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Mass Media's Political Power Essay

1383 words - 6 pages

Mass Media's Political Power

There are two main issues regarding media influence in politics

1. Does presentation and coverage affect voting behaviour and
choices?

2. Do media have an impact on political struggle and decide nature
of debates?

Definitions of mass media

Mass media are channels of communication through which messages flow,
produced by a few for consumption by many people. As the messages go
through the channels, they are distorted. When people receive
mass-media messages, they have no opportunity for immediate feedback
with the producers of the messages.( www.pbs.org)

Specialist institutions such as books, magazines, adverts, newspapers,
radio, television, cinema, videos which occupy a central and pivotal
role in our lives. That which reaches very large audiences (freespace.virgin.net)

Forms of communication designed to reach a vast audience without any
personal contact between the senders and receivers. Examples would
include newspapers, magazines, video recordings, radio and television
(www.elissetche.org)

Political debates

In recent years the need to understand the relationship between the
media and politics has become more pressing. Many researchers
attribute enormous power to news media, claiming they have the ability
to ‘move and shake governments. Although there has been questioning
since early conception of media outlets about influence media can
assert over a mass audience, the question of weather the media is
politically powerful has become a very hot topic since the early
1980’s.

This has been done by examining coverage of political matter through
newspaper and television. There seems little doubt television is the
publics main source of information for political matter in the UK (516
TV sets per 1000 people: 1998) there is no doubt it is a major ball
player with regarding political coverage. ‘Television has ceased to
cover the campaign; it has become the campaign.’(Harrop: 2001)

One of the ways the mass media is politically influential is through
deciding what to cover and what not to cover, through deciding what
counts as newsworthy. This is essentially cutting a full day’s news
coverage of world events into a half hour show. News programs tend to
focus on exceptional stories this leads coverage to be an
unrepresentative sample of daily events. For example media will focus
policy failure over success or scandal and corruption over stories of
integrity. This is can help influence politics because it is
directing attention away from ‘lesser important views’. The important
point of thought is who decides this is news worthy. This selection of
news stories centres around elite groups, nations and prominent
political parties which reinforce images of relationships between
power and order in society also where...

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