Media Influence on Public Policy

Framing (social sciences), Democracy, Journalism

Policymaking is a political process which is affected by various social and economic factors (Hofferbert, 1974) and media systems play an integral role in shaping the social context in which policies are developed. Through the media, citizens learn how government policies will affect them, and governments gain feedback on their policies and programs. Media systems act as the primary channels between those who might want to influence policy and the policymakers '' controlling the scope of political discourse and regulating the flow of information. Textbook policymaking follows an orderly sequence where problems are identified, solutions devised, policies adopted, implemented, and lastly evaluated (Mazamanian & Sabatier, 1989). In reality, the policy process is more fluid, where policies are formed through the struggle of ideas of various advocacy coalitions (Sabatier, 1991) in what has been described as a policy primeval soup (Kingdon, 1995). The policies, on which the media focuses can, and often does, play an important part in determining the focal issues for policymakers.

One of the fundamental roles of the media in a liberal democracy is to critically scrutinise governmental affairs: that is to act as a watchdog of government to ensure that the government can be held accountable by the public. However, the systematic deregulation of media systems worldwide is diminishing the ability of citizens to meaningfully participate in policymaking process governing the media (McChesney, 2003, p. 126). The relaxation of ownership rules and control, has resulted in a move away from diversity of production to a situation where media ownership is becoming increasing concentrated by just a few predominantly western global conglomerates (McChesney, 1999). Obvious problems arise for democratic processes, when huge media conglomerates also fulfil the role of powerful political actors; their close links with the corporate economy are widely considered to limit their ability...
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