Archive for the ‘Politics and the Media’ Category

Introduction

Politics can be defined as the “activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power”.  To unpack; politics mean the discussions of, for example, our health, justice, laws, and economy, debated between parties and leaders which fight for the power-seat.

Politics in the modern world are striving to be democratic, or are said to be, but are they? Perhaps ideologies, norms and expectations set in our society are influencing what we believe to be right and wrong. At least in the mediated political debate I find this to be a problem. In a democratic country the citizens are entitled to, and in need of, information from all possible angles and viewpoints to be able to make an informed and educated opinion about an issue, so that they can later vote and fight for the kind of society they find just.

I have chosen Australia, a western country in which I have lived for only a year, to demonstrate how it in this example, fails to uphold the democratic values.

Government parties

If I was not actively searching out the different parties in Australia, I would only know two, maybe three of them. I believe The Australian Labor Party (Julia Gillard) and the Liberal Party of Australia (Tony Abbott) are the only two parties enforced and represented in the media. No doubts are they the most popular parties, and therefore of interest, but by excluding media coverage of other parties, citizens are not properly informed. In a country like Australia, which strives to preserve the natural heritage of its land, it surprises me that a party like the Australian Greens (Christine Milne) only have 11.8%  of the Australian votes.

Unbalanced media debates

Maybe if Australians knew more about the environmental discussion, people would have showed an interest in a party focusing on this issue. It appears as the only issue being debated in the media (coming to climate) is the carbon tax! Australia is a western country close to where climate change actually happens today, for example in Kiribati, but still a country where citizens seem to not understand the problem.

Conclusion; hidden agendas

In today’s society most people can educate themselves online, but I still believe the mass media has an influence on our perception of the world. Norms and ideologies are often shaped by our society and the mass-media pushes these buttons. By using words and images which either appeal to us or the other way around, the mass-media can try to make us “read” a story in a particular way. There lies great power in this, and it certainly are a benefit to Governments to “be friends” with the media so that their interests might be enhanced. But it also tells the story of a political debate which has become biased and less democratic.

Advertisements

The hypodermic needle theory suggests the mass media’s messages are directly received and accepted. I believe this implies that people cannot think for themselves and I do not agree with it. The Guardian once mentioned; the media can shape a national mood, but cannot tell us what to think. I think this makes more sense.

Recently the Norwegian newspaper VG announced that the Prime Minister of Norway ought to resign as a result of the findings in the 22nd of July-commission report. This evoked reactions in Norway where the readers responded with disgust to the newspaper’s attempt to influence public opinions.

There is no such thing as politics or entertainment. It is mashed up in a mix of show-business and political statements. The culture industry has always carried political messages like “Flower Power” in the 60’s and punk as anti-consumerism in the 70’s, but a newer phenomenon is politicians blending into popular culture.

Jon Stewart is a popular actor and stand-up comedian but at the same time a political satirist and media critic. Entertainment can be a vehicle for propaganda as there often are made room for political ideologies which can act as a hidden manipulator. Political visitors are common on Mr. Stewart’s talk-show, and given his popularity and influence in the American society, it is easy to see why.

Money has too much control over the mass-media; in fact it has total control. As long as the mass-media makes money through happy advertisers, their content will continue being tailored to a certain audience. If you pick one news-item and follow it through different commentaries the topic-selection, concerns, emphasis, filtering and framing varies depending on the audience and their interests.

The reporting of Iran’s earthquake was very different in Fox News compared to Al Jazeera English. While Al Jazeera kept focus on factual numbers, geography and relief efforts, Fox left us with little information, rather a dramatic story of homeless people and despair.

Update 14.08.2012:

I’ve just discovered by clicking on my own link that Fox News have changed their article. It is impossible to find the article I linked to, it seems like they have rewritten the whole story. Maybe another example of how you can be unprofessional.. The video is still showing the same dramatic story as yesterday though.

Words can reveal, conceal and confuse.  So can pictures, sound bites and the art of the media language in general. We absorb what we read and hear without any filters because it sounds truthful and reliable. Our world-view can become much distorted because we do not get the full story which often is hidden behind these words.

Guide grabs like “War on terrorism”, “The refugee-crisis” and “Yes we can” all draw our minds to certain issues, but often fail to reveal all truths. They appear as vague phrases which melt the concrete into the abstract.

The Guardian, among others, has recently reported of Obama and his newly signed order to support Syrian rebels. Words like “secret intelligence” and “non-lethal” assistance appear to me as decorated words.