By Pippa Norris
Is the method of political communications by means of the inside track media and by means of events answerable for civic malaise? A Virtuous Circle units out to problem the traditional knowledge that it really is. according to 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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Extra info for A Virtuous Circle: Political Communications in Postindustrial Societies (Communication, Society and Politics)
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.
Instead, the patterns showed either broad stability over time (such as in attention to election news and campaign activism) or, alternatively, a temporary plateau during the heated politics of the 1960s, both preceded and followed by slightly lower levels (such as in turnout for presidential elections and the level of political interest). According to these indicators, there is little evidence for civic malaise in America, let alone malaise caused by changes in the culture of the news media. For reasons that will be explained fully in subsequent chapters, the claims of media malaise are methodologically flawed, so that they are at best unproven, to use the Scottish verdict, or at worst false.
A chorus of voices can therefore be heard, a few optimistic, but most decrying the impact of modern political communications. Before we all jump on the media malaise bandwagon, is the conventional critique correct? This II THE NEWS MEDIA AND CIVIC MALAISE book seeks to provide an alternative interpretation that sees recent developments in a far more positive light. THE CORE ARGUMENT The overall plan of the book can be summarized as follows. Chapter 2 discusses the normative standards that are available to evaluate the functions of the news media.