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Framing media mergers in France and the United States
Unformatted Document Text:  Framing media mergers in France and the United States 8 Theoretical and empirical descriptions of the relationship between the media and political and public interest actors run the gamut from a virtually dominant media that dictate the debate, to journalists as subordinated actors totally dependent on official sources. Some believe that news management enables governmental actors to manipulate media outputs to a very high degree. “[J]ournalism claims a measure of pro-activity – of exercising the initiative in identifying, defining, and portraying the news – that simply does not square with reality … in fact most journalism is reactive” (Mannheim, 1998, 99 – italics in original). According to this view, journalists are unconsciously duped into becoming the official mouthpiece of governmental sources. Personal experience suggests that this is an imprecise assertion, and that most of the time journalists enter into conscious pacts with their sources to promote their own professional interests. The growing capacities of governments to control media outputs have been illustrated extensively (see e.g. Pfetsch, 1998). The U.S., Great Britain and Germany, along with many other Western democracies, have all developed elaborate political news management apparatuses, sometimes to the point were the public servants operating these apparatuses become political players in their own right 7 . In other cases various countries, most of them from the developing world, have chosen to outsource news management responsibilities by hiring public relations agencies to “improve the client nation’s image in the American press” (Manheim and Albriton, 1984, 642). It seems that commercial entities tend to employ similar strategies, usually relying more on the outsourcing option than on the in-house path, though companies – big or small – usually assign an officer 7 After falling from political grace, they convert their star power into a lucrative position as television presenters. George Stephanopolus, one of Bill Clinton’s close press advisors, is a prime example of that trend.

Authors: Davidson, Roei.
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Framing media mergers in France and the United States
8
Theoretical and empirical descriptions of the relationship between the media and political
and public interest actors run the gamut from a virtually dominant media that dictate the
debate, to journalists as subordinated actors totally dependent on official sources. Some
believe that news management enables governmental actors to manipulate media outputs
to a very high degree. “[J]ournalism claims a measure of pro-activity – of exercising the
initiative in identifying, defining, and portraying the news – that simply does not square
with reality … in fact most journalism is reactive” (Mannheim, 1998, 99 – italics in
original). According to this view, journalists are unconsciously duped into becoming the
official mouthpiece of governmental sources. Personal experience suggests that this is an
imprecise assertion, and that most of the time journalists enter into conscious pacts with
their sources to promote their own professional interests.
The growing capacities of governments to control media outputs have been illustrated
extensively (see e.g. Pfetsch, 1998). The U.S., Great Britain and Germany, along with
many other Western democracies, have all developed elaborate political news
management apparatuses, sometimes to the point were the public servants operating these
apparatuses become political players in their own right
7
. In other cases various countries,
most of them from the developing world, have chosen to outsource news management
responsibilities by hiring public relations agencies to “improve the client nation’s image
in the American press” (Manheim and Albriton, 1984, 642). It seems that commercial
entities tend to employ similar strategies, usually relying more on the outsourcing option
than on the in-house path, though companies – big or small – usually assign an officer
7
After falling from political grace, they convert their star power into a lucrative position as television
presenters. George Stephanopolus, one of Bill Clinton’s close press advisors, is a prime example of that
trend.


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