Why Do Government Officials Use the Media?

Government officials and politicians often have a love-hate relationship with the media. Officials rely on the media to help them communicate to the public and build support for candidacies and policies, but they also fear attack or criticism from the media.

  1. Function

    • Politicians and government officials use the media as a means for mobilizing public support to win elections, or to gain support for programs and policies. The media act as an intermediary between government and the public.

    Significance

    • The media shape much of the public's knowledge about politics and government, so government officials use the media to communicate their messages to the public.

    Benefits

    • Most American households have televisions and radios, which represent popular means by which government officials communicate to the public.

    Features

    • Government officials and politicians try to present themselves in as positive a manner as possible, and they often try to manipulate the media in an effort to control the content of the message.

    Effects

    • Government officials and the media often have an adversarial relationship. Officials want to control the content of the message, while the media do not wish to be seen as handmaidens of a government or political figure.

    Considerations

    • The Internet has allowed politicians and government officials to bypass the traditional news media and communicate to the public on their own terms. Many politicians and government agencies have websites, blogs, and even a presence on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Mike Licht

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