'It was the media wot done it' : Government and the role of the media

What is the relationship between the news media and politics?  If knowledge is power, then information is essential to the functioning of an modern democracy. Politicians and the news media have a symbiotic relationship. Each needs the other; politicians need to be reported by the media so that they can communicate to electors (and to each other), and the news media needs politicians so they can create and shape stories to report to their readers and viewers. This symbiotic relationship is, however, simultaneously an adversarial relationship; politicians want to be reported in their own terms and as they see it, but the news media wants to critically engage with politicians and to report them as they, the news media, see it. This means that the relationship of politicians and the news media, one of unquestionable importance to modern society, produces as much heat as it does light. And it means that the news media for a politician can be as much as obstacle to their succeeding as much as it can be a resource helping them succeed.

Presentation time: 
Tuesday, 1 July, 2014 - 17:00

Richard Heffernan

Richard Heffernan is a Reader in Government in the Department of Politics and international Studies at the Open University. He has held visiting appointments at the Center for European Studies, Harvard University, the University of California, Los Angeles and the London School of Economics and is presently a Visiting Professor at the University of Notre Dame. He works in the field of comparative politics, specialising in British politics, and is presently researching the British prime minister.