Power of Media in Contemporary Australian Politics
Media is an essential foundation in any political system, although it is not built on a formal status like the other institutions. Media also plays a central role in the practice of any country’s politics. Media happens to be the main source of information for a great number of people. Most people do not participate directly in political affairs by being members of any political party or Attending the political rallies, and so they learn about the political developments through the television, newspapers, radio and internet. This communication is not relayed in the one-way process because it is through the same media that the politicians get to know all the concerns and the expectations of the communities. Apart from linking the people and the politicians, the media plays a political role in setting the political agenda especially in any democratic country that has an independent and free media. Through history, the media has been charged with the role of a “watchdog” taking the full responsibility of monitoring the political developments by identifying the positive progress and the failings on behalf of the public (Flew, 2010, p. 21). To fulfil this particular role, the media is allowed to access political grounds to get information. This research looks into the influence of media in setting the agenda of Australian politics. Politicians, journalists and the citizens in Australia employ media tools to support and settle their political goals. Through a close analysis of sampled articles over time, we get a clear insight that the media organisations and the journalists have changed over time and become political tools (Dean, 2015, p. 34). This is because the mainstream media plays a crucial role in framing and positioning of important communication aimed at gaining or neutralising political mileage. Key findings show that some articles in social media mostly report about politics. The media moved from the usual way of telling a story and became focused more on the political agenda (Ferrate, 2015, p. 87). Many articles in the media over the recent years reflected on the politician’s negative attitudes towards the role of the media being used as a political tool. Members of the public are seen to use social media to fight for their rights and have the support of particular causes. They employ the tools of media to gossip, criticise or support the politicians.
In 2007 the Australian locally produced 24-hour news channel became an important player in shaping the Australian politics. The sky news channel ran a series of hosting the leader’s debate of the federal elections and also predicted the outcome of the elections. It has a great impact on how the news in Australia are reported and influenced the behaviour of Australian politics widely by increasing the sensitivity of the prevailing news in the leadership fields. Information technology and communication spearheaded the political landscape of Australia. People changed the old way of electoral campaigning and embraced the use of networking technology to bring together strong social movements. In the year 2007 sky news decided to do a comprehensive coverage of political practice (Davis, 2010, p. 67). The station interrupted the news bulleting to have live media coverage of the political rallies. Every day there was a content related to politics that would be aired through the television (Cohen, 2011, p. 43).
The leader opposition, Kelvin Rudd, employed a media trick by running a smooth presidential website, online videos and use of the social networking services (SNS) that enabled him to be at the frontline of campaigns. This was the beginning of the use of online videos and social media directly in the target of supporters and key campaign groups. At the grass root level, there rose a wide range of use of the internet to access political information. This has become the order of the day, and the media has been embraced as the pre-eminent tool that links people with the political environment in Australia. It is not just a passive way of having more TV politics, but people have been empowered in a certain way to take part in active online politically expressive media platforms. Because of this growing trend in the media, the discipline of Australian politics has taken another line of tough competition with the media environment massively expanding with a significant impact on political practice.In his twitter account, Kelvin Rudd was followed by 978,653 users; this figure gives us the true picture of the number of people that read his tweets. This means that his influence in social media would place him possibly ahead of other politicians. His overwhelming dominance in the political landscape of Australia means that his behaviour on the platform will contribute in one way or the other in gaining political mileage. Analysing the reaction of his followers also gives us a true picture of whether they believe in him or not. By looking at the patterns observed in the social platform for example in the case of his Twitter account, we rate his possibility to succeed in the Australian politics by the measure of the high number of followers (Grant et al., 2010, p. 13).
Using a democratic eye, there may be no evidence that the minor parties and the independent candidates will be able to have a level playing ground through the media. The integration and proliferation of the TV channels with other social media campaigning strategies mean that marketing of the political parties is no longer cheap. There are enough reasons to believe the likelihood of the media structural political parties to win the government compared to those adopting the traditional campaigning tools (Bruns & Moon, 2016, p. 16).
