AP US Government : Influence on Public Opinion

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Influence On Public Opinion

Yellow Journalism is a term used to refer to journalism that

Possible Answers:

Presents a sensationalized view of events in order to sell more newspapers

Plays on the racial prejudices of its readership to steer debate

Seeks to create a public forum for discussion of political issues

Presents only objective facts about events

Offers equal coverage of each side of an issue

Correct answer:

Presents a sensationalized view of events in order to sell more newspapers

Explanation:

The term "Yellow Journalism" refers to a type of reporting that presents sensationalized (and often inaccurate) accounts of events in order to attract readers and sell more papers.  The sensationalized and potentially inaccurate accounts of the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in newspapers published by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer helped to lead to the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th Century.

Example Question #1 : Media Influence

The terms "common-carrier role" and "watchdog role" are used to refer to __________.

Possible Answers:

the link that the media provides between the people and the government

the tradition that demands the Speaker of the House stay removed from all House debates

the role of the Supreme Court to regulate constitutionality in American law

None of these answers is correct.

the service that partisan media renders to its party and support base

Correct answer:

the link that the media provides between the people and the government

Explanation:

 "Common-carrier role" refers to the idea that the media acts as a vehicle through which political leaders can communicate with the general public. The "watchdog role" refers to the idea that the media acts as a servant of the people by keeping an eye on politicians, making sure they are not corrupt or negligible in office. Both of these terms relate to the role that the media plays in connecting the government to the people.

Example Question #6 : Media Influence

What is the name given to the "leak" of a proposed government policy to the media in order that politicians might observe the public reaction?

Possible Answers:

A red herring.

A rat leak. 

A soundbite

Narrowcasting

A trial balloon

Correct answer:

A trial balloon

Explanation:

A "trial balloon" is information released to the media and framed as if it were an unintentional leak from an unnamed political source; however, the intention is for politicians who are debating a change in policy to observe how the public might react to such a change.

Example Question #2 : Media Influence

The practice of reporting shocking or abhorrent news stories for the sake of expanding readership is called __________.

Possible Answers:

yellow journalism

black journalism

partisan journalism

red journalism

white journalism

Correct answer:

yellow journalism

Explanation:

"Yellow journalism" is the name given to the practice of reporting shocking or abhorrent news stories for the sake of attracting new readers and selling more newspapers. Yellow journalism is generally considered manipulative and bad journalistic practice, but that has not stopped various forms of media throughout American history from participating in it. Yellow journalism is most closely associated with the newspapers of William Randolph Hearst who (some argue) single-handedly dragged the United States into war with Spain by reporting on various news stories inaccurately to characterize the Spanish as violent and barbaric. Partisan journalism is the name given to a media source that serves the interests of a political party above the interests of the general public.

Example Question #3 : Influence On Public Opinion

Which of these do Americans choose most often as a source of news?

Possible Answers:

Print

Political mailings

Radio

Television

The internet

Correct answer:

Television

Explanation:

Since its invention, the television has become the easiest and most widely available means of acquiring political news and commentary.

Example Question #3 : Media Influence

When the media engage in agenda setting, they are telling us __________.

Possible Answers:

who to support

how to think

what to think about

what position to take

follow popular opinion

Correct answer:

what to think about

Explanation:

News outlets often choose which stories get the headline or 1st position as well as, how much time is devoted to a subject. This is agenda setting and is the media's most used tool to influence viewers.

Example Question #1 : Influence On Public Opinion

The overall business of the media, in whatever form, is to __________.

Possible Answers:

educate students

provide jobs for the intellectual elite

inform the public

convince viewers to vote for certain candidates

gather mass audiences to sell to advertisers

Correct answer:

gather mass audiences to sell to advertisers

Explanation:

News corporations, like any business, want to make profit. The best way to do that is to ensure you have a large viewing audience that attracts advertisers to sell on their network.

Example Question #6 : Influence On Public Opinion

A(n) ___________ is a widely-known (generally) individual who has the ability to effect public opinion on a particular matter.

Possible Answers:

teacher

opinion leader

community leader

opinion seeker

Correct answer:

opinion leader

Explanation:

The correct answer is “opinion leader.” Classic examples would be Piers Morgan, Sean Hannity, or anyone similar. Both of these men are widely known individuals who have quite a large effect on public opinion on political matters. Although teacher or community leader may have been tempting, those are technically examples of (possible) opinion leaders—but are not individually the definition.

Example Question #7 : Influence On Public Opinion

What was not a reason for the formation of national magazines founded in the mid- to late-1800s, such as the Nation, the Atlantic Monthly, and Harper's?

Possible Answers:

To develop a national constituency for certain issues

To provide solid investigative reporting

To purify municipal politics

To promote the platforms of their respective political parties

To encourage reform of the civil service system

Correct answer:

To promote the platforms of their respective political parties

Explanation:

In the middle and late 1800s, the middle class was fed up with "yellow journalism" and started buying into the social reform goals of the Progressive era. This gave rise to a market for magazines that would devote their time to issues of public policy with solid, fact-based reporting.

Example Question #2 : Influence On Public Opinion

In what way has the format of the "big three" news networks changed since the 1960s, making it harder for candidates to get their message across?

Possible Answers:

Their reporters have become increasingly hostile to political candidates

These networks often pit multiple candidates against each other in debate-style interviews

These networks encouraged their anchors to ask harder questions of candidates

These networks have become increasingly liberal, putting conservative candidates at a major disadvantage.

These networks have dramatically decreased the length of the average political story

Correct answer:

These networks have dramatically decreased the length of the average political story

Explanation:

Coverage of political candidates on the "big three" networks has been broken up into shorter pieces and as a result is much less in-depth. The average sound bite dropped from 42 seconds in 1968 to 7.3 seconds in 2000. As a result, politicians often turn to cable TV, early morning news shows, prime time "news magazine shows," and other sources to get more extensive coverage.

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