Sociology 3841

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Final Exam
  1. Sociology 3841

May 3, 2016

Instructions: Answer all questions in the space provided (or go on to the back if necessary). Ask me if you’re not sure how to interpret a question. Each essay question is worth nine points and each multiple choice question is worth two; there are 60 points total.

  1. Which group gave strongest support to the idea that news should be objective:

    1. Owners of newspapers

    2. Politicians

    3. Journalists

    4. advertisers

2. Television news first became popular in:

a. the early 1900s

b. the 1930s

c. the 1950s

d. the 1970s

3. In the early days of television, TV networks got most of their revenue from:

a. advertising

b. subscriptions to cable TV

c. government subsidies

d. sales of television sets
4. In the first half of the 1800s:

a. there were some weekly publications, but no daily newspapers

a. there were many newspapers, but they had small circulations

b. there were only a few newspapers, since only a few cities had enough people to support a newspaper

c. more people read newspapers than today, since there were no alternative ways of getting news
5. During the 19th century:

a. most newspapers focused on practical local issues and didn’t pay much attention to politics

b. most newspapers were more neutral in their coverage of politics than newspapers are today

c. most newspapers were more partisan in their coverage of politics than newspapers are today

d. most newspapers just supported whoever was in office at the time
6. Why has the economic position of newspapers become worse in recent years? What measures have been suggested to improve the situation? In your judgment, will any of the proposed changes be successful—if so, which ones? Explain.
The growth of the internet has led to a loss of advertising revenue, as businesses can advertise directly to consumers, and competitors (like Craigslist) for classified ads have appeared. One response is attempting to increase revenue: charging subscriptions for reading news online, micro-payments (for individual stories), or charging extra for “premium” content. Another is to reorganize to reduce costs—for example, more reliance on non-professionals; having different “tiers” of newspapers specializing in different things.

7. Explain the “minimal effects model” of media effects. According to this model, what factors limit the influence of the media, and what impact, if any, does the media have on public opinion?

The main effect of media coverage is to reinforce opinions, not to change them. Things that make it difficult for media coverage to change minds are: tendency of people to focus on things that support their opinion; tendency of people to talk with those who share their opinions; low levels of attention ; and skepticism about “untrustworthy” sources.

8. According to Anderson, Bell, and Shirky (“Post-Industrial Journalism”), how has the rise of the internet and social media affected the role of journalists, and will professional journalists continue to have an important role in the future?

Journalists and editors have less control over what gets counted as news; face more competition and criticism. Anderson, Bell, & Shirky argue that journalists will continue to have an important role because of their experience in reporting and knowledge of sources. They think that there will be less need for journalists to do routine work, but more to do skilled work based on coordinating different sources.

9. Most observers say that the relationship between the media and public officials has become more “adversarial” in the last fifty years or so. Why has this happened?

Historical events (especially Vietnam and Watergate) in which journalists thought that public officials were giving them false or misleading information; general cultural changes involving a decline in trust of all kinds of authorities.

10. Most observers agree that news stories today contain:

a. less analysis and interpretation than they did fifty years ago

b. more analysis and interpretation than they did fifty years ago

c. different observers disagree about what has happened

12. The study of the impact of Fox News discussed in class found that it increased support for Republican candidates by about:

    1. 5% (e. g. from 49% to 54%)

    2. 0.5% (e. g. from 49% to 49.5%)

    3. -0.5% (that is, it reduced it by 0.5%)

    4. 0 (that is, it made no difference at all)

13. Which of the following statements about newspaper circulation is true?

    1. it was declining until the 1990s, but has remained steady since then

    2. it has been declining in the late 20th century, and has declined more rapidly in the 21st century

    3. it was rising until about 2000, but has declined since then

    4. it has been steady for the last 50 years

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