Thursday, October 15, 2009

Media & Politics

Media: Tools of Communication
Politics: Word origin is "city state." A city state is essentially a territory and within that territory are people and resources. Politics manages a place, people and resources.
Media broadcasts politics and can have a close relationship to political bodies and figures, influencing popularity. The politics of media however means the actual negotiation between media forces for power or relation to parties.

HALLIN & MANCINI: 3. The Political Context of Media Systems, pp. 46-65.
The authors begin by explaining that there is a co-evolution between media and political systems. There is a much larger question of the relation between media and politics globally. Political leaders have served as the final authority but now media is constantly negotiating the latest information. Media also supervises the territory, people and resources that politics control.

The role of the state
The state can serve as owner, regulator and funder. Most European governments are welfare states, but there are differences. Importantly the European state takes responsibility – not just for health care and higher education – but for providing media services, meaning most media are first social institutions then secondly private businesses. This is because media as seen as capable of advancing political pluralism, quality of life and maintenance of language and culture. European countries also normally regulate political communication and often ban political ads, but most permit party campaigns.

Consensus Vs. Majoritarian: In Consensus politics there is power sharing and a separation between legislative and executive. (Germany, Belgium, Italy). Pluralism influences the media.
Majoritarianism involves a 1 party system with winning party dominating power. (UK). Political party controls the media.
Indivudalized Vs. Organized/Segmented Pluralism: Individualized pluralism is the existence of diverse political view points that are competitive and negotiated while organized or segmented pluralism is when interest are associated with specific institutions.
The integration of social groups into the political system is known as corporatism, seen in the Northern central countries. By contrast in the US the special interest groups are separate from the government and must lobby or appeal for participation.
Rational-Legal Authority: This is the aspect, as defined by Max Weber, in which there are formal rules of procedure, also called bureaucracy. The political structure can cross into public broadcasting systems and administration. Rational Legal Authority helps to prevent clientelism or the privledging of information between the press and political bodies.
Moderate Vs. Polarized Pluralism: Moderate pluralism varies in parallelism and is associated with professionalism and commercialization. Polarized pluralism of the southern countries is associated with political paralellism.
The variables in politics from country to country
-the relation of state and society, from liberal to welfare
-consensus or majoritarian
-organized pluralism or corporatism
-rational legal authority (bureaucracy)
-moderate to polarized pluralism

A word of caution before we proceed to study the relationship between media and politics in Europe. Our generation of American culture only knows politics of the television age. The 1960 televised debate between Kennedy and Nixon created the new entertainment side of politics. In terms of the “image makers” the author discusses, the US celeb-president Ronald Reagan was a master. Therefore as Americans, we are already informed but there are differences and we need to tread carefully with assumptions. For example, on p. 143, the author explains a key difference between US and European practice is candidates arising for election. In the US a candidate can “come out of nowhere,” while in most European countries, a candidate cannot progress to Prime Minister or President without already being part of the establishment.

PAPATHANASSOPOULOS: 6. Politics in the Television Age, pp. 87-104.

“My enemies have the press, I have television,” Charles de Gualle 1960’s

The author starts by explaining that media operates by media rules, not by political rules. “Media logic” prefers “personalities to ideas, simplicity to complexity, confrontation to compromise.” This means that when we receive media we are receiving content through the lens or frame of media. An obvious factor but often forgotten. The author also suggests that the power of media has resulted in “videocracy,” a decrease in the actual power of the politicians.

Media has become so important to politics that media consultants are essential to campaigning. The dominance of television has also effected the voter, in terms of decreasing activation and increasing passive receivers. Unfortunately, the author suggests that television means people are “poorly informed.” “Watching the news on television often succeeds at making people both confused and cynical, and reinforces the idea that politics corrupts." Low levels in constituent satisfaction, trust and interest are said to be the result of the media. It is also true that the coverage of scandal has increased.

Society has also changed along with media. People are now more educated. This means while people used to depend on the party to make informed decisions, now citizens are more informed and making issue based decisions. The online website EU Profiler allows people to answer questions and determine party preferences.

Media has completely changed campaigning. In the 1996 Italian race, media magnate Silvio Berlusconi was against a professor, Romano Prodi. Prodi began a media tour on a bus to create a more down to earth image and reach more people directly. Berlusconi had previous success reaching people by controlling the media stations but in this instance, Prodi won. In the 1998 German elections the losing candidate Helmut Kuhl tried to use celebrity supporters such as Karl Lagerfeld to improve his campaign. The Kavanaugh model of publicity campaigning includes prioritizing campaign communications, adapting formats to fit media needs, attack campaigning, avoiding saturation. The issue of “image management,” has increased in society at large, especially politicians. The author also notes that we cannot only blame the politicians as the news itself has ever-changing priorities.

Victory for Romano Prodi in 1996
Some suggested that Helmut Kuhl's celebrity endorsements hurt his campaign

Top, from left, right wing candidate Valery Giscard d'Estaing (L) and socialist Francois Mitterrand in 1974 and 1981. Bottom, from left: right wing hopeful Jacques Chirac and Francois Mitterrand in 1988, and socialist Lionel Jospin and Jacques Chirac in 1995. During the presidential campaign in 2002, Chirac refused to attend a televised debate with far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen.

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