In his controversial new book, Thomas Meyer argues that the media are transforming traditional party democracy into 'media democracy'. Political elites submit to the mass media's formulas in the hope of salvaging some influence over their public images. The media thus colonize politics, and the politicans' self-interest turns them into accomplices. Politics and the media have formed a partnership to conduct their main business: adopting well-tested formulas from the theatre to media productions. The public begins to respond to politics as an aesthetic phenomenon, losing sight of the principles that make political action unique and sustain autonomy and democracy.
Real power in the media is wielded by an iron triangle committed to the media's logic of up-to-the-minute reportage: media-savvy political elites, pollsters and media executives. Democratic politics with its slow-paced processes has traditionally relied on parties, intermediary actors and the institutions of representative government, but all have been banished to the periphery today.
Meyer shows how media democracy has replaced deliberation - once the lifeblood of democratic public life - with pseudo-plebiscites. Nevertheless, deliberative procedures could regain some influence through local civic participation and a thorough reform of the communicative culture of the mass media. Meyer argues that the culture of the media should be transformed in ways that would serve democracy, enabling citizens to deepen their understanding of political realities.
This powerful critique of media democracy will be of great interest to students of politics and the media and to anyone concerned with the impact of the media on public life.show more