The way the news reports stories and integrates communications and political science can be seen daily on television and throughout the media. Newsrooms across America have an interdisciplinary environment. This means that journalists work with experts outside their field to report the news. The main goal of the media is to establish trust with their audience. Journalists are the watchdogs of democracy. We live in the day in age where the president is constantly criticizing the media for its dishonesty. The Society of Professional Journalists declares four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media.
These four principles are seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent (‘SPJ Code of Ethics – Society of Professional Journalists’). People that work for news media typically have their own political beliefs which can be seen in their work. The mainstream media certainly spends are great deal of time on politics and often overlooks other news that might be important. We don’t want a restricted press; the truth must come out through good journalism. Informing the public is the main goal of the news media. For most of us, the news media is a backdrop to our everyday lives, and the main way in which we connect with public culture (‘The Media, Politics and Public Life’). The mass communications media are the connective tissue of democracy. They are the principle means through which citizens and their elected representatives communicate in their reciprocal efforts to inform and influence (Gunther and Mughan 1, ch. 1).
Interdisciplinary thinking is vital for the success of a newsroom. People behind the scenes publish articles on an array of issues. A professional news organization knows and trusts its staff journalists and the freelance contributors it deals with regularly (Foreman). We have to capture the opinions of experts through research and facts. Another aspect that influences public opinion is social media and advertising. The goal of television ads is to motivate viewers to vote, volunteer, or give money, there are far better ways to reach people, thanks to the new media. New social media are already changing the way organizations attract supporters (‘5 Ways New Media Are Changing Politics’).
The polarization in the media is a concern especially for viewers. If you’re only getting one side of the news are you really getting the ‘real news’? In the age of smartphones and the internet we have access to information at a much more rapid rate. Most journalists are generalists. They have a broad range of knowledge and are quick learners, but they lack specialized knowledge in a given subject (Foreman). Beat reporters specialize in certain issues like business, environment, city hall, sports, and higher education. A beat is considered a certain area or topic (‘Beat Reporter’).
There are several ways the new media is changing the political landscape. First off, we get to choose what news we want to consume. It’s up to the audience to determine what news is newsworthy and what is not. Second, the idea of ‘sharing’ is vital for politics and news in general. The sharing of social media posts becomes a forum for discussion such as on Facebook. The concept of liking a post provides politicians with an idea who supports them on certain issues. Next, the concept of connecting with others is important in the media and for the spreading of political messages. Lastly, political campaigns use social media as a way to get donations to fund their campaigns (‘5 Ways New Media Are Changing Politics’).
The media has a huge impact on the outcome of elections. In the 2016 presidential election people would use Facebook as a way to communicate the way they felt on issues and the policies they support. Often times false messages, that weren’t true about Hillary Clinton. The influence of outside governments, particularly Russia, on the 2016 presidential is one way that politics can influence the media. Russia, an enemy state, used ‘fake news’ to promote the election of Donald Trump. For some people, this was the only news that they saw. Facebook newsfeeds were the source of news for many people.
The founding fathers wanted political speech to be protected under the 1st amendment. Political speech does not fall under commercial speech parameters. There are two parameters in journalism that help protect political speech. The first is the equal time rule which says stations must afford equal opportunities to all candidates running. For example, CNN has to show candidates from both parties and their advertisements. However, there is no legal obligation to do this. The equal time rule includes commentary and paid commercials (Pavlik and McIntosh 344, c. 11). There are two exemptions to as when the equal time rule doesn’t apply. The first is when a candidate appears in a newscast, interview or documentary. Also, when a candidate appears in on the-scene-news coverage. Another rule that the media should apply is the fairness doctrine. The fairness doctrine requires broadcasters to seek out and present all side of a controversial issues (Pavlik and McIntosh 344, c. 11)
For the audience viewing politics is important to have some sort of media literacy. Media literacy is the process of interacting with and critically analyzing media content by considering its particular presentation, it’s underlying political or social messages and ownership or regulation issues that may affect what is presented and in what form. It’s impossible to be fully literate because technology is always changing. You need to have the ability to read hidden and unhidden messages in the media. To be media literate, you have to understand both sides of a controversial issues. Most Americans only learn about issues from one side of the perspective (Pavlik and McIntosh 39, c. 2).
During my internship or civic engagement, we started to learn about the public opinion of members within our community. Some citizens were skeptical about the job the current commissioner was doing. My candidate challenged the status quo and proposed better solutions to problems within our town. Overall, this was a great experience because I got to work on both of my disciplines, multimedia and politics. Most jobs in politics require you to be interdisciplinary. There is also a social aspect to this that includes meeting with members of the community and see how they felt about certain issues. During the campaign, I got my candidate placed in the Sun Sentinel where they gave her an in-depth interview.
The influence of the media on politics is definitely clear. It’s true to some aspect that the media creates polarization. Solving problems within the newsroom takes an interdisciplinary approach. Interdisciplinary studies open up a world of opportunities. Going forward, I plan on using my interdisciplinary skills to continue to work on political campaigns and apply them to the jobs I will have in the future. Journalists will continue to challenge politics and the way we get information. The way and speed we get information is changing because of technology. As long as we have a two-party system in the United States we’ll have conflict of interest. Journalists obligation is to the people and this means no paying for sources or using deceit to uncover a story. There will always be distrust in the media as long as we have the open sharing of information.