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Comparing Media Systems and Political Communications

  1. WK6 – Comparative media Dr. Carolina Matos Government Department University of Essex
  2. Key points • Comparative political communication research: merits and challenges • Importance of comparative political communication research in a changing world (i.e. Matos, 2012; Esser and Pfetsch, 2004; Hallin and Mancini, 2000) • Four Theories of the Press (Siebert, Peterson and Schramm, 1956) • Comparing Media Systems (Hallin and Mancini, 2000) • Classic liberal media theory and democratic duties of the media • Media and democracy in Latin America • Changes in the media landscape in the UK and US • Contemporary examples of media regulation debates • Conclusions • Seminar questions and activities • Readings for week 7
  3. Readings for week 6 • Required texts: • Esser, F. and Pfetsch, B. (2009) “Meeting the Challenges of Global Communication and Political Integration: the significance of comparative research in a changing world” in (eds.) Comparing Political Communication – Theories, Cases and Challenges, Cambridge: C. University Press • Matos, C. (2012) “Defining a Framework for Comparative Anaylsis” in Media and politics in Latin America: globalization, democracy and identity, London: I.B. Tauris, 16-21 • Siebert, F., Peterson, T., and Schramm, W. (1956) Four Theories of Press: The Authoritarian, Libertarian, Social Responsibility, and Soviet Communist Concepts of what Press Should Be and Doing. Illinois: University of Illinois Press. • Additional: • Hallin and Mancini (2000) Comparing Media Systems
  4. Why comparative analysis to look at media systems? (in Hallin and Mancini, 2000) • Because most of the literature on the media is highly ethnocentric, referring to the experience of single countries as if the model that prevailed were universal • Direction towards comparative analysis in communications started in the 1970’s, but field is still in its infancy in comparison for instance with comparative politics (Landman, 2003) • Theorists in the communication field include Blumler, McLeod and Rosengren (1992); Blumler and Gurevitch (1995) and Curran and Park (2000) • As Blumler and Gurevitch (1975:76), comparative analysis has “the capacity to render the invisible visible, to draw our attention to aspects of any media system, including our own, that ‘’may be taken for granted and difficult to detect when the focus is on only one national case’’.”
  5. Comparative analysis and comparative political communication research • Comparative analysis, especially in the US, was tied to modernization theory, which compared world press systems against the liberal theory, with the focus being on underdeveloped countries and not authoritarian systems (Hallin and Mancini, 2000, 13) Has become the standard methodology in much of the Social Sciences, but has developed slowly in communications because the focus previously had been on media effects of particular messages on individual attitudes (Hallin and Mancini, 2000) Emile Durkheim (1965) in The Rules of Sociological Method: “We have only one means of demonstrating that one phenomena is the cause of another: it is to compare the cases where they are simultaneously present or absent.” Thus is allows us to test hypotheses about the interrelationships among social phenomena
  6. Comparative political communication research in an age of globalization •Challenges posed by globalization demand that comparative political communication research adopts new theories and methods •Curran and Park (2000) for instance emphasise that research into the relationship between globalization and the media needs to develop a stronger comparative research tradition, going beyond the UK and US (in Matos, 2012, 16) •*Esser and Pfetsch (2004; 384) argue that it is mainly through comparative research that one is aware of other political and communications systems, being able to assess the merits and limitations of one’s own system and acquiring a whole new wealth of knowledge of other political and cultural models. * As Hallin and Mancini (2000) state, it can be ethnocentric itself, imposing on diverse systems a framework that reflects a particular worldview
  7. Significance of comparative research (Esser and Pfetsch, 2004) • Comparative political communication research can be defined as comparisons between a minimum of two political systems or cultures. Differs from non-comparative research in three main points: 1) it involves a particular strategy to gain insight, which is essentially of an international nature; 2) attempts to reach conclusions, the scope of which cover more than one system and more than one culture; 3) explains differences and similarities between objects of analysis with the contextual conditions of the surrounding systems or culture. The Almond et al (2003) input/output model for instance highlights the relationship between politics and the media. Both can be seen as two autonomous, distinctive systems with different rationales and objectives: politics primarily aims at generating...decisions, whereas the media aim at generating publicity for political actors.
