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The Press Effect

Politicians, Journalists, and the Stories that Shape the Political World

Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Paul Waldman

Publication Date - 08 April 2004

ISBN: 9780195173291

240 pages
5-5/16 x 8 inches

A wide-ranging critique of the press and its role in American democracy


Was the 2000 presidential campaign merely a contest between Pinocchio and Dumbo? And did Dumbo miraculously turn into Abraham Lincoln after the events of September 11? In fact, Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Paul Waldman argue in The Press Effect, these stereotypes, while containing some elements of the truth, represent the failure of the press and the citizenry to engage the most important part of our political process in a critical fashion. Jamieson and Waldman analyze both press coverage and public opinion, using the Annenberg 2000 survey, which interviewed more than 100,000 people, to examine one of the most interesting periods of modern presidential history, from the summer of 2000 through the aftermath of September 11th.
How does the press fail us during presidential elections? Jamieson and Waldman show that when political campaigns side-step or refuse to engage the facts of the opposing side, the press often fails to step into the void with the information citizens require to make sense of the political give-and-take. They look at the stories through which we understand political events-examining a number of fabrications that deceived the public about consequential governmental activities-and explore the ways in which political leaders and reporters select the language through which we talk and think about politics, and the relationship between the rhetoric of campaigns and the reality of governance.
The Press Effect is, ultimately, a wide-ranging critique of the press's role in mediating between politicians and the citizens they are supposed to serve.

About the Author(s)

Kathleen Hall Jamieson is Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Packaging the Presidency and Eloquence in an Electronic Age. Paul Waldman is a senior researcher at the Annenberg Public Policy Center. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


"There is much to be learned from the book's point-by-point analysis and...appeal for higher standards in journalism."--The New York Times

"Jamieson has authored a number of substantial books about politics, and her latest does not disappoint."--National Journal

"A disturbing picture of how poorly the media cover political discourse [and] why the press so often fails."--Denver Post

"Based on meticulous research and pretty well scrubbed free of bias, this highly readable book is the latest work in an established vein of media criticism aimed at telling us why we are getting short-changed and telling reporters how to improve.... The book's analysis of what has gone wrong and what is likely to go wrong in the future constitutes a well-judged and useful dissection of our flawed media."--The New Leader

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