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The Importance of Media in Free and Fair Elections

Choose one essay question from the list below, or formulate your own essay question.

Suggested Essay Questions

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13) Discuss the role of the media in determining how parties run their electoral campaigns in Canada.  

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18) Have the political persuasions of Prime Ministers had a significant effect on the orientation of Supreme Court, through PMs’ appointments of Justices?

19) What role has the Supreme Court of Canada played in the expansion of rights since 1982, the introduction of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? What kind of rights has the Court tended to defend and which has it tended not to defend, in its interpretation of the Charter?

20) Are political parties still relevant to Canadian democ.

The Importance of Media in Free and Fair Elections

Media plays a very important role in the circulation of information. It is one of the foundations which ensures free and fair elections within democratic society. The role of Media is to exhibit far more diverse and dynamic approach during the time of elections as it is very important to carry out activities in this crucial time to ensure a balanced, professional and free stance. This needs to be done quite substantially, if not decisively which will ensure that elections are carried out in free and fair way which is based on electorate decisions which are well informed. However, one of the most discussed issues during the time of election is media campaigns and political advertising which are done by political parties when there is an election awaiting. The primary issue is that the way of informing often are done in an influential manner. Sometimes, campaigning done by political parties lack precision and do not follow legal provisions. One of the main pillars of democracy is the way electorates are made aware and informed regarding candidates and their approaches. This ensures an air of positivity and coverage of the important aspects, in a free and fair way. However, these too are often breached by the media which influences the people. The paper would discuss the role of media and how political parties carry out their campaigns in Canada.

Most of the information which is gathered by the electorate is from the media such as Newspaper, Radio, television and so on. The primary link between the common people and the political sphere is media as they ensure that important information related to political parties, leaders and policies are passed on. The media focuses on highlighting the goals and policies which necessitates action of the public, especially during elections. However, media is also responsible for covering controversial events such as corruptions and issues which do not benefit the public. Therefore, it can be said that media plays a great role in the formation of public opinion as well as shape public agenda. Political events, campaigns of parties and policies proposed by governments should be reported by media in a free manner so that public opinion is free from influence. The democratic health of Canada can be assessed with respect to freedom which the media possesses in Canada, how political functions are conducted by media, the independent operation of media which is free from the pressure of the commercial system which finances the media institutions and the accessibility provided by Canadian government to provide necessary information.

The Influence of Media on Public Opinion


The role which is played by the media in Canada has improved since 1982, after the introduction of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom which was aimed at providing freedom of expression and freedom of media and press in communication. However, the court has played a very crucial role in ensuring free functioning of the press which tries to bring clarity in Canada. However, there are restraints in accessibility of information even in the Canadian parliamentary process, as compared to many other countries. The right which the public possess, to know the important information is often compromised in order to maintain secrecy about moves made by the government. The 19th century witnessed a great struggle between political authorities and newspaper editors which led to the establishment of the right of press which allows them to criticize the authority.

Examining the role played by media in determining and influencing political and democratic engagement is very valuable as it allows evaluation of the complexities which lie in the relationship shared with the electorates and at the same time whose interest is being served in the meantime. Canada was established as a European white settler colony when the British and French arrived. Canada has been oscillating between their European experience which made them depend as well as conform, whereas, on the other hand lied the high spirits of the people as they were free from the shackles of race, status and class which constituted of the elite power. The media in Canada is one of the major machinery within the system of politics as they majorly operate for the benefit while the exception is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The most profitable enterprises within Canada are the broadcast operations which are privately owned. In the pursuit of profit, there has been consequential growth and competition in the newspaper chains and media operation.


The press and media in Canada has been associated and involved with politics deeply during 1820, especially when the North American British Colonies could aid and support the newspaper system in a competitive manner with the help of advertising. As the focus of newspaper, media and press shifted to politics, it has helped immensely in the process of mobilization of political support and politicizing of the entire population in Canada. Democratic institutions could gather support due to the role which was carried out by media which mostly concerned the government responsible to make changes and develop policies to effect the society and people. It was seen, that in the later part of the 19th century that journalists tended to be politicians because politics were greatly influenced by media and often intertwined. The Charlottetown Conference in 1864, 23 among the total 93 confederates were journalists. Newspapers and media helped in the growth and popularity of political parties over time which also helped the media houses and newspaper agencies have patronage financial aid. This brought a significant change in the role of the media as there emerged a new kind of relationship between press and politics. The emergence of radio and television also revolutionized mass communication in the industry especially in the Canadian context. The print and media do not function absolutely autonomously but are complementary and dependent on one another. Technology has been another determinant in changing reality of the media and politics. In 1990s it created significant effects on the market forces and government policies as there was greater effect and domination over the society as a whole. Broadcasting newly defined transmission of programs which was regardless of the employed media. And after the mid-1990s, there were newer approaches and responses among the Canadians as they were able to take part and speak up against and for the changes which were taking place around them in the society. In 1995, the cable revolt took place which depicted the response of the Canadian audiences and citizens as they almost put a restriction over the money and time they were willing to spend on newspapers and in front of the television. This also reflected their choices of programs and pieces of information which they would have preferred over others.