  8. Significance of comparative research (Esser and Pfetsch, 2004, 389) • Studies such as the Almond and Powell (2003) and the Hallin and Mancini (2000) focus on looking at the macro-level, on the characteristics of media systems in the countries in order to develop a model of comparison. • “In comparative research, one of the primary objectives consists in generalising, contextualising and building middle-range theories of communication” (i.e. Agenda-setting, Priming and Framing theories) Authors argue that the processes that have attracted attention from a comparative perspective have been: 1) Process of political socialization; 2) Perception of political processes and the impact of election campaigning on the formation of public opinion; 3) Political public relations and its effects; 4) Interactions between political communication structures and political communication culture
  9. Significance of comparative research (Esser and Pfetsch, 2004) • The relationship between media and election campaigning are also part of comparative political communication research • The comparative perspectives on election campaigning throughout the world are concerned with campaign management and campaign coverage, usually inserted in debates on “Americanization”, modernization or globalization. • The discussion on “Americanization” of election campaigning or “personalization” is basically concerned in assessing the orientation of these campaigns towards the American model National and global elements in campaigning: Issues that are of concern include electoral systems; system of party competition; legal regulation of election campaigns; degree of professionalization of election campaigns and the national political culture, among others.
  10. Classic media liberal theory  What are some of the duties demanded of the media?: 1) Act as a watchdog and scrutinise governments 2) To provide accurate, correct and intelligent information of daily events 3) Reflect the spectrum of public opinion and the diverse groups and interests in society 4) Serve as a forum for the exchange of comments/criticisms (i.e. public sphere)
  11. Democratic media and their duties • Multiple systems exist, with no uniform model, although the US liberal model is considered the norm of democratic media • Basic characteristics of democratic media: • 1) independence from the state; • 2) diversity of views; • 3) press freedom. Duties of democratic media: • 1) To exercise the watchdog function and scrutinise governments; • 2) Supply accurate and sufficient information; • 3) To represent the diversity of the spectrum of public opinion (Siebert, Peterson and Schramm’s Four Theories of the Press is considered a classic in the field).
  12. Four Theories of the Press: the Authoritarian, Libertarian, Social Responsibility and Soviet Communist Concepts of What the Press Should Be and Do) • “To see the differences between press systems in full perspective, one must look at the social systems in which the press functions. To see the social systems in their true relationship to the press, one has to look at certain basic beliefs and assumptions which the society holds: the nature of man, the nature of society and the state, the relation of man to the state, and the nature of knowledge and truth. Thus, in the last analysis the difference between press systems is one of philosophy……” (Siebert, Peterson and Schramm, 1956, 2).
  13. Four Theories of the Press • Aim was to highlight the link between the mass media and political systems, with the recognition of the fact that the press are dependent on the impact of social, political and economic structures of the society they are inserted in • Focus was on three countries, US, UK and Soviet model Questions asked: “Why is the press as it is? Why does it serve different purposes and appear in widely different forms in different countries? Why is the press.....of Argentina so different from that of Great Britain?” Thesis of the book: “ that the press always takes on the form and coloration of the social and political structures within which it operates. reflects the system of social control whereby the relations of individuals and institutions are adjusted. We believe that an understanding of these aspects of society is basic to any systematic understanding of the press.”
  14. The Authoritarian theory • Developed in the 16th and 17th centuries and based on the philosophy of the absolute power of the monarch • Influenced by authoritarian political thought, from Plato to Machiavelli • Small unaccountable elites controlling the mass media – truth was seen as belonging to a few wise men who were in the position to guide their fellow men • Government controls the media through patents, guilds, licensing and censorship • Government is not open to questioning and those who do can be punished • Authoritarian practice found in many parts of the world
  15. The Libertarian theory • Started to develop in the 17th century, flourished in the 19th century and undermined the authoritarian theory • Influenced by the writings of Milton and Mill and the philosophy of the Enlightenment • Attacks and criticism of government is encouraged, and there are no restrictions on import or export of media messages across nations • Truth is no longer conceived as the property of power • Media seen as a “free marketplace of ideas” – all ideas should get fair hearing, from majorities to minorities, the weak to the strong • Media should be an instrument for checking on government • Media are controlled by “self-righting process of truth” in the “free market place of ideas”, and by courts
  16. Social Responsibility theory • Development of the 20th century press created a situation where the control of the press began to be exercised by a powerful few (i.e. media owners) • Connected to the Hutchins Commission reports • Media has obligations to society and should be socially responsible. Journalists should be made accountable to the public • Not so easy anymore to be the “market place of ideas”, with the owners exercising influence over the publication of facts, or the version of facts • Media should inform, entertain and sell • The media are controlled through consumer action and professional ethics
  17. The Soviet-totalitarian theory • Tied to the ideology of communism (Lenin, Marx and Stalin) and to the development of the authoritarian theory • Present in the Soviet Union, but similar things were done by the Nazis and Italians • Media should contribute to the success of the party in power, the Soviet socialist system • Media organizations not to be privately owned but should attend to the needs of the working class • Differs from the authoritarian theory due to the fact that the media has certain responsibilities to meet audiences’ needs • Media are controlled through surveillance and economic or political action of government • Ownership is public, state-owned and controlled and exists as an arm of the state
  18. Significance and limitations of the Siebert, Peterson and Schramm model • Four Theories of the Press came out during the Cold War context • As Hallin and Mancini (2004) point out, many variations have been proposed over the years (i.e. Altschull, 1995; Hacthen, 1996; Mundt, 1991 and Picard, 1985). Criticisms: • Too broad; • Authors did not look at the actually functioning of media systems; • Models are judged in terms of their distance from the neutral “watchdog” liberal model of the press free • As Hallin and Mancini (2004) note, it is possible to say that Western Europe has largely combined the libertarian model (unregulated commercial and party press and tradition of advocacy journalism); social responsibility model (i.e. right of reply laws) and the authoritarian tradition (i.e. Gaullist state broadcasting in France).
