One Great Masquerade Ball

How shrouded in mystery are our politicians? How much of a role does the media play in covering up their faces in one great masquerade?

Well that was a bit of a sinister start to things… But, doesn’t it make you wonder what really goes on? The blog I uploaded yesterday (which was meant to be last weeks but I never quite got around to it…) got me thinking about media and politics and how closely intertwined they are.

For instance we could go through the obvious bits like which newspapers are linked to which political parties. We can remember from last week that printed and online news can be biased whereas broadcasters have to be impartial. The Telegraph or the Daily Mail are both Conservative. Other papers tend to move their support a little more regularly and in the last general election Labour lost its support from most of the tabloid newspapers such as the Sun and also lost their support of The Guardian, which became Liberal Democrat. Equally the Lib Dems lost the support of the Independent, who are now probably the most notable unaligned newspaper within the UK currently.

These newspaper endorsements will most likely change in next year’s election and will probably change quite dramatically due to the current political and social climate within the country. One of the reasons I say this is because of the rise of UKIP, whom I hope are only a protest party, though I may be proved wrong next year. Whilst it is duly noted that broadcasters have to try and keep impartial during elections and this task becomes harder and harder as the amount of political parties expand within the UK, some feel (and with whom I am in agreement with) that recently a certain political party has been given more airtime than any other. It could be said that this parties presence would not be as great as it is if they were not so present on the TV. Or equally it could be said that they are only so present because that is what the public demands.

But is it really what the public wants? Ignoring, for a moment, which political party we are talking about, is this constant political bombardment from the media what the public really want? From my own experience, I was recently (for want of a better word) attacked by media coverage over the Rochester and Strood by-election.Although, having said this, I could not tell you any of the candidates names, bar one. I probably couldn’t even tell you the top five! Personally, I’m feeling a little voter fatigue at the moment… and I don’t think I’m the only one.

Participation crisis. Supposedly something that has been lurking in the corners for quite a while. A report brought out in 2004 weighed up the reasons behind why the UK may be facing a potential participation crisis, although it concluded that the word ‘crisis’ was perhaps too strong a word for the time being. The report did show interesting differences between tabloid and broadsheet readers when it came to their trust behind their government and politicians in general. Does this not show that the media, and more specifically the type of media and how the content is portrayed, can increasingly effect our politically views. If lack of trust in our government is to blame for this participation crisis, where does this lack of trust stem from if not from what we find out about these politicians through the media? Perhaps I am being too hard on the newspapers, or perhaps not. It is all down to interpretation in the end. Whilst not British, these articles do give an good read into how much the media influences our political, and other, views.

So is voter dis-engagement or participation crisis the blame of the media? Or is it really just the fault of the politicians who are seemingly out of touch with the electorate? In all fairness it is probably a bit of both and something that is not likely to change for a little while yet.

Until next time,

R

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