Sunday, February 3, 2013

Party members and the public

Politicians do not share the same attitudes as the general public. Neither do party members and those who attend political conferences. Though the difference is not as large as people normally think there is.

Party members are seen as to be one of two things; staunch supporters and gatekeepers of democracy or critical storm troopers who spearhead political change and reform.

In the later decades it has become normal for the general public to see the political establishment as being detached from the rest of society and people don't have much faith in politicians as they are in a world of their own. But studies based on questionnaires reveal that that the attitudes of party members and the general public are almost identical. Both the public and party members prefer participatory democratic ideals to protection democracy and representative democracy. Differences in attitudes are mostly found in the fringes of the political spectrum.

The younger people and the higher education they, the more likely they prefer participatory democratic ideals. Also the more active the party members are, the more faith they have in politicians and that their party listens to the people.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The political system

Aristotle's six forms of government

Who rules?
One person  The few  The many
 Who benefits?         Rulers             Tyranny   Oligarchy Democracy
                                 All              Monarchy Aristocracy Polity

The 'three worlds' typology 
The stark contrast between democracy and totalitarianism in 20th century led to the 'three world approach';
  • a capitalist 'first world'
  • a communist 'second world'
  • a developing 'third world'.
Types of regimes that can be identified in the modern world
  • western polyarchies
  • new democracies
  • East Asian regimes
  • Islamic regimes
  • military regimes.
Models of democracy
  • Classical democracy
  • Protective democracy
  • Development democracy
  • People's democracy
Rival views on democracy
  • Pluralist view
  • Elitist view
  • Corporatist view
  • New Right view
  • Marxist view

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Politics is a social interaction. Never a monologue, always a dialogue.

Aristotle: "Man is by nature a political animal."

Conflict and cooperation is always part of politics. People decide what rules they wish to live under, thus there is conflict and cooperation.

Diverse opinions and diverse needs against scarcity ensures that politics is forever a human condition.

Different views on politics:
  • politics as the art of government
  • politics as public affairs
  • politics as compromise and consensus
  • politics as power and the distribution of resources
Competing views on what is public and what is private:

  • Public - The state, apparatus of government
  • Private - Civil society, autonomous bodies, businesses, trade unions, clubs, families and so on

  • Public - Public realm, politics, commerce, work, art, culture and so on
  • Private - Personal realm, family and domestic life
Bernard Crick in "In Defense of Politics"; Politics is the activity by which differing interests within a given unit of rule are conciliated by giving them a share in power in proportion to their importance to the welfare and the survival of the whole community.

Model of the political system developed by David Easton

    ┌ ←                      ← Outputs ←                     ← ┐
    ↓                                                                        ↑
People → Inputs → Gatekeepers → Inputs → Government
    ↑                                                                        ↓
    └ ←                      ← Outputs ←                     ←┘

According to David Easton the gatekeepers are the political parties and interest groups

The parliamentary chain of power and accountability

  Voters                                                   Voters
      ↓↑                                                         ↑↓
Parliament → ←Government → Municipalities and regions
                Administrative civil service

Friday, January 18, 2013

News language

The language can create intimacy with the consumer and the platform, whence the news came, has great importance as well. Words like "we", "our", "journey" and "milestone" etc.

10 claims about the language used in the news

  1. The structure of the language is the same as it has been before. Say it in the simplest way possible, be concrete - call a spade a spade, write short sentences, place the main verb early as possible in the sentence, say one thing at a time, use good verbs and create identification.
  2. Speed has consequences for the quality of language and creativity. The faster the production of news has to be, you're less likely to choose solutions that are not obvious at first. The product will suffer.
  3. Fast news make it easier for sources to contaminate the story with their buzz words, spin and jargon expressions.
  4. The written language is becoming more like spoken language. More now than before.
  5. There are more approaches. Stories can include info/fact-boxes, photos, Q & A box and other graphical elements.
  6. The genre are used to their fullest. Whether it is news report, feature or news analysis and the consumer is comfortable with these genres.
  7. "Netspeak". Media platforms are developing their own media language.
  8. Language is making it more intimate. "Don't tell it - make 'em feel it". The news anchor says "us bank customers" instead of "the customers".
  9. The understanding of the story. It's not linear and if the web story has links to maps, explanation or previous stories from the media that are relevant, it demands a greater commitment from the consumer. Printed articles do not demand this commitment.
  10. Eye tracking has given knowledge about how readers read and what words and sentences work or do not work.

The Stream Of News

When news on paper was dominant, there was a natural day-rhythm all over the world within media houses. The paper was a record of "yesterday". Today, all news are written in NOW (present form). Radio and TV have rhythms that are not a daily occurrence but are broadcasted several times a day. On the web this can happen by the minute.

Media houses have dedicated web journalists and paper journalists. Sometimes the journalists do both. But usually they are dedicated to one platform.

Breaking news is driven by "actuality" and is considered extremely important by media houses. If it was not possible to be the media that "broke" the story, then the efforts go into being in the second wave of news about the event.

Today's common stories. If the media wants to be considered credible, it has to bring stories that everyone else brings. Like decisions in the supreme courts etc.

Solo-stories. They are easy to manage and produce in a closed environment, where the competitors can't steal the story. It's possible to "break" it in the paper and is good to create public attention and a clear profile for the media house.

Timeless news. The story that don't hit the consumer directly but have great societal importance like international trade agreements, WTO etc.

One of dangers of web news is that media houses often copy-paste stories from each other. This means that factual errors are also copy-pasted. There is no research and no source criticism.

The genre "News"

It's the dominating journalistic genre. To tell stories to the masses that are relevant. A description of events that are different, something new. A story of something new.

New tendencies in news criteria

Consensus: Focus on telling stories that do not use "conflict", especially on foreign news.
Constructive news: Telling stories that give solutions, inspiration and shows that the world is not a crazy and dangerous place.
Conversational potential: It's an important factor, whether the media will tell story - does it create conversation and debate?
Chaos reduction: Especially in TV; the less use of cases and instead more time devoted to explanatory news, where the media offers explanation and understanding.

Internal criteria for news within media houses

Substance or "societal significance" takes a back seat more often lately. Those who work with news and journalism have other things to consider.

Solo-news: Be first with latest news, be ahead of your competitors. Exclusiveness is important.
LIVE: Great value is in LIVE transmissions. It adds value if there is potential for LIVE talk, direct questions and replies in dialogue with a studio host.
"Keep it - the story - hot": When the media house intends to keep a story "hot" in society, for example with very long term process like elections.
The Good Photo: Photo opportunities is important as a criteria. The dramatic, surprising and beautiful photo (or video) often contains news value that is beyond the photo or video itself.
Referencing a TV-universe: When media houses report on events in fictional sitcoms, or other TV contests, such as X-factor or dancing shows.

Crime, entertainment and sex have also been given greater news value lately.

Expressions of news

The principle of the most significant first and then less significance as you tell the story.
  1. Headline
  2. Subtitle
  3. Introduction
And then the who's, the what's, the when's and how's. The finishing of the story is not important. The beginning IS.


Event description: The accurate description of for example a speech or statement.
News interview: Follow up interview with an expert or source, to give a human dimension to the news coverage.
News report: A "feature"like description based on observation and statements from sources at the center of events.
News analysis: A "subjective"like commentary from experts that put the story in perspective.