  19. Blumler and Gurevitch (1975) (in Hallin and Mancini, 2000) Proposed four dimensions for comparative analysis: 1) degree of state control over mass media organization; 2) degree of mass media partisanship; 3) degree of media-political elite integration; 4) the nature of the legitimating creed of media institutions. As Gurevitch and Blumler (2004: 335) state, good comparative political communication research can be characterised as being an investigation of the impact of political cultures on political communications in different societies Advantages of comparative research is that it functions as an antidote against naive universalism (i.e. Eurocentrism), or the assumption that research findings of one society are applicable everywhere (Blumler and Gurevitch, 1990, 308)
  20. Comparing Media Systems (Hallin and Mancini, 2000) • Point out Four Theories of the Press as their starting point, but that its scope is so grand that it is almost superficial • Authors’ study covers the media systems of the US, Canada and most of Europe – limit themselves to North America and W. Europe Authors include 3 models: 1)Liberal Model – prevails in Britain, Ireland and North America 2)Democratic Corporatist Model – Northern Europe 3) Polarized Pluralist Model or Mediterranean – Dominance of market mechanisms and of commercial media (Southern Europe). • Authors state that their models of media systems can be useful to scholars working on other regions as points of reference • Analysis is limited to the print press and broadcasting, but could certainly include film, music and other entertainment
  21. Four dimensions to analyse media systems in North Europe and America (in Hallin and Mancini, 2004) Developed further from Blumler and Gurevitch (1975): • 1) the development of media markets – emphasis is given here on the strong or weak development of mass circulation press; • 2) political parallelism – the degree and nature of the links between the media and political parties, or the extent that the media system reflects political divisions. Public broadcasting systems and the regulatory agencies have a significant relationship to politics; • 3) the development of journalistic professionalism – refers to norms and codes of the journalism profession, the tradition of neutrality, impartiality and objectivity against militant and advocacy forms. • 4) the degree and nature of state intervention in the media system – the role that the state has and its relationship to the media, and refers largely to governmental control or media independence from the state.
  22. Three Models of Media Systems (Hallin and Mancini, 2004) Mediterranean Democratic Liberal (Southern Corporatist (North America) Europe) (Northern Europe) Newspaper Low circulation; High circulation Medium (market) elite-oriented Political High parallelism; External Neutral parallelism external pluralism; party commercial press; pluralism; press; PSB internal pluralism politics/broadcast autonomy Professionalization Weak; journalism Strong Strong of journalism political activism professionalization; professionalization; not differentiated institutionalised non- self-regulation institutionalised Role of the State Strong state Strong state Market dominated; intervention intervention; strong weak PSB PSB
  23. Comparing Media Systems (Hallin and Mancini, 2000) • Models should not be understood as describing static media systems • Also, although Italy and Spain are in the Democratic Corporatist Model and in Southern Europe, the former is different from the latter, which had a much later transition to democracy • Media systems evolve over time – the globalization and commercialization of the media has led to the convergence of media systems Some problems detected in media systems since the 80’s: 1) Public broadcasting in decline versus expansion of commercial broadcasting 2) Deregulation trends saw wider media concentration and proliferation of multi-channel TV 3) Rise of television as political influence 4) Rise of cynicism and decline of interest in politics
  24. Comparing Media Systems continued Some conclusions:  Anglo-American or Liberal media is taken as the norm against which other media systems are measured  Journalistic professionalism is widely used to compare media systems (i.e. Issues of autonomy and codes of practice)  UK system – “hybrid” – newspapers are seen as more partisan than commercial;  UK and Europe have strong PSB tradition in contrast again to the US  Multiple media systems exist throughout the world – there is no real uniform model for democratic media in any part of the world
  25. Comparing media systems: Southern Europe and Latin America (Hallin and Papathanassopoulos (2002, 3) • Historical perspectives: State intervention in South America has reinforced governmental power (Waisbord, 2000) Similarities between Latin American media systems and Southern European (Hallin and Papathanassopoulos (2002, 3): • 1) the low circulation of newspapers; 2) tradition of advocacy reporting; 3) instrumentalization (political use) of privately-owned media; 4) politicization of broadcasting and regulation; 5) limited development of journalism autonomy. But - Market liberalisation and political democratisation have assigned new roles for state (more democratic participatory) and market (liberating versus oppressive of debate)(Matos, 2008)
