Susan Rasky
“Politics, policy and media are all intertwined. How news is packaged greatly influences how Americans think.”



Journalism lecturer Susan Rasky leads “Pundits, Pollsters and Policy.”
Peg Skorpinski photo

23 January 2002 |

Few college students watch the Sunday morning political talk shows, says Susan Rasky, senior lecturer in the Graduate School of Journalism — but they should. It’s during these weekly programs that many emerging policy positions are aired and public opinion is formed.

“Politics, policy and media are all intertwined,” says Rasky. “How news is packaged greatly influences how Americans think about a particular issue. Who shows up on what show, and what they say when they’re there is all very orchestrated.”

Using the Sept. 11 attack and military response as a starting point, Rasky helps students explore the role of media pundits, celebrity journalists and pollsters in shaping the country’s political debate and policy choices.

For example, when William Safire — a respected and popular conservative columnist — criticized President Bush for proposing the use of military tribunals to try Sept. 11 terrorists, his influence and concerns caused administration officials to revise their plan, says Rasky.

Seminar participants will evaluate punditry and polling in print, radio and television; observe how news stories “cycle through” the TV and radio talk show circuit; analyze why the opinions of particular pundits resonate with the public; and write their own opinion pieces.

“Most students aren’t aware of the complex relationship between policy makers and the media,” says Rasky. “I hope to expose them to this structure so they can better understand how issues come to the surface and play out in the daily news.”


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