Of more recent interest among the various forms of media is the internet. Combining video and print media, the internet has become somewhat of an “equalizer” in terms of media bias. (Franklin, 1999) While interest groups of all sides have and do use the internet to promote their social policy, the internet is open to all levels of the public. (Franklin, 1999) To wit: one does not have to own a newspaper or television network to control the content of a website.
As a result, numerous websites have set themselves up as “fact-checking” sources. (Franklin, 1999) The amount of available reference material that the average voter has access to thanks to the internet, goes a long way toward neutralizing the political influence of media claims. (Franklin, 1999) Similarly, the media, in keeping with the short attention span of the average American, cannot engage in the level of repetition of stories, claims and characterizations that are necessary to create public impressions by themselves.
(Franklin, 1999) Interest groups use the internet and other media forms to do this, but have to pay large amounts of money to media groups for access. (Franklin, 1999) The ultimate result of this state of affairs is that the “media” gains profit from the promotion of social policy regardless of the specific policy advocated. (Franklin, 1999) That being the case, the media tends to be policy-neutral unless owned by an individual or corporation who uses it to promote policy.
(Franklin, 1999) Only very rarely would that policy be social policy, rather than economic policy. The only policy issue that the media as a whole has a vested interest in supporting is the first amendment freedoms of speech and press. (Franklin, 1999) In that respect alone can the media be described as having a systemic bias. (Franklin, 1999) Since, in most cases, social policy is not significantly related to the media’s interest in first amendment protection, the media is content to profit from the efforts of all interests and interest groups. (Franklin, 1999)
Although it may appear that the media is exerting significant influence upon social policy in the United States, a closer examination of the matter would indicate that it is interest groups, using the media as a willing tool, that actually influence policy. Through organized efforts to manipulate media coverage, ad buys, and other forms of support for candidates friendly to their agendas, interest groups wield a great deal of influence upon social policy. Further, the actions of lobbyists help interest groups exercise a great deal of control over social policy. It is clear that interest groups, rather than the media, are largely responsible for shaping social policy in the United States.
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“Does The National Rifle Association Affect Federal Elections? ” Retrieved April 4th, 2009 from the Independence Institute website: http://www. davekopel. com/2A/OthWr/Does-the-NRA-Influence-Federal-Elections. pdf Stein, T. (2001) Social Policy and Policymaking by the Branches of Government and the Public-At-Large. Columbia University Press, New York, New York, 2001. Witt, S. & McCorkle, S. (1997) Anti Gay Rights: Assessing Voter Initiatives. Praeger Publishers, Westport, Connecticut, 1997.