liberty, which we just discussed, and political liberty. The framers rejected the idea of a monarchy. They did not want to be another England. Instead, they stressed the social contract theory, the right to life, liberty, and property under natural law. The framers also expected the states to protect these rights. This is called political liberty.
Capitalism is a productive economic system that rewards risk-takers and entrepreneurialism. Capitalism tends to produce wealth, but also income inequality. In this case, the government intervenes to impose taxes to pay for education, unemployment, retirement, and medical benefits. This is described as redistributing income and wealth.
The power of the news media has increased dramatically! It has a huge impact on public opinion and political behavior. The mass media transmits information to large audiences all over the world. The framers called the free media a central pillar to our society and this is reflected in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. One function of the media is to be a watchdog. The media is also supposed to present a complete and diverse set of facts, such as emerging problems, what policy debates are taking shape, and how well existing policies are working. But does the media always relay the facts? Not all the time!
The mainstream news media consist of newspapers, network news organizations, national news magazines, radio, and local news organizations. Each media is dominated by a few firms. It may look like there are many news organizations to choose from, but this is not true. With increased concentrated ownership structure, there is an interconnection between many news and media outlets. What does this mean? Corporate ownership of the traditional news media means that the news is driven not by a strong and honest desire to inform citizens, but instead by money, and the desire to make a profit. This has led to:
1. infotainment – a blurring of information and entertainment. Examples- The Daily Show, Stephen Colbert Show, The Five, Jimmy Fallon Show, etc.
2. A prioritization of news stories that feature some form of conflict
3. Emphasis on negativity and scandal
Public opinion is defined as the collective political beliefs and attitudes of the public and groups within the public. Public opinion gives insight to what the electorate is thinking about politics. How do we find out what the public is thinking and what their opinions are? We use multiple methods of sampling and polling.
Sampling refers to choosing a small group of people to participate in a survey. In order for the sampling to be accurate, the pollsters must choose from different demographics, such as old vs. young, men vs. women, Republican vs. Democrat in equal proportion to their numbers in the overall population. Random sampling refers to samples where every member of the population has an equal chance of being in the group. Sampling errors do happen no matter how good the example is, so most surveys report sampling errors using the margin of error. Non-response bias refers to the problems that occur when certain groups decline to participate in the polls which in turn skews the polls results. Lastly, scientific polling, is where every person is given an equal chance of being selected in the sample. The problem with “every person” is that scientific polling may assume the population consists of just the student body at a university or just one area of a state. You can see where scientific polling is not always accurate.
Do you think polling works even with the flaws? Have you ever been asked to participate in a poll?
There are challenges associated with polling.
Demographic differences in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and class affect politics in the United States. America’s commitment to liberty and equality are mentioned in the United States Constitution but also in state constitutions. Each state constitution supports and defends popular sovereignty, limited government, and the separation of powers among branches to include a bill of rights that lists individual rights with other guarantees. The lectures today cover migration, aging populations, and increasing inequality. Even though the United States is considered to have one of the highest standards of living in the world, it also has a high level of inequality. All state constitutions have preambles (introductions). Some states preambles describe the rights afforded to its state citizens. For example, Hawaii’s preamble states, “We reserve the right to control our destiny, to nurture the integrity of our people and culture, and to preserve the quality of life that we desire. We reaffirm our belief in a government of the people, by the people, for the people and with an understanding and compassionate heart toward all the peoples of the earth, do hereby ordain, and establish this constitution for the State of Hawaii.” Each state constitution has its own version of equality and liberty for its citizens.
We can see how the readings this week all interconnect. The structural foundations of American government and politics are based on our political culture, which is influenced by the news media, which in turn helps determine public opinion. Our first week’s readings discussed the foundation of the American government. This week we explored how we are influenced as individuals by families, friends, teachers, cultures, religion, and race and ethnicity. As young children, we follow our family. As we grow into the teen years, we tend to follow our teachers, friends, and social networks. Finally, as adults, we start to question what we want in our leaders? Do we have certain issues that are important to us such as religion, women’s rights, gun rights, etc.?
We also learned that government is not just the running of federal and state governments but that it involves many components such as social media, cable news, public opinions, interest groups, social groups, etc.


Approximately 250 words