The article analyzes impact of the media on political processes, using the example of some states. The relevance of the topic is due not only to the influence of the media on national politics, but also to the fact that they have a huge impact on people associated with all spheres of society.
Key words: mass media, state, information society, Internet, politics.
The phenomenon of “media” has appeared quite a long time ago. It is known that even in the Middle Ages heralds in Europe, going out to the central square, announced the decrees of kings and the latest events in the state. With the advent of book printing in Europe in the 15th century, it became possible to disseminate information of state importance by typographic method, later newspapers and magazines appeared. Telephone and telegraph appeared in the 19th century. Radio, television and, finally, Internet appeared in the 20th century. In the 21st century, the terms “information space” and “information society” have become popular, which is directly related to the rapid spread of information and communication technologies.
From the point of view of sociology, mass media refers to social institutions that collect, process, analyze and disseminate information on a mass scale [1, p.57]. From the point of view of political science, the media is a way of political propaganda, agitation and political manipulation of the population [1, p.59].
With the development of modern technologies, the mass media also develop. Among the mainstream media, television, radio and the press have already become classic. In the age of information technology, the Internet has also become a mass media, since today all periodicals, including newspapers and magazines, as well as radio and TV channels, post their sites on the Internet, thereby gaining access to a wider audience. In addition, many of them translate their content into English, thus entering the global information space.
The essence of the phenomenon of the media is that information becomes available not for one person, but for the whole society. Hence, it is possible to determine the relevance of the topic, which lies not only in the influence of the media on national politics, but also in the fact that they have a huge impact on people associated with all spheres of society.
American theoretical historians and journalists have identified four theories that characterize the media, each with a specific purpose:
- An authoritarian theory, the purpose of which is to support and implement the policies of the current government and serve the country;
- Liberal theory. Its purpose is to inform, entertain and sell, but mainly to help find out the truth and control the government;
- A social responsibility theory that aims to inform, entertain and sell, but mainly to bring discussion to the level of conflict;
- The theory of Soviet socialism. Its goal is to contribute to the success and maintenance of the Soviet socialist system, especially the dictatorship of the party [1, p.69].
J. Lasswell identified the following four main functions of the media:
1) monitoring the world (collection and dissemination of information);
2) editing (selection and commenting of information);
3) the formation of public opinion;
4) the spread of culture [2, p.132].
In other words, the media provides an expanded form of human communication.
To all this should be added one more important function of their politicization of society and political education of the general population. In a democratic system, the media are obliged to monitor the activities of the government, which means that the media are not influenced by the government or any other pressure and can freely seek information. From this point of view, free media are one of the pillars of classical democracy, and classical democracy is a factor of political participation in cultural development.
In terms of political activity, the media perform the following functions:
1) informing — receiving, through the media, up-to-date information about the activities of the political system and political leaders;
2) participation in teaching the audience — providing the media to students with information that complements their knowledge of politics and modern political process;
3) promotion of political socialization — the acquisition of information by people about political norms, values and models of behavior related to the political sphere;
4) criticism and control of politics — promoting the articulation and differentiation of various public interests, political mobilization [3, p. 445].
The media play a special role in political life when they pay attention to their propaganda bias. Both domestic and Western media are subject to this trend. At the same time, they use their capabilities in different ways: some media simply do not agree with the existing information, and some deliberately distort it in favor of the political system.
The media play different roles in different countries. For example, in the United States, advertising sales are the main source of media funding. This makes them independent from government. In Western Europe, indirect government subsidies (in the form of tariffs and tax incentives) to the media are more developed and controlled by the state. Developing countries are characterized by a high degree of dependence of the media on governments.
The media in their publications, reports and comments can reveal the hidden origins of the policy of the ruling circles, draw public attention to the most odious aspects of their activities. Examples include the publication of the New York Times in part of the so-called «Pentagon Papers», the Washington Post exposure of the Watergate scandal, the broadcast by leading television corporations of revelatory hearings in this case in Congress, the mobilization of public opinion by leading Western media outlets against the dirty US war in Vietnam, etc. It can also be mentioned that some media in the United States played a role in the departure from the political arena of Presidents L. Johnson and R. Nixon.
The role of the media in the political sphere can be judged by the example of the influence of the media in the Republic of Korea, where television remains the main source of news. Even the Internet is more a means of communication than a way of obtaining information. In Korea, the government does not shut down opposition channels of information, thus ensuring the freedom of the media promised to the people.  Control over information channels in Korea, of course, exists, but it mainly covers those issues that are related to the propaganda of communism, and is partially present where it comes to the need to hide inappropriate facts or sins of the past [5, p.152].
A special place is occupied by the media in the pre-election race (TV debates, campaigning). TV channels cover high-profile political events, broadcast the election campaigns of candidates. However, the media can also hide information: for example, provide more information about a certain candidate, or vice versa, less. In addition, a candidate's image also depends on how the media portrays him.
There are two main theoretical directions in the study of the political influence of the media. The first of these is the study of how mass communications affect people's behavior and political life in general. The second direction of research is focused on understanding the relationship between texts, individuals and large social groups [6, p. 446].
The development of communication technologies, in particular the Internet, has fundamentally changed the nature of political communication. Now any content about the activities of political leaders published in the media (for example, on social networks) can receive almost instant feedback. The Internet is also characterized by its globality, hypertextuality, cross-culture and heterogeneity, it includes various discourses and descriptions of various situations [7, p.70].
The evolution of the Internet and individual communication technologies in the digital space has led to the fact that the subjects of politics began to speak publicly in the first person, shaping public opinion about themselves, creating and strengthening their own image. Of course, a whole team of specialists can stand behind a politician, and each public statement is thought out in advance.
The main carrier of political information in the media space is political media text. It is an effective means of persuading and mobilizing a wide audience, influencing society. Depending on the purpose of political communication and the format of the media through which it is carried out, the content of the text, its structure, genre, lexical and stylistic means, etc. depend.
V. A. Soloviev and A. Moreva believe that in the text the journalist initially gives out facts and interpretations, which deprives the audience of the opportunity to make an independent judgment: “The journalist operates not with information, but with interpretation; the viewer or listener receives not facts, but events in the key necessary for the political course. By providing a ready-made interpreted information product and depriving viewers of the opportunity to think analytically, modern media create the illusion of immersion in the event: each viewer is an expert [8, p.89]. Such a generalization still requires empirical verification and analysis.
Thus, the media contribute to the political socialization and political mobilization of citizens, especially in situations where political participation and activity are most important (especially during election campaigns). The activities of a political leader are presented in the media of any country. Materials about the activities of political leaders directly or indirectly strengthen their authority. Such publications are necessary in part because the activities of a political leader affect the life of society, and the messages about them explain how the leader runs the country, which is important for everyone. The presentation of the activities of political leaders in the media helps to increase the efficiency of managing public processes.
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