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The Role the Media Plays in Politics

The media plays such (someone once told me that "such" is a word to be avoided in an essay -- it's just a weak word.  Could re-structure like this:  The role of the media in politics is so important that it is often referred to as the fifth branch of the United States government.  (I'd lose the rest, assuming your audience knows what the other branches are.  But that's just me.  In my day, there were only 3 branches and they went without saying. You could also say that it is referred to as an additional branch.  It's also sometimes referred to as the Fourth Estate, which is the same thing -- after the excutive branch, the judicial branch and the legislative branch.  You might want to look up that term and see if you can find anything interesting about it.)   (possible cut)an important role in politics, that it is often times referred to as the fifth branch of the United States government, following congress, the president, the supreme court and the federal bureaucracy.  The mass media- newspapers, magazines, radio, television and the Internet, (I'd make this comma a dash to be consistent) keeps the American people aware of important events that are happening in the U.S. and around the world.  Members of the media report, to the public,  (I'd cut -- it's obvious to whom they're reporting) dishonesty and abuses of power which help us make decisions on political issues and candidates. (Possible re-structure:  The media informs the public on political issues and candidates, and reveals abuses of power and other forms of dishonesty, which helps the voters make educated choices.)  The press can uncover stories of corrupt politicians which helps the population choose the right leaders for the country. (I would lose this sentence because if you structure that first sentence correctly, it will be redundant.)  purpose for fact choice?  (I don't know what "purpose for fact choice" means.  Do you?)  subject verb agreement.  good clean start.

Of course, news is influenced by the people who write it.  (I'd use a word that encompasses more than writing.  It's written, produced and delivered.  You might want to say the people who "supply" it.  At the least, I'd say "produce".)  Many people believe that the media is biased in favor of one political party over another.  Most journalists try to be as objective as possible, but some bias is often unavoidable.  (You need to give a reason in both cases:  why do they try to be objective and why is bias unavoidable?  Suggestion:  Journalists pride themselves on being objective, but since journalists are human, it is impossible to eliminate all bias.)  News editors choose (I'd say "make choices about" -- for no reason except it sounds better) what the public gets to hear (I'd say "see and hear")regarding politics and how much air time (I'd say "air time or print space" -- media isn't just television) each issue gets.  (Suggestion:  For example, a television news producer decides which story will "lead" the news, and a newspaper editor decides which stories will be on the front page, even to the point of deciding which stories will be above or below "the fold".  Then you can keep the next sentence, which will make more sense after you've given examples.)  Whichever news story is in the forefront draws the most public attention. 

The media has the power to persuade the public one way or the other on different
political issues.

In the movie Wag the Dog the president is caught in a scandal two weeks before
election day; this threatens to hurt his chance for another term.  (Suggestion:  In the movie Wag the Dog, the president is caught in a scandal two weeks before election day, which threatens his chance for re-election.)  In order to make
sure he gets reelected,  the ultimate spin doctor is hired to help deflect attention
away from the presidents scandal, toward a bigger and better story, a fake war with Albania.  (Try to avoid phrases like "is hired" -- weak.  Try this:  He hires the ultimate spin doctor, whose job is to deflect attention from the scandal, toward a bigger and better story: a fake war with Albania.  Note: I haven't seen the movie, so if the president doesn't hire him, then say his staff, or whoever hired the guy.)  With the help of a famous Hollywood producer, the huge conflict is created in the  studio and then released to the news media.  The war captures the headlines and everyone completely forgets about the Presidents (president's) affair.  

(As I said before, I'd point out a true incident of that practice:  the famous Bill and Hillary dance on the beach photo.  If you need particulars again, let me know.  That way, your paper won't suddenly turn into a movie review for a couple of paragraphs.  Plus your teacher would be impressed that you can find a "real life" application to your point.  I would do that instead of the paragraph that follows, because you have already made the point about the movie.)  Wag the Dog tries to show how easily public perception of an issue can be persuaded by the media.  If the media had continued to focus on the Presidents
scandal, then his chance for reelection would have greatly decreased.  Instead, the media focuses on the fictional war, and the president retains enough votes for
reelection.  The movie attempts to demonstrate the significant role that the media
plays in politics.

Some people think the television industry is powerful and greedy.  A substantial
amount of money for campaign finance during elections comes from Americas top news networks.  They are only hoping to help themselves get more money. 

Politicians end up spending hundreds of millions of dollars on political advertisements or commercials.  The television networks end up pocketing a major share of the funds raised by politicians.  Instead of reporting the news for elections, television stations seem to be more concerned with advertising for them. 
source/ evidence.  logic, unless supported by source.  (I would lose those two paragraphs.  I don't think they're accurate, and you'd have to prove that people think that, which would lead you off on a tangent.  I don't think you need the paragraphs.)

