The role of the mass media in American politics today.

Essay by naezUniversity, Bachelor's May 2003

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The mass media today play a vital role in American politics and possess a vast amount of power with reference to the political process. A role is defined as characteristic and expected social behaviour and the function, position or actions taken by a required person or group. (web reference 1) Politics as we know it is inconceivable without the mass media. They are the central forums of political communication in modern liberal democracies and are known today as the 'fourth estate'. This essay will argue the role the mass media play in American politics by examining ideas of political propaganda; dominant ideologies presented in the media, polysemic meanings conveyed, political party campaigns, journalistic bias and their positions as gatekeepers. The mass media of the United States of America are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function.

Governments everywhere are aware of the political importance of the media.

Governments therefore have developed philosophies about the political role to be played by the media in their societies and ways to control the impact of the media on government activities. The Latin definition of media is "middle" (O'Shaughnessy, 1999:2) as they are the middle chain of communication from the sender and the receiver of information. In society today, the media are situated in a pluralist model of liberal democracy and are often seen as fulfilling the vitally important role of 'fourth estate' being the guardians of democracy and defenders of the public interest. (web reference 2) The mass media in American politics are known as the fourth branch of government in addition to the main three of the President, executive and judiciary branches.

Within contemporary society today, the media transmit political propaganda from the political to the public sphere. Propaganda is information or material spread for the specific...