NOTE: eM&P congratulates David L. Paletz, Professor of Political Science at Duke University and coauthor of American Government and Politics in the Information Age, who is the 2012 recipient of the David Swanson Award for Service to Political Communication Scholarship. The award recognizes distinguished and sustained contributions to the field as planners, editors, and leaders and in roles that require time and energy, innovation, and personal dedication, and is given jointly by the Political Communication Section of the American Political Science Association (APSA) and the Political Communication Division of the International Communication Association (ICA).
American Government and Politics in the Information Ageby David Paletz, Diana Owen, and Timothy Cook is a comprehensive American government text that accounts for the significance of media and information technology in the political world. The text is a comprehensive introduction to American politics and government, and in that sense it thoroughly covers all the basics—the Constitution, federalism, civil liberties, civil rights, the three branches of government, political socialization, public opinion, political participation, elections and voting, interest groups, political parties, and public policy. However, American Government and Politics in the Information Age is pathbreaking as it goes beyond the basics of American politics and government to explain how institutions, leaders, citizens, and political processes are most commonly depicted in the media and the implications of these depictions.
American Government and Politics in the Information Ageis available for free online, in a customizable digital version (accessible across digital devices), and in paperback. The digital version of the book includes links to online resources, videos, and live content (http://bit.ly/FWK-Paletz).
The book will interest scholars and practitioners who are concerned with the ways in which communication in the information age influences the functioning of American institutions, the relationship between citizens and government, and public policy-making. It places current information age media phenomena in historical context as it considers the most recent developments in political communication. In addition, the text has a focus on civic engagement, and provides insights about participation through conventional activities, such as volunteering, as well as via traditional and social media.
Instructors seeking to reach students who have a high level of familiarity with mass media and their fluent use of new communication platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, live streaming, and digital technologies, like the Ipad, will find the authors’ approach connects conventional American government subjects with media and technologies. The text allows students to relate their media-saturated daily lives to the world of politics and government. It details how the media interact with and depict the American political system, and encourages students to recognize the similarities and differences between these media depictions and the real world of government and politics. It helps them to understand the consequences these interactions and depictions can have for the public, politics, government, and public policies. Students also learn how the media can help them intervene productively in politics and get things done.
Each chapter contains a comparison of the reality of American government and politics with the media’s most common depictions (acknowledging that there are differences between and among the media and in their political content). Paletz, Owen, and Cook show that the depictions range from accurate and revealing to inaccurate and misleading, and distinguish the telling accounts and insights from partial truths, false impressions, and distortions. They do not inflate the importance of the media. Instead, they recognize that much of politics and government occurs under the media’s radar screen and that the consequences of the media’s coverage vary widely. The authors avoid the temptation of “gee whiz” utopian celebrations of new technologies. Rather, the text offers discussions of their possibilities, their limitations, and their dangers: they can and do lower the costs of political activity and organization but do not necessarily turn people into thoughtful, full-fledged activists. The text was written with recognition of the fact that people variously accept, ignore, reject, or rework the media’s contents. Above all, in today’s information age, they are able to hash and rehash the meaning and impact of what is covered and not covered in the media.
Available online: http://bit.ly/FWK-Paletz