Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reflection Paper on Politics

Public policy is a tough undertaking for public administrators who are tasked with the running of the day to day affairs of public office. It requires a complete understanding of the factors that make a government. Since a lot has changed in U.S. public policy in recent years, administrators will need to comprehend the similarities and differences of network television news coverage and the 24-hour cable news coverage, the role of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) in rule making, and the Pentagon’s use of embedded reporters in battle zones across the globe. The purpose of this paper is to elucidate the three factors outlined above and how they are reflected in American public policy formulations.

The Media and Modern Public Policy

The media plays an important role in shaping modern public policy and democratic governance. There is a growing media competition or war between network televisions and the 24-hour news cable television. D’Agostino (2011) argues that drastic declines have been documented in television and print media after the introduction of contemporary media gadgets while Baum and Kernell (1999) contend that presidents have been losing prime-time television viewers since 1968. In essence, both media houses display similarities and dissimilarities. At times, though not always, both have the tendency to relay information that is biased or unsubstantiated. Mutz (2001) sees that television has the potential to create political awareness and remain a resource for educating society. 24-hour news cable televisions spend more time on political events while network televisions cover broad range of issues affecting the nation. The two are divided along political lines with some, like MSNBC and CNN leaning towards liberal politics while others, including FOX News value the concepts of political conservatism. FOX News commentators and its hosts of political analysts are usually very aggressive when covering the presidency and the White House especially when the president is a Democrat. On the other hand, CNN and MSNBC are very supportive of the democratic system.
FCC and Rule Making
The FCC is an agency in the United States that is responsible for regulating the vast array of media houses existing in the nation. People tend to complain about excessive government control without giving a thought to how life would be without a government. When large conglomerations are allowed to buy smaller news houses, competition will diminish because bigger companies that have the power and resources will prevail in manipulating the dissemination of vital news. Likewise, allowing big news corporations to buy smaller media will obstruct smaller houses from having access to the top echelons of the nation. Powerful media corporations have the clout to influence government policies and corrupt the decision making mechanisms of national leaders. Consolidating media helps advance global interconnection, elevates the level of globalization, and significantly disseminates democratic values across the globe (McChesney, 2001).
Supporters of FCC rule making see the benefit of money making while opponents are driven by the need to have a free press that is free from government meddling. Smaller media often complain about the impact of monopoly by bigger corporations who are driven by the urge to accumulate wealth and leverage all matters pertaining to news and information. Regardless of the continuing war between smaller and bigger media houses, the FCC has no other option but to put regulatory measures that is to be abided by all concerned parties.
The Pentagon and Embedded Reporters
Embedding reporters so they remain part of the military during combat zones has been in existence since the Vietnam War. It gained ground during the Iraqi War of 2003 when Victoria Clark, former spokesman for Donald Rumsfeld, introduced the idea of having a large number of reporters on the battlefield to counter enemy propaganda (Pfau, et al; 2004). Besides countering enemy propaganda, embedded reporters tend to be of value to the commanders on the ground since they end up reaping the benefits of the heartening reporting that is relayed to the public back home. At times it is risky business since reporters get entrenched in enemy territory and may at times succumb to serious injuries and even death. According to Feinstein & Nicolson (2005), the number of reporters becoming traumatized and ending up suffering from and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders must not be taken lightly. The United States armed forces, despite having the capability to strike with sheer force in any part of the world and despite enjoying superiority over enemy forces in the fields of technology and fire power, still, values the use of reporters in war zones solely to advance its global resolve and strengthen its public policy. One negative aspect of embedding reporters in the military is that news and information may not be based on facts. Embedding reporters in hot spots is a modern war strategy and will have effect for some time despite opposition and criticisms. The success of embedded reporters brings to the fore the overall ratings of the incumbent president and as well elevates the level of prestige and dignity of the generals leading the war and the boot soldiers on guard on the war front.


Feinstein, A. & Nicolson, D. (2005). Embedded Journalists in the Iraq War: Are they at greater psychological risk? Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 18, No., pp. 129–132

Baum, M.A. & Kernell, M. (1999). Has cable ended the golden age of presidential television? American Political Science Review, Vol. 93, No. 1

Bosso, J., Portz, J. and Tolley, M. (1999). American Government: Conflict, Compromise & Citizenship. NY: Westview Press

D’Agostino, M. (2011). Reviving democracy through new and traditional media. Public Administration Review, 71 (2), 306-307.

Mutz, C.D. (2001). Facilitating communication across lines of political difference: The role of mass media. American Political Science Association, 95 (1) 97-114

McChesney, R.W. (2001). Global media, neoliberalism, and imperialism. Monthly Review, Vol. 52, No. 10.

Pfau, M. et al (2004). Embedding journalists in military combat units: Impact on newspaper story frames and tone. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Vol. 81, No. 1, pp. 74-88

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