has been extensive study on the relationship between the media and politics by
academicians, media scholars, political scientists, etc., (for example
Kleinnijenhuis & Rietberg 1995; Khan 1995; Majid & Ramaprasad, 1998;
Cohen, Tsfati & Sheafer 2008; Latham 2015, etc.). The structure and content
of news related to politics has been a subject of intense study as both, the
media and politicians and politics are related and dependent of each other for
various factors, at various levels. The way press portrays politicians,
politics, policies and political revolutions reveal their political
orientations or at least their political leanings. Though the press claims
and/or is expected to be objective and neutral, it is quite a known fact that
no one can be purely, truly objective, unbiased or neutral, as Showmaker & Reese (1996) argue that news
does not reflect an or any objective reality but are a socially-created
product, (as cited in Majid & Ramaprasad, 1998, p.132.). This decisively
proves that press always takes side and is biased, sometimes positively and
first aspect of the present literature review focuses on whether media was
objective or was biased and does it have any effect on the politicians and the
public. News and its dissemination are influenced by factors mainly including
politics, economics, sociological, historical, religious, cultural, linguistic
and a host of other important and impactful factors. Latham (n.d.) U1 in
his article, has made an interesting observation. He says that the press earns revenue
through two main ways (apart from advertising). One is through leanings towards
a party and gaining patronage and the other is through damaging news stories. U2 To
put it in simple terms, they earn either through cooperation with the parties
or with conflicts. Vilegenthart & Roggeband (2007) noted in their research
that political agenda has more influence on the media agenda than media agenda
has over political agenda. They have also noticed that different political
parties have different ways of propagating their ideology for their electoral
benefit and/or to legitimize power. This, in-turn makes the press take
political positions which later gets transformed into political leanings,
orientations towards a political spectrum or party.
ownership of the media house and individual orientations of the staff in the
media house, from reporter to the editor-in-chief, plays a very important role
in shaping the ideological stand of the news organization. This in fact,
compels and makes the press to be biased and lean or support a particular
political party or an ideology. Luther & Miller (2005) in their paper found
out that the press tends to be favorable to those who are in power. This finding
is very much similar to what Karl Marx memorably said in his book ‘The German
Ideology’, “Ruling ideas are of the ruling class”. U3
(2003) in his paper has mentioned an interesting incident of the aftermath of
the party switch by the US senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell that evidently
proves the explicit political orientation of the press in the US in 1995. When
Campbell announced that he was quitting the Democratic Party and joining the
Republican Party, the media started severely attacking and criticizing him to
the extent that once he told in anguish and anger, “I couldn’t pick up a paper
without getting raped in the paper”. (Niven, 2003, p.311).
media professionals, media scholars and political scientists have pointed out
various ways which can detach a journalist from his or her ideas and stay
objective. However, on the contrary, journalists always try to be judgmental
rather than being a guiding source (Guzman, 2016). He discusses in his paper how the western
media generally exhibits oriental stereotypes, more so on the Islamic world,
especially after 9/11 and US invasion of Iraq in 2003. He concludes that the western
media dominated by the US portray Muslims in the US as peace loving and
acceptable and Muslims in the Middle East and other Islamic countries as
radical and fanatics. Hence, bias is not only political but also geo-politicalU4 .
Theories of political communication are of the
view that it is mostly the political agenda which sets media agenda and then
media sets agenda for the public. This is called the ‘top down agenda setting’
model. However, the ‘Mediocracy’ theorists are of the view that media sets
political agenda and public agenda (Kleinnijenhuis & Rietberg 1995). Both
the views are correct as it happens both ways. At certain times it is the
political agenda which has the upper hand over the media agenda and sometimes
media sets the political agenda. Vilegenthart & Roggeband (2007) have found
in their research that in the Netherlands, media currents, trends in the media
evidently reflected in parliamentary debates and also were similar at times.
Tsfati & Sheafer (2008), argue in their paper that that ‘Mediatization’
does not affect all politicians equally, but the press to a large extent
influence the public during elections as people do not wish to vote for someone
they do not know through the press. They state that the politicians believe
that if they get covered by the media then there are more chances of getting re-elected. Also, they desire media
coverage to influence sponsors and impress colleagues and other politicians.
