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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
USES AND GRATIFICATION MODEL
- 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
- these may vary according to class, age, gender and ethnicity.
- need to address at least one of these to be successful.
THE INTERPRETIVIST MODEL
- 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.
THE POSTMODERNIST MODEL
- 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.
- 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.