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Role of Media on Politics

Discuss about the Media on Australian Politics for Radio and Internet.

Media is a pool of communication mechanisms such as newspaper, television, radio, film, and internet that relay information to the targeted group on various subjects such as the business, politics, and many others. Politics is part and parcel of human life, since political powers determine multiple issues concerning the public, that  are always disseminated adequately and in a faster manner to the public through the media platforms . Consequently, Political parties win or lose elections depending on the nature and channels used to mobilize and persuade people to support them; therefore, media as a form of communication has major roles in shaping the politics of various countries. Just like any other democratic country that offers freedom of speech, Australia politics is majorly influenced by the nature of the media operations and involvement in the politics. This paper explores whether the media has too much power in contemporary Australian politics, through examining the nature of the media and relationship to the government, and the effects of proper usage of media by politicians during the campaign period.

Like any other country in the world, the Australians get information through the press as almost all the household contains set of television, radios and large populations are accessible to internet-enabled mobile phones .Media platforms such as television and radio form the basis of advertisement and coverage to various aspects (Elejalde, Ferres & Herder 2018, p.18). Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram , that attracts the attention of about 13 million users in Australia; therefore, forms the best platform for the distribution of the politician's messages to the targets groups. Many politicians use the Facebook as the campaign tool as shown by the review of Facebook performance during the election years. Most of the political wins are attributed to the effectiveness of the campaign, coverage, the coverage, therefore, is dictated by the mode of transmitting the information, and the number targets by various politicians. Media platforms also acts as the main source of political intelligence to the voters in Australia in multiple ways such as exclusive and one-on-one interviews, television ads, and coverage of staged rallies and use of social media platforms such as Facebook.

 The Australian press has an extensive history with newspaper as the first media platforms that have improved to about 12 Australian  national newspapers, 34 daily newspapers and over 450 periodically published gazettes in different  regions of Australia (O’Donnel 2010, p.266). The common and widely read Australian newspapers include, The Australian Financial Review, Sydney Morning Herald, and   The Age making accessibility to about 66% of the total population of Australia.

History of Australian Media

Television was the second media platform that found its ways into the most of the Australians homes as the first record of a watched television channel was the New South Wales-Victoria in the year of 1956, and later northern Australia found access to television in the year 1971.  Currently, about 25% of the Australian communities are accessible to the TVs. The three networks that are Seven Network control the Australian TV, network ten and Nine Network allowing a large proportion of people of about 92% of the total population to access free-to-air television channels

Radio channels became daily part of the Australians many years after the first introduction in 1932 with the Talkback radio in Melbourne by Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The ABC has evolved into numerous radio channels of about 264. Hence 72% of the total population listens to any of the radio stations.

With the technological advancement, Facebook becomes the largest social media platform in Australia with about of 13 million active users, followed by the Instagram users of about 10 million users. All these numerous media platforms tend to reach larger part of the Australian community hence a good tool for the politicians to campaign. The great debates organized by the television and the radio channels to host the politician tend to put the politician under pressure to perform and even be accountable.   The growth has been facilitated by the independence and the democracy of the country that allows free ownership and broadcasting.

Australian Politics is reported as one of the full topics covered by the Australian media, and each media presents the news in different ways that eventually influence the nature, action, and thinking of both the politician and the voters. However, there is a low percentage of Australians of about 4% that are active participators of politics as compared to the 45% of the people participating in sports meaning that large number of people are accessible to social media and are not active politicians or followers of politics (Boulu & Dowding 2014,p.698). Therefore, any politician that uses the media successfully then is in a better position than the opponent.

The Australian media loses control over most of the political publications after the government review of the policies and control on the media. The Australian media has been in the limelight of providing biases in reporting the political news as explained by the Chomsky and Herman propaganda model theory (Price 2013, p.522). According to the propaganda theory, the size, ownership, profit orientation of large media corporations, and the public are manipulated politically. The full ownership of the media houses dictates independency allowing the media to report any political information irrespective of the political party (Dimova 2012, p.70). Harman and Chomsky (1994)  who explored the effect of the  propaganda theory on the Australian  politics, stated further that mass media comes into a relationship that symbiotic with sources of information that are powerful as a result of the economic needs and reciprocity of interests.

Australia Politics and Media

The propaganda model bases on the difference on the distribution of wealth and power and the impacts on the interest and choices that are determined by the availability of money. The amount of money released to certain media tends to filter out the messages that reach the readers and subscribers hence establishing the social, economic, and political policies.  Several big Australian corporations such as the News Corporation have taken over the small companies having full domination of information that eventually determine the biases of the messages sent to the public that would not destroy the financial status of the companies (Kefford 2013, p.139). For example, during the 2013 Australian Election, major Australian’s newspapers supported the liberal party hence compromised the role of media putting the movement in check.

Australia as other countries is considered as a democratic country that allows the public to receive political information as correct as possible as the politics is part of today’s life and media(Ruijer & Martinius 2017, p.240). Democracy should allow critics of the power from the public. The “Fourth Estate” as attributed by Edmund Burke dictates that media provides the public with diverse and unbiased political information as the public after the previous states that are king, clergy, and the commoners (McGarrity 2011, p.273-274). The public is considered as the most determinant of the existing political parties; however, this has changed in Australia. Most of the Australia newspapers are currently under the control of the profit urge, that is too paramount to the politicians and government, therefore fail to be the people’s watchdog as required (Whitten-Woodering & James 2012, p.129). Australian media ability to organize various debates such as the leader’s debate, during campaign periods allows the political parties and the politicians to have the opportunity to scrutinize the ability and responsibilities of each leader that are vying.