One of the most significant concerns in the study of political communication is focused on media politics. Media has been accepted as very important in the practice of politics in the world through the individual’s ability to understand how to participate in the political arena. The increasing rate of the national media shows that the state of the nation is also rising for example in the case of Australia. Effective communication systems are important for contemporary bureaucracies, and it is easy to see the systems of information as important in the distribution of information and not only important in making political alignments (Allen, 2012, p. 80).The digital media has increasingly marked a great effect in the practice of Australian politics. In the years before the federal elections of 2010, the progressive online interest advocacy group “get up!” raised a legal challenge to the high court (Beech, 2013, p. 12). The concerns of its members were that the electoral enrolment reforms that were effected under the previous government were unfair because they had deprived the rights of the young people in Australia in the year 2006. The group organised itself by mobilising more supporters and put In the required legal resources to change the law. The group also forced the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to take an initiative of setting up an online registration system that will see all the voters be enrolled through it. Although this online group had only been formed in five years back, it became a great pillar with a great significance in determining the direction of Australian politics. “Get up!” Shifted its focus from media campaigns and initiated direct actions that marked the altering of the laws governing the Australian electoral system (Best, 2014, p. 66).
The emergence of social media has affected the political landscape of Australia widely, the online engagement of the public and the politicians representing them shows a complete utilisation of the media in shaping the political climate of the country in one way or the other (Chen, 2014, p. 4).
My analysis above reveals that the media has become the playground for political battles. However, some may succeed, and others fail to depend on the strategies and their understanding of the political strategy (Arendt, 2016, p. 34). Most of the politicians in Australia are seen to be noisier in the media than their followers. This is because they cluster a small party in the media platforms like twitter forming a small world where they engage in apolitical discussion shaping a radical transformation in the way the citizens perceive them, which can be seen as their platform of selling ideologies (Gartrell, 2016, p. 66).
Looking at the two examples above of the political patterns and the role of media we can say that the media in Australia has all the power to determine the political climate of the country. The strategies employed by the sky news television channel played a vital role in the political arena of the country’s politics (Arnold, 2004, p. 45). Having excellent coverage in Australia, it is a clear indication that every political player that gained access to its platform would have a great influence. This means the more powerful the media strategy is, the more likely to have successful political future (Garden, 2010, p. 67). This method seemed to favour kelvin Rudd in the correct utilisation of his twitter account where he commanded a great number of followers in his twitter account. The online advocacy group “getup!” also gives us a true picture of how the media can have a significant effect in the political ground and can be used as a powerful tool in changing how systems work. In my view, the group could not succeed in having the electoral system changed if they employed any other method of advocating for change other than placing an online campaign (Aitkin, 2014, p. 22).The above study shows that the structure of politics in Australia requires people to understand the media strategies as both avenues of communication and as playing ground for politics. Thus the qualities of a good leader may not be necessarily be felt from their good deeds but their ability to influence the supporters through the media platforms (Garden, 2010, p. 23). Studies of social media effects in the twentieth century show the increasing diversity in the media content also matches the growing number of elites. This gives us a clear definition of how the elites may have power in media strategies to have control of the political climate. We have to recognise the fact that the emergence of the technology reflects so much the direction of any country’s politics (Authority(ACMA), 2009, p. 40). This is because media has the power to magnify or rather place a lot of weight on something whether good or bad and so the information that is relayed on media may not necessarily show the correct picture of something (Castells, 200, p. 55). The media systems serve to catalyse the pace change by providing the platform to engage the human behaviour. The recent rise of the internet as a tool in the media requires careful evaluation not only in Australia but also in other countries.
In conclusion, we can say that it is true that the media has too much power in contemporary Australian politics. In my view, this should not be the case with the media because it has an independent role to play in any democratic country. The media is supposed to be the mirror of society and not a political tool to be used for any party’s political gains. This is a clear indication that justice may not have its way from the start of the campaigns up to the ballot box. The only way to have a clean political system is to have the media restored to its original role and be controlled not to take any other mandate outside its purpose.