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The Media and Political Process
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The Media and Political Process

Second Edition
  • Eric Louw - University of Queensland, Australia


February 2010 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

How have professional communicators transformed the business of politics? How do political bodies use the media to sell domestic and foreign policies to the public? This fully revised new edition of The Media and Political Process assesses the impact of spin doctoring and media activity in liberal democracies that are just as concerned with impression management and public relations as with policy.

Political processes never stand still, and this revised second edition explores the mediatization of the political process in light of recent developments, from Vladimir Putin's growth into a political celebrity, to the activities of spin doctors in the 2008 US Presidential Elections.

Providing a comprehensive overview of the evolution, operation, and terminology of political communication, this text is an accessible, lively resource for students of political communication and media and politics, and will be important further reading for students of journalism, public relations, and cultural studies.

 
Introduction
 
Politics: Image versus Substance
What is Politics?

 
Politics: Hype and Substance

 
The Media as a Power Resource

 
The Game of Political Impression Management

 
What is Media-ized Politics?

 
 
Western Political Development: An Evolving Symbiosis of Media and Politics
The Origins of Liberal Democracy

 
The Early Anglo Model

 
The Massification of Liberal Democracy

 
Managing Democracy: Taming Western Publics

 
The Media's Evolving Role in Liberal Governance

 
Liberal Democracy and the Public Sphere

 
 
Political Media Practice: An Outline
From Fourth Estate to Sensationalized Watchdogism

 
News as Entertaining Spectacle

 
Constructing the News Window 1: Journalistic Practices

 
Constructing the News Window 2: Choosing Sources

 
Constructing the News Window 3: Newsroom Struggles

 
Institutionalizing the Media-Politician Relationship

 
Journalists: Watchdogs or Symbiotic Partners?

 
Journalistic 'Power'

 
 
Spin-Doctoring: The Art of Political Public Relations
The Rise of PR Professionals as Political Players

 
Changes to the Political Process

 
The Innovators of PR-ized Politics

 
The Normalization of PR-ized Politics

 
What is Political PR?

 
The Tools of Political PR

 
 
Selling Politicians and Creating Celebrity
Constructing Celebrity

 
The Game: Playing to a Televisual Audience

 
Genres of Political Celebrity

 
 
Selling Political Policies and Beliefs
Worldviews

 
Making Worldviews

 
Popularizing Worldviews

 
The Function of Worldviews

 
 
Selling War/Selling Peace
The Era of Mass Consent for Mass Killing

 
Vietnam: A Televised Non-censored War

 
The PR-ization of Warfare

 
Nintendo Warfare

 
The Iraq War

 
Selling Peace

 
 
The Media and Terrorism
Terrorism as Communication

 
Terrorist Audiences

 
Fighting Terrorism

 
Terrorism and the Media

 
 
The Media and Foreign Relations
The CNN Effect

 
Foreign Policy Making: The Players

 
The Media and Foreign Relations

 
The Media-ized Dimension of Foreign Relations

 
 
Conclusion: Searching for Answers (and Questions)
What is Media-ization

 
The Routines and Practices of Media-ized Politics

 
Creating Hype Politics

 
When Things Go Wrong for Spin-doctors

 
Hype-Politics: A System in Trouble or a System Re-Inventing Itself?

 
Is Media-ization Bad?

 

This is a timely new edition of Louw's accessible and comprehensive book. It will make essential reading for students and teachers of political media
Brian McNair
Professor of Journalism & Communication, University of Strathclyde


This is a reflective, thorough and welcome overview of the field. It carefully considers the dynamic relationships between the media and political spheres and will therefore be highly valuable to students seeking to understand and analyse developments
Dominic Wring
Reader in Political Communication, Loughborough University


For more than 300 years media and politics in the western world have been complex institutions and the subjects of numerous works. In this book Dr Louw has successfully drawn together the various strands that create politics and media, providing an enjoyable narrative that demonstrates his strong understanding of the roles they play in modern socioeconomic policy and processes. This second edition makes a vital contribution to the way we view media and politics at the beginning of what promises to be an exciting century
Richard Stanton
Senior Lecturer, The University of Sydney


A must-read book for contemporary media scholars

Dr Memory Mabika
Communication and Applied Language Studies, University of Venda
May 17, 2019

This is a great book for courses on media and politics. It's down to earth, critical, argumentative and challenging, and still remains accessible for students.

Dr Esra Ozcan
Communication Department, Tulane University
January 18, 2014

The book is highly recommended for lecturers who teach Mass Communication course. By using the book, I could introduce the role of media within political processes. The book also gives important notes about the origin and development of political process in the west (section 3). It is good and useful for us in the east.

Section 6-8 give another inspiration about the role of media in 'selling' politician, peace, or even war. Here the students realize that there is indeed close relationship between mass media (an important agent in mass communication) and political process.

Mr F. X. Lilik Mardjianto
Communication Science, Multimedia Nusantara University
December 12, 2012

This is a wonderful book with fascinating structure and in-depth information for everyone interested in political process and the role of media within it. It was suggested as a recommended reading for our students, and I have no doubt they will greatly benefit from it.

Mr Ilkin Mehrabov
Dept of Media & Communication Studies, Karlstad University
September 7, 2012

Adopted another title

Dr Andrew Liaropoulos
Department of International & European Studies, University of Piraeus
August 10, 2012

A comprehensive overview of the subject area, including particularly strong chapters on image management and the media and war/terrorism.

Dr Paul Smith
Media Studies, De Montfort University
September 15, 2010

An in-depth study of the relationship between the media, public relations and modern day politics. A trusted guide to understanding many of the power relationships at play, and a variety of theoretical lenses through which to explore the terrain. Insightful and thought-provoking.

Mr Paul Simpson
Business School, Greenwich University
August 7, 2010

A highly interesting and thought-provoking text. Well written & accessable, covering a wide range of issues.

Mr Stuart Agnew
Department of Social Work, Suffolk College
July 20, 2010

Engaging topics. Clear breakdown in chapters/sections with boxes, diagrams to help explain key areas. Very accessible and definitely one for the library and to suggest to students.

Dr Daniel Ashton
Department of Film and Media Production, Bath Spa University
July 1, 2010

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

Chapter Two


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Eric Louw

Eric Louw, School of Communication & Arts, University of Queensland, previously worked for a number of South African universities (University of South Africa, University of Natal and Rand Afrikaans University), and ran a NGO engaged in development work.His books include: Media and Society: production, content and participation (SAGE, 2015), The Media and Political Process (SAGE, 2010), The Media and Cultural Production (SAGE, 2001), The Roots of the Pax Americana (MUP, 2010), New Voices Over the Air: The Transformation of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (Hampton Press, 2010), South... More About Author