THE MEDIA

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THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA

- The relationship between politics and the media is increasingly diverse and complex.

- The new communication is interactive and multi-directional, enabling a much wider expression of view and positions in a global context.

- While may sociologists stress the power and influence of the media on their audiences, others have argued messages are often received by different individuals and groups in a variety of ways.

- Postmodernists generally see the media messages as polysemic.

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PLURALIST VIEWS

- argue events are presented in a way that fairly reflects reality on the whole.

- a plurality of interests is reflected in the media e.g. Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem etc.

- the media operate in the public interest and the public expect and demand a variety of opinions.

- the media reflects what people think in equal measures and follow rather than create public opinion.

- the role of the media is thus seen as reflecting a range of different points of view, in proportion to the support thse viewpoints generally have within the community. 

- Pluralists would suggest that reporting on these matters reflects a widely held consensus that these are key issues. 

- also, the BBC has a statutory obligation to report political matters in a broad and balanced way. 

- no such restrictions apply to the press. 

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MEDIA AND POLITICS SINCE 1997

- in the run up to 1997 it was argued Labour capitalised on the disenchantment of the press with the Conservatives. 

- relationships between Major's g'ment and media had deteriorated as a result of negative reporting of his g'ment's ability to manage economic affairs. 

- New Labour saw management of the media as crucial in securing an election victory. 

- HARROP AND SCAMMEL 1997 - by the election 6/10 national daily papers were pro-Labour compared with 3/11 in 1991. 

CURRAN 2005: 4 reasons for this transformation of support:

1. ideological convergence.

2. courtship - The Sun switched allegiance in 1997 - seen as crucial factor. 

3. construction - Labour used skilled staff in campaign to present carefully constructed image. 

4. reflection - as support grew, media reflected party ideology as way of ensuring max. consumption.

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MARXIST VIEWS

- see patterns of ownership and control linked to media content.

- r/c own MOP and have economic power, and this translated into power within institutions of the superstructure, of which the media plays an important role.

- Rupert Murdoch was instrumental in changing the political allegiance of The Sun.

- Marxists see this as an example of how the power of an individual newspaper's proprietors can have a major impact on political events.

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NEO-MARXIST VIEWS

- less emphasis on direct impact of paper proprietors and more focus on automatic way media can reflect the interest r/c in capitalist society.

- dominance of r/c culture or cultural hegemony has a powerful influence on the media.

GLASGOW UNIVERSITY MEDIA GROUP

- examined coverage of foreign affairs in news from Israel.

- there was a definite bias towards Israeli perspectives, especially on BBC, where Israeli leaders twice as likely to be interviewed than Palestinians.

- more stress on Israeli casualties, though more Palestinians killed.

- Palestinians = terrorists ; Israeli's = vigilantes or extremists.

- bias in reporting arises from r/c views being automatically reflected and represented, thus reinforcing existing social order. 

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THE HYPODERMIC NEEDLE MODEL

- media messages intravenously injected into audiences. 

IVOR CREWE 1986

- media increasingly important because changes in employment base led to changes in geographical and social mobility, new social classes and growth of instrumentalism. 

- nautural identities with political parties are now few, partisan dealignment has occured and elections likely to be won on issues presented in and by the media. 

- all parties very conscious of impact of media.

- labour made key changes due to high impact of media on attitudes within electorate:

1. centralisation - control exercised by PM, press security had to agree to all media appearances.

2. professionalism - ex-journalists employed to ensure media got what they wanted in correct format.

3. politicisation - partisan special advisors located in g'ment departments to deal with media.

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THE NORMATIVE / TWO STEP MODEL

KATZ AND LAZARSFELD 1955

- after first step, the second step involves social interaction.

- people want further insights from others, political messages may be accepted/rejected as a result of this interaction.

- with complex and important issues, audiences unlikely to accept just one view. 

- opinions are shaped and formed by more complex processes of social interaction. 

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USES AND GRATIFICATION MODEL

McQUAIL 1972

- people use media for different purposes, so messages or intentions don't always have the resonance intended.

- he suggested 4 uses: 

1. diversion or escape

2. developing personal relationships

3. identity 

4. surveillance

- these may vary according to class, age, gender and ethnicity.

- need to address at least one of these to be successful.

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THE INTERPRETIVIST MODEL

HALLOREN 1970 

- suggest we should ask 'what people do with the media' not 'what the media do to people'.

- different levels of media literacy will influence the extent to which individuals can filter messages.

- people receive media messages in a selective way, according to their viewpoints.

- the relationship between media output and influence is a complex and uncertain. 

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THE POSTMODERNIST MODEL

BAUDRILLARD 1988

- media messages are read in very different ways by different parts of the audience, or by the same people at different times. 

- individuals are see as creating their own set of values and understandings within a condition of hyper-reality, as they are bombarded with a weight of information, open to multiple interpretations.

LLOYD 2004

- there has been a 'dumbing down' of political coverage, leading to disenchantment with politicians and reluctance to engage in politics.

- the quantity and quality of serious political coverage has been replaced with gossip and scandal about politicians and their private lives.

- coverage seen as partial and fragmented, left to individuals to make sense of. 

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