The News Media

The News Media

No matter what type of the society we take under consideration, we should first of all admit that it can in no way exist without social regulation. The question is what methods are preferred for its accomplishment. While totalitarian regimes support their ideology with power, the democratic state, having the same goals, turns to the influencing public opinion. In this way it tries to reach the appropriate level of consent inside the society.
And these are mass media that play the decisive role in shaping, correcting and transformation of public mind. The media has got the title of the forth power, and really they have become not only the commentators, but also a functional tool of state policy, an important factor for legislative matters, home and foreign affairs, government activity on the whole.
Thomas E. Patterson, a highly respected professor, one of the foremost political scientists, who concentrates on the American politics and political communication, has devoted his works (“Out of order”, “The mass media election”) to the analysis of the press and television work.
He constructively criticizes the leading role of the mass media in political elections with the fulfillment of the roles, originally defined as those of the political parties. Patterson emphasizes that the role of the media in the process of nomination has become crucial and says that “the road to nomination now runs through the newsrooms” (Patterson 33). Once the press was called the watchdog, and was expected to fulfill the carrier roles only; but now it takes its way to “guide the voters’ decisions and inspect, judge, and determine the candidate’s electability” (Patterson 36).
The matter is that the press does not work in order to set forth the activity of the politicians, but more and more to interpret the facts in some original way. The attention of the journalists is generally paid to the dramatic, contradictory events, not the plain details of candidates’ campaigns. The journalists distinguish politics as the means of leaders’ election and their problems decision. According to the Patterson’s definition, press plays the role of the conjunction between the electors and the election process: the people learn to know what the government has done before the elections, what it will do after them and how it will influence them (Patterson 45).
To go further, it is very important to take to account, that people easily forget the plot of political communication, but memory faithfully keeps the impact for long. Therefore the media cover not the essence of the actual questions, but the hottest details of last 24 hours (Patterson 60). Because of that the electors become not informed properly on what they must be interested in. They become highly dependent on the press and the personal political views of the journalists.
Thomas Patterson sees the problem in the difference between reporters’ and voters’ perception of the election process. The voters “view politics primarily as a means of choosing leaders and solving their problems” (Patterson 59). Meanwhile, the journalists understand the political moves as a strategic game with the aim to get elected, to win the victory.
All in all, Patterson explains the negative role of the press in political affairs, accusing it of paying too much attention to attractive images, to controversies; and of “strengthening the voters’ mistrust of the candidates” (Patterson 93). At the same time he blames the electoral system for assigning the press the role of partisan parties.
Apart from this, we have to admit the inevitability of such methods of up-to-day media. The need of the mediator between the voters and the candidates is obvious. The diversity of modern sources of information is really impressive, but we must choose to form our own understanding of these or those matters.
Nowadays network portals become more and more popular, they rob the audience from even the most authorized newspapers. The Net spreads information with high speed and in great amounts, but on the other hand people still put more trust on professional print press. And in spite of its maybe excessive participation in political life, to a certain extent it leaves enough space for the audience to produce their own justifications and to view political life from different sides.
Many specialists also see the problem in the twofold position of journalism in connection with politics: on the one hand, it really has a great influence, but on the other hand this influence itself puts journalism under the control of economical and political field and makes the press subordinate. We should remember that the media actively collaborate with the official power, with special Communication Services, organized by the White House. And the latter in this way controls what is reflected in news and in what way. The mass media often serve as a tool for political advertising, so politicians can’t complain of incorrect comments. What is more, with the help of the media the politicians get information from the audience, they study the public mind, the attitude to this or that fact by means of interrogation, monitoring the moods inside the society.
As for cable television, it turns to be even more helpful. For instance, the candidates’ debates help the electors to learn more about them directly and to make their own conclusions.
Journalism couldn’t have become such a prestigious profession, if the media wasn’t called for. And the part it takes in managing the social and political process is eventually excused.
All we need is just the lifting of people’s political literacy, political culture in order to protect them from destructive manipulation and cheating.

Works Cited
Patterson, Thomas E. Out of order. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knoff, Inc., 1993.