MEDIA AS UNOFFICIAL ACTORS 1
Mediaas Unofficial Actors
Power can be viewed as an authority, which is entrusted to a personor institution in a community, to persuade (or coerce) otherindividuals, in the same community, to do what they would, otherwise,not do on their own (Zimmerling, 2005). The media holds a substantialamount of power in the community. The media is an intermediary(agency) that facilitates the flow of information from one party toanother (Craig, 2004). The media is an institution in society, whichis informed by particular practices, interests, norms, and values.The media can be said to play an unofficial role in shaping politicsand public life. A critical discussion of how the media shapes theworkings of politics in society is, therefore, ideal.
The media are places where politics and public life are defined(Craig, 2004). In other words, the meanings of public life andpolitics are created, debated, and evaluated through the media. Thus,the public encounters leaders or politicians through the images,representations, and stories that have been generated by the media.For instance, a study carried out in 2012 revealed that messages onFacebook can influence voting behavior significantly (Wihbey, 2012).The results showed that voter turnout in the US went up from 36.3% in2002 to 37.2% in 2006 and 37.8% in 2010. The researchers assertedthat online political mobilization has a positive impact on voterturnout, induces the electorate to express itself, and validatesvoter turnout. Also, the research revealed that social mobilizationis more effective than informational mobilization alone.
In a recap of the above discussion, the media can be perceived as anintermediary between the electorate and the leadership. Thus, themedia can be said to have the power to shape politics. Through themedia, voters can be persuaded to participate in the votingactivities of their countries thus, in an unofficial capacity, themedia shapes how society views political leaders.
Craig, G. (2004). The media, politics and public life. Crows Nest,NSW: Allen & Unwin.
Wihbey, J. (2012). A 61-million-person experiment in social influenceand political mobilization.Nature, 489(7415), 295-298.http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11421
Zimmerling, R. (2005). Influence and power. Dordrecht, theNetherlands: Springer.