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To what extent is the mass media politically powerful? There are two main issues regarding media influence in politics

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Introduction

To what extent is the mass media politically powerful? 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. ...read more.

Middle

According to Stewart hall these are not simply a reflection of the world as it is that's neutral or objective but an interpretation of the world given to us. In these methods media can exclude certain no mainstream views from reaching publics eyes, shape opinions of the political parties who are the fore runners for campaigns. By deciding a topic is news worthy the media can set agenda for political thought for example by allocating substantial coverage to certain issues call public attention to them, this places pressure on policy makers to respond. Recent examples include environmental issues, and video nasties. Voting behaviour Extensive research has been conducted to see if Media's selection and presentation of political matter can be influential in voting the basis of research is usually objective analysis of voting patterns, Martin Harrop (1986) attempted to measure the effect of the press on the press on peoples voting patterns. He found evidence which suggests that voters might be more vulnerable to the media than they were formally. ...read more.

Conclusion

Like Harrop they concluded from results of panel surveys over time that media had limited influence over and could not provoke a large swing towards either party. Also like Harrop they conclude that the readers of newspapers supporting either conservative or labour parties will only have there values and political identity re affirmed rather than be likely to switch party's "Recent research presents a view of contemporary voters as actively seeking out campaign information to assist in deciding how to vote, in the context of partisanship, prior knowledge, beliefs and needs (Miller, 1991)." Against this view Patrick Dunleavy and Chris Husbands (1985) they argue press has large influences over political issues. They attack those who conclude that press only reinforce values already believed by the readers. They believed right wing dominated press had helped create a conservative majority they claim to show that voting habits of manual and non manual workers varies according to the amount of right wing press they are exposed to, those how read right wing press were more likely to vote for the conservative party. ...read more.

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