• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent do the media in Britain determine political attitudes and opinions?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

To what extent do the media determine political attitudes and opinions? In a liberal democracy media is the channel through which freedom of speech and the opinions of the public is exercised, in order to provide accountability through criticising the government (Street 2001). Heywood (2007) recognizes that, through a combination of social and technological changes, the media have become increasingly more of a powerful political actor and more deeply involved in the political process. The relationship between politicians and the media is symbiotic: politicians need the media to get their message across, while the media need politicians and their news to sell (Kavanagh 1996). The vast majority of the population attain their information about politics from the mass media, such as radio, press, television and the Internet. The media do not only report, but also propose interpretations of the news. Some argue that the media can help set an agenda, by stressing certain matters and ignoring others, thus influencing general perceptions and images, for instance a "strong" Mrs Thatcher or a "wimpish" John Major. (Kavanagh 1996 pp. 208) This essay will look at how the media has been transformed in Britain, as well as different actors within the media, how they influence politics and the popular opinion, and to what extent this can be argued through different theories. ...read more.

Middle

This theory claims that the "Reinforcement Theory" wrongly assumes that people read the paper that suits their own political attitudes, instead claiming that many readers are unsure about the political stance of the very paper they read. They argue that there remains a strong link between the political standpoint of the individual's choice of paper, and the way in which the individual will choose to vote, in spite of any other factors that affect voting behaviour (Budge et al 2001). If media are able to influence and determine political opinion in this way, then perhaps the "reinforcement theorists" do significantly underestimate media's power. Since the Second World War it is noticeable how far Britain has come in terms of the relationship between media and politics. In 1945 there was no television, no opinions polls and politicians communicated with the electors mainly through public meetings and newspapers. In the last half of the century we have seen a transformation where new channels of media has been developed and increasingly used, both in the advantage, and disadvantage of politicians. Almost everything politicians say or do is scrutinised, and parties and their leaders think long and hard about their image and campaigns. Media advisers, or "spin doctors" such as Peter Mandelson for the Labour party, have become key figures in politics, and parties spend millions on advertising (Budge et al. ...read more.

Conclusion

For the politicians it has enabled a more personal approach engaging the public in policy discussion, by, for instance, the blogging by David Cameron, escaping the filters of journalists (Fisher, Denver and Benyon 2003). New media has also created availability on a global level of political news, and the spread of news is increasingly faster and demanding more from the politicians. The media can be seen as the guardians of the public's right to know, and undoubtedly they are the source of most of our information and understanding about the modern world. Clearly the media is only one of many influences on public opinion and political attitudes. One can suggest that media has a limited affect on political behaviour since people have set minds about politics and often read whatever suits their support of party, thus the reinforcement theory would be correct. However, media's choice of what to cover and how it is presented must have an affect on what people think of subjects discussed in the public sphere. Also the different actors, such as owners of media channels and politicians, have a say in what is published in media, thus they are powerful actors indirectly influencing the public opinion. In conclusion one can assume that media is, not the only, but one of the most important factors influencing political behaviours and attitudes. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree UK Government & Parliamentary Studies section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree UK Government & Parliamentary Studies essays

  1. Why, in Britain today, is the classic doctrine of ministerial responsibility being rapidly dislodged ...

    If there was indeed a gap, it appears to have been filled over time by other influences, such as the Opposition, backbenchers and the media. For example, a ministerial scandal is often accompanied by "intraparty jockeying" which could have the effect of disrupting the Government's cohesion or legislative agenda (Kam

  2. Has power in Britain shifted significantly into the hands of unelected individuals in recent ...

    of multinational corporations can penalise the British government by moving their business elsewhere if British laws are hindering their revenue. Hirst and Thompson (1996) argue this has been exaggerated and that governments still hold significant power against big business opponents.

  1. Article review. The overall topic of the article Politics and the Media: A ...

    The next chapter looks at how the media covered the war and the public's viewing habits during this period. Given the fact that the war could actually be watched 24/7; the audience of the evening news shortly rocketed. People became more interested in this particular subject that lead to 85

  2. If the political conflict in Northern Ireland from 1968 - 1998 was not a ...

    was 81 in a range from 0 to 100 (the former being the lowest possible score), compared to 50 for the Netherlands, 29 for West Germany, 16 for the United States, 14 for both Canada and Australia and only 7 for Great Britain (McGarry and O'Leary 1995, pp.

  1. UK Voting Behaviour

    Firstly, when examining the argument that the ideology model is a poor method of examining voting behaviour, the main argument that arises is that opinion polls can be susceptible to being inaccurate, especially when the most common type of elections are usually local elections and by-elections, which are notoriously unpredictable.

  2. Analyse three key strengths and three key weaknesses of the Conservative general election campaign ...

    This suggests that the party would not have been so successful in the 2010 election had it not been for Cameron. Weaknesses 1. Misjudged policies Whilst the representation and marketing of David Cameron was strength of the general election campaign of 2010, it also highlights one of the weaknesses of

  1. Does the Media have too much political power in Britain?

    The expenses scandal, what was regarded by Gordon Brown as "the biggest parliamentary scandal for two centuries" (D. Wring, R. Mortimore, S. Atkinson, 2011, p.241) this became viral because the Media. The Media outrage pressured many MP's such as cabinet minister at the time Jaqui Smith and David Laws who was the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to resign.

  2. What factors determine the influence of promotional interest groups?

    However, when outsider interest groups campaign on an publicly support issue, such as the opposition to Poll Tax, they would not be able to have significant influence over government policies. Anti Poll Tax Federation has adopted outside interest groups? aim, but might not have supported the methods from outside interest groups.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work