American Gov: Chapter 8 and 9

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How does the textbook define public opinion?

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How does the textbook define public opinion?

An aggregate measure of the beliefs, attitudes, judgements, and/or preferences of a population over matters of public concern.

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What does it mean that public opinion is focused on a target population?

They focus on the opinion of the population that supports their idea/desire.

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What is meant by "sample"? How does it relate to the population? How big is a typical sample in opinion polls conducted today?

A small subset of individuals drawn from a population and studied so that a general statement about a population can be made.

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Make sure to know and understand the three conditions that must be met for accurately measuring public opinion.

  1. Ask questions in a way that accurately measures the opinions of a sample

  2. Take a sample that is representative of the population from which it is drawn

  3. Making Sure a Sample Size is Sufficiently Large

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What is meant by "social desirability bias"? How does it impact the accuracy of opinion polls? And what is the easiest way to overcome it in terms of survey administration?

The propensity to answer questions inaccurately to put oneself in the best light possible. In-person polls are answered less honestly than online, anonymous polls due to it. Using online, anonymous polls instead of in-person.

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Ordering effects

to the well-documented phenomenon that different orders in which the questions (or response alternatives) are presented may influence respondents' answers in a more or less systematic fashion

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Double-barreled questions

Respondents are asked about more than on issue but are only allowed to give one answer

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How does the textbook define a representative sample? Be sure to know and understand what it means to say a sample is demographically representative.

A sample which proportionately reflects the relevant diversity of opinions in the population from which it is drawn.

Demographically representative: Sample proportionally reflects the racial, ethnic, religious, gender, and class diversity of the population.

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Be sure to know and understand nonresponse bias and how it can lead to an unrepresentative sample.

Occurs when individuals w/certain characteristics are less likely to respond to surveys than others; this can lead to an unrepresentative sample because those who are less likely to respond will be under-represented.

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What is margin of error?

The amount of statistical error a researcher is willing to tolerate.

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What does sample size have to do with the margin of error?

Higher margin of error=less precise sample.

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Why do pollsters generally not use samples sizes as large as 4,500?

Harder to collect information from.

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What is meant by "the bandwagon effect"?

Individuals decide to support a cause or candidate simply because polls demonstrate the popularity of the cause or candidate.

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Make sure to understand the six guidelines for being a responsible consumer of polls.

  1. Consider the reputation and possible motives of the organization conducting the poll

  2. Examine question wording

  3. Check the target population and sampling method

  4. Assess the sample size and margin of error

  5. Compare across polls and look at poll aggregators

  6. Be realistic in your expectations.

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What is meant by "poll aggregators"?

Poll aggregators gather and average results of multiple polls

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Delegate:

The first duty of representatives is to follow the opinions of their constituents. The people who vote for representatives are the ones who should exercise judgement over questions of public policy, and if representativeness do not follow their lead, they deserve to be voted out of office in the next election.

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Trustee:

Representatives should not be strictly bound by the opinions of their constituents. Instead, the role of the representative is to act according to their own best judgement of what is just or what will promote the public good even if it is unpopular and leads to their being voted out of office in the next election.

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What is meant by "political predispositions"?

One's pre-existing attitudes, values, beliefs, and social identities that condition how one formulates opinions about public affairs.

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What is meant by "political socialization"? How does it relate to political predispositions?

Refers to the process by which our social environment leads us to develop attitudes, values, and beliefs, and social identities that shape our orientation toward government and politics. What our socialization is, is what we will be predisposed to.

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What is meant by the "funnel of causality"? How does it relate to socialization?

Over the course of a lifetime, the factors that influence us become fewer in number and more limited in impact. As we age, we develop our socialization based on people we can relate to and also develop our own independent thought.

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What, according to the textbook, is the most influential agent of socialization on children?

Family. According to the primacy principle.

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Be able to describe, in terms of rational ignorance, why Americans tend to have low levels of political knowledge. Why, according to the concept of rational ignorance, do these two factors influence levels of knowledge: interest in politics and party identification?

The typical citizen knows little about politics and public affairs because they have little to gain personally by putting in the time and effort necessary to become informed about politics and public affairs.

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What is meant by the term "heuristics"? How does it apply to individuals that are not informed about politics?

