If you’re an undergraduate student looking for a good survey of media and politics, The Interplay of Influence is probably for you. If you’re a graduate student looking to expand upon your already basic understanding of the field…this book will be a chore to read. I fall into the latter category.
I’ll try to focus on the positive.
In addition to providing a solid foundation for understanding how news media work in today’s complicated news environment, Jamieson and Campbell also provide a solid how-to outline for how to influence news media and public opinion through proven strategies. Some examples:
* Press secretaries bury news by releasing controversial information close to deadlines (although w/ today’s 24 news cycle this is a dying art),
* Many news managers often provide pre-packaged news narratives for media in the form of news feeds, recorded soundbites, press releases, and video news releases (lazy journalists love these things)
* Public relations people often leak information to selected journalists (see how Hillary Clinton’s staff is using this strategy here, via HuffingtonPost)
* News managers also manipulate the news media by controlling access to reporters. According to the authors, “Control can also be exerted by providing easy access to those likely to cover an issue or program favorably and limited the access of those thought to be opposed to the interests of the news source.
If you’re interning in a communications shop of a political campaign, you’ve gotta know this stuff. So yes, read the book. My disappointment lies in the relatively limited amount of attention the authors devote to the way new media technologies are working to CHANGE these Nixon-era press manipulation strategies. For example, in today’s 24 hour news cycle, how helpful is it really to release information close to reporter’s deadlines? The answer: not nearly as much as it used to be.
Perhaps the author’s next edition of this book will focus more on the future than the past.