Media influence on parliament model answer

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Describe the media as an influence operating on Parliament in the
making of laws (10 marks)
The `media' covers the channels by which information is transmitted. It covers
newspapers, radio and television and increasingly the internet. There is a
very clear link between the media and public opinion.
Members of the public can make their views known to Parliament by joining a
pressure group, writing to their MP or by contacting the media. Conversely,
matters of concern can be highlighted to the public by the media, for example,
messages regarding health issues such as smoking and obesity.
The media can represent public opinion and influence it. The influence held
by the media is particularly noticeable in the political arena. As MPs in the
House of Commons are democratically elected by voters, it is inevitable that
the media can exert considerable influence on the reform of laws.
Newspapers, particularly, tend to have political bias. For example the Daily
Mail and the Sun have a Conservative bias, whereas the Guardian and the
Mirror tend to be more leftwing and biased towards Labour.
The media sometimes run campaigns in an attempt to change the law. An
example was the `Name and Shame' campaign run by the News of the World
newspaper in 2000, following the murder of a child by a paedophile. The
campaign was dominated by sensationalist headlines that scared people.
The newspaper eventually named convicted paedophiles and published their
pictures. This led to vigilante attacks and on one occasion, an innocent
person was targeted. The response of Parliament was to pass a law requiring
a register of convicted paedophiles to be maintained by the police.
Media pressure, in the wake of the acquittal of suspects in the Stephen
Lawrence case, despite overwhelming evidence against them led to a
Government Inquiry and a report by the Law Commission. The Criminal
Justice Act 2003 reformed the `double jeopardy' rule, meaning that a suspect
can be tried twice for the same offence.


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