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American media and democratic theory: consequences of "softest news"

Tritschler, Robert J. (2017) American media and democratic theory: consequences of "softest news". Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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As the 2016 U.S. Election unfolded, it became clear that there were numerous stories about the campaigns, candidates, and the overall race that were not focused on any relevant political information that a citizen would use to make a reasoned political decision. This led me to question why these stories were even being considered political news, as they were often followed and reported by the same outlets that were focusing on the information that was relevant for a political decision. This led my research to political communication literature that was focused on how news is classified, and how people use news to make decisions. It was clear that the news stories that I was focused on were not falling into any former category, and I established a new category, “Softest News”. From this point I moved onto the impact that this category of news was having on the people who were engaging with it, and how the rapid increase of these stories was potentially changing how democracy was functioning. Focusing on the works of Benjamin Barber, Joseph Schumpeter, and Jason Brennan, I develop a case that softest news has altered the basic tenant of information gathering for democratic decisions. Using case studies, I seek to demonstrate that there is potentially a link in how people are gathering information from softest news and the political decisions they then make, which has alarming consequences for classic democratic theory. Finally, part of this work attempts to offer possible solutions to the issue that the paper brings forward, focusing on using a deliberative democratic method to create better decisions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Tritschler, Robert J.rjt35@pitt.edurjt35
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLotz, Andrewanl7@pitt.eduanl7
Committee MemberEric, Englisheeest4@pitt.edueeest4
Committee MemberMacKenzie, Michaelmmacken@pitt.edummacken
Committee MemberCavalier,
Date: 25 April 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 7 April 2017
Approval Date: 25 April 2017
Submission Date: 14 April 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 80
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political communication, political theory.
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2017 16:36
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2017 05:15


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