News Media Performance Under the Spotlight: The Case of Metacoverage in the UK News

This source preferred by Dan Jackson

Authors: Jackson, D.

Start date: 9 December 2009

One of the most pronounced changes to politics in recent decades has been the steady shift of the media towards centre stage in political affairs. What politics has undergone, therefore, is a thorough mediatization. “Mediatized politics has become dependent in its central functions on the mass media, and is continuously shaped by interactions with mass media” (Mazzoleni and Schulz, 1999: 250). From the perspective of politicians, the consequences of mediatization are vast – from the imperatives it places on them to manage the media through hiring media consultants; to the media training they must go through in order to present themselves well on television; to the crafting of language to suit the news’ demand for soundbites; to the staging of pseudo events intended to attract media attention; to their ongoing attempts to engage the public through new media. Of course, the communication activities of contemporary politicians continue to be studied extensively by scholars, but the attention of this paper is more about how the news media are coming to terms with their central role in mediatised politics. The first part of the paper defines the concept of metacoverage, I then move on to a discussion of normative debates surrounding it, before ending with an agenda for future research.

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