Chapter Seven: Political Communication
- Democracy as a form of communication. The transmission model and its limits.
- The development of the media. Mass literacy as a function, achievement and affirmation of the modern state. The rise of mass circulation newspapers; the introduction of broadcasting (including radio) and its impact on politicians’ interaction with the electorate.
- Contemporary trends: commercialization, fragmentation, globalization and interaction. Combined impact is to reduce politician’s access to the mass electorate. Social media and their contribution to the Arab Spring.
- Media structures: Hallin and Mancini’s influential classification: Anglo-American liberal, Northern European democratic corporatist and Southern European polarized pluralist systems. Declining distinctiveness of these models.
- Media impact: the media as the house in which we live. Reinforcement, agenda-setting, framing and priming effects. Reinforcement still powerful as consumers self-select their media on-line.
- The distinct effects of broadcasting and newspapers. Declining exposure to television news and especially newspapers. The problem of funding professional news-gathering and interpretation in an age of free media.
- Techniques used to limit the media in authoritarian states. Justifications offered by rulers: to limit squabbling so as to maintain national harmony and facilitate development. Media censorship in China and its limits in the internet age.
- Limits of media independence in competitive authoritarian regimes: ownership as a political resource; lack of a professional, news-gathering tradition; some intimidation and therefore self-censorship; leader’s direct engagement with the population, especially through television.
Figures and tables
Multiple choice questions
Essays and term papers
- Assess the impact of the mass media on the nature and quality of political communication in liberal democracies.
- Compare the political impact of broadcasting and the internet.
Hague & Harrop, 2013 edn, ch. 7.
J. Barber, The Pulse of Politics: Electing Presidents in a Media Age
W. Lance Bennett and R. Entman, Mediated Politics: Communication in the Future of Democracy
M. Castells, The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business and Society
A. Chadwick, Internet Politics: States, Citizens and New Communication Technologies
R. Fox and J. Ramos, iPoliitcs: Citizens, Elections, and Governing in the Internet Era
D. Graber, Mass Media and American Politics
R. Gunther and A. Mughan, Democracy and the Media: A Comparative Perspective
E. Kamarck and J. Nye, Democracy.com?
P. Norris, A Virtuous Circle: Political Communication in Postindustrial Societies.
J. Street, Mass Media, Politics and Democracy
C. Sunstein, Republic.com
- Reporters without Borders - for press freedom
- Freedom House - press freedom by country
- International Federation of Journalists - the world’s largest organization of journalists
- Index on Censorship - for free expression
- Pew Center for Civic Journalism - advancing good journalism
- UNESCO Information and Communication – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization