chapter  Six
11 Pages

Exposure to News

ByMaxwell McCombs, Edna Einsiedel, David Weaver

Central in the tradition of democratic societies is the myth of the omniscient citizen. Although the fallacies of this assumption about civic competence and interest in public affairs already have been sketched, it is important to note here that neither democratic theory nor democratic practice rests solely upon—to put it in the extreme—a naive assumption about human behavior. In many ways, this assumption is best regarded as a social goal rather than as an assertion about human behavior and potential. Historically, this broad social goal has been operationalized in such specific government and community programs as universal education and literacy, which took root in the early days of our republic, and, more recently, literacy and competency tests for graduating high school seniors to ensure that our elementary and secondary schools are achieving the desired educational goals.