Mark Peffley

First question: would you prefer to prepare for 20 review questions or an infinite number of possible exam questions (i.e., no review questions)?

Ground Rules:   The exam will consist of approximately 30 multiple choice questions and 1 to 2 short essay questions. The review questions below are designed to focus your preparation on theories and concepts from which the exam questions will be selected and formulated. If you are prepared to answer these questions, you should do well on the exam. During the exam, you may not rely on notes. Bring both a # 2 pencil for the multiple choice questions and a ball-point pen and a blue book for the essay questions. Better essays will be organized and efficiently written.


The exam will cover class discussions (see Lecture Outlines for topics I – IV); chapters 1-3 in Iyengar and McGrady’s Media Politics; chapters 1-4 in Jamieson and Cappella’s Echo Chamber; and Fenton’s book, Bad News.


1.       Compare two theories of democracy--Classic Representative and Elitist theories—in terms of the role that masses, representatives and especially journalists are expected to play in a democracy. How does the role of journalists fit with the roles played by the masses and elites in these theories? Thinking about the same question from a slightly different angle: How do John Dewey and Walter Lippmann differ in their recommendations for the role that journalists should assume in a democracy?

2.       Describe three major ideal roles for the news media in a democracy that we talked about in class and the “journalist’s dilemma” that we talked about, drawing from Robert Entman’s work?

3.       How does the profit motive of the U.S. news media influence their ability to attain ideal news coverage in a democracy?

4.       Describe 3 ways that corporate control influences news content that we talked about in class, using examples.

5.       Compare the U.S. and European news media in terms of regulation and public funding and how this influences differences in news content in the U.S. and Europe.  Also, what are some of the limitations of the public-ownership model of television, according to evidence reviewed by Iyengar and McGrady.

6.       Evaluate this statement: “The news is inherently selective and slanted, or biased.”  In what way is this statement true (or not)?

7.       How do journalists define “fair and neutral” reporting and how does this influence the content of the news? 

8.       What are some of the general problems with studying political bias in the news?  Use examples.

9.       Evaluate the major findings and merits of the following studies of political bias in the news:

a.        Lichter and Rothman, The Media Elite, 1986

b.       Vallone et al’s study of the hostile media phenomenon

c.        D'Alessio et al’s (2000) meta-analysis of content analysis studies

d.       Kahn and Kenny study of senatorial endorsements

10.    How would you summarize the empirical evidence on the question of whether the mainstream news media is politically biased in the U.S.?

11.    Describe 3 important functions of the media in democratic societies, according to Iyengar and McGrady (I&M).

12.    Describe the causes and consequences of the transition from party politics to media politics in the U.S., according to I&M.

13.    According to Iyengar and McGrady, why has the quality of news coverage fallen in the U.S.?

14.    According to Iyengar and McGrady, why does local broadcast news tends to focus on violent crime stories with Black or Hispanic suspects?

15.    What is news indexing, according to Iyengar and McGrady, and how well does it describe U.S. news coverage?

16.    In what important ways has the news audience changed from the 1970s to the present, according to I&M?

17.    In what important ways do organizational processes and routines influence the news, according to I&M?

18.    What specific reasons does Fenton give for why US citizens don’t trust the news media?

19.    In the chapter, “How We Got There,” what are the reasons Fenton gives for the reduction in foreign news coverage?

20.    In “The Culture of Spin,” Fenton argues that the news media has failed badly in counteracting spin. Why? What are some of the examples of the oversights and omissions of the 9/11 Commission and Bush administration spin that the news media failed to counteract?

21.    How does the rest of the world see us, according to Fenton (cite examples), and what is the paradox of massive choice in information sources in the US that Fenton talks about?

22.    Evaluate Fenton’s argument that, “[T]here’s no rule that intelligent news and profits work in inverse ratio to each other.”

23.    In what ways does the conservative media constitute a “conservative media establishment” and how does it function as an “echo chamber,” according to Jamieson and Cappella? Why did the authors decide to study these particular outlets and programs? What are some of the limitations of their analysis, in your view?

24.    How did the CME’s (conservative media establishment) coverage of the Kerry-Brown exchange differ from that of the mainstream media, and what were the goals of the coverage in the CME, according to Jamieson and Cappella?

25.    What are some of the major beliefs of the conservative coalition and how do their beliefs about liberals and the liberal media help to keep the coalition intact, according to Jamieson and Cappella?

26.    How did the CME cover the Trent Lott controversy and its aftermath and what were the goals of this coverage, in Jamieson and Cappella’s view?