Ever since the introduction of mass media through print, media has surrounded us and has had significant impact on our political views, our economy and even shapes our culture and society. With media so intertwined with such important aspects of our lives, it is important to develop an understanding of how media effects the political, economic and cultural meaning of our lives through media studies. For this essay, I will explain two political aspects of media and discuss the relationship between the economic power of the media (ie.advertising) and how this plays a considerable role in shaping our culture.
I will also point out how media studies assist us to understand these aspects better throughout the essay. The importance of understanding the relationship between the media and parliamentary politics is crucial to our political understanding in general. The media aims to provide a variety of political views and opinions so that as voters, we have a well rounded knowledge of all parties and issues involved.
However, many of us are unaware of the developing relationships between media owners and politicians. As a result of this camaraderie, journalists are mere puppets as their boss dictates which way they want the story to slant1 to support their ally, and hence, a bias is created. Media studies not only allows us to explore these controversial relationships but to also become more sophisticated in understanding the hidden language of the journalist and politician. In comparison to the written word, visual media seems to have a powerful control over the audiences’ political opinions.
One might assume that good looks may be a contributing factor to a political win. However, Windschuttle argues that “good looks are largely in the eye of the beholder… someone who has charisma will become good looking”2. As an example, Windschuttle refers to Richard Nixon’s television appearances during the 1972 Presidential election3. According to western standards, Nixon was not considered a ‘good looking’ man. However, his charisma and mastery of television catapulted him to the top.
Similarly, Prime Minister Bob Hawke was also known for his charisma and transparent nature, which were both factors that contributed to his popularity4. The second approach to politics in media is related to the politics within the media. Media studies is fundamentally a political study into the “power structures”5 behind each form of media. By using Harold Lasswell’s model of communication, we ask “Who says what, in which channel, to whom and with what effect? “6. This type of questioning allows us to develop a healthy suspicion so that everything is not taken for face value.
The theory of political economy also suggests that the media is essentially a corporate enterprise7, run by powerful people who play a dominant role in what the media says and how they say it. The media coverage of the infamous S11 protests began months prior to the date with journalists creating an assumption that it would be a bloody affair. However, journalists never revealed that during these months of preparation, protesters had participated in workshops educating themselves on the benefits of non-violent protesting8.
Due to this lack of knowledge, thousands of police men and women were briefed with the theory that the protesters were going to be violent and brutal. As a result of this, the second day of the protests saw police from the paramilitary Force Response Unit aggressively seize upon 50 civilians non-violently protesting against large global corporations9. The police provided no forewarning to the group or directions to move before the assault. The attack was repeated 12 hours later on a group of approximately 100 civilians, resulting in injuries to about 70 citizens. 10
So why did the media prematurely portray the protesters as aggressive, even when they were unsure of the outcomes? The media tycoons who run the media were part of the World Economic Forum and had given specific instructions to portray the protesters as violent so that police numbers would be high to ultimately protect themselves. This example of manipulation from behind the scenes gives us a new perspective on the issue. We often find that the inclusion of this political perspective gives us the knowledge to be a more critical member of society, which can be quite rewarding. 11.