What Do We Mean By The 'policy Process' In The Media? How Do We Ensure Effective Policy Making Through The Media?

1933 words - 8 pages

The policy process is a staged system of assessing societal values, through use of "multiple methods of inquiry and argument to produce and transform policy-relevant information that may be utilized in political settings to resolve problems," (Dunn, 1981:11). Policy-making is deeply influenced by the media, which tends to shape societal views. The process of policy-making establishes objectives through conflict resolution; making solutions to policy problems affecting a community. However, policy responses are often poor because of inadequate information, mediocre policy design, bad decision-making - due to powerful media and other interest groups, and ineffective implementation. This means that the policy process often fails. By improving processes such as the introduction of reforms of the system, and media control, better policy management could be made.Public policy development in Australia, is a staged process conducted in an impartial and methodical manner, to ensure effective policymaking. Consequently, contextual factors relating to the media, shape and condition policy, relating to political, economic and social perspectives. Institutional capacity, economic conditions, and any history of resource use all play a significant role in the policy process (Mayers, 1999). Therefore, as new technologies and globalisation transform public policy, the media plays a large part in influencing policy directions: directly, indirectly and benignly.The history of Australia's newspaper and contemporary commercial media is ultimately linked to the development of issues for government or what Beresford refers to as agenda setting. Agenda setting involves refining problem issues into major components, determining varied options and presenting a researched response to policy makers and the society as a whole. This procedure consists of several stages including "issue identification... policy analysis, policy instruments, consultation, coordination, decision, implementation and evaluation," (Bridgman, 1998:27; Hansen, 1983:14-42). The media are an intrinsic part of the policy process, through their critical reporting and informing role to the public.Initially, the platform for policy change is the initiation of an idea. The media influence public policy making through various media outlets (including newspaper, commercial TV, talk back radio etc) and a commentary is made on various policy issues. The general public consumes this information, due to the dramatic, visually attractive, entertaining, important and natural set of values that determines what is newsworthy. The greater degree to which an issue embodies this criterion, the more likely it is to be inserted into the opinions of the society (Beresford, 2000:136). Thus, the commercial news media, having a huge audience reach, ultimately shape the views of the general public on current affairs. Similarly, the more publicity an issue receives from the media and the public, the more likely it is constitute...

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