  26. Media and democracy in Latin America (in Matos, 2012) Comparative political communication research offers us a set of knowledge that increases our intellectual sophistication and understanding of the complexities of the world and of other cultures. •It forces us not to be narrow-minded, obliging us to deal with other cultures and ideas. * Real, in depth knowledge is all about comparison Triangulation methodology: online survey with segments of the audience in Brazil in contrast to audience research done by Ofcom in the UK: textual analysis of programmes from the public and commercial media; interviews with journalists and policy-makers PSBs in comparative perspective: Public communications in Latin America have traditionally been appropriated for the individual personal interests of politicians in contrast to the public service and educational role in UK
  27. Media and democracy in Latin continued • Made reference to Hallin and Mancini (2000) model to talk about Latin America in comparative perspective • Latin America – combined European models and the US liberal Contrast to Southern Europe: • Similarities exist in terms of: • a) the existence of a small elite circulation newspaper press; • b) the dominance of the market forces and commercialization; • c) politicization of broadcasting and instrumentalization of privately-owned media; • d) tradition of advocacy in journalism • Latin American countries are seeking to deepen media democratization and create regulation policies for the public interest
  28. PSB tradition versus citizens’ wider knowledge of politics (Curran and Iyengar, 2009) BBC is pointed out by researchers as being able to deliver more elections news, produce longer stories of greater substance and give more attention to minority parties Studies (Curran and Iyengar, 2009) have shown how certain countries with a strong PSB tradition, like Britain with its dual system and the Scandinavian nations, where the state subsides minority media outlets, citizens have more knowledge of politics and international affairs than countries where the commercial media system predominates (in Matos, 2008)
  29. Some contemporary examples of media regulation debates • Censorship versus regulation • The Leveson inquiry in the UK (2011/12) – newspaper market operates on a system of self-regulation and broadcasting on regulation policies committed to the public interest (i.e. Ofcom) • National Confederation of Communications debates in Brazil (2009) • Market liberals argue against regulation and view it as attempts to “control the press” and curtail press freedom • Regulati0n is based more on demands for a socially responsible media, and has been largely adopted in the UK in favour of the public interest
  30. Conclusions • Comparative analysis is an important tool for research in a rapidly changing and globalised world • Multiple media systems exist throughout the world • Divisions between the models (authoritarian versus libertarian; or liberal versus democratic corporatist is not so clear cut) • US liberal model is still seen as the norm to which all media should aspire too, including the European tradition and the UK hybrid system • Changes in media landscape in Europe have seen an increasing commercialization of the media (i.e. UK) • Media systems evolve as a result of various political, economic and technological changes in societies • Media convergence and expansion of technologies since the 1980’s has reshaped significantly the media landscape • Hallin and Mancini’s model does not give enough emphasis to the role of new technologies (Norris, 2009)
  31. Seminar activities and questions • 1) Discuss the Four Theories of the Press. What were the criticisms made to the book? Do you agree? • 2) Examine Hallin and Mancini’s model for comparing media systems. Use it to discuss a media system of your choice in comparative perspective. • 3) According to the texts you had to read for today (i.e. Matos; Esser and Pfetsch, etc) what are the merits and benefits of comparative political communication research? Why should we examine the press through comparative analysis? • 4) What are the key concerns of comparative political communication research? Discuss its relationship to globalization and how comparative political communication research differs from non-comparative studies.
  32. Readings for week 7 Required texts: • Lasswell, H. D. (2010) “The theory of political propaganda” in D. K. THussu, (Ed)., International Communication: A Reader, pp 329- 332. London: Routledge. 11 • Nye, J. S. (2010) “Public diplomacy and soft power” in D. K. THussu, (Ed)., International Communication: A Reader, pp 333- 344. London: Routledge. • Price, M. (2010) “Towards a foreign policy of information space” in D. K. Thussu, (Ed)., International Communication: A Reader, pp 345-368. London: Routledge. Additional: Kellner, D. (2004) “Media propaganda and the spectacle in the war on Iraq: A critique of the US broadcasting networks” in Cultural Studies, Critical Methodologies, 4, 329-338. Essay 1 to be submitted: • Monday, 12th November