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.