Mass Media and Political Communication Chapter 11
Why is political communication important? • Through which media outlets do you read/learn about daily politics? (What is your major source of information?) • How and when did the mass media emerge? • When was the first newspaper published?
What is mass media? Societal institutions that are concerned with the production and distribution of all forms of knowledge, information and entertainment through the print media (newspapers, magazines) and the broadcast media (television and radio)
Factors behind the rise of the mass media in the 19th century • 1) The impact of primary agents (family, social class) of political socialization has declined due to greater social and geographical mobility and the spread of individualist and materialist values.
2) The penetration of television into daily lives of people. • Television as a source of information for the public. • Internet as the new source of information as well as a forum/instrument to participate in public debates on politics. (E-democracy, e-voting)
3) The accumulation of (economic, social and political) power in media corporations and the entertainment industry such as Warner Bros., Warren Buffet, Microsoft. • Different sectors such as publishing, communication, film-making, music, computer and telecommunication are merged under one corporation.
Theories of Media’s Political Impact • The Pluralist Model: • The media as a positive factor contributing to daily politics. • Generates diversity and multiplicity • The mass media is an outlet for wide range of political views where they can be debated and discussed freely. (Enhances the quality of democracy) • Creates an informed citizenry. • The impact of the media on politics is neutral. The media is believed to impartial. Sometimes, the mass media acts like a watchdog through the surveillance of political affairs.
The dominant-ideology model: • The mass media as a politically conservative force whose interests are similar to the interests of economic and social elites. • The mass media serve the interests of bourgeois and maintain capitalist hegemony. Spread consumerism, individualism and materialists ideas, values and beliefs. • What is written/broadcasted/disseminated by the owner of newspapers, magazines, tv channels.
Chomsky’s Propaganda Model • Five filters through which news and political coverage are distorted: • 1) the business interests of owner companies • 2) advertisers and sponsors sensitivities • 3) sourcing of news and information from agents of power • 4) pressure on journalist such as threats of legal actions • 5) wide-spread and unquestioning belief in the benefits of market competition and capitalism
The Elite-values Model • The output of mass media is determined by a small group of elite who are responsible for day-to-day editorial decision-making. • Therefore, it reflects the values, ideologies and beliefs of editors, journalists and broadcasters. • Anti-socialist and politically conservative views of most mainstream newspapers, magazines and television channels derive from the fact that senior professionals are from the middle-class. • The media reflect the views of university-educated, liberal intellectuals whose values differ from the public. • For feminists, on the other hand, the mass media is dominated by male values. For instance, female body is used as a sex object or sports take much more coverage than issues of women.
The Market Model • According to the market model, the mass media reflect rather than shape the views of the general public. • Regardless of the interests and views of media owners and editors/journalists, private media outlets have to compete with others and in order to survive and make profit they have to give what the general public want. • Tyranny of profit-maximization and ratings • Tyranny of ratings and fear of losing market share and revenues from advertisements television companies have shifted their focus from political debates to entertainment.
Media and Democracy • Free Press: free from censorship and political interference by government or other interest groups. • How does the mass media promote democracy? • 1) by fostering public debate and political engagement • 2) by acting as a ‘public watchdog’ to check abuses of power • 3) by redistributing power and political influence • 4) by providing a mechanism through which democracy can operate.
Mass media as political forum • Generating better informed-citizens with more independent views. • Mass media as agents of political education • Mass media as arenas for dialogue, debate and deliberation. • Mass media provide opportunities for ordinary people to express their political views • Enabling people to influence political debates and the decision-making process
Mass media as watchdog • Mass media ensure public accountability of politicians • Mass media scrutinize political activities • Mass media expose incompetence, corruption, wrongdoings and non-transparent affairs • In order to act as watchdog the mass media have to be independent and free from any government intervention
Mass media as an instrument of power distribution • Mass media provide access to information and opportunities for information exchange. • Earlier advances in telecommunication technologies helped governments to know more about their citizens and use the mass media as a source of political propaganda. • The third communication revolution (Internet) has helped to create an “information society” • The new media have facilitated political participation and helped to give the politics protests and popular mobilization greater organizational effectiveness.
Mass media as a way of expanding citizen participation • Expanding citizen participation through “e-democracy or cyber democracy” • In an information society the channels of political participation have varied and declining turnouts in elections and attendance in political meetings do not necessarily mean that public interest in politics is declining too. • E-democracy enables people to express their views freely while staying in their homes. • Criticisms of e-democracy stress that electronic participation in politics such as e-voting may cause fraud and malpractices. E-democracy also reduces democratic citizenship to a series of consumer choices.
Criticisms of promoting democracy through the mass media • 1) The mass media are dominated by either a dominant ideology or a small group of elite • 2) The mass media are not accountable either. Power without responsibility • 3) The mass media cannot be fully independent from the government.
Mass Media and Governance • Impact of the mass media on politics: • 1) Growing interests in party leaders and their personal lives than their ideas. • Politicians are treated as if they are celebrities. • Politics is seen as horse races. • Political power is related to publicity and media attention received by individual politicians. • 2) The mass media foster corrosive cynicism, maintain systematic negativity about politics and depict politicians as untrustworthyand unreliable. • 3) Too much information does not necessarily lead to better decisions. • The 24/7 news broadcasting forces politicians to rapidly react to events. (24/7 government) • 4) The mass media promotes cultural globalization which means that cultural differences are flattened out in order to be replaced by global culture (consumer culture) • Mass and fast consumption of material possessions and the mass media functions as a vehicle for the spread of consumerism.