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Cover of American Government and Politics in the Information Age v4.2
January 2021
Page Count: 
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American Government and Politics in the Information Age

Version 4.2
By David L. Paletz, Diana Owen, and Timothy E. Cook

Key Features

  • Comprehensive treatment covers standard topics in the American government course.
  • Contemporary theme of how media and politics interact ties the narrative together without inflating or distorting the media’s importance. Initial chapter on the media underscores the key theme but can easily be assigned later in the course.
  • Strong focus on civic education encourages participation in civic life. Explains how students can use media to intervene effectively in the American political system on their own terms.
  • Strong learning framework. Each chapter contains:
    • Learning objectives, interim summaries called “Key Takeaways,” and key terms.
    • “Enduring Image” features that visually capture the chapter’s subject by presenting an instantly recognizable image. Explains the original meaning of the image, why it was important, and the contemporary relevance.
    • “Comparing Content” features that present differences among media depictions of a subject. For example, this feature may compare a political event to reports about it in the news, depictions of the same political event in various media outlets, or compare changes in media depictions over time.
    • Certain chapters contain “Civic Education” features that show how young people have become involved in politics, government, and making public policy—and how the media can help and hinder civic work.
    • Annotated set of readings (fiction and non-fiction) and non-fiction films for research and enrichment. Links to video and audio clips, political and media websites, and research databases.


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American Government and Politics in the Information Age is appropriate for United States government and politics or American government and politics courses at the undergraduate level at two- and four-year colleges and universities.

This textbook is a comprehensive and lively introduction to the vital subject of American government and politics that covers all the basics of American government. Inspired by students’ familiarity with mass media and fluent use of communication technologies, the authors make explicit connections between the book’s subject matter, media, and technology. The book’s main areas of focus are: 1). How the media interact with and depict the American political system, 2). The similarities and differences between these depictions and the real world of government and politics, and 3). The consequences these interactions and depictions can have on the public, politics at all levels, and government operations and policies. Students develop a keener perception of how the media not only conveys information, but also how students themselves can engage productively in politics in order to “get things done.”

New in This Version

  • Version 4.2 is updated to include information about the 2020 elections, including the results of and legal challenges to the presidential election; the outcome of Senate run-off elections in Georgia and how those impacted control of the Senate; the final days of the Trump Administration and the transition process to the new Biden administration; the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol; how democratic institutions responded to challenges to the system; and the congressional confirmation of the elections of President Biden and Vice President Harris and their subsequent inaugurations. Interim updates on the Black Lives Matter movement, summer 2020 protests, the coronavirus pandemic and COVID relief, the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett are included.
  • Reflects the recent updates in Versions 4.0 and 4.1:
    • A new Section 16.6 “The Coronavirus, COVID-19 Pandemic” was added to Chapter 16: “Policymaking and Domestic Policies” to highlight Congressional and presidential responses to the crisis. The Instructor’s Manual includes a January-April timeline of presidential statements and the administration’s specific actions during the first few months of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
    • A substantially revised Section 12.2 now called “The Powers of Congress Including Impeachment” reflects the House of Representatives’ investigation and passage of articles of impeachment of President Trump in 2019, the subsequent Senate hearings in 2020, the Senate’s vote not to convict according to the articles, and the implications for American government and society.
    • Chapter 1: “Communication in the Information Age.” Reorganized and refreshed to better reflect the current digital environment.
    • Chapter 2: “The Constitution and the Structure of Government Power.” Relevance of the Electoral College in today’s political environment.
    • Chapter 3: “Federalism.” Refreshed and updated to reflect evolving conflicts between the federal government under the Trump Administration and the states.
    • Chapter 4: “Civil Liberties.” Expanded coverage of arms, searches, and seizures; abortion and privacy.
    • Chapter 8: “Participation, Voting, and Social Movements.” New section on voter suppression.
    • Chapter 9: “Interest Groups.” Updated discussion of relations between interest groups, Congress, and the executive.
    • Chapter 11: “Campaigns and Elections.” Better accounts for the media’s shifting role in election campaigns by increased coverage of big media corporations (e.g. Facebook and Twitter), microtargeting and the use of personal data, and political memes. Deeper analysis of the 2018 midterm elections and their implications, party identification, partisan polarization.
    • Chapter 12: “Congress.” Now includes more information about how Congress operates under united and divided government, the implications of partisan polarization on lawmaking, the media environment for Congressional operations, members’ use of digital media, and other topics of current relevance such as the 2019 hearings about Russian interference in U.S. elections.
    • Chapter 13: “The Presidency.” Focus on the evolving ways in which the president communicates to the public, the media, and other leaders/elites, the boundaries of the president’s constitutional authority, how the principle of co-equal branches of government is being tested, and how the presidency is being transformed by President Trump.
    • Chapters 14–17 on the bureaucracy, the courts, and policy integrate important new material and key updates on the impacts being made by the Trump administration and notable, recent court decisions.
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Instructor’s Manual

Instructor’s Manual

The Instructor’s Manual guides you through the main concepts of each chapter and important elements such as learning objectives, key terms, and key takeaways. Can include answers to chapter exercises, group activity suggestions, and discussion questions.