(1992) argued in his paper that it is not only that the press which was biased,
the public were biased too. He concludes that there were external factors from
outside the media that decides the credibility of the press apart from expertise
and fairness in reporting. Hence, it can be argued that it is the people who
demand certain things and the press has to cater to the public. In cases like
these, the public sets the agenda for the press and it is impossible to achieve
media plays an important role in and by telling people the success and/or
failures of the governments, public institutions or any other social movements.
This is more effectively done through various processes including agenda
setting and framing (we shall look at the process later in methodology).
conflict, of any nature and intensity has always been given importance by the
media and they play an important role in shaping, managing and conflating
conflicts and thereby decide the fate of the country and its people (Gadda,
2004). Wherever and whenever there are conflicts or politics or political
conflicts the press is compelled to take stands and it is a natural process. Political
orientation(s)/leanings comes to picture here, and plays an important role in
the functioning of the press and the media industry as a whole.
above arguments decisively prove that media does take a position and has a political
orientation which is inevitable and irresistible.
second part of the literature review focuses on ideologies and orientations and
its politics. The question now is what do these orientation(s) or ideologies
mean? The present research concentrates on the political orientations of the
press while reporting on the Indian Parliament. Hence, we shall look into what
political orientations and ideologies mean.
and every citizen can in a sense can be called a political thinker as each and
every one, knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously, directly or
indirectly, express political concepts, ideas and actions at various stages and
in various degrees and levels. Hundreds of ideas and expressions related to
politics come to our minds and we speak out concepts like justice, freedom,
equality, privacy etc in our day to day conversations. To this extent, most of
the people are politically aware and informed, as Aristotle said in his book Politics, “Man is by nature a political
animal”. However, when it comes to core ideologies, that are the classical
ideologies like liberalism, socialism, conservatism, etc., people generally are
not so aware.
French Philosopher Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836) coined the term ‘ideology’.
Ideology literally means idea-ology, so for him ideology meant “science of
ideas”. He hoped that one day ideology would reach the status of established
sciences like biology, geology, zoology, etc. However, the most debated and the
most accepted definition/concept of ideology came from Karl Marx. For him, ideology
was about delusion, used by the ruling class to exploit people, uphold the existing
system and to cover-up oppressions. It was also the distortion of reality in
the interest of the ruling, elite class. Karl Marx and Engels wrote the
following in their acclaimed work The
The ideas of the ruling class are in every
epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is in the ruling material force in
society, is at the same time the ruling intellectual force. The class which has
the means of mental production at its disposal, has control at the same time
over the means of mental production.(as cited in Heywood, 2013, p.29).
Marx was of the opinion that all political views need not have ideological
character. However, in general terms ideology can refer to concepts, ideas,
ideals which prejudice and/or bias and a generalization which has no scientific
base and is hence not objective.
needs to be extremely careful while understanding politics in India because
politics in India cannot be equated with the western concepts of political
ideas. U5 Though
India has borrowed its political system from the West, it stands out when ‘politics’
comes into picture. There is a lot of gray area in Indian politics U6 as
far as the ideology part of it is concerned. Indian politics is too diverse a field to
observe through the western lens, the main reason being it fails to recognize,
and sometimes even consider the nuances and diversity of Indian politics. U7
in India cannot be seen through the classical ideas of the West such as
liberalism, conservatism, socialism etc. U8
and ‘Right’ dichotomy helps us simplify the complex political ideas and
practices in India. U9
origins of the term ‘right’ and ‘left’ date back to French revolution. It referred
to the seating arrangements in the French Parliament during the French
revolution. Those who supported the old regime sat on the right and those who
wanted revolution sat on the left. Those who sat on the right were called ‘rightists’
or ‘right wing’ and those who sat on the left were called the ‘leftists’ or the
‘left wing’. The
right wingers believe in hierarchy, tradition and clericalism. They were and
are of the view that inequality is natural and social stratification is the
order of the universe. They support the free market system and believe that the
free market is actually free and fair for all. U10 They are of the very strong
opinion that markets U11 achieve more than the
governments can and hence there should be minimal interference from the
leftists, on the contrary, oppose whatever the rightists believe. They want
religion to be completely separated from the state and oppose the free market
system. They support social welfare schemes and affirmative actions to the
economically and socially weaker sections of the society. They are very strong
exponents of the view that governments must be stronger than markets.U12
the connotations of right and left change from country to country and situation
to situation. As far as India is concerned the BJP, Shiv Sena are the right
wing parties and Communist parties are left wing. Parties like Indian National
Congress call themselves centrist parties though the lean a bit towards the left. U13
question is whether these ideologies matter or not, whether they are relevant
or not. One
of the greatest historians and philosophers of our century Sir Isaiah Berlin
points out that ideologies along with science and technology above all have
shaped the human history the most (Ball, Dagger, O’Neill, 2014). He calls them
“Ideological Storms”. Ideologies tell its followers what to do and what not to
do. Hence, newspapers and political parties who follow ideologies are kind of
obligated to perform certain duties dictated by the ideology. U14 However, the matter of
degree may vary.
