By Invitation Only: How the Media Limit the Political Debate

David Croteau, Author, William Hoynes, With
David Croteau, Author, William Hoynes, With Common Courage Press $29.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56751-045-4
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Paperback - 218 pages - 978-1-56751-044-7
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Collected here are three studies of public affairs TV programs--one of Nightline, one of MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and the third a round-up of all such programming on PBS--conducted from 1989 to 1993 for the media watchdog group F.A.I.R. (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting). Analyzing the race, gender and class of the guests chosen to engage in public debate in these influential forums, the authors discovered an overwhelming representation of white male ``elites'' (in the Nightline study, for example, 90% of the guests were men, 83% were white and 73% were government officials or academics). In addition to these three chapters, another three are devoted to their interpretation, arguing that public affairs programs should be more than just platforms for ``powerful players''; about the political implications of news media as ``lapdog'' rather than watchdog of government and business agencies; and who a ``top-down'' approach to choosing guests will tend to exclude, whether by design or coincidence, and why. The authors warn in the introduction that they have not eliminated recurring points from the studies, and the results, by their uniformity, do grow redundant; but this important book produces from its meticulous research well-reasoned arguments against the presence of any cohesive ``liberal bias'' in this type of news media, in fact, presenting alarming evidence to the contrary. (Feb.)
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