Political media are communication vehicles owned, ruled, managed, or otherwise influenced by political entities, meant to propagate views of the related entity. A similar term, normative media, emphasizes technical and social characteristics of the media itself in shaping decisions. Harold Innis and later Marshall McLuhan were influential in developing this theory.
While it is simple to recognize a political medium in an official newspaper, magazine, TV channel that directly declares to belong to a group, deep concerns might regard submission of communications to political interests and impartiality of media that do not declare their party alliances. This influence is not always conspicuous and causes people to accept ideas put forth by those who wish to control communication for the good of society, or causes those who support freedom of communication and minority empowerment to oppose them.
Some believe that big societies actually need to canalize communication. In this sense political media would often be meant to form or at least influence public opinion, a least-common-denominator for all members of society. They are a one-way street and sometimes misused. The Greeks could learn from the Egypt of the Pharaos that some risks could be suffered when medium and executives occur in personal union, concentrating too much power in one hand. This, however, implies the acceptation of a concept of media as power, which is widely but not generally shared. Opponents do argue that the simple fact of producing a communication is not by itself leading to a direct result on the public opinion, unless this one is considered as a merely passive mass in front of an irresistible communication...
Modern Democratic theories and implementations, especially after Montesquieu's theories, rely on the separation of powers: Executive (government and police), legislative (parliament) and judicial (court) branches of power are separated. Commonly in recent times, and especially in journalistic jargon, media are however defined as an alleged fourth power, and a difference from the others is often outlined in the fact that the power to (eventually) influence the public opinion using media is not much controlled, because media are so "ethereal", and it would be hard to weight them. Others instead suggest that this would not be a difference, since the control over official powers is extremely hard to be verified in practice. Often it is not easy, indeed, to find out who really controls a medium and how much potential efficacy it effectively could have for such goals. It is then argued that when one of the three "canonic" Montesquieu's powers gains an additional power on media, this would be extremely dangerous for the survival of democracy, and an eventual conflict of interests is contested.
As a matter of fact, private media companies became very powerful since the invention of the printing press, cinema, radio and TV, and in history the age of amanuenses (the manual copysts of Middle Ages) is perhaps characteristic in demonstrating the attention that usually official powers attribute to communication. Back to our times, in some cases people in media careers have been previously selected by ruling apparatus, and often openly declared their political beliefs, admitting a lack of impartiality. Their work has sometimes been seen as becoming a part of the executive or parliamentar communication.
It is indeed very often said that media could be useful (in the point of view of someone looking for a control over the forming of consensus) in order to discipline the popular sentiments, by detracting the public from the apocalyptic problems of mankind (e.g. global warming, ozone hole, radioactive waste, ...), and by the "psychological warfare" threatening their own public until it accepts foreign or external interventions. But, as said, this needs to encounter an audience mainly composed by people without sufficient means to "resist" this intellectual pression. The lack of a sufficient individual education, due to a perhaps intentionally provoked low quality of school, is then considered one of the major reasons for the success of such attempts.
Full article ▸