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British Politics and the Media - Introduction
Who are the Media?
British Politics and the Press
A Partisan Press
British Politics and the Tabloid Press
British Politics and Media Ownership
British Politics and Media Self Regulation
The Leveson Inquiry and Regulation
Actions after Leveson
British Politics and the Cinema Newsreel
British Politics and the Radio
British Politics and the Television
British Politics and the Internet
The Advantages of New Media
Media Effects Theory - Direct Effects
Media Effects Theory - Minimal Effects
Media Effects Theory - Long Term Effects
About Medium Theory
About Constructivism
Constructivism, Media and Society
Structuralism and Critical Theory
Feminist Theory and the Media
Political Communication - Introduction
Political Communication - National and Direct
Political Communication - Local and Direct
Politicians and the Media - Their Relationship
The First Phase of Political Communication
The Second Phase of Political Communication
Political Communication - The Leader's Debates 2010 and 2015
The Third Phase of Political Communication
British Politics and the Media - Introduction
Who are the Media?
British Politics and the Press
A Partisan Press
British Politics and the Tabloid Press
British Politics and Media Ownership
British Politics and Media Self Regulation
The Leveson Inquiry and Regulation
Actions after Leveson
British Politics and the Cinema Newsreel
British Politics and the Radio
British Politics and the Television
British Politics and the Internet
The Advantages of New Media
Media Effects Theory - Direct Effects
Media Effects Theory - Minimal Effects
Media Effects Theory - Long Term Effects
About Medium Theory
About Constructivism
Constructivism, Media and Society
Structuralism and Critical Theory
Feminist Theory and the Media
Political Communication - Introduction
Political Communication - National and Direct
Political Communication - Local and Direct
Politicians and the Media - Their Relationship
The First Phase of Political Communication
The Second Phase of Political Communication
Political Communication - The Leader's Debates 2010 and 2015
The Third Phase of Political Communication
British Politics and the Media banner

University 18 Yrs + | British Politics & the Media

The Relationship between UK politicians and the Media

Although parties can communicate direct with voters, the media are too important to be ignored and this raises the questions of how politicians can get favourable coverage in the media and what effect media coverage has on politics and voting.

At a general level the relationship between Politics and the Media has been held to be fundamental to liberal democracy and this follow from the ideas of the key thinkers of liberalism such as  Locke, and Mill  Thus the media acts as a check on centres of power, whether in the Government or in major organisations , by playing a watchdog role.

In order for the media to act as a watchdog, a number of conditions need to be met:-

  • The media needs to provide the information and understanding necessary for citizens to make judgements about parties, politicians and governments.

  • The media has to encourage an open and fair debate between different points of view. We have seen that the media can set the agenda and focus people on what is important.  They also facilitate a debate among the public so that a public opinion can emerge

  • The media has to bring the Government to account by discussing its actions and whether they are successful.  This is also meant to be a key function of Parliament and so the reporting of what happens in Parliament is also important

  • The media should be able to uncover corruption and wrongdoing in public life and also in business and other organisations. The media represents the view of the public in carrying this out.

In order for all these to take place a diversity of media outlets, although it does not guarantee any of them, is likely to help.  Both Ofcom in the UK and the EU set media pluralist as important objectives but how this is balanced with the freedom of media companies to expand is critical.  There is also the issue of the accountability of the media themselves so that media standards can be investigated.

Two sets of ideas question whether the media actually performs the democratic role that it is meant to:-

  • A persistent theme has been the idea of media crisis. The early direct effects writers saw the media as determining public opinion rather than providing an open forum for debate.  More recently writers have concentrated on the increased tendency of the media to turn politics into entertainment and concentrate on presentation over policy (Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, 1985 and Bob Franklin, Packaging Politics, 1994 are key writers). Putnam’s influential book, Bowling Alone, 2000 sees television as one of the factors leading to a collapse of civic involvement in the United States because it competes for scarce time, leads to a passive attitude about issues and reduces social contacts.
  • As explained above Critical Theory/ Political Economy approaches see the media as supporting the dominant ideology of the most powerful in society rather than a range of views. The increasing concentration of media ownership in large conglomerates is seen as accentuating this so that media organisations have their own agenda to promote.

 

 

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