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Glossary of The Media

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1st Amendment
This opening passage of the Bill ofRights prohibits Congress from establishing a religion and ensures freedom of expression, religion, press, assembly, and petition.
attack ad
Political advertising that denounces a candidate's opponent by name.
Communications Decenct Act (1996)
An act that makes the spread of "indecent" materials on the internet to anyone under the age of 18 a crime.
electronic media
Radio and television broadcaasting media. The term derives from their method of transmission, in contrast to print media.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
An independent regulatory commision that controls interstate and foreign electronic communication.
feeding frenzy
A process through which members of the media attack politicians or candidates whose performance or character has been called into question.
fractionation
The division of audiences into small, specialized and narrow groups, based on specialized interests.
freedom of the press
The right to publish and disseminate information without prior restraint, subject to penalties for abuse of the right through such actions as obscenity, libel, incitement to crime, contempt of court, and sedition.
front runner
The presidential candidate considered to have the lead at any given time in an election.
gatekeeper function
The power of the national media to control the public agenda by deciding what the public will learn about, It gains this power by choosing which topics to report on.
horse race coverage
Media coverage of presidential primaries with an emphasis on who is leading, who is behind, and who has dropped out.
investigative journalism
Journalism in which writers actively seek to uncover detailed descriptins of wrongdoings.
issue ad
Political advertisement focusing on a specific issue rather than on a particular candidate.
Kennedy-Nixon debates
The 1960 presidential election debates between JFK and Nixon. The debates were televised and broadcast on radio. Those wathcing on TV felt JFK won, those listening on the radio felt Nixon won. These debates were a turning point in the identification of the power of television as a political medium.
libel
written definition of a person's character, which may expose the person to hatred or ridicule, damage his reputation through criminal accusations, or harm him within his profession. The truth of a statement is generally considered a suitable defense against charges of libel.
managed news
News the government produces that's designed more to make the government and its interests, policies, and action look good (or less bad) than to deliver complete, truthful, and accurate information to the public.
marketplace of ideas
The concept that government has no role in managing or controlling the flow of ideas, arguments, or opinions, that occur naturally in a society, and that this flow, if left unhindered, will eventually result in the best ideas rising to the top.
media consultant
A professional pais by a party, candidate, or government official to help present news stories in ways that reflect positively on a candidate or government official.
media event
A time when government officials or politicians arrange for television and newspapre reporters to see some dramatic evidence of government achievements or decision making.
muckraker
A journalist or writer who investigates and exposes wrongdoings and excesses of corporations and the government.
narrowcasting
Broadcasting whose content and presentation is directed to a small sector of the population.
national newspaper chain
A collection of newspapers owned by one individual or company that are distributed to many cities nationally. In theory, a chain allows wider distribution of political news and ideas. They have also given increased power to those publishers aiming to influence politics.
political advertising
Advertising a political candidate via mass media. Political advertising is a very influential, controversial, sophisticated, and lucrative industry.
press secretary
The person who represents the White House to the media. The press secretary writes news releases, sets up press conferences, and acts as an intermediary between the White House and the nation (through the press) in the dissemination of information from the White House.
prior restraint
Preventing an action before it even happens. Prior restraint relies on censorship instead of subsequent punishment.
public agenda
Issues members of a political community consider worthy of public attention and governmental action.
sound bite
A short, catchy, memorable statement that news broadcasters can easily fit into their coverage of political events.
spin
Public-relations campaing interpretation of events or election results that are intended to help a public figure.
spin doctor
An advisor to a political campaign who tries to persuade journalists of a particular interpretation of events. The intent here is to put a candidate or party in favorable light, and the opposing candidate or party in a negative light.
spot ad
A type of political advertising that generally promotes a candidate, in a positive fashion, by name.
watchdog function
The duty to oversee the administration of the law.
White House press corps
Reporters from various news organizations with the full-time assignment of covering and reporting on the presidency.
yellow journalism
Sensatoinalistic and irresponsible journalism, often associated with William Randolph Hearst, but seen widely throughout the press.

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