Media and Politics

Relevance of Media today

Role of political socialisation has been transferred from families, church ect., to the media. 

The media is a source of power for citizens (Street 2001) 

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Political Education

  • Capacity to provide a civic forum which meaningful and serious debate can take place 
  • Pluralism model - one in which there is a diversity and multiplicity of views, reflecting an ideological market place which contains a variety of views
  • Media is now an agent of political education, providing better information for citizens 
  • At election time in the UK, there are now televised debates 
  • In Russia, media outlets report on political news - First, Russia 2, Russia 24 and NTV 
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Government Media Censorship

  • Dominant ideology model 
  • Russia - media domains used to glorify the charismatic leader of Putin 
  • Russia - mass media controlled through neo-Soviet media model (Oats 2005) that inculates:
    • self-censorship
    • obedience to political sponsors 
    • avoidance of topics that may directly challenge the government 
  • Chomsky (1988) - "manufacturing consent" - mobilising support for imperialist ideas 
    • Russia - media directed towards supporting Ukraine events
    • Less evident in the UK, more looking to critique the government e.g. following the recent Syria vote. 
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Age of Infotainment

  • Media now reflects public opinion, instead of shaping it 
  • Businesses concerned with profit maximisation 
    • News outlets give people what they want to watch to avoid allienating existing or potential viewers/readers by presenting political viewpoints 
  • "Market share" - TV companies reduced coverage of serious political debate, abandoning the responsibility for educating and infroming citizens, for infotainment 
    • Bale (2013) - UK press more heavily entertainment than coverage of European news 
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Mughan (2000)

  • Obsession with image rather than issues - personalities over policies 
  • UK has a tendency towards this e.g. televised debates
  • Attempts to sell politics to an audience who may be disillusioned by policies - market model
  • Leaders are now judged by their TV skills, sense of humour and personal touch rather than their political issues and ability to stir serious debate 
  • Can cause cynicism amongst public (Lloyd 2004) - leads to growing popular disenchantment with politics and general lack of trust in governments 
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Ineffective government

  • Can bombard the government with mass information - knowing too much can be as damaging as knowing too little 
  • The government has to react quicker to news that has spread fast e.g. Ken Livingstone and the Labour party in May 2016
  • 24/7 news becomes 24/7 government
    • Politicians are forced to take a stance on issues simply to avoid being criticised for inertia or inactivity 
    • Media dictates agenda - e.g. Labour's anti-semitism, Sadiq Khan as London Mayor 
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Media Bias

  • Media tainted by clear political bias, especially in UK - Owen Jones for the Guardian (left); Peter Hitchens for the Daily Mail (right) 
  • Unelected - not subject to public accountability 
    • "power without responsibility" (Curran and Seaton 2009) 
  • Journalists are normally not representable of the public - Oxbridge educated intellectuals, normally male. Elite values model. 
  • Unrepresentative - dominance of male senior journalists. 
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Transferring Power

  • Transfers power from government and political elites to public at large
  • Most significant source of information are non-governmental in character e.g. think tanks 
  • Online petitions 
    • Recent ban on Trump's visit to the UK 
    • Warns flash popularity - Shirky (2011)
      • Social media is a useful platform for illustrating institutions and the scale of support for a cause. 
      • However, e-petitions should not be used as a replacement for real world activism - where social movements can expect "click their way" into a better world. 
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Social Media and Globalisation

  • 3 billion active users of social media 
  • Pluralist model truly emerges - more information. User generated consent 
  • Harder for repressive governments to control - Freedom House rates Russia as "partly free" on the internet domain 
  • Briggs (2009) - "the conservative dilemma" - increased access through social medai to events requires state to continually account for anomallies 
    • in Russia - data not protected and can be released to governemtn - means of survillence 
    • Oates (2009) - attacks on bloggers who speak negatively about Putin's Russia 
  • Egypt - clamped down on social media, caused citizens to go on the streets (Anti 2002) - from "slackivism to activism" - downfall of President Mubarack
  • Creates awareness - sharing media 
  • Can alter in political opportunities stuctures 
    • Esigner 1973: closed regimes and the sharing of information forces leaders to listen to citizens 
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Mobilisation of Support

  • International revolutions e.g. Arab Spring 
  • However, Hendricks and Al-Deen (2012) argue that while it may be easier to mobilise support, it is much harder to sustain this momentum 
    • e.g. KONY 2012 - fastest growing viral video of all time, placing pressure on governments, but lost momentum within a few months. 
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