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British Politics and the Media – Who are the media?

Politics involves Communication:-

In democratic countries parties and their leaders have to convince the voters at election time. Even dictatorships push out propaganda to their peoples.

There is a public debate about issues and policies which involves politicians and a range of interests. Far more than in the 20th century, the debate between the parties, in terms of competence, the quality of leaders and the correct policies, takes place between elections and not just during the election campaign.

Some political communication and political debate takes place face-to-face and doorstep campaigning and canvassing is still what parties do, although the IPSOS Mori survey in 2010 found that only 20% of voters remembered someone calling on them during the election.

In some places there are election hustings where the candidates debate issues and people may go to a public meeting about a controversial planning proposal or to discuss what can be done about flood prevention.

In general, though face-to-face debate is now an elite activity, within the political parties and at talks and seminars arranged by think tanks, professional bodies or the universities. The politics that most people experience most of the time is through the media.

Politicians and Parties have increasingly needed to promote themselves through the Media rather than directly and the media cover political issues and political debate.

This becomes more complicated because, although there have sometimes been party newspapers and even TV stations, especially on the Continent, the media are run by separate organisations which may have their own objectives and their output is controlled by editors and journalists who have their own views. Partly in reaction to this, parties are now looking to contact voters directly through the social media

Media are means by which information is communicated from one person to another and the Mass Media are means by which information is carried from one source to many people. It is best not to think of ‘information’ in the sense of factual information.

Modern media theory sees what is conveyed as a message which contains meaning and this may be a text, a picture, someone talking and so on.

This raises issues that media theory has tried to explain:-

  • What is the content of the messages sent?
  • How do the people receiving the message react to that message?
  • Does the internet and social media change this relationship?