Media, Citizens & Democracy

Media, Citizens & Democracy (MCD) examines the way news and entertainment media affect policy development and public perceptions of government. Beginning in 2001, the Lear Center teamed with partners such as the Carnegie Corporation, and later with the Council for Excellence in Government, to host round-table discussions and publish two research reports (below) on entertainment television programming and the effects it can have on viewers’ decisions to vote and get involved in their communities.

Changing Channels: Entertainment Television, Civic Attitudes and Actions

How Pro-Social Messages Make Their Way Into Entertainment Programming

In 2007, MCD branched out into other territory and a second phase with a new project, Democracy in the Age of New Media. The Brookings Institution joined with the Lear Center to look at the media’s role in the creation of policy and the promotion of a reasoned and vigorous political debate in the United States. This project produced a case study and seminar focused on immigration policy.

rightscameraction300In 2008, the Lear Center joined forces with the American Civil Liberties Union to look at how portrayals of government power in popular film and television affect audiences’ understanding of civil liberties. As part of the ACLU’s Rights/Camera/Action program, our research activities included a content analysis of TV shows that contain storylines about the War on Drugs and the War on Terror.

The 2011 Primetime War on Drugs & Terror report was a collaboration with Princeton Survey Research Associates International, who carried out a content analysis of 49 primetime shows using an instrument designed by Lear Center researchers Johanna Blakley and Sheena Nahm.