Information shortcuts; they are used in order to guess or infer what their opinion would be if they had time to become better informed.

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How does the state of the economy influence how people feel about the government and politicians?

When the economy slows down, people express lower approval for the president, Congress, and the political party of the president.

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How does the textbook define media?

The means of mass communication-e.g., newspapers magazines, radio, television, and the internet-and the journalists, editors, news organization, etc. who use these channels of communication to inform the general public.

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According to the textbook, the mediating role of the media has always been of concern. Make sure to understand what is meant by "mediating role"

Its potential to either enlighten or mislead the public because most people rely heavily on it to learn what the government is doing and to thereby hold it accountable.

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the two general reasons mediating role is of concern.

  1. The government can control people by controlling what's in the media.

  2. Media biases or errors could mislead the public.

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The textbook claims the media can potentially mislead the public either when it is free from government control or when it is controlled by the government. Make sure to understand these two different ways media can mislead the public.

  1. If media is government controlled, then people will only see what the government wants them to and not the absolute truth.

  2. If the media is biased or makes an error, then people will be misled.

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What is meant by unmediated communication?

Politicians communicating directly with the public without going through media's filter.

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Make sure to know and understand the "upside" and "downside" of unmediated communication according to the textbook.

Upside is that politicians can escape unfair negative portrayals of themselves created by the biases in the media. Downside is that they can escape scrutiny from journalists who hold them accountable for corrupt activity, incompetent governance, and/or for making false or misleading statements.

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Which amendment of the U.S. Constitution and which section of the Georgia Constitution provide protections for the freedom of the press?

The First Amendment of the Constitution and Section 1 of the State of Georgia Constitution.

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Where does the term "the press" come from? HINT: It has to do with Johannes Gutenberg

It comes from the invention of the printing press which allowed mass production of written expression.

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What does "freedom of the press" typically mean today?

The freedom of journalists and news media organizations to report information without fear of censorship, financial penalty, imprisonment, physical abuse, or intimidation by government.

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What, according to the textbook, are the "two vital functions a free press and independent media play in democracy"?

Promotion of a free flow of information, which can inform the government about the needs of the public and inform the public about the goings on of the government.

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What is the "watchdog role" of the press?

When the press investigates and alerts the public about government wrongdoings.

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What is the "marketplace" of ideas?

Free press can facilitate public commentary and debate over the public interest and thereby enlighten and refine citizens' judgments about matters of public importance.

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How do those two concepts relate to the two vital democratic functions of the free press mentioned previously?

They allow the press to move independently and freely.

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How, according to the textbook, can social media provide a third democratic function.

Can help to coordinate collective political action, such as voting, protests, signing petitions, donating money to causes and campaigns, and boycotts. It does so by helping like-minded people find one another, notify each other of political events and participation opportunities, and encourage each other to take action and contribute.

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Be sure to know the chronological development of news media sources from oldest type to newest.

Print journalism supplemented by radio coverage, then network television, followed by cable television. Now, with the internet, citizens have a variety of sources for instant news of all kinds.

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What is happening to local newspapers today and what impact is this having on the watchdog role of the media at the local level of government?

Newsroom employment in the U.S. has dropped 50% between 2008-2019, meaning there are half as many journalists and editors focused on local events, including government and politics. This has imperiled the watchdog role at the local level.

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The rise of the Information Revolution accompanied by the proliferation of cable news has helped create a political knowledge gap in the United States and elsewhere. How does the textbook describe this process?

The ease with which people can bypass news by using streaming services and pre-recording shows and the ease with which people can access local, state, and national news has created a large knowledge gap. Those who want nothing to do with politics can ignore it easier than ever; however, those who are very interested in politics have every opportunity to consume information on it. This has created the largest political knowledge gap in recent U.S. history.

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What is meant by "citizen journalism"?

When citizens use their personal recording devices and cell phones to capture events and post them on the internet.

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In modern America, soft news sources serve an important purpose in informing people. What is that purpose, according to the textbook?

Presentation of news in an entertaining and approachable manner, painlessly introducing a variety of topics. Depth/quality of reporting tends to be less than ideal, but these shows can sound an alarm to raise citizen awareness.

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Be sure to know which of these media are regulated by either the courts, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), or both:

Newspapers-Courts

Everything else-both.

