Most people experience party politics indirectly through the lens of the media. Parties have long recognized the importance of media management and their efforts to do so have included, for instance, the appointment of so-called ‘spin doctors’ such as Peter Mandelson, Alastair Campbell and Andy Coulson. Such efforts at media management extend well beyond the traditional campaigning period immediately preceding elections. Moreover, parties have also sought to expand their communication activities by exploiting the new media opportunities offered by the Internet. This chapter looks broadly at the relationship between parties and various media. Discussion revolves around five sections. The first provides a theoretical grounding by briefly outlining models of political communication. The second part introduces the structure of the press and broadcast media and assesses how this impacts upon partisanship. The third section evaluates the professionalization of political communication activity within the parties, both in government and opposition. The parties are convinced of the importance of the Internet in communicating to electors. The fourth part therefore examines parties’ efforts to communicate via the Internet. The final section evaluates the success of parties’ attempts to communicate and influence the media by briefly assessing whether or not the media impact upon voting behaviour.
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- Parties and the Media
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