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Live from Capitol Hill!

Studies of Congress and the Media

By Stephen Hess

In this fourth volume of his highly acclaimed Newswork series, Stephen Hess offers a revealing look at the culture of journalism in Washington and the relations between legislators and the media. Satellite technology, cable television, and gavel-to-gavel coverage of floor proceedings in the House and Senate during the 1980s led many to believe that local media were challenging the importance of big-circulation newspapers and network television news. As headlines proclaimed that hometown coverage was booming, observers envisioned new sources of information for viewers and voters. But journalists and scholars questioned whether increased local coverage would further ensure the reelection of incumbents, whether senators and representatives would become media show horses, and whether the commitment to representing the people would be compromised. In Live from Capitol Hill! Hess challenges conventional wisdom about media-Congress relations by vividly exploring how Congress affects local news media and how the media influence Congress. He assesses how much gets reported by the Washington regional news bureaus and how little actually appears on television screens across the country, and discusses which members of Congress receive coverage and in what context. On the other side, he shows how legislators try to influence new coverage through press releases, video tapes, columns in local newspapers, and op-ed articles.

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