The media acts as a spotlight and helps to identify the issues people regard as
important.  Prominent coverage of a topic day after day may increase the attention people give it.  If a topic is left untouched, people will not think about it as much, or may not even think it is an issue anymore.  (Specific example:  How quickly Laci Peterson's disappearance disappeared a source of public concern once the war in Iraq broke out.  Missing persons cases tend to be a matter of great public concern when there's no other news.  Remember the summer of Chandra Levy?  It was a story that deserved about a week of coverage and ended up lasting all summer, because there was not much else going on in the world.)

I'd make the following a separate (new) paragraph and expand it.  It doesn't really fit with the above.  I'd talk about how powerful the images of September 11th were, and how different the country would be today if we'd never seen the videotape.  Pictures of the plans flying into the buildings evoked passion that words alone could not have done.  The video of President Bush with his arm around the firefighters raised his approval level overnight.  So, start with the sentence you started with, then give some of these examples.  It will help you in writing it to think about how the stories would have struck you if you'd never seen pictures or video.)  Also, the saying a picture is worth a thousand words proves to be very true when reporting news.  For example a news article about a plane crash will not have the same affect of color video tape of the same scene.  specific example? (Here's a good current example:  "The Iraqi people are happy to be free from Sadam Hussein's regime", no matter how eloquently written, does not have anything approaching the power of the footage of the throngs cheering as the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled.  The news that the Iraqis had taken American prisoners was not nearly as upsetting as the videotapes were.)

The mass media is the primary source of information the public uses to stay up
to date with issues around the world.  News reporters inform us of different events
that are happening.  Given the medias access to a large percentage of homes it
plays a key role in keeping the government in check and discovering abuses of
review conclusion stratigies- how can you go one step further with conclusion development?  (One more thing you might want to add in your conclusion:  The mass media is delivering the same stories and pictures to the nation as a whole, and this has a huge effect on how we process the information we're given.  Add that to the politicians' spin and their constant tug-of-war over who will be identified with what, and the cumulative effect is that the public is influenced in a complex and powerful way.)
PINK= the notes teacher put in margin
over all: GOOD
GRADES:  orginization   diction    sentence structure    mechanics
                                B              B-                   B                        B

Works Cited
Cohen, Jeff.  "Hidden Culprit in Campaign Finance Scandal: The TV Industry".  Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.  May 1997.
"The Media and Politics".  24 February 2003 <
Wag the Dog.  Dir. Barry Levinson.  Perf. Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro,
and Anne Heche.  New Line Cinema, 1998.

