- The Oxford Handbook of Political Communication
- Political Communication: Then, Now, and Beyond
- Creating the Hybrid Field of Political Communication: A Five-Decade-Long Evolution of the Concept of Effects
- The Shape of Political Communication
- A Typology of Media Effects
- The Power of Political Communication
- Nowhere to Go: Some Dilemmas of Deliberative Democracy
- How to Think Normatively About News and Democracy
- Not a Fourth Estate but a Second Legislature
- Presidential Address
- Political Messages and Partisanship
- Political Advertising
- Political Campaign Debates
- Niche Communication in Political Campaigns
- The Functional Theory of Political Campaign Communication
- The Political Uses and Abuses of Civility and Incivility
- The Politics of Memory
- Two-Step Flow, Diffusion, and the Role of Social Networks in Political Communication
- Taking Interdependence Seriously: Platforms for Understanding Political Communication
- Disagreement in Political Discussion
- The Internal Dynamics and Political Power of Small Group Political Deliberation
- Ethnography of Politics and Political Communication: Studies in Sociology and Political Science
- Self-censorship, the Spiral of Silence, and Contemporary Political Communication
- Collective Intelligence: The Wisdom and Foolishness of Deliberating Groups
- Broadcasting versus Narrowcasting: Do Mass Media Exist in the Twenty-First Century?
- Online News Consumption in the United States and Ideological Extremism
- New Media and Political Campaigns
- Political Discussion and Deliberation Online
- The Political Effects of Entertainment Media
- Theories and Effects of Political Humor: Discounting Cues, Gateways, and the Impact of Incongruities
- Music as Political Communication
- Conditions for Political Accountability in a High-Choice Media Environment
- Political Communication: Looking Ahead
Abstract and Keywords
This essay argues that political journalism more closely resembles a Second Legislature of debaters than a Fourth Estate of onlookers. Here, we examine the scholarly literature on political news, specifically its linguistic qualities, to assert that journalism acts as a legislature in six ways: (1) By being a vessel of accommodation, (2) by prioritizing nativist agendas, (3) by reproducing regnant power dynamics, (4) by emphasizing traditionalist values, (5) by emphasizing proletarian attitudes, and (6) by being presentistic in orientation. Journalists choose the terms of debate—words that can advantage those in power or sometimes those seeking it. If all politics is local, so essentially is news of politics, fashioned by reporters in constituents’ vernacular. Although journalism guards against disorder, giving sway to institutional priorities, it also can be a cultural bellwether, capable of farsightedness and inclusion. In describing reporters as legislators, we bestow one of the highest compliments a democracy can pay its citizens.
Roderick P. Hart holds the Allan Shivers Centennial Chair in Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is Dean of the College of Communication and Founding Director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, most recently Political Tone: How Leaders Talk and Why (University of Chicago Press, 2013). He is also the author of DICTION 6.0, a computer program designed to analyze language patterns.
Rebecca LaVally teaches rhetorical criticism in the Department of Communication Studies at California State University, Sacramento. She was a policy analyst and editor for the California Senate Office of Research for many years and is a former Sacramento bureau manager for Gannett News Service and United Press International. Dr. LaVally’s journalism career included reporting for a number of newspapers, among them The Cleveland Plain Dealer and San Jose Mercury News.
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