The Impact of media on political behaviour has created an enormous impact on socio-political aspects of any polity that could be quantifiably measured. The power and influence of media has become something quite palpable and it has caused a noticeable cautiousness in political segments dealing with public matters as they have an invariable potential of affecting lives of a wide cross-sections of people. It so happened that with the passage of time it decisively affected the leading important actors in political contexts and systems. With the passage of time it became quite obvious that the media–politics interac¬tion has definitely characterised political life as it slowly started to give a specific angle to public debate along with determining actions of governments, political parties and stalwarts leading them, and by extension, political movements. By the look of it the influence of media on political process has come to stay and may grow more intense in the time to come. Now the media interaction with politics is gradually empowering people and may well develop into a public force that would be difficult to ignore.
Since the essential features of mass media did pertain to amplifying information alongwith employing means of persuasion, therefore, it was not surprising that the political operatives very quickly discerned the value inherent in them. The interest of high-level political personages in mass media became a catalyst for the political goals they pursued and slowly became a veritable source of furthering them. The immediate result was that the political elements started to use the media tools for ascertaining public opinion that is usually the base of doing politics. What started to take shape was that the political leaders and their parties began using the media effectively for propaganda purposes during election campaigns. The importance of this development was that the media became the primary source of political knowledge and political information that provided tremendous assistance to the entire political process.
The political elements soon realised that the proliferation of information and knowledge provided by the media is bound to help produce a rational citizen who would feel inclined with the ideas they are propagating. It was an important realisation that changed the perception of media relations that they, in the past, had dismissed it as a source of trouble intent on fulfilling its narrow needs. The belief in the capacity of the media to streamline the various sources of information and opinion into a rational perspective not only increased the validity of the media itself but also created an avenue for accommodating its reasoned argument. By all accounts, media is very keen to preserve its independence and this urge was soon accepted by the political elements. It became obvious to the political classes that it would serve them better to align their perceptions and aspirations with the media so that their point of view is accordingly strengthened. The political cadres appreciated that the vitality provided by the media in societal portals runs in tandem with their ultimate goals.
It is also to be taken into consideration that the expertise media acquired in respect of wide-ranging political knowledge convinced the political elements that it can utilise such expertise to determine and interpret political reality. The media should not be considered merely as sources of knowledge and information but, on the contrary, as vehicles of meanings, emotions, and visions of the world. The frames through which the media treat events significantly influence people’s atti¬tudes, beliefs, and preferences. These are crucial factors required to be paid heed to and that is precisely what ultimately came to pass with the result that the media practically became a parallel factor of exerting influence on the political process. This aspect is now widely regarded to be quite close to reality and there could hardly be any reason not to accept it. Many observers are quite convinced that this aspect has become an imperative that is required to be accepted as a credible interpretation of the media-politics nexus. Apparently, both the protagonists feel comfortable in agreeing to a common modus operandi to work out a long-term partnership although it required plenty of ironing out.
It is also more than apparent that media is also now acknowledged to be a participant in agenda-setting field and this aspect could not be ignored. This fact is brought to fore by the ability of the media to determine what people should know simply by giving coverage to some facts and ignoring others. This selective strategy may be criticised on many grounds but the fact remains that it is often observed taking place in the real world. Agenda-setting was considered to be the exclusive preserve of political elements but they have grudgingly conceded this crucial space to the media though it keeps on creating bad blood between both the protagonists quite often. This however is not an impediment that could not be neutralized and both of them are quite intent on doing precisely the same. It certainly augurs well for the larger interests of any polity where such agenda-setting takes place as a matter of broader political policies.
Despite the emerging consensus between the political and media proponents there remain some points of divergence as some observers regard media as the primary source of causing narcotizing effect as increasing doses of mass media content sap the energy that individuals reserve for active participation. However, such opinion conveniently ignores that media is a strong source in reinvigorating the notion that the increased circulation of politi¬cal information ultimately became an important stimulus to participation in political activities geared to broader social welfare. This position has been bolstered by the spread of the online media and the consequent proliferation of information channels. It is quite evident that the internet in this respect has been credited with being an important resource for mobi¬lization that is often found to be spread over globally. This vitality has added a potent angle that simply cannot be ignored and it is duly recognised by the political circles.
It is also recognised that the media influence has also spread to voting choices and this factor has created tremendous awareness among the political classes all over the world. Media certainly influences voting patterns by delineating party identification, positions of parties and candidates on issues, negative polit¬ical preference and images of party leaders. The media also has been found to exercise great influence with widespread informal net¬works of social interaction that political parties greatly value and welcome them with open arms. Though the effect of media influence is still in doubt regarding outcomes of elections yet their cumulative impact cannot just be dismissed out of hand. This aspect provoked intense debate during the presidential election of 2016 in which the accusations were rife that Russian usage of some media techniques did influence behaviour of a cross-section of voters. Nevertheless, there is hardly any doubt that media has produced significant changes in the political perceptions and process. It is also more than obvious that media has strongly influences political systems globally and has altered the way in which political elements interact with each other and their electorate. It is also very clear that the media influence is increasing by the day and it is very noticeable in the political arena. TW