MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: Today, Alyce McGovern and Elaine Fishwick look at how the impact a tabloid campaign has had on the law as part of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our representatives develop policy.
When it comes to criminal justice policy, it can be easy to assume that the stories we see on the news, read in the papers, or listen to on the radio, are the drivers for change.
Whilst we could quite feasibly assume the link between media commentary and policy is clear cut, the reality of the policy making process is often more complex than superficial analyses suggest. This is no less the case when it comes to “law and order” style reforms.
The relationship between the media and governments, as explored previously, is a symbiotic one; politicians need the media as much as the media need them.
Whilst the media are often accused of running the agenda on a whole range of issues, politicians themselves are not averse to turning to the media to garner favour and to boost their profile.
Successful politicians are those that use the media well; successful media organisations are those that maintain their audiences by linking in to the politics of the day.
With the amount spent on public relations and media across government departments, it would be naïve to assume the media hold all the power in the relationship; more likely, it’s a tangled symbiotic policy, politics, entertainment, information relationship.
A range of factors and a range of choices need to come together then to provide the catalyst for policy action and reform; the media are only part of this process.