who consider politics as naked struggle for power do not consider ideologies
very important (Heywood, 2013). Khan (1995), states in his paper that news
media provide the lens for the voters through which they view the political
candidates. This is not only true of political candidates and during election
time but always. It is the press that provides the frame to the people through
which they look and perceive the world outside.
(2013), in his book makes it clear that ideas, ideals and ideologies influence
our thoughts and perspectives and understandings through which we see,
understand and experience the world. People in power do not only need power but
desire their values and ideas are disseminated. Media is one of the most
effective form through which they disseminate their ideas. Relationship between
the press, political power, politics, politicians and political parties starts
from here along with the duty of the press to inform people, hold power to
account and act as watch dogs of any political systemU15 .
third area is about the relationship between press and politics in general and Parliament
in particular. As far as the press and the Parliament is concerned, they are
inter-dependent on each other. It is the right and duty and moreover the
obligation of the press to report the proceedings in Parliament, the highest
decision making authority of the country. It’s only through the press the
people know what is happening and what the politicians are doing in ruling and
running the country in the name of the people.U16
(2002), in his paper states that the question of the relationship between
legislation is his researchU17 ) and the media was
important both politically and theoretically as the legislators use the media
not only for purposes of re-election but also for law-making. There has been enough
research done on the topic from across both the academic and non-academic
spectrum, and from the political spectrum.
of the raw materials for asking questions, debates, motions, in Parliament come
from the press. Parliamentarians rely on the reports, news, views of and from
the press. Cooper (2002) & Brett (2007) have also discussed about the above
mentioned point in their respective papers and have similar views.
press disseminates information regarding Parliament and functions and
procedures of Parliament by informing the people about it (Kashyap, 2015).
These two-way, mutually complementary, mutually beneficial factors help to
connect Parliament and the people of the country. Hence, press is the bridge
between the people and Parliament.
to the website of the Parliament of India, “Press is often regarded as the
extension of the Parliament”. Sethi (1980), in his research says that as the
press in India gives the Parliament extensive coverage, it can be said that the
politicians speaking in the Parliament are not just speaking to their colleagues
present there but to the whole country. Press needs the government and
government needs the press and, more importantly, people need both.
as far as television is concerned, there has been no evidence found to prove
that MPs who were popular spoke more to
the television. Also, television failed to make the MP’s more responsive
(Datta, 2008). U18
is not only the case in India, but in other countries too that rely on
Parliamentary democracyU19 , there is a two-way
relationship between the two. This relationship between press and the
Parliament has not been assumed but empirically tested by many researchers
across the world. Narayan & Kumar (2009) in their paper have proved that
political writings and reports sell the best. They also argue that this trend
of politics getting the highest coverage have not changed for many decades
to Barrett (2007), the President of the United States of America gets the
highest coverage than anyone else in that country, including Hollywood and rock
stars. This is primarily because of the importance of the position and
politics. Coverage of any news depends on the fact that whether or not those
stories meet the criteria of ‘newsworthiness’ of the press. This very concept
of newsworthiness can set the agenda as it is the primary level of gate keeping
of the press. Cooper (2002) in his paper points out that there also is a
“negotiation of the newsworthiness” between the journalist and the legislators
as the legislators desire to be covered is not always possible and everyone
cannot be covered. These “negotiations” can turn out to be based on the
orientations or leanings of the journalist and/or the organization he is
Davis in his book The Press and American
Politics: The New Mediator says that “journalism students are taught that
conflict is a central feature of news” (as cited in Barett, 2007, p.657). This
statement/claim is true because politics by nature is a field of overlapping
and interlocking ideals, ideologies, thoughts, opinions etc. Politics and
issues related to politics is interesting and intriguing to the general public
and the press for various reasons, the main reason being the importance,
significance and seriousness of the field which effects the country and its
people. The other reason is that people disagree more in politics than in any
other field as politics is the activity of the society and includes the richest
of the rich to the poorest of the poor.
