Nowadays political news is actively focused on mean campaigns, elections, state affairs, international diplomatic conflicts and scandals. From this outlook, the relationship between the press and politics is much more complex and controversial. “Political pressures is not an unusual happening among media professionals as they often lead to practice “bad political advocacy journalism” instead of “constructive journalism” – a sceptical and unethical concept based on the manipulations of facts while undertaking secretly a public relation role without questioning and scrutinising political intentions – ‘I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine”-culture. The television has the pervasive power to lead politicians and corporations to develop increasingly sophisticated image-management strategies. It has become common for senior politicians and government departments to employ press secretaries, often former journalists, to manage their relationship with the media. Simultaneously, the government can also alter the economic, legislative and regulatory environment within which the media operate.
Ultimately, media organisations and journalists are often trapped between their duties to report political facts or to be an instrumental vehicle to reach specific political purpose or discourse. As a result, there is a reluctance on the part of political journalists to question the political elite and those in power on their intentions. The “invisible links” between media organisations and politics can be a detrimental chemistry for a democracy and free expression. The audience are merely perceived as consumers of news rather than concerned citizens seeking for unbiased and newsworthy items. As news is critical for public understanding and political attitudes, it has the influence to shape public cognitions and interpretations disseminated by the media content.
The impact of the persuasive power of media images and sounds cannot be underestimated. When it comes to the use of media for the propaganda of political intentions and purposes, they can cause eventual and therefore unavoidable social casualties, panic, deluded viewpoints and ideologies or massive political shift based on manipulation. As a matter of fact, media organisations may also be used to promote certain political policies and ideologies. Where this is problematic for the citizenry is when media reports on various issues do not attribute their sources properly or provide and broadcast images and content which is out of context or unrelated to the real news.
Ultimately, the news has the power to shape intended opinions of the public while at the same time having intensely political consequences. Very much conscious of the dynamic media effects, politicians understand the implications of the press as a tool to claim and depict their image and political motivations and keep a close monitoring of the press. A misleading and manipulative press coverage may endanger their survival in the political arena or in the government just as good press coverage increases their chances to get elected and to pursue a successful political career or set a political agenda.
Journalism has the power to ensure understanding on issues that concern the general public while ensuring a fair dialogue among the citizens. Reporting is not only about dissemination of information but also about setting a fair public debate. The relevance of this argument is based on the conflicting and subtle relationship between the press and politics. As the onus of politicians is to represent those who elected them and ensure their concerns, the media scrutinise those political actions and report their implications to the public based on educated and rational facts. A fair coverage and representation of political voices and perspectives indicates a sense of ethics and objectivity by the press. It also determines the notion of news judgement to what is important and what is interesting for the public.
Maintaining a safeguard position by the press towards politics is essential to ensure integrity, impartially and objectivity in the news. Free from any political affiliations, news organisations have the duty report objectively and fairly and include multiple angles of a story. Even those who are critical on their way of reporting; to investigate all those with which they hold a professional or political proximity while ensuring nobody being considered beyond institutional or judicial power. Truth and a decent “rapport” (relationship) must prevail amongst the citizens while news organisations identify themselves as reliable news provider rather than an entity of political propaganda.