By Pippa Norris
Is the method of political communications through the inside track media and through events accountable for civic malaise? A Virtuous Circle units out to problem the normal knowledge that it truly is. in accordance with a comparative exam of the function of the scoop media and events in postindustrial societies, this learn argues that instead of mistakenly "blaming the messenger" we have to comprehend and confront extra deep-rooted flaws within the platforms of consultant democracy.
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Additional resources for A Virtuous Circle: Political Communications in Postindustrial Societies (Communication, Society and Politics)
To compare patterns of public opinion, the study draws on the thirty-year series of Eurobarometer surveys produced by the European Commission, which monitored public opinion from 1970 to 1999 in EU member states. Those surveys measured the uses of newspapers, television and radio news, and, more recently, the Internet, as well as attention to political campaigns and various indicators of political knowledge, trust, and mobilization. To attempt to unravel the complex issue of the direction of causality, this study examines some experimental research on the effects of positive and negative television news conducted in Britain, involving more than 1,000 subjects.
20 As discussed later, practical knowledge is only one form of knowledge - it focuses on prediction, not on explanation or analysis such as is characteristic of knowledge in the natural sciences. For example, understand30 EVALUATING MEDIA PERFORMANCE ing the principles of the internal-combustion engine, while of intrinsic interest for engineers, provides no practical guidance to a driver wanting to know how to accelerate a car. In the same way, a civics-class understanding of how a bill becomes law, or of all the details of the government's transport policy, or of party manifestos on regional aid, is of little help for citizens who want to know what will happen to the issues they care about if they vote for a particular party of the left, center, or right.
This theory cannot be proved conclusively from the available cross-sectional survey evidence, any more than can theories of media malaise, but it does suggest a plausible and coherent interpretation for the different pieces of the puzzle found in this study. To substantiate this argument, the study uses multiple sources of evidence. Trends in the structure of the news industry since 1945 are analyzed using data from UNESCO, the most authoritative source monitoring worldwide patterns of news consumption.
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