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How powerful is the Media in British Politics?

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Introduction

How powerful is the Media in British Politics? Abstract To answer this question it will be necessary to consider how the media has affected and shaped the course and direction of politics today in Britain. I will therefore be considering how powerful the different forms of media are at conveying political messages and the extent to which these affect the voting public. A case will be argued that media does indeed have a profound effect, however this is countered by the showing that the power of the media is limited by the fact that by its mere nature is to mirror public opinion. Barely after the ballot box's had been closed on Election Day 1992, The Sun newspaper ran the headline proclaiming "it's The SUN wot won it" referring to John Major's victory over Neil Kinnock in the polls. This is just one of many examples of the apparent power that the media has in British politics -to what extent this power is merely perceived or in fact real, will be discussed in dept in this essay. In today's society, media, especially television, has undoubtedly become the most effective way to spread messages. ...read more.

Middle

It is, however, very hard to prove whether Dyke's appointment has lead to any deliberate bias in political coverage. It is obvious the media's ability to give story's a considerable slant, together with the capacity to agenda set and gate keep - makes editors (from all forms of media) very politically powerful indeed. However, one can argue that the true purveyors of power are the large media corporations, who own the newspapers, TV networks and other forms of media simultaneously. The classic example of one of these corporations is Rupert Murdoch's News Corp - which owns The Sun and The Times newspapers along with the B Sky B television network. In theory this makes Murdoch a politically, very powerful man, many argue that his own political ideas infiltrate to the media he owns - weather it be broadsheets (the times), tabloids (the sun) or news (sky news). Over the years, political party's, seeing the political power that the media holds have slowly begun to adopt the media as their most potent political weapon. Accusations of politicians manipulating the media have become commonplace - "spin doctors" such as new labours Alastair Campbell, have become some of the most important people in government, with little or no political experience but not surprisingly a wealth of experience in the media, in Campbell's case as a journalist. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are many people that hold the opinion that media isn't as powerful as one might expect in politics, with Curtice and Semetko arguing that the mass media is rarely powerful enough to radically change some ones political persuasion (i.e. they said it would be very rare for some one to switch from Tory to labour). Another example undermining the supposed power of the media in politics is the fact that in 1992 even though the Sun claimed "it's the Sun wot won it" - suggesting that its plea for Tory support in the last few days of the election campaign swung enough voters for the Tory's to win, however upon closer analysis of the elections one can see that hundreds of thousands of Mirror readers (a staunchly labour paper) were also swung, thus undermining the suns claim, and indeed the notion of the importance of media in politics. In conclusion, it is undoubted that the media has the power to put a huge political bias on its content - whether it be blatantly through the popular press's backing of political parties, or more subtlety through the slant journalists can give a story. ...read more.

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