This is a textbook about the relationship between politics and the mass media. It is suitable for general and academic audiences.
There is a broad array of research topics on the relationship between politics and the mass media, and in many cases a conventional wisdom has not been established within the topic. Based on the keywords “change,” “comparison,” and “proof,” and having done much research, this textbook has chosen four themes (or five, if the final chapter is included) thought to be highly relevant in the Japanese context. Further, the book combines its own data analysis with the existing analysis to consider where there is common understanding, where there are differences of opinion, and how one can think of these in the Japanese context.
Chapter one gives an overview of the mass media, also known as “the fourth estate.” It begins by reviewing discussions about the role of the mass media, such as whether the mass media is a mere observer of power or a political actor. If it is the latter, the text considers whether the mass media is a critic or a companion of power. Chapter one then provides thoughts on the influence of the mass media as corporations, and the trust placed in the mass media by citizens.
Chapter two outlines the relatively new points of agenda setting and priming (inducement and the priming effect), framing, and emerging bias as to the impact of the mass media on public opinion.
Chapter three discusses the diversification of media, with such topics as conflicts over the negative opinions about media; the effect of soft news, including elements of entertainment; as well as the selective exposure through the multiple channels of talk radio, cable television, and satellite broadcasting.
Chapter four focuses on political parties and politicians and gives an outline of the impact of mass media on politics. It also focuses on the mass media strategies of politicians, under the keyword “mediatization.”
If one assumes that one of the purposes of politics is the protection of people’s lives and possessions, then the ultimate end of this purpose is to protect us from wars and disasters. The fifth and final chapter considers issues involving politics and the mass media. It does so by following the role of each of these in the timeline of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in the US and throughout the Iraq war and the Great East Japan Earthquake.
The mass media has received much criticism in the recent years, and the view of this book is that the media cannot win back people’s trust, neither in its role as the traditional venue for reporting on the world of politics, nor by providing more commentary, editorials, or opinions, nor by strengthening its research reporting, particularly its monitoring of power. The main theme of the book is that, even as the mass media continues to lose the love of people despite its best efforts, it must absolutely fulfill its indispensable role in democratic politics by covering the reality of politics and putting up the good fight among its various beliefs.
(Written by Masaki Taniguchi, Professor of Graduate Schools for Law and Politics / 2017)