Instructor’s Manual

PowerPoint Lecture Notes

PowerPoint Lecture Notes

A PowerPoint presentation highlighting key learning objectives and the main concepts for each chapter are available for you to use in your classroom. You can either cut and paste sections or use the presentation as a whole.

PowerPoint Lecture Notes

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Test Bank Files for Import to Learning Management Systems

Test Bank Files for Import to Learning Management Systems

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Sample Syllabi

Sample Syllabi

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David L. Paletz Duke University

David L. Paletz (PhD University of California at Los Angeles) is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Duke University. He has been director of Duke’s Film/Video/Digital Program and for six years the editor of Political Communication. His degrees are all from the University of California, Los Angeles. Paletz specializes in American government and politics (defined broadly to include the foundations, public, institutions, and processes) and political communication (defined broadly to include news, opinion, and entertainment). Among the courses he has taught are American Government, Politics and the Media in the U.S., Film and Politics, Documentary Film, and Politics and the Libido. He is the author of The Media in American Politics: Contents and Consequences, 2nd ed. (Routledge), and co-author of Media Power Politics (Free Press, 1983) and Politics in Public Service Advertising on Television (Praeger, 1977). He is the editor of and a contributor to Political Communication in Action (Hampton Press, 1996) and Political Communication Research, vols. I and II (Ablex, 1987 and 1996); a co-editor and contributor to Taken by Storm: Media, Public Opinion, and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Gulf War (University of Chicago Press, 1994), and Terrorism and the Media (Sage, 1992); co-author of Business as Usual (Hampton Press, 2003) and Glasnost and After: Media and Change in Eastern/Central Europe (Hampton Press, 1995); and the author or co-author of some sixty other publications. He created and chaired for many years the Political Communication Research Section of the International Association for Media and Communication Research and chaired the Political Communication Section of the American Political Science Association. Among his research and teaching awards are a Congressional Fellowship from the American Political Science Association, a Humanities Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation, two Fulbright Scholarships, and the Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award from Duke University. In 2012 he received the David Swanson Award for Service to Political Communication Scholarship from the Political Communication Sections of the American Political Science Association and the International Communication Association.

Diana Owen Georgetown University

Diana Owen (PhD University of Wisconsin) is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Civic Education Research Lab ( at Georgetown University where she teaches in the Communication, Culture, and Technology graduate program. She is a graduate of George Washington University and received her doctorate in political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Diana has been an American Political Science Association Congressional Media Fellow and is the recipient of the Daniel Roselle Award from the Middle States Association for the Social Studies. She is the author, with Richard Davis, of New Media and American Politics (Oxford, 1998) and Media Messages in American Presidential Elections (Greenwood, 1991). She is a coeditor of The Internet and Politics: Citizens, Voters, and Activists (Routledge, 2006) with Sarah Oates and Rachel Gibson; she is a coeditor of Making a Difference: The Internet and Elections in Comparative Perspective (Lexington, 2009) with Richard Davis, Stephen Ward, and David Taras; and a coeditor of Internet Election Campaigns in the United States, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). She has published in numerous scholarly journal articles and book chapters in the areas of American government, mass political behavior, political communication, media and politics, political socialization, civic education, and elections and voting behavior. Her most recent work focuses on digital media in American elections and the intersection of civic education and political engagement. She is the recipient of several grants from the U.S. Department of Education supporting programs and research on high-needs primary and secondary school students. She is grateful for the support of her husband of over forty years, Jeffrey, and her cats, Bella and Gio.

Timothy E. Cook Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge

Timothy E. Cook (1954–2006) was a political scientist who held the Kevin P. Reilly, Sr. Chair of Political Communication at Louisiana State University from 2001 after twenty years as a professor at Williams College. He was the first occupant of the Laurence Lombard Chair at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and was a Visiting Professor of Public Policy at the Kennedy School. Tim was an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow which afforded him the opportunity to study the internal workings of Congress as a participant observer. He made lasting contributions in the fields of American government and media and politics. He is the author of the landmark works, Making News and Making Laws: Media Strategies in the House of Representatives (Brookings, 1987) and Governing with the News: The News Media as a Political Institution (University of Chicago, 1999 and 2005). Tim was a coauthor of Crosstalk: Citizens, Candidates, and the Media in a Presidential Campaign (University of Chicago Press, 1996). Both Governing with the News and Crosstalk were honored with the Doris Graber Award of the Political Communication Section of the American Political Science Association for the best book published in ten years. Tim also was the editor of Freeing the Presses: The First Amendment in Action (Louisiana State University Press, 2006). In addition to these works, Tim published journal articles and book chapters in the fields of legislative studies, presidential politics, elections and voting behavior, political communication, political socialization, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual politics. Tim was inducted in the Louisiana State University Manship School Hall of Fame in 2011. Tim passed away from brain cancer at the age of 51. He is survived by his spouse, Jack Yeager, a professor of French at Louisiana State University.

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