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Net neutrality has been an important issue in the past decade. What is net neutrality? What is the debate around it? How did the Obama and the Trump administration each approach the issue?

The idea that internets service providers must treat all web traffic equally, and therefore may not be allowed to charge different rates or discriminate against different websites is any way. The Obama administration attempted to fortify net neutrality rules while the Trump administration reversed that by ending net neutrality.

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What is the "equal time rule"? What is the consequence for television and radio stations that break this rule?

Registered candidates running for office must be given equal opportunities for airtime and advertisements at non-cable television and radio stations beginning forty-five days before a primary election and sixty days before a general election.

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What is the "Fairness Doctrine"? Is it still in use today?

Required licensed stations to cover controversial issues in a balanced manner by providing listeners with information about all perspectives on any controversial issue. If one candidate, cause, or supporter was given an opportunity to reach the viewers or listeners, the other side was to be given a chance to present its side as well. It ended in the 1980s.

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What is meant be "indecency regulations"? When (and why), according to textbooks, do current FCC regulations allow broadcasters to show indecent programming or air profane language?

Keeps the public airwaves free of obscene material. Yes, they can between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

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What is Section 230? Why is it controversial in today's social media environment?

Online platforms may not be sued for content posted by users on their sites even if the platforms act like publishers by, for example, moderating posts, establishing community standards, and distributing commercial advisements.

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Be sure to know and understand each of the following types of media effects (and how they differ from each other):

o Agenda setting- The power of the media to influence what the public thinks about (or doesn't think about) through its decisions to cover some events and issues more than others.

o Priming- Media influences how we think about an issue by leading us to unconsciously bring certain considerations to the top of our head when we evaluate the issue.

o Framing- The media influences how we think about an issue by highlighting particular considerations or aspects of the issue.

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What are the main characteristics of thematic and episodic framing? Be sure to be able compare each type of frame.

Episodic portrays an event as a stand-alone occurrence, whereas thematic seeks to put the event in broader context and compare it to longer-term trends.

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What is meant by "ideological bias"?

The systematic slanting of coverage in favor of one or more ideological or partisan orientation(s) and against others.

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Which ideological group (liberals or conservatives) more often claims the mainstream media to be ideologically biased against them?

Conservatives.

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Make sure to know if the following tend to be liberal or conservative:

Journalists- Liberal

Owners of (and shareholders) of major media organizations-Conservative

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According to the textbook (under the section called "News Literacy Tip: Choosing a Balanced and Healthy Media Diet") Be sure to know and understand the following terms:

o Civic Salad- The best and healthiest political information, which should be consumed in abundance: factually reliable, ideologically diverse, but not ideologically extreme.

o Civic Poison- The worst sources available, which should always be avoided: factually unreliable opinions, misinformation, and/or propaganda.

o Left/Right-Wing Dessert- Factually reliable information, but extreme left/right wing ideological content that should be consumed, if at all, in moderation. (left=left, right=right).

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According to the textbook, there are two main dimensions used to assess media sources. Be sure to know and understand these dimensions.

Ad Fontes Media and Media Bias/Fact Check provide assessments of political media sources based on the two dimensions considered here: factual reliability and ideological bias.

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The market, meaning the audience, heavily influences media content. What are the two reasons listed in the textbook that help explain how the audience influences media content?

The principle that the "purpose of journalism" is to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments. Simply reporting true information is not sufficient for journalism to fulfill its purpose. Rather, it needs to provide relevant and useful information that guides citizens in making wise and just decisions. The claim that the news media is afflicted by market bias is a claim that the media too-often falls short of this standard due to the need to contend with competitive market pressures.

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Competitive market pressures lead news organizations to seek to both reduce the cost of producing news stories and (in order to raise advertising revenue) produce news stories that attract a large audience. How do these two factors explain why news organizations often fall short of the aspiration of providing relevant and useful information that helps citizens make wise and just decisions?

They need to contend with competitive market pressures. It simply reports true information which is not enough to provide sufficient info for journalism to fulfill its purpose

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What is market bias?

  • a pervasive phenomenon influencing news media content.

  • it occurs when competitive market pressures lead news media organizations to produce content that does not meet the American Press Institute's standard of quality journalism

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Leading questions

A question that is worded in a way that it sways the respondent toward one side of an argument.

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