press through its openness exposes the Parliament to critical and severe
scrutiny because the government always tends to say what people think they need
to hear, whereas the Parliament tends to tell people what they want to hear. Media plays an important
role in putting across both kinds of information ( O’Malley, McMenamin, rafter,
& Flynn, n.d). They argue that the media has portrayed Parliament in a
negative light and the people are losing faith in political institutions. Cappella
& Jamieson (1996) are also of the same view. They blame the media for the
cynicism in the people regarding politics in general accusing the media of
making it harder for the political system to work. Media creates gridlocks and
cynicism in the public by concentrating more on horserace journalism than
policy coverage. Through various frames, media creates cynicism about campaigns,
policies and governance and politics.
the above arguments, it is evident that the media has influence on people and
also policies, and it takes stands which lead to the political orientation of
the media house.
Akhavan-Majid, Roya., & Ramaprasad,
Jyotika. (1998). Framing and Ideology: A Comparitive Analysis of U.S. and
Chinese Newspaper Coverage of the Fourth United Nations Conference on Women and
the NGO Forum. Mass Communication Faculty
Publication (St.Claude State University), 9.
Guzman, Andrea L. (2016). Evolution of News
Frames during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution: Critical Discourse Analysis of Fox
News’s and CNN’s Framing of Protesters, Mubarak, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly
2016, 93, 80-98.
Luther, Catherine A., & Miller, M. Mark.
(2005). Framing of the 2003 U.S.-Iraq War Demonstration: An analysis of News
and Partisan Texts. J&MC Quarterly,
David. (2006). Objective evidence on Media Bias: Newspaper coverage of
Congressional Party Switchers. Journalism
and Mass Communication Quarterly, 80(2), 311- 326.
Ball, Terence., Dagger, Richard., &
O’Neill, Daniel I. (2014). Political
Ideology and the Democratic Ideal (9th ed.). e-book. New
Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
Baran, Stanley J., & Davis, Dennis K.
(2015). Mass Communication Theory:
Foundations, Ferment and Future (7th ed.). Delhi: Cengage
Learning India Private Limited.
Bhargava, Rajeev., &
Acharya, Ashok. (Ed.). (2008). Political
Theory: An Introduction (2nd ed.). India: Pearson India
Education Pvt. Ltd.
Heywood, Andrew. (2003). Political
Ideologies: An Introduction (3rd ed.). e-book. New York:
Heywood, Andrew. (2013). Politics
(4th ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
· Kashyap, Subhash. (2015). Our Parliament. New Delhi:
National Book Trust.
· Parliament of India. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://220.127.116.11/our%20parliament/parliament.html
U5You have to substantiate this claim. How? Which India are you
talking about? Miedieval or modern?
U6How is this different from other nations?
U7You have to substantiate this – you can just state this as a
generalization. There are enough Western tools that can analyze and understand
these so-called nunaces and diversity of Indian politics.
U8You are sounding like Mohan Bhagwat
U9Is this too simplistic?
What about the Centrists? What about
all those shades in between?
U10You are already in deep waters here because you are using ‘western’
markers that contradict you r statement that western lens cant be used to gauge
U11This is an extremely modern vision of political economy and cannot
be applied to the times of mercantilism going back France etc
U12Where are these views from – the West?
U13Where do regional parties lean? What about caste parties? SP, BSP,
NCP etc – this discussion has to be widened through more reading and
U14Good way of connecting up
U15This second part is a bit weak – this Left-Right dichotomy has to be
explained in terms of some of the literature you have read. Ramp it up.
U16Via Legislature and Executive
U18This is a sudden jump and a sort of comparison with print which is
not very clear. Do you need it? If so how can the comparison be strengthened
U19The notion of Parliamentary democracy has to be injected somewhere
and the role of the press therein.
U20There should be a para here about how the above ties in with your
own approach and methodology and objectives of your study and what is going to
be different about it.