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Mass Media and American Politics

Mass Media and American Politics

Tenth Edition

August 2017 | 536 pages | CQ Press

Mass Media and American Politics is the most comprehensive and best book for political communication. This text has made it easy for my students to learn about research and theory related to political journalism and the political communication system in America. It has great utility and insight while being comprehensive but not overwhelming for students.” —Jason Martin, DePaul University

Known for its readable introduction to the literature and theory of the field, Mass Media and American Politics is a trusted, comprehensive look at media's impact on attitudes, behavior, elections, politics, and policymaking. This Tenth Edition is thoroughly updated to reflect major structural changes that have shaken the world of political news and examines the impact of the changing media landscape. It includes timely examples from the 2016 election cycle to illustrate the significance of these changes.


This classic text balances comprehensive coverage and cutting-edge theory, shows students how the media influence governmental institutions and the communication strategies of political elites, and illustrates how the government shapes the way the media disseminate information. Written by Doris A. Graber—a scholar who has played an enormous role in establishing and shaping the field of mass media and American politics—and Johanna Dunaway, this book sets the standard.

FREE POSTER: Fact or Fiction? Use this checklist to avoid the pitfalls posed by the rise of fake news

Tables, Figures, and Boxes
About the Authors
PART I: Media Purpose and Structure
1 Media Power and Government Control
Political Importance of Mass Media

Functions of Mass Media

Who Should Control News Making?

Models of News Making


2 Ownership, Regulation, and Guidance of Media
Control and Ownership: Public and Semipublic

Patterns of Private Ownership

The Costs and Benefits of Big Business Control

The Regulation/Deregulation Debate

Pressures by Media Associations and Advertisers

Citizen Lobby Control


3 Press Freedom and the Law
Censorship in the Twenty-First Century

The Public and Freedom of the Press

Policy Limits on the Press

Access to the Media

Public Access to Information

Transparency, Secrecy, and National Security

Individual Rights versus the Public’s Right to Know


4 Media and Politics in the Changing Media Landscape
The Expansion of Choice

Media Polarization and Selective Exposure

Changing News Habits and Political Journalism

Political Campaigns and Campaigning

Digital Democracy?

Engagement, Citizenship, and Civic Life


PART II: Who and What Makes the News?
5 News-Making and News-Reporting Routines
Profile Sketch of U.S. Journalists


Effects of Gatekeeping

Reporting Extraordinary Events

Covering Pseudo-Crises


6 The Media as Policy Makers
The Ethics of Melding Political Activism with Journalism

Manipulative Journalism in Perspective

Muckraking Models


Journalists as Political Actors

Agenda Building

Documentaries and Docudramas

Methods: Fair and Foul


7 The Struggle for Control: News from the Presidency
The Adversarial Relationship

The Media and the Executive Branch


8 Media Coverage of Congress and the Courts
The Media and Congress

Writing Stories about Congress

The Media and the Courts

News about Crime and the Justice System


9 State and Local News
Covering State and Local Affairs

The Content of Subnational News

Decline of Mainstream State Venues and the New Venues


10 Foreign Affairs Coverage
The Foreign News Niche

Making Foreign News

Wars in the Modern Age


PART III: Media Effects
11 Media Influence on Attitudes and Behavior
Differential Effects of News

The Role of Media in Political Socialization

Patterns in Socialization

Choosing Media Stories

How People Learn

Learning Effects: Knowledge and Attitudes

Learning Effects: Behavior


12 Elections in the Digital Era
The Consequences of Media-Dominated Politics

Media Content

What People Learn from Campaign Coverage


13 Incivility, Negativity, and Bias in the Media
Bias in the News

Affective Biases

Information Biases

Ideological and Partisan Biases

Causes of Bias

Effects of Bias


PART IV: Current Trends and Future Directions
14 Current Trends and Future Directions
Appraising News Making

The Impact of Digital Technologies

Regulation as a Barrier to Development

The Shape of the Future




Instructor Site
  • Microsoft® Word test bank, is available containing multiple choice, true/false, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course. Highlight essential content and features.
  • Multimedia content includes links to video, audio, data, and web resources that appeal to students with different learning styles and prompts classroom discussion.

Mass Media and American Politics is the best, most comprehensive book for political communication. This text has made it easy for my students to learn about research and theory related to political journalism and the political communication system in America. It has great utility and provides insight, and while being all-inclusive, is not overwhelming for students.”

Jason Martin
DePaul University

Mass Media and American Politics is expansive, drawing insights from political science, media studies, psychology, and many other fields. This excellent book provides students with a clear guide to the intersection of politics and journalism.”

John Pitney, Jr.
Claremont McKenna College

“I have always felt that Mass Media and American Politics is quite simply the best of the broad media textbooks out there. I don’t expect to be switching to another in the foreseeable future.”

Tyler Johnson
University of Oklahoma

Mass Media and American Politics is a great text.  I like the balance it strikes in its academic approach to the study of media and the study of politics. Graber and Dunaway do a great job of tying the two topics together successfully and showcasing how these separate entities are not mutually exclusive.”

Emily Wanless
Augustana University
Key features


  • Coverage of major changes in campaign strategy, political reporting, and news consumption brought about by digital and social media including numerous updated examples from the 2016 election cycle and Trump administration.

  • Packed with updated statistics on trends in usage of digital and social media.

  • This edition includes up-to-the-minute recent scholarship on the political relevance of changes in digital and social media proliferation, especially growth in their use for news.

  • Newest research and data on web traffic, explosion of mobile use for news, mobile web traffic and mobile ad revenues.



  • The book’s broad coverage has three focal points:
    • the purpose and structure of media;
    • the ways in which the news media cover government and politics; and
    • its impact on the attitudes and behaviors of ordinary Americans and political elites.
  • Photos, political cartoons, screen shots, and data featured in tables, figures, and maps provide additional pedagogy.
  • Inclusion of the impact of media fragmentation on politics, audiences, and the news.
  • Analysis of digital and social media, including blogging, social networking, data analytics, and the impact of mobility and the expansion of media choice.
  • An overview of technology, information leaks, press freedoms, and national security in the post 9/11 world.

For instructors

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