Journalism and Democracy: An Evaluation of the Political Public Sphere

By Brian McNair | Go to book overview

8


THE MEDIA AND POLITICS, 1992-97

The 1997 campaign is especially significant for the student of political communication, since it saw the historic transformation of the hitherto ‘Tory press’ into something altogether more unpredictable and interesting. It was also a campaign defined, to a greater extent than its predecessor in 1992, by an agenda set by journalists rather than politicians. 1

The press and politics, 1992-97 - from cheerleaders to bystanders

The ‘anatomy’ of the political public sphere presented in Chapter 2 grouped the media in relation to the socio-demographic characteristics of their audiences. Also important, for the press in particular, is the political position from which they contribute their information, analyses and interpretations of political events. The public service broadcasters, as already noted, are obliged to maintain ‘due impartiality’ in respect of public policy matters (and Sky News, as noted earlier, adopts a similar stance, notwithstanding its position as part of the News Corporation empire), 2 but the partisanship of the press has always been allowed within the British system, and is an important element in the positioning of a title in the media marketplace. Newspapers, as Jeremy Tunstall puts it, ‘exercise a continuing prerogative both to bias the news and to slant the comment’ (1996, p. 1). Historically, for most of the century and a half or more since the emergence of a mass commercial press in Britain, the majority of newspapers and periodicals have been overtly right-of-centre in their political orientation, with a minority either left-of-centre or independent. So rare is

-140-

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Journalism and Democracy: An Evaluation of the Political Public Sphere
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables and Figures vii
  • Preface and Acknowledgements ix
  • 1 - Journalism and Democracy 1
  • 2 - The Political Public Sphere 14
  • 3 - Policy, Process, Performance and Sleaze 42
  • 4 - The Interpretative Moment 61
  • 5 - The Interrogative Moment 84
  • 6 - The Sound of the Crowd 105
  • 7 - Spin, Whores, Spin 122
  • 8 - The Media and Politics, 1992-97 140
  • 9 - Political Journalism and the Crisis of Mass Representation 171
  • Notes 180
  • Bibliography 195
  • Index 199
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