The History of Media in Canada and its Relationship with Politics


In the contemporary world, election campaigns are run by media and there is not much of concern which is required in order to convince the audience on the topics which are covered by media. Media play a great role in depicting political figures, parties and policies which concern the commoners. Great emphasis in laid on the portraiture of the leaders which are put across by television media through formal debates and filming opportunities which have been created by the emergence of media and expansion of political mobilization. However, strategies which are employed by the political parties make use of media and aim at appealing to them in order to benefit their interest and influence the audience.  Media often help the parties to take into consideration and maintain images which are acceptable by the audience as well as provide platforms to the parties. The mass media in Canada has contributed immensely in creating national identity without having effected its linguistic dimensions and multiple culture within the society. Canadian government, thus have played crucial role in restructuring the role of media. Therefore, they have been one of the leaders in the world to apply and develop emerging communication technology.

Political campaigning can be referred to as being the development of strategy with the help of symbolic devices which can both have verbal as well as visual messages. In the battle of political image making, thus media plays a great role as they help in the process of attracting audience and the mass on the basis of economic based political marketing. The goal of the same is to align the mass and strengthen perceptions which are favorable political attitudes. Hence, political mobilization is done with the help of visual representation, physical presence of candidates, familiarization of ideology, future policies, media appearances which are aimed at integrating the minds of the citizen. Thus, images of political visibility leave greater impact on the minds of the people which can be held as one of the credibility.

The coverage of news in Canada has given rise to many controversies. There has been biasness in reportage against journalists and CBC in Canada regarding their reporting practices. This posed questions about the quality of journalism in Canada. It showed that there were effects in news and media communication highlight the moral obligations of the journalists which were to be kept in mind while reporting an incident. With the dominance of identity centric politics, there has been a significant bent in the communication process which has changed the representation of the leaders and their importance. Public impression is playing a pivotal role which can be felt in the digital strategies of communication. Personalization of politics reflect that politicians are becoming the main anchor in the political arena and system and the face of a political party. Thus, the credibility, power and prestige of political parties are declining gradually.

Challenges Faced by Media in Providing Free and Impartial Coverage


Barrack Obama changed the discourse and dynamics of politics in United States by introducing strategies which aimed at ensuring political information, mobilizing and fundraising. However, it can be asserted that Donald Trump did the same but the intent was different and was utilized to spread political messages. The television star and business man who came to power as the 45th President in America has managed to utilize digital as well as social media to send out unconventional messages of politics. They are often directed towards his critics which bear sharp responses as well as his followers. However, the ways in which he has made use of the social media platforms, has contributed hugely in his popularity as well as shape how he is perceived and presented by individual journalists and organizations. He has also engaged in practices which can be assessed for the negativity they spread.

Although, the strategies deployed by Justin Trudeau is similar but is oppositional to the intention for which they have been made use for. The elected Prime Minister of Canada, Trudeau, is popular because of his approachability. His celebrity status is reflected in his way of political communication. The image which Trudeau has, clad with popularity has been inherited from the history created by his father. The initial years showed that Trudeau had great popularity which was termed as ‘Trudeaumania’. He has been successful in depicting Canada as the northern utopia which has not been dominated by the forces of Xenophobia and Nationalism. While portraying this image of Canada and his role as a liberalist, he has made use of digital as well as social media. In spite of the emergence and domination of social media, traditional media is preferred by the audience to gather information. The election procedure is intense for forty days in which they innovate exciting and challenging ways to convince the audience to favor their political agenda. The electorates depict behavior and stimulus response to the environment in Canada, which are impacted by the representations done by different Media.  

It can thus be concluded by saying that media plays a very important role in campaign interactions and determining the political economy in Canada. The Canadian context show that the representation and image of a leader greatly effects the election. The advertisements made by Canadian politics show that they are less personal as compared to countries such as America as the electorates prefer candidates based on the stands of the candidates as compared to their personal profiles.

References

Boulianne, Shelley. "Twenty years of digital media effects on civic and political participation." Communication research (2018): 0093650218808186.

Dimitrova, Daniela V., Adam Shehata, Jesper Strömbäck, and Lars W. Nord. "The effects of digital media on political knowledge and participation in election campaigns: Evidence from panel data." Communication Research 41, no. 1 (2014): 95-118.

Esser, Frank, and Jörg Matthes. "Mediatization effects on political news, political actors, political decisions, and political audiences." In Democracy in the age of globalization and mediatization, pp. 177-201. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2013.

Gruzd, Anatoliy, and Jeffrey Roy. "Investigating political polarization on Twitter: A Canadian perspective." Policy & Internet 6, no. 1 (2014): 28-45.

Hackett, Robert A., Susan Forde, Shane Gunster, and Kerrie Foxwell-Norton. Journalism and climate crisis: Public engagement, media alternatives. Taylor & Francis, 2017.

Marland, Alex, and Tom Flanagan. "Brand new party: Political branding and the Conservative Party of Canada." Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique 46, no. 4 (2013): 951-972.

Marland, Alex. "What is a political brand?: Justin Trudeau and the theory of political branding." In annual meeting of the Canadian Communication Association and the Canadian Political Science Association, University of Victoria, British Columbia, June, vol. 6. 2013.

McNair, Brian. An introduction to political communication. Routledge, 2017.

Marland, Alex. Political Communication in Canada: Meet the Press and Tweet the Rest. UBC

Strömbäck, Jesper, and Peter Van Aelst. "Why political parties adapt to the media: Exploring the fourth dimension of mediatization." International Communication Gazette 75, no. 4 (2013): 341-358.

Thurber, James A. Campaigns and elections American style. Routledge, 2018.

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