 The Australian government uses millions of shillings to manage the media coverage of the activities for example; more than 4000 journalists worked for the Australian state and the federal government a figure that is much above of the number of employees of the ABC, the biggest media employee that has only 700 staffs. The 2013 Australian election culminated a remarkable period of the Australian politics as the Liberal Party dismisses the Labor party out of the government (Vromen &Gauja 2016, p.358). The win came as a result of the Liberal party spending of about $ 6.75 million on the broadcasting of the party’s manifesto and political events during the campaign period, unlike the Labor Party that broadcasting expenditure was estimated to be about $4(McDougall 2014, p.293). As much as both parties had highly professionalized campaign strategies, the difference in the spending on the media platforms resulted in the change of the government (McAllister, Sheppard & Bean 2015, p.336). Political campaigns are very vital for the legislative powers in every country, and the media to persuade and mobiles own supporters for the parties must always cover all these campaigns (Tate 2014, p.443). With the unavailability of such unbiased information, then criticism from the public is also limited hence the failure of the media to perform the roles as depicted in the Fourth Estate.

The move by the government to regulate the airwaves in Australia dates back to 1930s during license issuing by the federal government. The license issued under specific conditions such limiting the media ownership to one type in a given market such as print, television, and radio(O’Donnell 2010, p. 267). The rules also abolished the ownership of more than two TV stations to one that led to terms such as the queen of the screen, and the prince of the print (Melleusish 2015, p.723). The rules limited the percentage of coverage of the media to the Australians and led to the monopoly of the big corporations that did not even allow the growth of the small press even after the rules of ownership were changed. The rectified government rules and regulations tend to put both the media practitioners and the politician accountable for their actions. However, a challenge is always experienced when action is needed to be taken in the interest of the public, as most of the activities are always inconsistent with the public affairs resulted into rocky relationship between politicians and the media.

 The rules allow the parliament to censor media houses that contradict the freedom of publication; this minimizes the accountability of both the government and politician. The Communication Theory that dictates the relationship between the journalists and the politicians governed by the mutually accepted terms explores these limitations (Monata 2017, p.70). The theory operated by putting the information supplier into the most positive position and the opponent in the most negative situation, hence allowing other politicians to outdo their opponents in the TV and radio debates (Boulu & Dowding 2014, p.702). In most cases, the opponents are always silenced by the elimination of the views and sources that forms the basis of energy.

Conclusion

From the above discussion on the role of media and the relationship of power and media then it is conclusive that media has much influence on the contemporary politics in Australia. As much as the Australian government revised the regulations that limited the media ownership, still to reach the population who are the voters and primary determinants of the winner and the loser, the politicians, and the government has to use the media platforms as the mode of persuasion and mobilization.

High numbers of Australians are accessible to different media platforms, but yet a few numbers are in the bracket of the active politics, creating the need to reach them and the activities such as leaders debates, shapes the nature of politics. It is also seen that the amount of expenditure by a political party on the media platforms determines the results; this is observed when the Liberal party that spent most dismissed the Labor Party from the control since the former had a considerable area of political campaign coverage through the media platforms.

List of References

Boulus, P, & Dowding, K 2014, 'The press and issue framing in the Australian mining tax debate', Australian Journal Of Political Science, 49, 4, pp. 694-710, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

Dimova, G 2012, 'Who Criticizes the Government in the Media? The Symbolic Power Model', Observatorio (OBS*), 6, 1, pp. 63-85, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

Elejalde, E, Ferres, L, & Herder, E 2018, 'On the nature of real and perceived bias in the mainstream media', Plos ONE, 13, 3, pp. 1-28, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

Kefford, G 2013, 'The Presidentialisation of Australian Politics? Kevin Rudd's Leadership of the Australian Labor Party', Australian Journal Of Political Science, 48, 2, pp. 135-146, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

Manata, P 2017, 'The Conversational Theory of Moral Responsibility and Mckenna's Interdependence Thesis', Philosophical Quarterly, 67, 266, pp. 61-83, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

McAllister, I, Sheppard, J, & Bean, C 2015, 'Valence and spatial explanations for voting in the 2013 Australian election', Australian Journal Of Political Science, 50, 2, pp. 330-346, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

McDougall, D 2014, 'The Australian Federal Election of 7 September 2013: A Watershed?', Round Table, 103, 3, pp. 289-299, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

McGarrity, N 2011, 'Fourth estate or government lapdog? The role of the Australian media in the counter-terrorism context', Continuum: Journal Of Media & Cultural Studies, 25, 2, pp. 273-283, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

Melleuish, G 2015, 'Australian politics in the Australian Journal of Political Science : A review', Australian Journal Of Political Science, 50, 4, pp. 719-734, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018

O'Donnell, P 2010, 'Introduction: Internationalising Australian Media History', Historical Journal Of Film, Radio & Television, 30, 3, pp. 265-268, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

Price, E 2013, 'Social media and democracy', Australian Journal Of Political Science, 48, 4, pp. 519-527, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

Ruijer, E, & Martinius, E 2017, 'Researching the democratic impact of open government data: A systematic literature review', Information Polity: The International Journal Of Government & Democracy In The Information Age, 22, 4, pp. 233-250, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

Tate, JW 2014, 'Paul Keating and leadership: Was the ‘personal’ political?', Australian Journal Of Political Science, 49, 3, pp. 439-454, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

Vromen, A, & Gauja, A 2016, 'The study of Australian politics in the 21st century: a comment on Melleuish', Australian Journal Of Political Science, 51, 2, pp. 355-360, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

Whitten-Woodring, J, & James, P 2012, 'Fourth Estate or Mouthpiece? A Formal Model of Media, Protest, and Government Repression', Political Communication, 29, 2, pp. 113-136, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 April 2018.

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