Political Communication

Political Communication

Political Communication

Political Communication

Synopsis

This introduction to the study of political communication covers the following subjects:
• The history of the media in the UK and the USA including the concentration of ownership and the emergence of new media technologies
• The relationship between the media and political parties, especially the effect the media has had on the policies and internal power structures of parties and other organisations such as pressure groups
• Media influence on the electorate and the conduct of democratic politics
• The constitutional significance of the politics of the media

The first part of the book focuses on the social context and includes detailed analysis of the processes of political communication today, as well as the impact of these on parties, pressure groups and government. Developments in the US are considered alongside those in the UK. The second part places media politics in their constitutional context, covering issues such as open government and freedom of expression, freedom of information, privacy and human rights. Attempts by the governments of the UK and the US to manipulate and control the media are also explored.

Excerpt

Whilst all of this book has in some way been influenced by its central theme (how politicians seek to communicate their political messages), its content has been divided into three quite distinctive parts. The first of these examines political communication from the perspective of parties competing to win elections. It focuses, in other words, on how parties organise their internal communications in order to realise their political goals. With this in mind, I do not think I am overstretching the bounds of literary convention by opening with a chapter that sets party political communication in its proper historical context. Chapter 1 duly maps the main changes that have occurred since 1918, whilst also seeking to identify the combination of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors that helped to bring them about.

Chapters 2 to 4 build on these foundations by examining some of the key features of party political communication. There is an element of selection in this. Nonetheless, I am confident that my choice of subject matter will provide the reader with at least some insight into the complex nature of modern political communication. Chapter 2 kicks off this process by studying the way in which political communication is subject to extensive strategic planning. It focuses in particular on the way in which this strategic dimension depends upon private opinion research and highly centralised campaign management. Chapter 3 fulfils a similar function in respect of constituency campaigning in the digital age, whilst Chapter 4 examines the main elements of what Dominic Wring has called the controlled elements of political marketing: party broadcasts and political advertising. Chapter 5 returns to the main theme by exploring the techniques deployed by politicians in their bid to influence the allimportant news agenda. Inevitably, this chapter focuses heavily on the work of press and publicity officers (a somewhat austere description of spin doctors) and the sophisticated systems of rebuttal and news management they have put in place. In this way, Chapter 5 sets the scene for Chapter 6, which looks at the way in which these techniques were incorporated into government communication after 1997. This aspect of the Blair years has given rise to considerable . . .

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