Video Exercises

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Watch the videos below and answer the questions that follow.

Andrew Kohut is the current president of the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. He is also the director of two of Pew’s seven subprojects: the Pew Global Attitudes Project and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press (formerly the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press), where he previously served as founding director of surveys from 1990 to 1992.

What do you do for a living?
Andrew Kohut
BigThink.com

1a.
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Based on Kohut’s comments in the video above, what is the value of public-opinion polling as practiced by the Pew Research Center?
1b.
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Identify two things Kohut says about public-opinion polls that illustrate concepts from the section on Measuring Public Opinion in your textbook.
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The 2008 presidential election witnessed the use of small focus groups by television networks to measure public opinion. In particular, CNN spoke with small groups of undecided voters after the presidential debates to gauge their reactions to the candidates. The following video demonstrates one of these focus groups featured in CNN’s coverage.

Reaction from the Focus GroupCNN
First aired September 26, 2008

2a.
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Do you think these small focus groups are an accurate means of measuring public opinion? Why or why not?
2b.
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Why do you think CNN wanted to show their television audience the focus group members’ opinions after the debates?
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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a satirical news program hosted by Jon Stewart. The show draws its comedy from recent news stories, satirizing political figures, media organizations, and the show itself and its cast members.

Video: Poll Smoking - President's Approval
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Comedy Central
First aired April 27, 2006]

3a.
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In your opinion, how important are the approval ratings for a president? Do they affect how you view presidential policies and decisions? Explain your answer.
3b.
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What approval rating would you give the current president?
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The Media Education Foundation produces and distributes documentary films and other educational resources to inspire critical reflection on the social, political, and cultural impact of American mass media.

Constructing Public Opinion
Media Education Foundation

4.
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Do you agree with Professor Lewis that news organizations, rather than reflecting public opinion, use opinion polls to set agendas and create public opinion? Explain your answer.
5.
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Contrast the viewpoints expressed in the above video with Andrew Kohut’s comments found in the video segment at the top of the page. How would you characterize the main differences between the viewpoints of Andrew Kohut and Professor Justin Lewis?

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