chapter  6
18 Pages

Interpreting the impact and consequences of the mediatization of news and politics

The aim of News and Politics has been to understand the changing form, structure and style of evening television bulletins, considering how political reporting in particular has changed over recent decades and become distinctive from all news. For television news bulletins continue to be a permanent fixture in TV schedules and, in many advanced Western democracies, they remain the most popular format of news and influential source for citizens to learn about what is happening in the world. The resilience of the television news bulletin – a mainstay in broadcasting spanning over 60 years – is in spite of competition from online news and social media platforms over recent decades. Of course, television news bulletins have not maintained the vast audiences they once did decades ago when broadcasters were the monopoly supplier. After all, in the new media age of online, multi-channel television audiences have fragmented. But irrespective of the apparent choice and diversity of new information sources, the old-fashioned appointment to watch television news – tuning into a fixed time bulletin – has not been supplanted by receiving information at the flick of a switch or the tap of an app. Although the format of the television news bulletin has withstood competition,

the aim of this book has been to interpret whether its raison d’être – to bring viewers the day’s news – has changed in light of the broader transformation of journalism, where news is delivered instantly on dedicated 24-hour news channels, online and social media platforms. Put another way, the book asked have television news bulletins adapted their format over recent decades to keep up with the pace and immediacy of contemporary journalism? In order to systematically and longitudinally examine the changing nature of television news bulletins over recent decades, the book drew on the concepts of mediatization and journalistic interventionism. By interpreting the mediatization of news and interventionist nature of different conventions, the goal was to consider if a systemic influence was evident in the format of evening bulletins. Had longstanding conventions and practices changed over time in order to reflect the journalistic thirst and pressure to bring viewers the latest news and instant

analysis? This approach is consistent with Esser and Strömbäck’s (2014a: 6; their emphasis) interpretation of mediatization in the context of politics, whereby the concept is used to understand a “long-term process through which the importance of the media and their spill-over effects on political processes, institutions, organizations and actors have increased”. In the context of this book’s aim, the “spill-over effects” refer to the role and influence of rolling news logics (re)shaping the logic of fixed time bulletins. But as the Introduction to the book explained, this analytical approach

departs from conventional mediatization wisdom when interpreting the media influence on news and political reporting. For a singular logic in news media tends to be the accepted way of understanding the mediatization of politics (Strömbäck and Esser 2009), as opposed to a multiplicity of competing journalistic logics and different levels of journalistic interventionism. Not only that, it was argued that interpreting different logics amongst media outlets and systems prevents an understanding of how the media might mediatize itself. At first glance, this might appear a tautological proposition. But the aim was to ask if the broader values of contemporary journalism – enhancing the immediacy, pace and interpretive nature of news – was empirically apparent over time on the format of evening bulletins. Or, put another way, had a rolling news logic been increasingly subscribed to in fixed time bulletins? This chapter begins by bringing together the key findings of the previous

four chapters and considering them in light of ongoing debates informing the mediatization of politics. The first section summarizes the longitudinal examination of news coverage generally and political news specifically (Chapters 2 and 3), the cross-national comparative assessment of US, UK and Norwegian bulletins (Chapter 4), as well as the close textual understanding of the role of live two-ways and their value in conveying the world of politics (Chapter 5). This chapter then interprets the changes identified in the routine delivery of news from the perspective of viewers, reviewing the evidence about how audiences understand television news and the reporting of politics. The final section considers the future of mediatization debates, interpreting competing media logics and understanding the value of journalistic interventionism.