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Media as a linkage institution

Linkage institutions like media connect people and government. Media outlets can influence public opinion and government actions. They aim for objectivity, but often cater to specific ideologies to attract viewers and ad revenue. This strategy impacts how news is reported and can shape election outcomes.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user Dominick Kurlonko
    How can the media be allowed to cut down our president so bad?
    (0 votes)
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    • piceratops tree style avatar for user Shreya Swaminathan
      Like the decision in the New York Times V US, we really can't stop the press from "sending out whatever they want". This is due to the freedom of press in the First Amendment. Here is something to remember though, the media is not a charity foundation or something that runs for no cost. So this means that they need money from ads. I'm not sure how it is in the US, but in India we have something called the TRP. Companies decide which channels to pay for their ads based on the TRP. To get TRP they must get a lot of people to watch their channel which can be done by appeasing to the crowd. For example if a channel that appeased to the conservatives (like Fox), then they would go against the Democratic president. If there is another channel that appeases to the Liberals (possibly like MSNBC) then they would talk "trash" about the Republican president.
      (6 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user scpetrovich
    How come discrediting politicians is such a common issue through the media?
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Video transcript

- [Instructor] You have a government and you also have the people that are governed, and in previous videos, we talked about this idea of linkage institutions, which are institutions that connect the government to the people and the people to the government so people know what's going on in the government and so that the government knows the preferences of the people. And examples of linkage institutions, let me just draw an arrow here, examples of linkage institutions might be elections where the people are able to communicate their preferences, parties where that could obviously influence elections, but also influence policies. You have various interest groups, but what we're gonna focus on in this video is the media. Now, there's one pure view of the media and sometimes it's called the fourth estate where it has a central role in government, where the goal is to hold the government accountable, to inform the people, to have this pure objective view of what is going on with the government and bring it to the people and then help the people hold the government accountable, and also help the government know objectively what the people are thinking. And that is an idea that many in the media may strive for, but you have to think about, what are the incentives? What makes the media relevant and how do they exist? Most media outlets are for-profit organizations and so, let me make a few of these. Let's say that we have this one right over here. I'll call this media outlet one. Let me do this one right over here, let's call this media outlet two. As for-profit organizations, they need to get revenue so they can get their profit somehow, and for most of them, it comes through ad revenue. So, those ad dollars that are shown during the news or during a TV show. And so, you might guess that, hey, if I need to get ad revenue, advertisers aren't going to wanna show ads on a station that's not getting any viewership, so they're going to say, hey, how do we get maximum viewership? One argument might be, hey, we wanna be the most objective, high-quality news source, and that is a strategy that could be approached, or they could say, hey, maybe I could cater to certain belief systems, to, maybe, left-leaning folks or right-leaning folks. If you were to say that this is the distribution of people in our population right over here where people on this side lean left and then people on the right side right over here lean to the right, and these are people in between, there absolutely is a strategy where maybe if you are this media outlet, you say, hey, I wanna be centrist. Maybe give equal time, equal views to either side and maybe I get that viewership. But you could also have a strategy, well, what if I wanna capture all of these folks? Well, what they might wanna hear is something that's more critical of the right, that reinforces their left beliefs and so I could cater to that. Similarly, you might have something on the right saying, I could capture all of this audience here by helping, to some degree, telling them what they want to hear, and maybe in some level, reinforcing their beliefs. But by doing that, I get a large audience and I'm able to sell a lot of ads. It's an interesting debate whether it is good or bad that you have these media outlets that might cater to certain ideologies, but even if they are, they're still performing the role on some level as a linkage institution. Because these folks are trying to cater and understand what their viewership wants, that is a signal to the government that, okay, at least the demographic that watches media station one, this is the kind of stuff they're thinking about. And the demographic that watches media station two, these are the things that they are thinking about. So, it does communicate, in some way, to government, but you could imagine, almost every media outlet is trying to market that they are that ideal objective. And here's an example of that where a media outlet is actually reporting on how non-objective other media outlets are in their opinion or perhaps in the opinion of their viewers. - Tonight, a fair and balanced examination of the mainstream media's bias with three glaring new examples. First up, Donald Trump is firing back at the Washington Post after learning the paper's devoted an army of 20 staffers to dig up dirt on every nook and cranny of his life. - [Instructor] Now, another dimension to appreciate how the media, as a linkage institution, might influence government, or frankly, might influence other linkage institutions like elections, is how they report on things. Remember, they're trying to get viewership because the viewership is what makes the advertisers wanna advertise on their media outlets, and so, to get viewership, one strategy is to make things really exciting. Make it look like a sports competition, make it look like a horse race. And you see this, especially during elections, that oftentimes the focus may not even be on the substance, it's really on who's leading at a given time. That can sometimes influence the election and give that person extra momentum regardless of what their actual positions are. And here is an example of that. - Hillary Clinton is extending her lead over Donald Trump in several national polls. CNN is releasing a brand new poll of polls, which is an average of the six last surveys and it shows Donald Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by 10 points, so how does he close that gap? - [News Anchor] Donald Trump's reached new heights in the latest Fox News poll. With 39% of Republicans nationwide, he's more than doubling Ted Cruz at 18. Marco Rubio and Ben Carson are virtually tied for third within the poll's margin of error. - [Instructor] So, the media, definitely a very important linkage institution in our society, but it's really interesting to think about the various incentives for it and how that might influence its actions as a linkage institution and how its motivations might even affect other linkage institutions like elections.