HGov: Functions of Media

The news media, old and new, have four essential roles in a democracy.

First, in their signaling function, journalists communicate information to the public about breaking events and new developments. This information makes citizens aware of developments that impact their lives. However, because of the media’s need to attract an audience, breaking news stories often focus on developments, such as celebrity scandals, that have little to do with issues of politics and government.

In a second function, that of watchdog, the press acts to protect the public by exposing deceitful, careless, or corrupt officials.

Third, the press functions as a common carrier in that it provides political leaders with a channel for addressing the public. Increasingly, however, the news has centered nearly as much on the journalists themselves as the newsmakers they cover.

Finally, the press functions as a partisan advocate. Although the traditional media perform this function to a degree, the newer media, the talk shows and blogs, specialize in it. Their influence has contributed to a rising level of political polarization in the United States.



Econ: Andersonville Economy

All society must develop an economic system to answer the basic economic questions. While we usually identify economic systems with a country (the United States has a market oriented system; the former Soviet Union had a command system), it is also possible to identify an economic system at a micro level. Students will examine how a group of civil war prisoners developed an economic system within their camp, a system designed to allocate scarce resources.

After our discussion, we read “Andersonville, What Really Happened.”  We read it, underlining those aspects of the Andersonville economy that reflect a command approach and circling those aspects that reflect a market approach. Finally we shared our ideas on the question: “Is it appropriate to label the Andersonville system as a market economy?” We learned that this economic system, like many economic systems, was a mixture of market and command economic systems.