Has media coverage of government enhanced government's status and growth, or have the media been an instrument for controlling government?
I think that we have seen experiences where politicians have done a great job of being able to control the media and instances where the media has done a great job of being able to influence the public's perception of government. When we consider successful leaders such as FDR, Kennedy, or Reagan, part of the reason why they have such a positive legacy in American History is because they were excellent at being able to craft their image in accordance to understanding the media and its impact on people. In these instances, media coverage was used to ensure that government's perception, and in particular, theirs, was something to be enhanced. By the same token, leaders who failed in this regard were ones that were never able to fully grasp how the media should be used, or allowed the media to control the story and influence the narrative of their administrations. Leaders such as LBJ, Carter, or Nixon were leaders who did not fully understand the implications of the media and struggled to stay on their message, and were chained to having to respond to discourses and discussions to which they did not want.
I am going to say "yes." In other words, media coverage has done a bit of both.
Because there is so much media coverage of the government, I think we give the government more attention and think that it is more important than we used to. Since the news focuses on government officials so much, they must be important, right? Also, all the interviews that officials give out allow them to try to influence our thinking on many issues. Before media coverage, government officials were less visible and less able to influence us.
But media coverage works both ways. Many scandals regarding government officials have been uncovered in large part by members of the media. It is also less possible for lawmakers to do back room deals with each other now because they media is always trying to pry into everything that government does.
So the media coverage makes government more visible and powerful, but it also makes it harder for officials to get away with anything shady.