Mass media is politically significant in many ways. The mass media as a collection of societal institutions that are concerned with the production and distribution of all forms of knowledge, information and entertainments.In many respect media is a powerful political actor.
Why media is significantly a political actor ?
First of all, the impact of the so called primary agent of political socialization, such as family,social class has declined because of the spread of individualist mind and consumerist tendencies.So abiding political allegiance and and habitual voting patterns have given way to more instrumental approach to politics.And people now a days makes political choice based on personal self interest based on issues and policy positions on offer.this widened the scope of media political influence .Media so becomes orincipal mechanism through which information about issues and policies and therefore political choices are presented to public at large.
Secondly, the development of mass television audience and more recently proliferation of channels has virtually penetrated in to peoples evry day life.So public now heavily rely on mass media than before.TV is now important source of news and current events than party meeting.Sprting is done more on TV than being participated in it,shopping is more done in TV and Internet than actually shopping on multiplex,Cinema is more done in TV than it is at the Movie theatre …this goes on….
Thirdly,the media has now become a powerful economic actor.Not only media has become a powerful global player,the erstwhile, publishing, music, film, computers,telecommunications, etc has been merged in to single massive infotainment industry.( M Scammel 2000 New Media and New Politics).Media has acquired power which no government can ignore.
A series of rival theories exist to understand media’s political influence. None of the theories are sufficient enough to explain it single handedly.
The pluralist model of the media as an ideological marketplace in which a wide range of views are debated and discussed. It portrays media in positive terms. media is seen as a watchdog of democracy. pluralism promotes diversity.Media and new media has strengthened pluralism and political competition by giving protest groups a relatively cheap and highly effective means of disseminating information. Watergate Scandal-Richard Nixon 1974 .
The dominant-ideology model of the media as a politically conservative force that is aligned to the interests of economic and social elite. Media tries to promote passivity amongst the masses.Marx and Gramsci says media propagate bourgeois ideas and maintain capitalist hegemony.Media acts in the best interest of corporations and media moguls.Ownership determine political and other views .
Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman in Manufacturing consent 1994 in the from of ” Propaganda Model “ . They identify five ‘filters’ through which news and political coverage are distorted by structure of media itself.
-the business interests of owner
-sensitivity to views and concerns of advertisers andsponsors
-sourcing of news and information frm agents of power such as govt and business backed think tanks
-flak or pressure applied to journalists including threats of legal action
-unquestioning belief in the benefits of market competition and consumer capitalism
Chomsky analyses the extent by which media can subvert democracy.
The elite values model of the media as a mechanism through which editors, journalist and broadcasters are able to portray their own views as those of the general public.It analyses mechanism through which media out put is controlled.it assumes media professional and journalist enjoy professional freedom.Media’s political bias is reflected in the values of groups that are its senior most professionals.socilaist bias,liberal intellectual bias,feminist argue patriarchal bias etc
The market model of the media as a business controlled by the tastes and preferences of its consumers.
See the movie Swa Le….
It holds that TV and Newspaper reflect rather than shape views of public.Media is business concerned.Media gives public what they want .It shows more interest in personal lives and private conduct of political figure.TV is more obsessed with image than issue.