"The Sopranos" is a popular HBO series depicting the life and times of a modern day organized crime/ mafia family, living in New Jersey. 
       Some people are appalled by this show for a variety of different reasons.  For example, my grandmother was disgusted by the violence, nudity and profanity she witnessed as she watched an episode.  She feels it is unhealthy for anyone to watch such a show.  As I see it, without the filthy ("filthy" is so subjective -- I'd say "strong") language, sex and killing, the story of the contemporary Italian American mafia family would not be accurately depicted.  (Your teacher could question how you know this to be accurate -- have you hung out with any mafia familes? -- so you might want to say that the strong language and graphic violence give the show an air of authenticity...or something like that.  Unless you have read a lot of nonfiction about mafia families, in which case you could compare the two.) 
       Many people think that "The Sopranos" gives Italians a bad name.  (Suggestion:  Another area of controversy surrounding "The Sopranos" is its stereotypical portrayal of Italians -- as if all Italian families have ties to organized crime.)  Several towns in New Jersey have banned production of the series in their area because of (say "for this reason" instead of "because of" -- it's stronger)  this reason.  People just have to understand that this is only a fictional television show about a mafia family, not a realistic series about an average Italian American family. (Suggestion:  I do not agree with this reasoning.  This show is a fictitious portrayal of one Italian American family and makes no claim to represent all Italian American families, or even an average one.)   The producer/ writer/ director (I'd say "the creator") of "The Sopranos" is an Italian American himself and he does not think others should be offended by his show.  (If I were you, I'd find a quote where he says that, and then reference it.)
       The mastermind behind the excellent production of  (I'd cut everything in italics -- it's cleaner)  "The Sopranos" is a man by the name of (again, cut what's in italics -- you don't need it) David Chase. Chase has extraordinary talent in filmmaking.  (Suggestion: The mastermind behind "The Sopranos" is David Chase, whose previous credits include "I'll Fly Away", "Northern Exposure" and "The Rockford Files".) His background includes writing for shows such as "Ill Fly Away", "Northern Exposure", and "The Rockford Files".  Having won an array of Emmys and Golden Globes shows that Chase really knows what he is doing.  (That sentence structure is akward.  Try something like:  In addition to his credits, Chase has won an array of Emmys and Golden Globes, and has done an almost flawless job of producing "Sopranos" episodes for four seasons.)  I think he has done a flawless job of putting together "The Sopranos" for ~~ seasons now.
       "The Sopranos" is also an excellent show because Chase has been given lots of artistic freedom.  The networks, being of corporate mentalities, like to straighten out everything and make sure everything is clear and nothing is offensive.  That is not the way to make a create a great drama.  The deal David Chase made with HBO is that he would take substantially less money then he was making in network television (initially) and in return, they would give him artistic freedom.  This show is great because Chase is brilliant and HBO gave him the creative freedom he needed to make, in my opinion, the best show ever created.  I know I gave you all of that and I don't have any problem with your using it, but I'm not sure it fits your topic.  It sounds to me like you need to explain why "The Sopranos" is worth watching in spite of the things that make other people find it objectionable, and even though David is brilliant, his brilliance doesn't really answer those objections.  You need to talk about what you think makes something worth watching.  My take on the obscenity and violence, etc. is that "beauty" is a subjective term, and as poet John Keats said, "Truth is beauty and beauty truth: this is all you know and all you need to know."  Or something like that.  Don't quote me quoting him unless you look it up to be sure.  The point, to me, is that beauty and truth are intertwined, and if the show is truthful, then it has its own beauty.  One thing the show continually points out is that the mobsters have their own code of ethics, and they don't violate it.  When they violate it by mistake or by accident, it upsets them.  Tony Soprano is not a sociopath.  He lives by a certain code of ethics -- which, as he often points out -- was handed down to him by generations of people who lived by the same code of ethics.  If you have any time, you should go to a book store and buy a book called "The Gospel According to Tony Soprano", which you could quote on things like that.  If I were your teacher, I'd want you to write a paper explaining why you think "The Sopranos" is actually a very "moral" show.  It's an argument that can be made, if you look at it from Tony's perspective.)
       What I love about "The Sopranos" is that it keeps the audience guessing.  Anything may happen at any time.  Since the show was conceived as a short term project (5 years at 13 shows per season is pretty short term by television standards), they can afford to kill off regular characters all the time.  It works well for the stories they tell, because a lot of what makes the show fun to watch is that you never know what is going to happen.  You never know who is going to get murdered by the end of the season.  (If you're going to keep this paragraph, you need to tie it in to the "truth" thing.  The show is messy and unpredictable like life is, etc.  To me, the point is that the truth is always valuable.  The thing that makes "The Sopranos" a moral show is that Tony is not a happy mobster.  He's gulping prozac and seeing a shrink and fighting with everyone and he knows that his life is a mess, he just can't see a way out of it. )
       The way each episode of "The Sopranos" is filmed is magnificent. There is first rate cinematography throughout every show.  The camera angles and scenes always seem to be perfect and make the show even better.  (What makes them perfect?  There is never a feeling that the camera isn't where you want it to be.  It's so hard to explain -- even for me, and it's part of my job.  I'd just leave that sentence out.)  Enormous amounts of money are put into each episode in order to shoot each scene exactly where Chase wants to shoot it.  Having such a large budget for each show lets the creators be as free as they want to when deciding where to shoot each scene. They film all the shows at once, which means that Chase can write tiny scenes that cost a fortune.  (Actually, I didn't do a good job of explaining this.  What happens is that they write all the shows for a season before they start shooting, instead of writing as they go, as most shows do.  That means when they "board" the show, they can shoot all scenes that take place in a grocery store in one morning.  This means the scenes will be out-of-sequence and from different episodes, but it allows him to shoot a tiny no-dialogue scene in a grocery store because they're at the grocery store for a page and a half of something else anyway, so it's not expensive to go ahead and shoot the little scene.  You can't say they shoot them all at once -- that won't make any sense to anyone.)  For instance, there was a scene where Carmella (Carmela actually only has one "l" -- my mistake) saw a friend of hers working in a grocery store, handing out samples.  There was no dialogue.  On a regular network show they cannot afford to go to a grocery store, pay to use the store, light the store for film and hire al those extras for a short shot with no dialogue.  But since they have already written the entire season, they might shoot that shot and then do some other big scene in a grocery store that is going to happen 5 episodes from now, and that way they can afford the tiny, no dialogue scene.  Little things like that make "The Sopranos" so much better then any other series.  (If you're going to use this paragraph, you need to tie it in to what makes the show valuable to watch.  I'd add an intro sentence that explains that the show's production values add to the general excellence of the  storytelling.  Also, your teacher might question your source, so if you want to, feel free to quote me as someone who has worked with David Chase and considers him a mentor.  And I'm currently Executive Producer of Judging Amy, if you need my title.)
       There will always be people who disagree with the profanity and violence in the show, but I will continue to watch it because I know there is much more put in to "The Sopranos" then just those negative things.  I believe those aspects make the series more believable. Also, the number of Italians that are offended by the way the producers portray the family are growing.  "The Sopranos" is only a fictional television show and no one should think it is a bad show to watch especially since I think it is an outstanding series that is extremely entertaining.  (You have already made this point, so don't try to make it again.  I'd re-write this entire paragraph and make the conclusion something about the value of truthful storytelling -- ultimately, we learn more about humanity from a truthful story told well (but with sex and violence)  than we'd ever learn from an obscenity-free lie, set in a world that doesn't exist.)

I hope that helps.  If you have time, e-mail it to me after you rewrite it and I'll take another look at it.


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