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To what extent did the media contribute to the results of the Brexit vote ?

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Par   •  28 Février 2019  •  Étude de cas  •  715 Mots (3 Pages)  •  425 Vues

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The contribution of the media to the results of the Brexit vote

To what extent did the media contribute to the results of the Brexit vote ?

        On June 23rd 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union triggering what the Guardian’s assistant editor Michael White described as the ‘greatest political crisis’ since the Second World War. At the time of writing most economists are predicting a severe downturn that could be worse than that which followed the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. What role did the media play in influencing public opinion and how significant was it to the final result? In this article I want to argue that it is important to distinguish between the short term role of the media in the campaign and the long term cumulative influence of the media. Ultimately the impact of the media in the referendum is a product of the interaction of these two effects.

        The mass media played two key roles during the campaign. First, it was the place where representatives of the two sides attempted to win the battle for public opinion. The Leave campaign invested in targeted messages delivered through social media. Mirroring the successful social media strategy employed by the Conservatives in the 2015 General Election, the Leave campaign designed lots of of messages delivered to specific audiences. In contrast the Remain campaign lacked a clear, simple narrative on the benefits of EU membership that could resonate at both a rational and emotional level with different audiences. A key reason for this was that Labour and the Conservatives were running largely parallel campaigns with conflicting messages on key issues such as immigration and the economic consequences of Brexit. This inability to coordinate core messages also prevented advertising agencies from producing an effective campaign.

        Secondly, the media played an agenda setting role during the campaign by focusing on particular politicians and issues. As research from Loughborough University shows, the news media largely reported that there was more coverage of Leave arguments.

        Although most commentary tends to focus on the impact of the campaign, the more powerful effects of the media are in fact via long term processes of political socialisation, where voters are exposed to messages many times.

        Research on how the EU has been reported in the press has been unequivocal. Outside the Independent, Guardian and Mirror press reporting has been hostile to the EU. However, research shows that broadcast media has failed to offer a counterpoint. Broadcast reporting has tended to be dominated by summits, disputes between the EU and UK or domestic political conflict. This has meant that when the EU is reported it tends to be framed as being in a conflictual rather than collaborative relationship with the UK. Furthermore, since most broadcast reporting is dominated by the main two parties, audiences have been more exposed to arguments against the EU than those in favour.

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