How far have mass media
undermined figures of authority in
How far have mass media undermined respect for the government? How far have mass media undermined respect for the monarchy? How far have mass media undermined respect for the police?
How far has the rise of ‘celebrities’ undermined respect for authority figures?
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How things change!
• Profumo affair had a big effect on this.
• Authority figures increasingly came under
the media spotlight.
• Celebrity and traditional authority figures
all affected – boundaries between the two
as role models becomes increasingly
Respect for the government!
• Politicians seen increasingly as selfinterested untrustworthy – since 1945. • Satire boom and increased coverage of
parliamentary proceedings and greater
intrusion have changed public perceptions
Media access to parliament
• New reports changed from deferential to
• 14 day rule.
• 1956 – rule was relaxed to promote interest in
• 1958 – MacMillan was 1st PM to be interviewed
• Read source C and internet research
politician interviews by Jeremy Paxman.
Media and political process
• Robin Day suggested that TV was now part of democratic
• Added to debates on 14 day rule.
• Mediaphiles vs mediasceptics
• June 1975 - 1st Radio 4 broadcast of parliament on Radio 4 (subsequent letter to The Times).
• Regular TV footage of parliament started in 1990 –
broadsheets no longer required in- depth commentary on
• Detailed reporting has therefore been replaced by opinion and discussion of soundbites. Is this a positive or
negative development? How might media scutiny to
parliament affect proceedings/ politics. Is this positive
• Complete questions 1, 2 and 3
Satire and the undermining of
• Contributed to decline in deference to politicians (TW3, Private Eye)
• Harold Wilson liked the press attention in opposition, but not when in power.
• ITV’s Spitting Image – satire became biting and personal – David Mellor, and Roy Hattersley.
• See the shows below – they are often very funny and
highlight the changing lack of deference for
politicians and other figures of authority.
• Spitting image/ Have I got news for you/ Bremner,
Bird and Fortune.
Scandal news reporting
Investigative journalism – uncovered a number of scandals. 1985 – Al Yamamah affair (Jonathon Aitken)
1994 – Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith (Guardian)
1997 – Martin Bell stands for anti-sleaze.
1997 – Bernie Ecclestone’s money returned by Labour
• 2006 – Labour awarding peerages for donations.
• 2009 – four Labour peers accepting bribes to amend HoL legislation (Times)
• 2009 – MP expenses scandal (Telegraph)
• Long-term effect on MP’s not so bad – Consider Peter Mandelson.
Not just about politicians jobs/
• British laws are very relaxed on privacy and the
self regulation since 1990 has meant that as
long as the stories can be deemed in the public
interest. This could be termed press intrusion
and though some tightening of controls after the
death of Princess Diana, this has not changed
the behaviour of the paparazzi. Stories that
would have previously been hushed up
(especially of a sexual nature) are now turned
into national scandals and the lines between
politicians and celebrities have been blurred.
Examples of ‘Sex Scandals’
• 1983 – Cecil Parkinson’s affair with secretary.
• 1992 – David Mellor’s affair with an actress.
• 1994 – Tim Yeo’s love child with his mistress
(general allegations of sleaze in the Tory Party)
• 2006 – Mark Oaten paying male...
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