Pol Comm 7 Mediated Society

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Discussion of the role of the media on democracy, examples pertain to the UK. Seventh lecture for final year students on the Political Communication option in Bournemouth University

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Pol Comm 7 Mediated Society

  1. 1. Political Communication in a mediated society Lecture 7
  2. 2. Jon Snow, Conference Sept 2003 We are the way through which the public are able to demand that politicians account for themselves. If we don’t pursue them, investigate them, interrogate them who will? It is our democratic duty and our social function.
  3. 3. Con MP, Interviewed June 2005 The media have to be our friends, we must make ourselves media friendly, if not we are unable to get our message out. The media should inform society but also interrogate what we do; the fear is all they do is entertain and aren't really interested in serious politics
  4. 4. Lab MP, Interviewed June 2005 The media have ways of working, clear ideas of what will interest their readers and viewers and we must fit with that. It is no use just being an MP and expecting coverage, we must fit their agenda and their rules; the only leverage we have is when a story is breaking then we have power over how its covered, but only for the first bulletin.
  5. 5. Labour MP, Interviewed March 2002 What you've got to understand is that the national press employ a bunch of bastards that have no fucking idea about how we work. They're just out to shaft us, the leaders the government the whole bloody system. In my opinion TV journalists aren't much better neither!
  6. 6. Focus Group, March 2003 R. I’m not sure we can trust politicians, we know they lie, they avoid the hard questions, they line their own pockets, I mean why should we? D. How do we know they do this? R. We hear it every day don’t we, I read the Mail and by god they show you what this government does behind closed doors
  7. 7. Key Considerations  What do politicians expect/want from the media  What is / should be the function of the media  What do the public expect from both politician and media
  8. 8. Communicating Politics  Politics needs access to the public  Putting government/party arguments over  Convincing through argument  Explaining policy  Informing the public  Branding / Impression management / Persuasion???
  9. 9. Media function  The watchdog  Accountability  Representation  The Informer  Allows public debate  Unbiased evaluations  Public service
  10. 10. Media Powers  Sets News Values  Frames stories  Sets the Agenda?
  11. 11. Media within society  Market Orientation  Needs to sell copy/advertising space etc  Must provide the audience with what they want  The Entertainer  Prime time closed off to politics  Politics is introduced in an informal way  Political news is converted into soap opera
  12. 12. The Public  Needs Information  To be able to make judgements  Wants power  Is knowledge power?? What is knowledge??  Wants representation  If not by MP by media  Wants entertaining  Either by politics or (usually) something else
  13. 13. The Mediated Society  The media provides our window into the world  Politicians become entertainers  News becomes entertaining  Packaging of news  Dumbing down  Information presented in soundbites  Media talk to their own audiences
  14. 14. Audience / Media Bias  Argued that media and its readers share an ideology that binds them
  15. 15. Press affiliation 1992-2005 1992 1997 2001 2005 Sun Con Lab Lab Lab Mirror Lab Lab Lab Lab Star Con Lab Lab Lab Mail Con Con Ind Con Express Con Con Lab Con Telegraph Con Con Con Con Guardian Lab Lab Lab Lab Times Con Ind Lab Con Independent Ind Lab Ind LibDem FT Lab Lab Lab Lab
  16. 16. Circulation v Results by million readers 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Con Lab 1992 1997 2001 2005
  17. 17. The Sun Effect?  Backed Major totally in 1992  “if this man is elected, will the last person to leave the country please turn off the light”  Talked of celebrities going into exile  Paul Daniels & Frank Bruno  Virulently anti-Con by 1997  Ran celeb stories, ridiculed them  Supported Lab and ridiculed Con in 2001/5
  18. 18. Alternative Views  Circulation Decline – less effect  But not that bad:  Sun 1992: 3.57m; 2001: 3.45m; 2005: 3.23m  Impact of TV – less credible  Only 18% rely on press for news  Similar figure to number reading broadsheets  Interpersonal communication thesis  Doris Graber (2001) ‘Processing Politics’ etc.
  19. 19. Does the media have an effect  Who Knows!!  Hypodermic effect – constant drip  Framing  Single perspectives (Sleaze = Malaise)  Agenda-setting  Can’t tell you what to think, only what to think about  “We can’t ignore The Sun, even if we’d like to” (Interview with Ed Balls, 2000)
  20. 20. Thoughts for Seminar  What is or should be the role of the media?  Should the media simply inform?  Should the media make news entertaining?  What do they do, and what is the effect on politics?

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