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Politics, Media Systems And Governance: The Battle For The Public Opinion Sphere In Latin America

1864 words - 8 pages

Great efforts have been made in comparative analysis in the field of political communication. However, according to Pfetsch and Esser (2014), this area of study is still under construction and several questions remain open. At the same time, most of the research in the area refers to the western world. The vast region of Latin America with its over half a billion people represents a challenge that invites appropriate inquiry in order to understand the dynamics of the relationship between politics and communication as well as its effect on governance and the public opinion sphere.
In this context, my interest is focused on how the media relate to politics in Latin America and how this ...view middle of the document...

On the other hand, in several countries the media have reported violations of their rights and restrictions of the freedom of expression. The way media treat and present the issues serves the public as an input for the evaluation of government performance making critical reporting in the administrations’ view the culprit of falling popularity indicators.
Understanding governance as a process of decision-making which involves both government officials and the public interested in particular aspects; it can be assumed that political communication plays a vital role on how people evaluate the administration. Consequently, media interference in the decision-making process will influence public opinion which in turn will put pressure on the administration.
The effectiveness of public policy as one of the indicators of governance quality is at the core of the debate between political and communicational actors who defend their respective interests with messages designed to maximize their impact on audiences and tip the balance in their favor.
As far as Latin America is concerned, observers point at growing tensions between politics and media in recent years (Becerra 2014), especially in countries where populist leaders were able to redesign the political regimes aiming at even greater power concentration in the executive. In some cases, governments openly express their claim for communicational and informational hegemony (e.g. Venezuela, Pradas 2009) seeking direct communication with the people bypassing private media coverage through restricted access to information sources and public events or forcing them to broadcast their views in often frequent prime time “chains” (simultaneous obligatory transmissions of presidential speeches and events). As a consequence, the media not dependent on, or owned by, the governments tend to assume the role of a political opposition. In a more general perspective, the prevailing paradigm in the relations between politics and media tends to be instrumental, i.e. both actors try to control each other in order to forward their particular interests.
It can be expected that the impact of political communication on public opinion and, by extension, on the perception of government performance, is associated to specific cultural, social and political traits, i.e. political culture. . Both political and media actors will design their communication strategies according to the values and traits of their respective societies. To the extent that actors can synchronize the message with the demands and expectations of the people they will secure their support. The interactions of political agendas, media systems and political cultures as well as their association to governance quality –both perceived and assessed through “hard” indicators– are the core of my research project. An aspect to be considered are the communication networks at the root of what De Rosnay as early as in the year 2000 called the cybiont, a global...

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