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Media and policy Presentation at Highway Africa 13 Sept 2005 Guy Berger.

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1 Media and policy Presentation at Highway Africa 13 Sept 2005 Guy Berger

2 National media have helped bring about, and to maintain, a level of democracy in their respective states. Yet little sign of media deepening a democratic role to be a vital link in public policy processes w.r.t. the African Information Society. “ ” Yet, I.S. policies impact back on media, but the two hands (media & policy) aren’t feed- ing into each other.

3 FINDING: The media is silent in terms of: relevant policy agenda-setting policy debate and formulation, implementation, monitoring, and review. “ ”

4 Countries covered: Kenya Mozambique DRC Nigeria Ethiopia Senegal by Highway Africa, sponsored by Catia

5 Aims Quantity of coverage Quality of coverage: –Accurate? –Proactive & independent? Which actors reflected? Technicist? Economistic? Utility: base-line data for interventions

6 Methodology Country-based researchers Mainstream media Content analysis + interviews Event-focused Theoretically-informed

7 THE THEORY: the media the public policy people public opinion

8 Specific players: media: different platforms, premier outlets,  public: general public, civil society groups incl NGOs, business, global forces, individuals.  policy people: the makers and the implementers.  Qtn: who drives the process?

9 Five models of how the relationship works: 1.Liberal democratic 2.Muck-raker model 3.Bypassing civil society 4.Manipulation model 5.Propaganda picture

10 1. Liberal democratic model MEDIA COVERAGE PUBLIC + OPINION GOVT RESPONDS i.e. The public is the active source of public opinion eg. Aids activists win coverage, affect govt 1 2 3

11 2. Muckraker model PUBLIC + OPINION MEDIA COVERAGE GOVT RESPONDS i.e. Media coverage is active source of public opinion eg. Exposure of child abuse 1 2 3

12 3. Bypassing Civil Society GOVT RESPONDS MEDIA COVERAGE = “PUBLIC OPINION” i.e. Media impacts on govt, irrespective of real public opinion eg. Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky 1 2

13 4. Manipulation model MEDIA COVERAGE GOVT INITIATES PUBLIC + OPINION i.e. Government is the originator of public opinion eg. Iraq war in US, Info scandal, discredit leader’s rivals 1 2 3

14 5. Propaganda picture MEDIA COVERAGE i.e. Government is the originator, circuit incomplete eg. media coverage pleases govt, but ignored by public GOVT INITIATES 1 2

15 Five models of how the relationship works: 1.Liberal dem – people-driven 2.Muckraker model – media-driven 3.Bypassing civil society – media govt 4.Manipulation model – govt-driven 5.Propaganda picture – govt-driven

16 1.Lib dem – people-driven: public access policies 2.Muck-raker– media-driven: airwaves get freed 3.Bypass – media govt: licensing regime 4.Manipulation – govt-driven: privatising telco 5.Propaganda – govt-driven: sunshine imagery Models for Info Society policy:

17 Summing up (a): Policy People may infer Public Opinion from media, and they may use media to promote their policies. Often it is interaction of media & politicians (not the public) that affects govt policy & practice.

18 Summing up (b): Civil society has little impact via media or public opinion, on policy In the countries studied, there is little evidence of any model at work. Contrary to the models, media is NOT (yet) a factor

19 Research agenda SABC policies –But not SABC re-licensing process SABC “Woman’s Day” issue Media will become a factor elsewhere. South Africa Convergence Bill – elicits input

20 Future research to look at: Then we need to assess: –one-sided & simplistic reportage = rapid policy change? Complexity & debate = slower policy action? Life cycle of policy: mobilisation -> action -> maintenance -> fade (as the media intensity declines).

21 Other research issues 2: TV greater impact on dramatic & short-term events. But often TV takes its cue from print. Intermedia agenda-setting power. For example, some titles set “the story” for others. Note: power of international media and cultural imperialism.

22 Actual media effects: Any impact on policy makers & implementers?  Via media & bypassing media, and upon media (affecting its interests & operations). Influence decoding by audiences:  the setting of media agendas and framing – are people passive?

23 Summing up Media, public, policy people = a dynamic & powerful triangle! that is sometimes not a triangle! and that works at diff levels, issues, times!

24 Understanding Journalists need to grasp the complexities about actors, public opinion, policy. In this way, strategise & heighten our impact Africa needs optimum relationships, esp on Information Society policy issues.

25 Last words Think about it. Act upon it. Be a conscious player in public opinion

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